Monday, July 18, 2011

Showroom of Compassion by CAKE

CAKE is a band who came to prominence during the 90s, during the "alternative music" boom.

More info about them can be found here.

This is their sixth album.

CAKE built their sound on sparse arrangements, grooves, and a vibra-slap.  Much like AC/DC, their sound is one of music's sure things.  If you've heard CAKE, then you know what to expect: single guitar lines wrapped around a bass and drum groove with a lead trumpet and/or keyboard line thrown on top of monotone-like baritone vocals.  There's usually a weird or unlikely cover thrown in for good measure.  It's a sound that works with clever lyrics and a cool overall vibe.  The band has built something a cult following through the years with a steady regimen of touring and semi-regular album releases.

CAKE is a band that doesn't wear its influences on their sleeves.  They really don't sound like anyone and have made their own way on their own terms.  They've never bowed to commercial winds within the industry.  They have survived by being what they are.

Showroom of Compassion is basically more of the same, which isn't a bad thing, if you're a fan of CAKE.

After opening with "Federal Funding," a topical tune for these recession-drenched times, we get "Long Time."  If you want to know what CAKE sounds like, this is it. 

"What's Now Is Now" is a Frank Sinatra cover, but it is run through the CAKE filter, which means it easily sounds like one of their own songs.

There's an odd instrumental called "Teenage Pregancy" that sounds like the closing credits to a Fellini film.

"Sick of You" is the single and in a fair world, this would be one of the biggest songs of the year.  The fuzzy guitar riff is almost "Day Tripper" by The Beatles.  It's guaranteed you will be singing this chorus after one listen.

The album gets country suddenly on "Bound Away."  This song really wouldn't sound out of place on an old country record by the likes of Merle Haggard.  A classic country waltz that provides a healthy diversion.

"The Winter" is a ballad that one could almost describe as pretty.  It's a nice closer, but it blends right into "Italian Guy" that shores up the band's funny side.  It's more an observation than an outright joke, but I'm sure it's not meant to be taken completely seriously.

CAKE is a very good band who make very good albums.  This music is probably not going to change anyone's life, but it's very easy to settle into the band's good humor and solid grooves.  There are no real revelations here and I'm glad to report that if you like CAKE already, this album will be a welcome addition.  If you've never heard CAKE at all, then this album is as good place as any to start.  Showroom of Compassion is a fun album chock full of decent tunes.

The record did manage to debut at number one, also setting a record as the lowest selling number one debut ever.  This is just proof of the band's die-hard fan base making sure they got it the day it came out.  It also says that CAKE fans still buy CDs.

One more note about this record:  It was recorded completely on solar power, which has no real bearing on the songs or the album itself.  It really only applies to the band's environmentally minded tendencies.


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