September 18, 2008

The Sea and Cake: "The Sea and Cake".

It all began here, with the somewhat hasty musical smatterings offered on TSAC's eponymous debut. I believe, contrary to many sources and fans, that this album is not easily accessible, or a proper introduction to the band's true sound and style. This record was recorded in the wake of the disassembly of Sam and Eric's first band, Shrimp Boat, a post-country/indie-bluegrass ensemble featuring producer Brad Wood. Brad was recruited to record the album, and added saxophone on the funky, slightly out of place "Culabra Cut". Sam and Eric discovered Archer through his work as guitarist of local group The Coctails, and extended the invitation to work on what was really only a studio project at the time. Last in the lineup to join was John, Tortoise multi-instrumentalist/drummer/Soma Studios owner, on drums. He would later record and produce the majority of his band's albums/ep's.

The Sea and Cake(s/t) sounds very much like a late Shrimp Boat record, with a slightly tighter group effort and an obvious post-jazz influence throughout serving as the only stand-out differences. "Jacking the Ball" is the perfect album starter: hard-hitting, high-energy rock riffs and Sam's cool-cat vocal stylings adding the perfect art-snob touch that throws the whole thing in a completely different direction than immediately expected upon first listen. Listening to the rest of the album further solidifies the overwhelming sensation that "there is just something special about these guys...", with the laid-back, feel-good "Polio" and "Flat Lay the Water", as well as the punkier-sounding foot-stomper, "Choice Blanket". Then comes the proof that the act doesn't quite have it all together - the jam band, porn-flick essential, "Culabra Cut". The latter half slacks a bit, but is immediately yanked up out of the well by the slide-happy, slightly overdriven indie/old-school anthem, "Showboat Angel". As if that wasn't quite all they had up their sleeves, they shine their talent down into the lustrous show-stopper, "So Long to the Captain", giving us listeners the inside scoop on just exactly what's to come out of these indie tricksters. Eventually, the group stops pulling the rabbit out of the hat traditionally, the way they seem accustomed to, but The Sea and Cake and the next couple records in line prove why, sonically, music can be new and exciting everytime, even after you know all the tried-and-true ingredients.
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