Review: The Sea and Cake Put the “C” in Cake at Union Transfer 11/9
Michele | On 13, Nov 2011
As someone who is unacquainted with The Sea and Cake’s previous output (and there has been a lot since their formation in the mid ‘90s), and whose first impression of them was listening to their 6-track LP, Moonlight Butterfly, my best description of their sound is: an extremely distant derivative of the repetitive art rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s, namely that written by bands like King Crimson, (specifically the songs “Discipline” and “Three of a Perfect Pair”). In a different light, S and C also seem like a smoothed over, consolidated rendition of grungy rock, especially in their use of electric guitars and synths, though they keep a damper on fuzz and distort.
However, trace hints of grit and grime did surface the other night, penetrating the stream-like guitar-turns ever so slightly. To compare them to a current Indie-rock band, my gut tells me to go with Gold Leaves, though mostly in vibe- electric, but fairly mellow, low-key, unassuming. That’s not to say that they’re devoid of substance- their instrumental patchworks create blankets of feeling, at times stylistically diverse. Their music is multi-tiered both in texture and melody line.
Fun fact- “The C in Cake” was the band’s initial thought when bouncing around names, but somehow it morphed into The Sea and Cake… I think the original name was a bit cooler, but what’s in a name, anyway? A band, by any other name, would smell as sweet… though sound more or less cool… (If I can so loosely quote Shakespeare…)
Brokeback, the opener, is also of the riff-driven, electric art rock vein, with lead guitar-picking atop rhythm guitar, drums and bass, but way mellow. All of the band members were wearing plaid except for the lead singer/guitarist, which leads me to believe that this band is some kind of grunge derivative, filtered through the grainy guitar wails and sudsy feedback, pressed into a combed-through electric quartet playing repetitive “post-rock” music, whatever that means (other than something that happened after ‘rock’). They all looked sort of grungy- with their flannel shirts and scruffiness, especially the bassist, who has shoulder-length hair, if memory serves.
Back to the evening’s chef d’oeuvre- The S and C. Their first song was apparently “Weekend” from their ’08 release Car Alarm, but after that, it was a little hard for me to tell what was what, except for “Up on the North Shore” from their latest endeavor. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying what I was listening to- regardless of the tempo’s upward climb or downward spiral- the entire set was pretty chill and slightly trippy, though not exactly jammy. It was perfect for night-time listening in tandem with the blue glow of the stage lights, imbibing a beer and getting a buzz from both the alcohol and the multi-layered, jazz-inspired Alt-Rock.
This is a band bred from post-whatever ’90s Indie-rock, woven together by colorful arrangements and five (including vox) very inter-reliant voices. Everything more or less blends- no one particular instrument rises above the other. Sam Prekop’s execution of the vocals makes them almost opaque, and the lyrics are so incomprehensible they may as well be another lead guitar- gently picking a melody over swimmy riffs. Instrumental (/lyric-less) music, in my opinion, always speaks louder than words.
S and C’s sound in many ways is like a moonlight butterfly (not to sound corny)- a butterfly fluttering swiftly and deliberately, though almost haphazardly floating in one direction or another. It’s a butterfly in full control, though still letting the wind take it this way and that.
The Sea and Cake, “Up on the North Shore”