One of my favorite indie bands from back in the days before the term “indie rock” was co-opted by the mainstream, is still the Sea and Cake. They have maintained a gorgeous, spacious sound, defined by an airy approach to mellow rock that is not afraid to indulge in odd left turns in rhythms and song structures. Key to their sound, is the breathy, almost unintelligible voice of lead singer/guitarist Sam Prekop, which more often than not lays on an expressionistic dimension to the already interesting proceedings. The band’s brief, but acclaimed recent release, Moonlight Butterfly (Support the Independent Ethos, purchase the vinyl on Amazon), stays true to its unique sound.

The Sea and Cake recently recorded a session for Daytrotter, worth sharing (click the exclusive Daytrotter illustration of the band by Johnnie Cluney above to jump over for the stream/download). The session ends with the “The Argument,” the song that introduced me to the band with a wallop. I heard it on the University of Miami’s radio station WVUM, on 90.5 FM, sometime in 1997. I have a vivid memory of that day. I was doing some office drudgery at a food distribution company that has since gone under (it was run by a pack of royal fuck-ups, so I will protect their legacy by not noting the company name). It wafted from the clock radio on my desk like a breath of fresh air, and I was hooked on the Sea and Cake ever since, buying up all their albums and following each release religiously, even though the band’s edge has softened over the years.

In the Daytrotter session, “the Argument” does sound a bit too rushed for my taste, and I miss the meandering battle between John McEntire’s drums and what sounds like a synthesized flute during the opening, but the other songs pay great tribute to the original versions, which come from their more recent albums, including two cuts from Moonlight Butterfly. It’s a great testament to the recording conditions Daytrotter offers visiting artists and to the live sound of the Sea and Cake. Speaking of, the band will kick off a US and Canada tour shortly, but, as usual, no dates in South Florida (they will only go as far south as North Carolina). You can see the tour dates, which start in early November, by clicking here.
Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


Forgiveness Rock Record cover art

Quick update on the Broken Social Scene news from Feb. 17, 2010. Their website is offering the free download of the first song from the aforementioned collaboration with John McEntire.

They have entitled the track “World Sick,” and it is quite a powerful number. Featuring BSS’s signature dynamics, the song builds from the ether of silence to the bombast of heavenly noise like only Broken Social Scene can swing it.

As usual, the drumming is solid and penetrating, putting the other instruments up to task, and they do not let down. As the drums fade in through the atmospheric shimmer of delicate guitar noises, a swinging guitar line begins driving the song, which actually recalls McEntire’s other project, the Sea and Cake. As the vocals take over, the guitar continues to insist as an echoing bit of guitar tremolo accents the end of the lyrics’ lines and the song swells to swishing cymbals and over-lapping guitar bits, sounding lush and a bit like early Spiritualized when things got ecstatic in their songs. The song ebbs and crescendos a couple of times only to quietly peter out to soft strums and a delicate percussive patter. It makes for a lovely six-and-a-half-minute piece that sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

Despite my early Tortoise expectations, this song actually has the brightness of a Sea and Cake song magnified with the potency of the larger band that is Broken Social Scene.

Download it by clicking through here.

Also, the group has a title for the album, not to mention cover art (see image). They have dubbed it Forgiveness Rock Record … Hmm, I wonder if they are asking fans to forgive them for taking five years to follow-up on their last album? If this offering is any hint, the wait has been worthwhile.

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

The idea for Broken Social Scene to have John McEntire, of Tortoise, Sea and Cake, not to mention Gastr Del Sol, co-produce their new album (slated for release on May 4, according to their website), sounds like a natural fit.

I first heard BSS during a musical interlude on an NPR news broadcast. I was instantly moved by the gentle, rambling ambiance of “Guilty Cubicles,” a short instrumental track from their album Feel Good Lost. Seeking them out, I found hard-rocking, multi-layered songs that could shame Arcade Fire interwoven with cool instrumental moments that recalled post-rock Tortoise, which makes me think McEntire will add an interesting progression to the growth of the collective from Canada.

In his blog entry on BSS’s website, BSS founding member Kevin Drew, wrote about the group’s visit to Soma studios in Chicago back in May of 2009:

“I am happy to announce we have started recording our first record in four years and decided to do it with the one and only John McEntire. We did a one-day session with John last October and it was a perfect fit. This plan has been in the works for nine months and it has all come together quite sweetly in the moments leading up to being here…he is a hero of ours when it comes to recordings so it seems very balanced that we are here.”

As a long-time Tortoise fan, it confirms why I gravitated to BSS so many years later. “Love and Mathematics” from Feel Good Lost sounds like a particularly good example of how BSS recalls early, hey-day Tortoise.

I leave you with BSS’s video from one of my favorite songs of theirs (which features a pre-fame Feist), the wonderfully obtusely titled “7/4 Shoreline:”

The idea for Broken Social Scene to have John McEntire, of Tortoise, Sea and Cake not to mention Gastr Del Sol, co-produce their new album (slated for release on May 4, according to their website), sounds like a natural fit.

I first heard BSS during a musical interlude on an NPR news broadcast. I was instantly moved by the gentle, rambling ambience of “Guilty Cubicles,” a short instrumental track from their album Feel Good Lost. Seeking them out, I found hard-rocking, multi-layered songs that could shame Arcade Fire interwoven with cool instrumental moments that recalled the post-rock Tortoise, which is why I feel McEntire will add an interesting progression to the growth of the collective from Canada.

In his blog entry on BSS’s website, BSS founding member Kevin Drew, wrote about the group’s visit to Soma studios in Chicago back in May of 2009:

“I am happy to announce we have started recording our first record in four years and decided to do it with the one and only John McEntire. We did a one-day session with John last October and it was a perfect fit. This plan has been in the works for nine months and it has all come together quite sweetly in the moments leading up to being here…he is a hero of ours when it comes to recordings so it seems very balanced that we are here.”

As a long-time Tortoise fan, it confirms why I gravitated to BSS so many years later. “Love and Mathematics” from Feel Good Lost sounds like a particularly good example of early, post rock Tortoise.

I leave you with BSS’s video from one of my favorite songs of theirs (which features a pre-fame Feist), the wonderfully obtusely titled “7/4 Shoreline:”

OK, one more video, because this song is also so damn cool, “Major Label Debut (fast)”:

Fellow Broken Social Scene fans, do share any other links you might make between the music of Tortoise and BSS, or am I wrong about the connection?

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)