Friday, March 5, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 101: Cake

And so I enter the second hundred discs in the Odyssey. And to start it off,

Disc 101 is...Prolonging the Magic
Artist: Cake

Year of Release: 1998

How I Came To Know It: Sheila was a fan of the song "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" and "Never There" - I think she bought this album and the one that preceded it. This one has "Never There", which was a medium-sized hit in 1998.

How It Stacks Up: We have all six Cake albums (including one of remakes). Although I used to really love this album, looking at the whole collection, I'd say it is 4th or 5th at best. I'm not saying it is bad, I just like those other albums more.

Rating: 3 stars.

I know Cake's music pretty well, but I don't know much about the band - I suspect they are a college act that hit it big, and entered the mainstream. This album is a pretty good example of what they do, with a bit of the funk guitar that features in not a few of their albums, attached to an indie-pop sound. They also mix in a horn section which I think really works for them.

"Prolonging the Magic" as an album has a few songs I could live without, like the overly whimsical, "When You Sleep", which asks the question "when you sleep/where do your fingers go?" Answer - who cares. If this question has any deeper meaning, it has eluded me over many listens. If it doesn't, why the hell ask?

Other tracks really appeal to me, especially the ones that are a bit on the funkier side. I really like the guitar riff in "Satan Is My Motor", which is a song about owning a car - it has that perspective you have in college when owning your own car is exciting in its novelty.

Cake sings a lot about cars, often with a negative connotation. I don't know what that means - I suspect they are from California and sick of car culture, but I've never put that theory to a test of research.

I also really like "Sheep Go To Heaven" which is a song with a more appropriate amount of whimsy, that I actually think has a little bit more to say beyond its groovy guitar lick. Here's a few of my favourite lines:

"The grave digger puts on the forceps
The stone mason does all the work
The barber can give you a haircut
The carpenter can take you out to lunch.

I just want to play on my pan pipes
I just want to drink me some wine
As soon as you're born you start dying
So you might as well have a good time."

I like the way they refer to a doctor as a gravedigger, which is about as quick as you can jump on the whole "we're all gonna die" bandwagon as can be done.

Also, this song provides useful information. I'm sure you knew that the barber can give you a haircut, but knowing that the carpenter will take you out to lunch is pretty useful intel.

I've heard this song a lot, and I haven't successfully picked out any pan pipe playing, but maybe it's there. Technically, he doesn't say he's going to play on his pan pipes, he says he wants to. I can't play the pan pipes or the funk guitar, but I certainly know how to drink me some wine and have a good time (the dying part's a given).

Also a note on the cover. Cake loves to have these kind of weird covers, with iconic imagery and primary colours. This one, as you have seen, features a pig. Not sure if there is anything else to say. I have attempted to grok the pig in its fullness, but sometimes a pig is just a pig. I think that's the case here.

In closing, this album is fun, musically interesting and waffles between vaguely insightful and simply silly. It is a good listen, and it has a pig.

Best tracks: Satan Is My Motor, Never There, Sheep Go To Heaven, Alpha Beta Parking Lot, Cool Blue Reason.

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