Cake is an alt/rock band that has been around since 1994. “Fashion Nugget” is Cakes sophomore album and it is considered there best by many critics. However I believe this is Cakes second best album just behind “Comfort Eagle.” Cake is very well known for there funky single “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” but this album doesn’t really have any songs like that. Cakes sound is usually easy going and laid back. A few of these songs break that rule and are actually compelling. Fashion Nugget is probably Cakes most popular album, “The Distance” was a big single back in the mid 90's and Cake just has a different sound than any other band I’ve heard. While most people have only heard the main singles the albums are worth it, Cake is not a one hit wonder band. “Fashion Nugget” is an album that almost anyone can enjoy.
Cake combines funk, garage rock, jazz, new-wave, and alt/rock to create incredible music. “Fashion Nugget” has the most variety out of all Cake albums. This album features relaxing laid-back tracks, compelling and pump up songs, a few country influenced tunes, and straight forward rock music. Cake succeeds because they can do all of these things well. “Frank Sinatra” and “Open Book” are two perfect examples of Cakes laid back type tracks. While these tracks are laid back they remain from being boring just because Cake incorporates so many different rhythms and sounds into them, not to mention that these songs are super catchy. “The Distance” and “Friend Is A Four Letter Word” are two more emotion, serious, and most of all compelling tracks. Cake shows they have range because they two tracks are not laid back, they are intense and emotional. Those two tracks are very effective just because they are catchy, and they have that competitive drive to them, McCrea never lets up. Now the more countryish songs would have to be “Stick shifts & Safety belts” and “Sad Songs & Waltzes.” Even though I despise country I can handle these songs because they still have that serious yet laid back feel, these songs are not completely dominated by country music, they just have a slight country influence. As far as jazz goes “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” and “Daria” both have a few minor jazz influences mixed in with some witty lyrics. All in all Cakes main foundation is rock. However when they add in monotone vocals, some funk, jazz, garage influences you get some fun, witty music. Cake is easy to get into just because they are so easy going. None of these tracks (with the exception of the odd “Race Car Ya-Yas”) are hard to get into. The first three tracks on the album suck you right in to the album. All of these songs aren’t completely dominated by one certain sound, Cake cleverly adds in slight bits of influence from a lot of different genres and that is what makes Cake so unique.
Too my knowledge there are three covers featured on “Fashion Nugget.” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is a classic song known by virtually everyone. Cake covered this song and some people were upset by it, I think that is ridiculous. Cakes cover is ironic, laid-back and guitar influenced. Cakes cover features hints of funk and jazz along with nice guitar lines featured here and there. In my opinion this is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The reason I enjoy so much is because it is so different from the original version. Cakes remix of “I Will Survive” features a great trumpet line, a funky bassline and some very nice guitar riffs, throughout all of this Cake keeps there laid back feel. This may be on of my favorite covers off all time. I believe that “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” is another cover. The original version was by Osvaldo Farres, a Latin artists. The song was written in 1966 and the lyrics are rather cheesy. “Sad Songs & Waltzes” is another cover, but I’m not sure who created the original. The song is very country/folk influenced so that gives you an idea of what the track sounds like. In my opinion the Gloria Gaynor cover is excellent, as far as the other two cover songs I think Cake could have done better with some original compositions.
Now what about Cakes vocals" John McCrea uses an odd monotone vocal delivery. His vocals mix very well with the mesh of instruments Cake uses. He gives the music a laid-back feel and he never tries to go out of his range. You will hear McCrea sing a few lines hear and there but basically he doesn’t sing too often. When you talk about Cake people might say “Oh yeah, that’s the band that the lead singer talks instead of sings.” That person would be wrong. McCrea doesn’t talk the vocals nor does he sing. He has a very nice voice, it is on key in all of these songs. The thing is his vocals can be hit or miss depending on how picky you are with your music. I love his vocal delivery just because it is quirky and unique, it also is a perfect combination with the music.
Now on too the instruments Cake uses. Basically these tracks are all guitar driven. Guitar powered tracks such as “I Will Survive” “Nugget” and “Open Book” are excellent. The guitar playing is fairly simple, but it can get quite difficult in some parts. Even though the guitar is the center of attention the bass is also a key factor. “The Distance” has a wonderful, funky bassline and although this track is stern and compelling the bassline gives it sort of a funk feel. Even though the bass doesn’t do too much it is still a factor in the music. Now most importantly is the trumpet. The trumpet is used most often in “Fashion Nugget.” It plays a role in almost all of these songs. “Italian Leather Sofa” has one of the most amazing trumpet lines I’ve ever heard from an alt/rock band, it goes on for about two minutes The trumpet mostly plays as a back up instrument, but it gives the music a jazzy feel. The trumpet is apparent in all of these songs and it is what gives “Fashion Nugget” a big edge over a lot of other Cake albums. Instrumentally Cake is fantastic, they make great rock music with few instruments. “Fashion Nugget” is as inventive as Cake gets.
Overall this album is fantastic. This is a very easy album to get into, the songs are accessible and laid-back. Jazzy trumpet lines along with well done guitar lines make this album fun, relaxing and sometimes these songs can even be compelling. Most of these songs are catchy and easy to get into, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting into this album. “Fashion Nugget” can be ironic with it’s odd cover of “I Will Survive.” McCreas vocals are monotone and laid-back, but you can tell that he is having a good time. “Fashion Nugget” is a fun album, maybe not as playful as Cakes debut but there are enough trumpet lines and catchy melodies too keep this album from being boring. If you are an alt/rock fan you should definitely pick this album up. Although the covers keep this album from being a classic, if you give this album one listen it will be in your cd player for months.
Overall Rating : 4/5
Album Art : http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000003CKH.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
A lot of range
Vocals are hit or miss
Recommended Tracks :
“I Will Survive”
“Italian Leather Sofa”