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Alternative funk masters take control

Cake returns with “Showroom of Compassion”

By Christine Saraceno csaraceno@valenciavoice.com

In a world full of carbon-copy pop stars singing generic songs about “pop- pin’ bottles,” alternative funk masters Cake haven’t lost their edge or their in- dividuality. After a seven year hiatus, their highly anticipated and entirely self-produced new album “Showroom of Compassion” was finally released on Jan. 10, and it definitely delivers. Chock full of fun and upbeat tunes, it will make listeners want to get up and dance, or at the very least, bob their heads a bit. “Showroom of Compas- sion” showcases a perfect blend of vo- cals, infectious choruses, and Vince DiFiore’s always catchy trumpeting. The lead single of the album, “Sick of You,” is already the band’s high- est charting song since 1998’s “Never There,” with the song reaching number one on the Canadian alternative chart. Putting the album together was no simple task for the Sacramento natives though. The bandmates were pushed by Columbia Records during the making of 2004’s “Pressure Chief” to make their sound more appealing to mainstream radio stations and their audiences. This led to them severing ties with the label and creating Upbeat Records so they could retain full control over their music.







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They don’t know Cake,” frontman

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Stone.” of self-

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even a

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groove feel (“Bound are feats they never



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ined attempting on previous albums. In what could have been a disastrous ca- reer move, Cake overcame, and produced a fantastic and versatile album that will captivate listeners until the very last song.

British Sea Power’s latest album leaves much to be desired

By Christine Saraceno csaraceno@valenciavoice.com

Brighton-based indie rockers, Brit- ish Sea Power (BSP), are back with their not so aptly titled new album, “Valhalla Dancehall.” The BSP boys have dealt with years worth of unjus- tified comparisons to Arcade Fire, but they certainly won’t be hearing many


of those comments this time around. Arcade Fire and other semi-main- stream acts (Iron & Wine, Mumford and Sons) have perfected their own signature sounds and grown with each new record. Conversely, BSP has stayed loyal to the tired ethereal wails of albums past that helped them gain their first glimpses of popular- ity, without any real noticeable evolu- tion in their sound or lyrical writing. “Valhalla Dancehall” gets off to an energetic start with the heavy kick drum beat of “Who’s In Control?” with the piercing shrieks of lead singer Yan Wilkinson following closely behind. It seems as if the album is headed in a positive direction with the next two tracks being just as upbeat as the first. Then it quickly loses momentum in the middle. This is in no small part due to the seven minute snooze-fest called “Cleaning out the Rooms.” Thanks to a lazy viola backdrop, it becomes one long bore that the re- cord never quite recovers from. Proper mixing is a vital part of the making of any album in order to attain the perfect balance of music and vocals. However, it seems like those two com- ponents were completely disregard- ed as the overpowering instruments drown out the faint moans of Wilkin- son. It’s something you would expect out of a band’s first album, not fifth. This album presents listeners with nothing new and lacks any sense of real musicianship. It may be in their best interest to study the Ar- cade Fire formula a little closer so maybe their next record achieves a more polished and cohesive sound.


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