It is a little disheartening for Cake fans to find out that their first CD release since 2004’s Pressure Chief, properly named B-Sides and Rarities, doesn’t actually contain any new music, and furthermore, is a compilation of mostly cover songs. Well, that is the bad news. The good news—This Sacramento band’s new set still captures the essence of their sound, still sounds amazing, and (even more importantly) is just the first of a few albums planned for release on newly formed Upbeat Records; next expected is a live album set for release in August.
B-Sides contains everything we’ve loved about Cake since the early nineties: John McCrea’s emotionless lead vocals, jam sessions with more instruments than you can name, and how can we forget – their unique way of making the trumpet seem so damn cool. This album, however, doesn’t contain enough levity that if you weren’t a Cake fan prior to B-sides you’ll be converted. And, if you are a true Cake fan, why wouldn’t you have these recordings anyway? But if you’re somewhere in the middle: you like Cake, have heard them on the radio but haven’t actually seen them in concert or own any of their CDs this just might be the extra little push in the right direction.
One reason Cake has been so successful for this long is because of their unfathomable way of staying right under the radar, and they effectively sustain their genre-less status with this release. Covering artists from Ozzy Osborne all the way to Kenny Rogers, and topping it off with a little Frank Sinatra; putting the icing on that same old Cake mix. And just when that wasn’t enough, they stick in a couple of well-placed instrumentals just to prove that they are not resting on the laurels of McCrea’s recognizable-anywhere-voice.
Oh, did I forget to mention the scratch and sniff album cover? I guess I didn’t. The most useless addition to this release is the subtle (depends on your olfactory abilities) odor of roses or bananas or other equally annoying smell that is emanated from your CD case. Are they trying to appeal to all the senses? Perhaps, though they should stick to what they know best, and that’s making good music.
Soul Coughing – Lust in Phaze
Eels – Beautiful Freak
Camper Van Beethoven – Camper Vantiquities