Cake
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Motorcade Generosity , 6.5/10
Fashion Nugget , 6/10
Prolonging the Magic , 6.5/10
Comfort Eagle , 6/10
Pressure Chief (2004), 6/10
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Cake is a Sacramento band led by singer and guitarist John McCrea. Motorcade Generosity (Stamen, 1994) displays a crooked sense of humour in its revision of country, blues, tex-mex, funk, reggae and salsa stereotypes that recalls Camper Van Beethoven. That band's irony is the main weapon of the trumpet-driven single Rock N' Roll Lifestyle (1994) that revealed them.

Once realized the commercial potential of their stew, Cake veered towards a more danceable sound (Todd Roper on drums and Victor Damiani on bass) and Fashion Nugget (Capricorn, 1996) promptly delivered the surprise hit single The Distance (Capricorn, 1996), thanks to funky horns and keyboards.

Prolonging the Magic (Capricorn, 1998) is still roots-rock, but with a unique quirky twist. The Cake dress up bitter and melancholy melodies with arrangements that transform them into comic novelties. A theremin, maracas and a mariachi trumpet supplement the Kinks-y power-pop ditty Guitar. Piano and trumpet "jazz" up the noir theme of You Turn The Screws, while the theremin adds a 1960s beach-party feeling. The slightly dissonant folk-pop of Satan Is My Motor and the waltzing country ballad Mexico sell out the idea. The highlight is Never There, that features a syncopated funk rhythm, an ironic Romeo Void posture, and a romantic trumpet solo. They can be jovial storytellers in the witty hyper-realistic vein of Jonathan Richman (Sheep Go To Heaven, Hem Of Your Garment). But the album closes on a somber, moody tone with the blues dirge Cool Blue Reason and the majestic hymn Where Would I Be.

On Comfort Eagle (Columbia, 2001) huge doses of wit and of melody (and ukulele) are supplemented with tactful arrangements that dig tricks from funk and jazz-rock (epitomized by Vince De Fiore's trumpet wails and Gabriel Nelson's bass lines). While Love You Madly, Meanwhile Rick James, Comfort Eagle only rely on the catchiness of the refrains, smart songs like Opera Singer and Long Line Of Cars are actually clever postmodernist essays in disguise. Another understated element of Cake's pop sound is nostalgy, that shows up repeatedly and namely in the doo-wop of Pretty Pink Ribbon and in the instrumental Arco Arena.

Jon McCrea discretely acknowledges the age of electronic and digital productions on Pressure Chief (Sony, 2004), a charming collection that manages to sound cohesive even if it ranges from quasi-emo (Wheels) to power-pop (No Phone), from country balladry (She'll Hang the Baskets) to roots-rock (Dime).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessia Fabbri)

I Cake sono un complesso di Sacramento, il cui leader e` John McCrea, cantante e chitarrista. L'album Motorcade Generosity (Stamen, 1994) denota un bizzarro senso dell' humour nella sua revisione degli stereotipi della musica country, tex-mex, funk, reggae e salsa, che ricorda i Camper Van Beethoven. Questo tipo di ironia e` il punto di forza del singolo guidato dalla tromba Rock N' Roll Lifestyle (1994) che li ha resi famosi.

Una volta compreso il potenziale commerciale della loro ricetta, i Cake hanno deviato verso un sound piu` ballabile (Todd Roper alla batteria e Victor Damiani al basso) e Fashion Nugget (Capricorn, 1996) ha subito rilasciato il single The Distance (Capricorn, 1996), che a sorpresa ha raggiunto la cima delle classifiche, grazie alle trombe e alle tastiere funky.

Prolonging The Magic (Capricorn, 1998) e` ancora roots-rock, ma segna un punto di svolta totalmente unico. I Cake travestono melodie amare e melanconiche con arrangiamenti che le trasformano in novitů comiche. Theremin, maracas e tromba mariachi accompagnano l'arietta Guitar, Kinks-y* power-pop. Pianoforte e tromba avvicinano al jazz il tema noir di You Turn The Screws, mentre il theremin aggiunge un tocco di atmosfera da festa in spiaggia anni '60. Il folk-pop leggermente dissonante di Satan Is My Motor e la ballata-walzer country Mexico tradiscono l'idea. Never There, con il suo ritmo funk sincopato, l'atteggiamento ironico alla Romeo Void, ed un romantico assolo di tromba, e` il momento saliente. I Cake riescono a essere degli allegri cantastorie nella vena iperrealistica e spiritosa di Jonathan Richman (Sheep Go To Heaven, Hem Of Your Garment). Ma l'album si chiude in un tono sobrio e malinconico con la nenia blues Cool Blue Reason e l'inno maestoso Where Would I Be

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