Hey What’s Up With…is an on-going series in which we check in on some of Giddy Up America’s favorite bands and musicians that we haven’t heard much about lately. This is the second installment.
In 2011 I wrote about the band Cake. They were about to release their album Showroom of Compassion, an album that was entirely solar-powered and it was the band’s first album of new material since 2004 and their album Pressure Chief. In my article, I described Cake as “the musical equivalent of your college loans: always around, consistent, and a reminder of good times.” Seven years later I stand by that statement. For the most part.
Showroom of Compassion had been announced with the kick the door wide open jam “Sick of You,” a song that brought back the fondness of memories for even the most casual of Cake-enthusiasts, some of whom had been with the band since they first heard “The Distance” back in 1996, a song that cut through the wave of post-grunge warriors and burgeoning boy bands like a knife wielded by a soaring trumpet. Since then, Cake has stayed the course, producing a sound that was very much all their own. There was the trumpet and there were the monotone vocals of John McCrea and the pop of the driving back beat and the schematic-like guitar lines. Cake didn’t sound like anyone else, no one else sounded like Cake. Their corner is theirs and theirs alone. It’s solar-powered and 100% private.
However, since 2011, the release of Showroom of Compassion and the various tours that followed, Cake have been relatively quiet. Maybe it was because the album didn’t have the impact they hoped or maybe it was just the result of being together for nearly two decades. Either way, Cake went from being counted on to drop a new album every couple of years to all but completely dropping off the map.
In 2017 they started to reemerge, playing a few shows and getting their tour legs back. In an interview of May of that year, McCrea talked about the time they had taken off, saying it had been spent playing a handful of shows in the Sacramento area and writing new songs. Those songs could maybe be part of a new album that could be released in 2018, something McCrea said was “entirely possible.”
Fast forward to the cusp of summer 2018 and Cake is set to hit the road for a summer tour with Ben Folds, although there hasn’t been anymore news on a new album. The band’s social media, both Twitter and Facebook, consists largely of sharing articles about causes the band cares about (sustainability, climate change) and certain politicians they don’t care about (Trump.) There’s not much there about the band’s music. Maybe that info is on the band’s MySpace page.
Left to search for clues about a new Cake album, you could look at the summer tour as a good sign. And hey, maybe their Twitter account doesn’t help much in terms of music news, but at least the fact that it’s so active at the very least proves that someone in Cake Land is active. It’d be a much different story if they were all together M.I.A. and not even out there sharing the latest Huffington Post piece about the most recent corrupt member of the Trump Administration.
The odds are good that we could get at least one more album from Cake, but if we don’t, at least we have a handful of albums to fall back on. And with summer coming up, those albums would be best served if placed in heavy rotation as Cake provides a unique soundtrack to a variety of idyllic summer situations, whether it’s lounging at the beach, kicking on the deck or cruising the open road with the windows down. We’re generally better off with a band like Cake in our lives, a band unafraid to go left where other bands go right and provide music that is unique and fresh and exclusive to them. With so many bands and artists out there, coping each other’s sound and tricks and treats, the unique ones are rare birds.
Cake cares about rare birds.
We should care about Cake.
Pretty simple when you think of it that way.