Tuesday, May 31, 2005

CAKE - Motorcade of Generosity

It's been more than 10 years since I first heard the song Rock 'N' Roll Lifestyle on the radio. It was sung in monotone, the tone was biting sarcasm, funny, relevant. It conjured up images of the rock and roll fan, who wasn't really a fan, who was more concerned with image rather than appreciating the music. It was revolutionary. I loved it.

Now tickets to concerts and drinking at clubs,
Sometimes for music that you haven't even heard of.
And how much did you pay for your rock'n'roll t-shirt
That proves you were there,That you heard of them first?

Excess ain't rebellion.
You're drinking what they're selling.
Your self-destruction doesn't hurt them.
Your chaos won't convert them.

Man, those were great lyrics, especially the "Excess ain't rebellion" part. Now after I heard it played a couple more times, I eventually found out the band's name was CAKE, and of course rushed out to buy the CD. Trouble is, no one had heard of them. When I mentioned to the salesgirl that I was looking for CAKE she gave me a funny look, and chuckled that this wasn't a bakeshop. I had to go to CD Warehouse, order one, then wait a couple of months before I finally got it.

This is a great CD. CAKE has a very unique style. Their first album, same with all their releases, looks very low budget. The CD cover booklet is printed on what looks like newsprint, and appears to have been produced with a cheap typewriter and mimeographed. No lyrics are included. The band gives no dedication, no acknowledgement, just the list of songs, that's it.

My favorite songs are of course, Rock 'N' Roll Lifestyle, as well as You Part The Waters -

You part the waters,
The same ones that I'm drowning in.
You lead your casual slaughters,
And I'm the one who helps you win.
You've got your grand piano.
You don't even play piano.
I'm the one who plays piano.
You don't even play piano.

Casual slaughters? Who leads whom? Who gets the piano? We don't know.

Jolene is also good, as well as Ruby Sees All, Pentagram, Mr. Mastodon Farm, and others. The music is in its raw form. No frills, just basic simple instruments. Every song is subject to interpretation. The lead singer and main songwriter John McCrea has a knack for writing some of the strangest lyrics you will read. Lots of biblical imagery which I suspect is about something entirely different. CAKE's songs revolve around society's excesses, human frailties, and emotion in its pure form. 10 years later I'm still a CAKE fan and it all started with this CD.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars * * * *
Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling...

3 comments:

roehl said...

”[rock and roll lifestyle] conjured up images of the rock and roll fan, who wasn't really a fan, who was more concerned with image rather than appreciating the music.”

so how in the world did you associate this song with trinity when trinity is probably the most unpretentious rock fan in all of com-sci?! he actually keeps a low profile about his music. you’d never know how great a musician he is in the same way that you will never know how great a computer programmer he is until you get to know him well. and by looking at his “plain” face, you’ll also never know how popular he is with the girls.

trinity not only listens to music, but he plays and composes music as well. and when i say play and compose music, i don’t mean he does it with some computer software the way edward sanchez does it. not that he won’t be able to do it in this manner but rather it’s because he knows computer-generated music is not as good as the music generated by real instruments like guitars and drums – both of which are his specialty. he is actually anti-technology when it comes to music and thus he doesn’t deem synthesizers important instruments. this was even the reason of our argument (which led to our eventual falling-out) as i insisted on wanting carol king (a great keyboardist as well as a good back-up singer) to be part of our band. people thought i only wanted carol in the band cause i had a crush on her (she wasn’t even my type!). but the truth was i wanted someone chinese in the band. the band’s members being all soft-tech (trinity, vic, jeff & me) and soft-tech students being predominantly chinese, i found it strange not to have someone chinese in the band. we were already being called the soft-tech band for crying out loud!

despite being anti-technology when it comes to music, trinity will once in a while use some popular gadgets if the need arises. he would use distortions as well as huge amplifiers and speakers for his guitar. this happens only if he’s going to play onstage. but when he’s only with friends, a simple acoustic guitar and a vocalist like me would be more than enough.

my point is: if trinity wasn’t a true rock fan, then what would we pretenders call ourselves ......

rob said...

Roehl, I was young and foolish at the time. I would make snap judgments on people based on single events. Fortunately since then I have learned, and Trinity is an ok guy, too bad I never got to really know him.

roehl said...

"Trinity is an ok guy, too bad I never got to really know him."

rob, maybe it's not too late. we're young and thus there are still plenty of chances of meeting in the future. who knows, he may even be working right there in washington!!

to be fair on your part, trinity also judged you to be a cold, emotionless nerd. he probably got surprised when he saw your basketball skills back when you were still in your prime.

i do miss basketball with thebeatinghearts.