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Cake keeps on trucking

Pressure Chief (Sony/BMG Music)


Finding Pressure Chief on store racks is like finding
an old friend in line at the super market. Sure, they’ve
changed a little with the years, but basically, you know
what to expect, and you won’t be disappointed.

On their fifth full-length album, Cake has made good
on their reputation as cynical nay-sayers of the music
industry and the world at large, attacking injustice with
an over-developed sense of humor. In keeping this
their notorious oh-so-cynical attitude, the band’s lyrics
reflect a disgust over consumerism and even the current global political situation.

Although singer John McCrea insists that Cake is not a political band, overtones throughout the album clearly
mock national stereotypes, poking fun at “overweight Americans” and yearning over simpler times. With an
album so clearly based in current international situations, (be sure to check out  “Wheels,” and “Dime”), it’s
interesting that McCrea has been known to call his band culturally irrelevant.

The California-based group is as quick to judge their own music and work as they are the rest of the music
industry, which they’ve said seems to be killing itself. But 13 years after their creation, Cake is still clinging to an
industry they’ve clearly decided to improve upon. At their website, (, the band has an entire
section dedicated to giving personal advice to start-up musicians, and while it’s often tongue in cheek, there
seems to be a genuine element of good will involved.

Sticking to their tried and true cover art and simple musical style, Cake continues to stay interesting with
unexpected car horns, phone rings, hand claps, and spaced-out synth effects on nearly every track. Simple
harmonies and basic but accurate vocal, guitar, and horn details add to the multi-layered sound that makes
Cake so simply GREAT. Because that’s what they are – a band that is punk-rock in that traditional sense of
“keep it simple and get your point across.” And while Cake doesn’t look or sound punk, they’re one of the few
groups that seems to get the message in a society riddled with pop-punkers who’ve kept the sound but lost the

Despite their classic sound and look – the video for “No Phone” looks suspiciously similar to 2001’s “Short
Skirt/Long Jacket” – Cake has made some modern adaptations. On top of updating their lyrics, McCrea actually
sings on this album, as opposed to chanting. And when a lead singer is known for his dead-pan lyrics, even the
five note modulation of Pressure Chief is big shakes.

So while
Pressure Chief is not an earth shattering record, it is a worth-while one. Don’t turn to Cake expecting
anything you haven’t heard before, but if you want a solid band that won’t let you down, you can’t do better than