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Cake

Best-known for their ubiquitous hit "The Distance," Cake epitomized the postmodern, irony-drenched aesthetic of '90s geek rock. Their sound freely mixed and matched pastiches of widely varying genres -- white-boy funk, hip-hop, country, new wave pop, jazz, college rock, and guitar rock -- with a particular delight in the clashes that resulted. Their songs were filled with lyrical non-sequiturs, pop-culture references, and smirky satire, all delivered with bone-dry detachment by speak/singing frontman John McCrea. Cake's music most frequently earned comparisons to Soul Coughing and King Missile, but lacked the downtown New York artiness of those two predecessors; instead, Cake cultivated an image of average guys with no illusions and pretensions about their role as entertainers. At the same time, critics lambasted what they saw as a smugly superior attitude behind the band's habitual sarcasm. Perhaps there was something in Cake's doggedly spare, low-key presentation that amplified their ironic detachment even when they didn't intend it, but most reviewers pegged them as one-hit wonders after the success of "The Distance." Nonetheless, Cake managed a few more alternative radio hits in the years that followed, while largely retaining the same approach.

Cake was formed in Sacramento, California in 1992 by vocalist/songwriter John McCrea, who'd recently returned home after spending a few years in Los Angeles, unsuccessfully trying to break into the music business. The original lineup of Cake also featured guitarist Greg Brown, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, bassist Sean McFessel, and drummer Frank French; McFessel soon left to attend college, and was replaced by Gabe Nelson. In 1993, the band released their debut single, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle," on a local basis, and followed it with a self-produced, self-released, self-distributed album, Motorcade of Generosity. Motorcade found its way to the revived Capricorn label, which released the album nationally after Cake signed a contract with them. With the prospect of extensive national touring, both Gabe Nelson and Frank French left the band, and were replaced by bassist Victor Damiani and drummer Todd Roper. Re-released by Capricorn, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle" caught on at college radio in 1995, and was followed by two more singles, "Ruby Sees All," and "Jolene" (not the Dolly Parton song).

Cake's second album, Fashion Nugget, was released in 1996 and spawned a breakout smash in the Greg Brown-penned "The Distance," which dominated alternative radio that fall, and even turned into an unlikely sporting-event anthem. Mostly on the strength of "The Distance," Fashion Nugget charted in the Top 40 and sold over a million copies. It also spun off a somewhat controversial follow-up single in a cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"; although the band professed its sincere admiration for the song, some critics and listeners took it as a smarmy putdown, in part because of McCrea's deadpan vocals. In 1997, Greg Brown and Victor Damiani both left Cake and formed a new group, the new wave-influenced Deathray, which eventually released its debut album on Capricorn in 2000. Meanwhile, McCrea briefly considered putting Cake to rest, but brought original bassist Gabe Nelson back to replace Damiani instead. For Cake's next album, McCrea used a tag-team procession of guitarists -- five in all -- on different tracks; the result, Prolonging the Magic, was released in 1998. True to its sardonic title, it defied critical opinion to produce another big, alternative radio hit in "Never There," plus decently successful follow-ups in "Sheep Go to Heaven" and "Let Go."

Prolonging the Magic sold nearly as well as Fashion Nugget, and was also certified platinum. For the supporting tour, one of the album's guitarists, Xan McCurdy, officially joined Cake full-time. In the spring of 2000, the band signed a new deal with Columbia, and debuted in 2001 with their fourth overall album, Comfort Eagle, which became their highest-charting yet (at number 13). The lead single, "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," was a hit on alternative radio, and even earned some MTV airplay -- no longer an easy task for any artist -- with a video that featured reactions to the song by randomly selected people on the street. Following the completion of the album, drummer Todd Roper left the group to spend more time with his children, and was replaced on the supporting tour by Pete McNeal. Pressure Chief appeared in 2004. Redefining the meaning of independent -- the band was by then recording in a studio powered entirely by solar energy, and free of the corporate involvement of even so much as a utility bill -- released Showroom of Compassion some six years later in 2011. ~ Steve Huey & Steve Leggett
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Showroom Of Compassion

1. Federal Funding

2. Long Time

3. Got To Move

4. What's Now Is Now

5. Mustache Man (Wasted)

6. Teenage Pregnancy

7. Sick Of You

8. Easy To Crash

9. Bound Away

10. The Winter

11. Italian Guy

x

Track List: Pressure Chief

1. Wheels

2. No Phone

3. Take It All Away

4. Dime

5. Carbon Monoxide

6. The Guitar Man

7. Waiting

8. She'll Hang The Baskets

9. End Of The Movie

10. Palm Of Your Hand

11. Tougher Than It Is

x

Track List: Comfort Eagle

1. Opera Singer

2. Meanwhile, Rick James

3. Shadow Stabbing

4. Short Skirt/Long Jacket

5. Commissioning A Symphony In C

6. Arco Arena

7. Comfort Eagle

8. Long Line Of Cars

9. Love You Madly

10. Pretty Pink Ribbon

11. World Of Two

x

Track List: Prolonging The Magic

1. Satan Is My Motor

2. Mexico

3. Never There

4. Guitar

5. You Turn The Screws

6. Walk On By

7. Sheep Go To Heaven

8. When You Sleep

9. Hem Of Your Garment

10. Alpha Beta Parking Lot

11. Let Me Go

12. Cool Blue Reason

13. Where Would I Be

x

Track List: Prolonging The Magic (Explicit)

1. Satan Is My Motor

2. Mexico

3. Never There

4. Guitar

5. You Turn The Screws

6. Walk On By

7. Sheep Go To Heaven

8. When You Sleep

9. Hem Of Your Garment

10. Alpha Beta Parking Lot

11. Let Me Go

12. Cool Blue Reason

13. Where Would I Be?

x

Track List: Fashion Nugget

1. Frank Sinatra

2. The Distance

3. Friend Is A Four Letter Word

4. Open Book

5. Daria

6. Race Car Ya-Yas

7. I Will Survive

8. Stickshifts And Safetybelts

9. Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

10. It's Coming Down

11. Nugget

12. She'll Come Back To Me

13. Italian Leather Sofa

14. Sad Songs And Waltzes

x

Track List: Motorcade Of Generosity

1. Comanche

2. Ruby Sees All

3. Up So Close

4. Pentagram

5. Jolene

6. Haze Of Love

7. You Part The Waters

8. Is This Love?

9. Jesus Wrote A Blank Check

10. Rock 'N' Roll Lifestyle

11. I Bombed Korea

12. Mr. Mastodon Farm

13. Ain't No Good

x

Track List: B-Sides And Rarities

1. War Pigs

2. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town

3. Mahna, Mahna

4. Excuse Me, I Think I've Got A Heartache

5. Conroy

6. Strangers In The Night

7. Multiply The Heartaches

8. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up

9. Thrills

10. Short Skirt/Long Jacket (Live)

11. It's Coming Down (Live)

12. War Pigs (Live)

x

Track List: Sick Of You (Radio Single)

1. Sick Of You

Comments

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I think a lot of people mistake Cake as a band trying too hard to be serious, but rather is the opposite. Cake is a band that tries to be as unusual as they can while still being nice to listen to, and the fact that John McCrea's talking can be actually nice to listen to when backed with music is quite great.
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Hey that's pretty good
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lame
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Cake is a s**t band
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You better come with $.....
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i want a girl
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Cars are on the way people, just stay where you are...... We will find you....
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Going The Distance always reminds me of Redline :)
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theryles
As a cover band, the band i sing with covers Never There. The audiences love it even if they have never heard it before. These guys are talented and amazing players. It comes through in the music. Underrated as far as i see. Rock on Cake.
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My Chrysler Lebaron doesn't get girls at all... Let alone, ones that wear short skirts
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i would say that cake has great music. but not a good voice at all. he doesn't sing. he talks. and mumbles. great sounds. horrible singing
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Chuck
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mikecsloan
Lot of misplaced hate in the first paragraph of this review. Cake is much better than this review gives them credit and are far from a one hit wonder.
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I like this song
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lgerritsen
He's going the distance!
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kewguys
Great fun music
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Great stuff folks be good enjoy the peaceful summer yall
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She is fast and thorough and sharp as a tac!!!!!
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So sick of you everything you ever wanted to say to your ex they write songs about it yeh peace yo be good to yourselves and the people around you we can change the world if you want to change the world shut your mouth and start this minute Cake and F**kin Cracker on the same bill who opens up pixies maybe yo yeh peace
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A long line of cars wheels keep on spinning round they are f**kin geniuses right? Peace yo
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I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket yeh peace
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Hey Cake yo how about an Orlando reunion concert for peace good for everybody involved I can help peace yo
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Toadies possum kingdom one of the best Cake radio f**kin rocks yeh peace
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Shut the f**k up learn to buck up peace
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Reluctantly crouched at the starting line my anthem the Distance reminds me of my 20s wow many moons ago peace out
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Cakes version of Guitar man is the best they kick a** on covers I can't wait for them to tour again maybe a concert for peace in Orlando good for everybody involved peace always!
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Cake bin my top 5 of all time yeh peace
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I want to love you madly yeh what a great f**kin song peace y'all
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Cakes version of War pigs is the best for sure dude and I saw both bands do it in concert in philly and Ft lauderdale peace everyone from Orlando we are staying strong here inspire of recent events
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I'm listening to Never There by Cake
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@llmikeyll ... Because f**k you, that's why. :P
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Great band, but good for freedom? Explain why or why not.
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One of my favorite bands! ��
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D
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I love Cake! Their songs have the best lyrics.
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loubro2006
Not a fan
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the cake is a lie.
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eric88543
I think whoever wrote the bio is completely overthinking it. Cake is great!
I don't need more cowbell, I need more trumpet in my music, and cake provides!
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Going the distance
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Love this band! ;)
I am such a big fan of indie rock!
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No phone no phone
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I don't appreciate how subjective this synopsis is. It's clear the person who wrote this does not like Cake.
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My Cake Radio is the anchor of my Pandora listening experience
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The only non-vegan cake I like!!!
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The Muppets Song !!!!
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I'm with Hollinger
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Absolutely awesome. F anyone who disagrees! I will fight you...
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Cake good, Pie better.
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I love cake sooooooooooo o o o o o o o o o much!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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Have any of you heard Cake's version of Black Sabbath's War Pigs? I think it's better than the original. Heavy and tight.
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