[lastfm]Cake[/lastfm] is a band that’s like your smart aleck older brother. Vocalist [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]John McCrea[/lastfm] sings like he doesn’t really care, tossing off random thoughts, pop culture references, and non-sequiturs. You’re not always sure what he’s saying, but it sounds intelligent, and besides, you don’t know enough to challenge its validity.
Plus, everything is done over this cool mishmash of funk, new wave pop, hip hop, jazz, rock–pretty much anything the band can fit together, the more jarring the juxtaposition, the better.
This might sound like it could get old, but if you’ve ever heard Cake’s ubiquitous single “The Distance,” you know the concept works. On their first new album in six years Showroom of Compassion, the bandmembers prove they’ve still got it.
This time around, McCrea is a little older and a little wiser. He still has that deadpan delivery, but now there’s empathy in his apathy. Maybe its because he’s been around the block a few more times, but as the album title indicates, these songs are about compassion for his fellow man.
Tracks like “What’s Now Is Now” show why [lastfm]Cake[/lastfm] is so successful at what they do. The song is a cover of a [lastfm]Frank Sinatra[/lastfm] tune from his obscure concept album Watertown. To hear [lastfm]Cake[/lastfm]’s version, however, you’d never suspect it. Their take on the song features the kind of lockstep beat heard on the “The Distance” and a disco-y arrangement of rhythm guitars, strings, horns and bass. McCrea doesn’t exactly croon, but his detached voice acts as an anchor that holds together the song’s disparate parts. [lastfm]Cake[/lastfm]’s “What’s Now is Now” sounds nothing like ol’ Mickey Blue Eyes, but its funky white boy groove it gives it something close to [lastfm]Sinatra[/lastfm]’s universal appeal.
The ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ attitude [lastfm]Cake[/lastfm] has toward what goes into their music is what’s so fun about them. They have the ability to take almost any musical style and make it their own, and it’s exciting to see where that takes them. If anything, they’ve only gotten better at it.
Check out the video for “Sick of You,” the first single off Showroom of Compassion:
And just in case you haven’t heard it in a while, give “The Distance” a spin for old time’s sake:
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