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Album Review: Showroom of Compassion


Staff Writer

The alternative rock group Cake released their new album, Showroom of Compassion on Jan 11, 2011.  It is their seventh album, among favorites such as Fashion Nugget and Comfort Eagle.

The band took root in Sacramento, California in 1991, releasing their first album, Motorcade of Generosity, in 1994.  They headlined at the Unlimited Sunshine Tour in the middle of 2002 with Modest Mouse, De La Soul and The Hackensaw Boys.

Although their new installment has kept them up to date from their last album, B-Sides and Rarities, released in 2007, this new addition has hit the radar quietly.

Showroom of Compassion represents the same, iconic Cake sounds with similar instrumentalists on trumpet, synthesizer, and bass.  Lead singer, John McCrea, regales us with his familiar, uninhibited, monotonic vocals while also giving listeners his peculiar views on politics and life experiences in his lyrics.

The band entertains, this time, with a low key set list.  The only exception is its acapella-reminiscent and catchy, “Long Time.”  Drum player, Frank French, drives the song and trumpet player, Vince DiFiore, syncopates with his usual precise and dynamic playing.   Bassist, Shon Meckfessel, is anything but unimportant with his sassy riffs, and his counterpart, Greg Brown, on guitar, leads many of the melodies.

The album is no doubt quintessential Cake.  It stays fresh while keeping consistent with their original voice and style.  Yet, the chords are definitely a little darker and the tempo a little slower.
It’s hit or miss this time.  Long-time fans have either been enthralled or disappointed with Cake’s new work.  While the instrumentalists have not underperformed, it is the combination that got them this time.  However, this record was rewarded as a No. 1 Best Seller on the Billboard 200, this being the first time that the band has achieved this honor.

It is unknown whether fans heard the news of the released album and instinctively flocked to buy it without a preview.  None-the-less, Showroom of Compassion was the lowest selling No. 1 album in over two decades in sales history.
Fans should find out for themselves whether they like the band’s new tracks.  If anything, this album is a heartbeat signaling that the band is still writing and performing.  Hopefully the band can appease more listeners with another album in the future.