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Best-known for their ubiquitous hit "The Distance," Cake epitomized the postmodern, irony-drenched aesthetic of '90s geek rock. Their sound freely mixed and matched pastiches of widely varying genres -- white-boy funk, hip-hop, country, new wave pop, jazz, college rock, and guitar rock -- with a particular delight in the clashes that resulted. Their songs were filled with lyrical non-sequiturs, pop-culture references, and smirky satire, all delivered with bone-dry detachment by speak/singing frontman John McCrea. Cake's music most frequently earned comparisons to Soul Coughing and King Missile, but lacked the downtown New York artiness of those two predecessors; instead, Cake cultivated an image of average guys with no illusions and pretensions about their role as entertainers. At the same time, critics lambasted what they saw as a smugly superior attitude behind the band's habitual sarcasm. Perhaps there was something in Cake's doggedly spare, low-key presentation that amplified their ironic detachment even when they didn't intend it, but most reviewers pegged them as one-hit wonders after the success of "The Distance." Nonetheless, Cake managed a few more alternative radio hits in the years that followed, while largely retaining the same approach. Cake was formed in Sacramento, California in 1992 by vocalist/songwriter John McCrea, who'd recently returned home after spending a few years in Los Angeles, unsuccessfully trying to break into the music business. The original lineup of Cake also featured guitarist Greg Brown, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, bassist Sean McFessel, and drummer Frank French; McFessel soon left to attend college, and was replaced by Gabe Nelson. In 1993, the band released their debut single, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle," on a local basis, and followed it with a self-produced, self-released, self-distributed album, Motorcade of Generosity. Motorcade found its way to the revived Capricorn label, which released the album nationally after Cake signed a contract with them. With the prospect of extensive national touring, both Gabe Nelson and Frank French left the band, and were replaced by bassist Victor Damiani and drummer Todd Roper. Re-released by Capricorn, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle" caught on at college radio in 1995, and was followed by two more singles, "Ruby Sees All," and "Jolene" (not the Dolly Parton song). Cake's second album, Fashion Nugget, was released in 1996 and spawned a breakout smash in the Greg Brown-penned "The Distance," which dominated alternative radio that fall, and even turned into an unlikely sporting-event anthem. Mostly on the strength of "The Distance," Fashion Nugget charted in the Top 40 and sold over a million copies. It also spun off a somewhat controversial follow-up single in a cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"; although the band professed its sincere admiration for the song, some critics and listeners took it as a smarmy putdown, in part because of McCrea's deadpan vocals. In 1997, Greg Brown and Victor Damiani both left Cake and formed a new group, the new wave-influenced Deathray, which eventually released its debut album on Capricorn in 2000. Meanwhile, McCrea briefly considered putting Cake to rest, but brought original bassist Gabe Nelson back to replace Damiani instead. For Cake's next album, McCrea used a tag-team procession of guitarists -- five in all -- on different tracks; the result, Prolonging the Magic, was released in 1998. True to its sardonic title, it defied critical opinion to produce another big, alternative radio hit in "Never There," plus decently successful follow-ups in "Sheep Go to Heaven" and "Let Go." Prolonging the Magic sold nearly as well as Fashion Nugget, and was also certified platinum. For the supporting tour, one of the album's guitarists, Xan McCurdy, officially joined Cake full-time. In the spring of 2000, the band signed a new deal with Columbia, and debuted in 2001 with their fourth overall album, Comfort Eagle, which became their highest-charting yet (at number 13). The lead single, "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," was a hit on alternative radio, and even earned some MTV airplay -- no longer an easy task for any artist -- with a video that featured reactions to the song by randomly selected people on the street. Following the completion of the album, drummer Todd Roper left the group to spend more time with his children, and was replaced on the supporting tour by Pete McNeal. Pressure Chief appeared in 2004. Redefining the meaning of independent -- the band was by then recording in a studio powered entirely by solar energy, and free of the corporate involvement of even so much as a utility bill -- released Showroom of Compassion some six years later in 2011. ~ Steve Huey & Steve Leggett
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Stations Featuring

    '90s Alternative

    '90s Alternative
    9 songs

    Adult Alternative

    Adult Alternative
    5 songs

    Adult Rock

    Adult Rock
    5 songs

    Top Alternative

    Top Alternative
    2 songs

    Alternative Mix

    2 songs

    Pop Rock

    2 songs

    '00s Alternative

    1 song

    Alt Country

    2 songs

Albums by

Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   The Distance
  3.   Never There
  4.   Short Skirt/Long Jacket
  5.   I Will Survive
  6.   Let Me Go
  7.   Frank Sinatra
  8.   Stickshifts and Safetybelts
  9.   Sick of You
  10.   Sheep Go to Heaven
  11.   War Pigs by Pete McNeal
  12.   Long Time
  13.   Rock 'N' Roll Lifestyle
  14.   Mexico
  15.   Daria
  16.   Subtract One Love (Multiply the Heartaches) featuring Greg Brown
  17.   Mustache Man (Wasted)
  18.   Walk on By
  19.   Italian Leather Sofa
  20.   Sad Songs and Waltzes
  21.   Satan Is My Motor
  22.   Comfort Eagle
  23.   Long Line of Cars
  24.   Carbon Monoxide
  25.   Mahna Mahna
  26.   Love You Madly
  27.   Dime
  28.   The Guitar Man
  29.   Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
  30.   Nugget
  31.   Jolene
  32.   Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town by Pete McNeal
  33.   No Phone
  34.   Shadow Stabbing
  35.   Wheels
  36.   Got to Move
  37.   Excuse Me, I Think I've Got a Heartache by Paulo Baldi
  38.   Strangers in the Night
  39.   Hem of Your Garment
  40.   Ruby Sees All
  41.   Never Gonna Give You Up featuring Greg Brown
  42.   The Winter
  43.   Friend Is a Four Letter Word
  44.   She'll Hang the Baskets
  45.   Arco Arena
  46.   Mr. Mastodon Farm
  47.   Comanche
  48.   Where Would I Be?
  49.   Guitar
  50.   Is This Love?
  51.   War Pigs
  52.   Thrills featuring Greg Brown
  53.   Tougher Than It Is
  54.   Commissioning a Symphony in C
  55.   It's Coming Down by Paulo Baldi
  56.   Teenage Pregnancy
  57.   Italian Guy
  58.   Federal Funding
  59.   Conroy by Tyler Pope
  60.   Palm of Your Hand
  61.   End of the Movie
  62.   Waiting
  63.   World of Two
  64.   Pretty Pink Ribbon
  65.   Meanwhile, Rick James...
  66.   Ain't No Good
  67.   Jesus Wrote a Blank Check
  68.   Pentagram
  69.   Cool Blue Reason
  70.   Alpha Beta Parking Lot
  71.   When You Sleep
  72.   She'll Come Back to Me
  73.   Race Car Ya-Yas
  74.   Open Book
  75.   You Part the Waters
  76.   What's Now Is Now
  77.   Bound Away
  78.   [Untitled]
  79.   Opera Singer
  80.   I Bombed Korea
  81.   Haze of Love
  82.   Up So Close
  83.   You Turn the Screws
  84.   Take It All Away
  85.   Easy to Crash

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