The Sea and Cake are much as their name suggests: soothing and a bit sugary. On their eighth release, Car Alarm, I am reminded of the reasons for their longevity as a band and the many reasons they are dear to my ocean-loving, dessert-eating heart.
Perhaps you have experience with The Sea and Cake, snagging a copy of The Biz, Oui, or_One Bedroom_ along the way. If you did, you no doubt know the comfortable truth about this band. After listening to a few tracks, it can be remarkably easy to grow accustomed to the S&C style, if for no other reason than their music all tends to sound very similar. This is due in large part to their consistent lineup; together since their beginning, a crowd of fellas (Prekop, Prewitt, McEntire, and Claridge, respectively) who run around Chicago with band members from Tortoise and other post-rock greats. The Sea and Cake men may not be wildly inventive as their collective career passes the fifteen-year mark, but they never were. They make solidly listenable records for a college radio crowd that got a little too old for Mogwai, a little too impatient for Guided By Voices.
Car Alarm is not a wailing, irritating screech in the night, but a soothing record for an adult dinner party. Much like their other albums, there are occasional standout tracks (“Car Alarm,” “On A Letter,” and “Weekend”) within the more mellow confines of another pop-jazz album.
I ended up at an Archer Prewitt solo show in Indianapolis in 2002, there on an invite from a music store manager who was hoping I’d attend to share his enthusiasm for the opening band, The Impossible Shapes. I hung with my frenetically leaping friend for a while and then sat down with a soda while Prewitt strummed and crooned. After the show, I worked my way up front and told Prewitt he hadn’t been the main draw for me, but that I was glad to have heard his new work. He seemed peeved by my honesty and stalked away with some groupies, but given the chance, I’d catch a full ensemble Sea and Cake show. I just wouldn’t bother trying to make small talk.