Inventive, smart rock from CAKE. Sweet.

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CAKE: Fashion Nugget

If you visit the kitchen boombox much at all, you know it’s often Old Releases Wednesday around here. Today’s pick is no exception—but it is an exceptional disk. Since the early ’90s, CAKE [the band insists on the all caps, not me] has created inventive rock music that defies categorization and ventures all over the map stylistically, but hangs together as unmistakably CAKE.

The track Frank Sinatra is typical of CAKE’s adventurous, inventive music.

The fabulous 1996 release Fashion Nugget does this in spades. The music flows seamlessly from white boy rap to pedal steel to a cha-cha beat cover of a song originally written in Spanish in the 1940s as Quizás, Quizás, Quizás, then rerecorded in English as Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps by, among others, Doris Day. There is also a standout cover of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.

In their original tunes, the band casts a glib gimlet eye on life, love and pretense. Italian Leather Sofa beautifully tells the story of a financially successful but morally bankrupt man and woman who totally deserve each other. Here is how her ability to get what she wants is described:

She’s got a serrated edge
that she moves back and forth.
It’s such a simple machine,
she doesn’t have to use force.

Many rock and pop bands have included or worked with horn sections. CAKE’s horn section is trumpeter Vince DiFiore. His talented horn moves as effortlessly from style to style as does the rest of the music. And it is as much a part of the signature sound of CAKE as John McCrea’s vocals.

There are some albums I’ve bought for a single song. And with most albums, there’s at least a song or two you skip, every time you play it. Not this one. Anytime I pop Fashion Nugget into the boombox—or into the car’s CD player or dial it up on the iPod—I’m there for all 14 amazing songs.

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