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Old 06-01-2009, 01:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Cake Discography Thread


While I love Jack White and Tom Waits, neither the popular nor the critically acclaimed need defending on these boards. Conversely, bands that may be equal in artistic temperament but are unfairly bogged down with a reputation are generally in short supply of valid credit given to them. In this regard no song has misrepresented a band like Cake’s “The Distance” since Extreme released “More than words”, or The Looking Glass’s “Brandy.”

“The Distance” amongst other things was too clever, and fit with the times. Like lollapalooza’s singular rap-acts, The Distance seems to mildly acknowledge that this is a musical genre, but only with a tongue safely in the cheek. The video was trivializing; grown men running in giant animal suits which in all likely hood was marketed as a nice midpoint between Beck’s Loser and its nonsensical, non-sequiter thematic mash-up, and the Flaming Lips general animal attire. While the markings of the band were there; trumpets, three part harmonies backing a laconic staccato melody line, the random barks of the practice studio, the soul of the band was missing. And while Cake undoubtedly rode Fashion Nuggest’s success to indie stardom, it was clear from the outset they didn’t want that specter haunting them. They opened many shows with "The Distance" so that people who came only for that song could leave.

But I point out, in part what "The Distance" is because it defines what Cake is not. "Distance" was written by then Guitarist Greg Brown who left before the recording of the bands next album Prolonging the Magic (but close enough to get credits on some songs) to join the band Deathray.

A large bulk of the Cake catalogue has been written by front man John McCrea and stands in stark contrast to the sole hit from Fashion Nugget that drove them to become radio mainstays. McCrea’s style has been compared to that of Hank Williams and Willie Nelson for both its skeletal structure and its direct lyrics and accounts for the main character of the band’s sound. A staunch environmentalist, during a Fresh Air interview on NPR, he went as far as saying he felt many late-90’s bands were the aural equivalent of an SUV, and that in comparison, he’s always tried to be a small hybrid.

In this thread I fully intend to explore some of the hidden gems, the better craftsmanship, and the expanse of the Cake catalogue’s 5 disc set. (soon to be 6 it appears) While I’d enjoy an upsurge in new fans, as a pragmatist, I only hope you find a song or two that shows a band that’s much more than a clever hit, and some songs that have some personal interest for you.

Thanks for reading,
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Motorcade of Generocity



Released February 7, 1994
Recorded 1994
Length 43:12
Label Capricorn Records
Producer Cake


Cake’s first album dips heavily into the Country roots with a strong supporting role from its mariachi influence. Jesus wrote a Blank Check and Pentagram utilize a frontier harmony that sounds like its been tuned to the tin sound of the harmonica; notes aren’t such much sung as they are landed on and syllables are hammered on like a car horn playing rhythm. Ain’t No Good for you, while starting as disheveled as its main character, locks itself into a trumpeted groove that sounds like it came direct from the festivals.

But to say it’s a country album would be misleading and if your impression of Cake was that they were too clever, they’re not letting that one go very easily. While aforementioned tracks might play well in the heartland, the “intellectual” openings of Rock & Roll Lifestyle and Mr. Mastodon’s Farm are more suited for the night clubs and poetry slams (respectively) of a major metropolitan area’s. The former, tackling the idea of American wastefulness sounds more Talking Heads than Wayland Jennings, The latter starts with a Virginia Wolfe stream-of-consciousness ramble that the band eventually picks up on and runs with.

But the bands true strength lies in its simplistic observation of life in the artistic doldrums of Sacramento. On tracks like Ruby Sees All, Jolene, and I Bombed Korea every night, McCrea objectively details the disaster and heartbreak that can be found on any barstool in America. Korea brings us a matter-of-fact lament from what could be a war veteran, or simply any aging man looking back on his youth and acknowledging that his actions were less than informed:

I bombed korea every night.
I bombed korea every night.
Red flowers bursting down below us.
Those people didnt even know us.
We didnt know if we would live or die.
We didnt know if it was wrong or right.
I bombed korea every night.


If Cake sets a precedent with Motorcade, it’s no precedent at all. The album stood as a declaration of freedom, demanding to go in any direction it felt inclined. And just when its lo-fi acoustic description becomes familiar to you, their bound to throw a grand piano and some orchestral string-samples (You part the waters) in to throw you off. While radio play was scarce for this one, Corporate America was still looking for anything out there in the wake of Cobain’s death, and Cake’s opinionated but well defined character stood out, and stardom was just on the horizon.

Last edited by TheBig3; 02-23-2011 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm ashamed to admit I've never heard of Cake before. Judging by what you've just said about them though, they sound just like my kinda thing, so I'm pretty curious about them now.

Top review there. I think I'll put that first album on my 'keep-an-eye-out-for' list.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well if you're looking for some stuff to try PM me with what you're into. Like most "first albums" its not the easiest to get into, or their best work, but this ones still an amazing body of work.

more reviews will be here shortly.
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Good work, I'm looking forward to reading your opinion of Prolonging The Magic.
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i've been meaning to get into some Cake for a while, i'll be looking forward to this thread
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isn't this one of the main reasons for this entire site?

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Old 06-01-2009, 10:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I never cared for these guys because of "The Distance." It was an ok song but I never actually liked it. I think I disliked it at some point. Anyway, I've heard the other singles and always thought "Never There" was a really good song but I never bothered to check out an album because I was always thinking stuff would be like "The Distance." I guess I was wrong in thinking that, based on your post. There's another song I've heard, something about "I want a girl..." this and that, don't know the name. Anyway, that one's nice too. So maybe I should check them out at some point.
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidewinder View Post
I never cared for these guys because of "The Distance." It was an ok song but I never actually liked it. I think I disliked it at some point. Anyway, I've heard the other singles and always thought "Never There" was a really good song but I never bothered to check out an album because I was always thinking stuff would be like "The Distance." I guess I was wrong in thinking that, based on your post. There's another song I've heard, something about "I want a girl..." this and that, don't know the name. Anyway, that one's nice too. So maybe I should check them out at some point.
the song you're thinking of is "Short Skirt Long Jacket"

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isn't this one of the main reasons for this entire site?

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Old 06-02-2009, 01:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I love cake. Jesus wrote a blank check is the best song on that first album ( in my opinion).
Cool thread.

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I never cared for these guys because of "The Distance." It was an ok song but I never actually liked it. I think I disliked it at some point. Anyway, I've heard the other singles and always thought "Never There" was a really good song but I never bothered to check out an album because I was always thinking stuff would be like "The Distance." I guess I was wrong in thinking that, based on your post. There's another song I've heard, something about "I want a girl..." this and that, don't know the name. Anyway, that one's nice too. So maybe I should check them out at some point.
The distance is probably the most boring song they've ever written (well, next to sheep go to heaven).
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Old 06-02-2009, 07:29 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidewinder View Post
I never cared for these guys because of "The Distance." It was an ok song but I never actually liked it. I think I disliked it at some point. Anyway, I've heard the other singles and always thought "Never There" was a really good song but I never bothered to check out an album because I was always thinking stuff would be like "The Distance." I guess I was wrong in thinking that, based on your post. There's another song I've heard, something about "I want a girl..." this and that, don't know the name. Anyway, that one's nice too. So maybe I should check them out at some point.
Well i'm glad you took something from it. Stick around and sound off. Unless work becomes a nightmare, Fashion Nuggest should be going up today.

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I love cake. Jesus wrote a blank check is the best song on that first album ( in my opinion).
Cool thread.


The distance is probably the most boring song they've ever written (well, next to sheep go to heaven).
Hey now, Sheep go to Heaven is a hell of a sing-a-long. Once I finish the proper albums, I'll be reviewing auxillery things like Live Shows and their Unlimited Sunshine Tour. My goal is to have a thread where in you can get any information about the band you might want.

And if theres anything people are looking to get a review on, anything from a singular song to the music scene in Sacramento at the time, PM me and let me know.
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