Monday, January 30, 2006

Album Review -Cake: Pressure Chief




Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Currently Listening
Pressure Chief

By Cake
The GUITAR MAN
see related

Yesterday was one of the longest, most frustrating days at work I’ve ever had. I had about a week off, and it’s really quite hard to get back into the swing of things. I could get everything done if I really wanted but it would take at LEAST 4 more hours. So then I’d be there till 10 pm. Which really isn’t allowed. And hey, I got a really nice gift basket, so I can’t even complain that it’s a thankless job. And here I am, complaining about not complaining. Pathetic, no? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Moving on... I've got a record review...

The oddly named Cake have, over the course of their career, released a string of albums that are both quirky and catchy. Each album is also a consistent look at the Cake sound, a blend of acoustic guitar, electronic drumbeats, introspection, and straightforward songwriting. Cake has one eye on the past and one on the future, with an aim to prove that electronics have soul, and humans will act like machines. But really, that’s a tortured attempt at analogy. The main thing is that Cake is pretty. These are pop songs. Finely crafted, well-written and tuneful 3 minute songs. The 2004 album Pressure Chief has 11 tracks. The first half of the album is more upbeat and strange, with songs a little more show-offy in their songwriting. This peaks with the climactic Guitar Man (which I believe is a cover tune) and leads into the second half of the album. The second, sadder half follows and ends with the hope-and-adversity trilogy of the last three songs.

Wheels -subtle, no-fault breakup song that chugs along to an unlikely ending. Beautiful arrangement, Dylanesque whimsy will get you every time.
No Phone -an amped-up, shouty song that sees Cake getting as close as they can to Hip Hop. Definitely the gem of the album, this easily-supported rant on modern life makes you bob your head as you curse your luck.
Take it All Away –graceful yet moody elegy to a doomed relationship. Consider it the spiteful twin of Wheels
Dime -believe it or not, an amazing song written from the point of view of a dime. Those crazy musicians! Sad, joyous, and utterly catchy! In the brown shag carpet of a cheap cheap motel/in the dark and dusty corner by the TV shelf/is a small reminder of a simpler time/ when a crumpled up pair off trousers lost a brand new dime.

Carbon Monoxide –a tale of a suffering biker that’s begging to have it’s own save-the-earth commercial. Pure organ-based summer-pop.
The Guitar Man -the perfect ode to the traveling musician, similar to Turn the page. If it was one bit simpler or more complicated, it wouldn’t be as direct or quite as pretty, dang it!
Waiting -A slow building plea that points out the holes in the songwriter’s life. Beautiful, Bacharach-like trumpets grace the transitions.

For fans of: Fountains of Wayne, Ben Folds, William Shatner, Odelay-era Beck, R.E.M., Bright Eyes
File Under: Pop-Rock

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