For Your Consideration #85: The Sea and Cake – The Biz
Hey everyone, and welcome to this week’s installment of For Your Consideration, the weekly series where we discuss albums that aren’t on our Essentials list, and maybe why they should be. For the final FYC of 2016, /u/econojammer is here to tell us about Chicago scene veterans the Sea and Cake and their 1995 pinnacle The BizArtist – The Sea and CakeAlbum – The BizListenYouTubeSpotifyApple MusicBackground by u/EconoJammerThe Sea and Cake were formed in the early ‘90s, making a super group of sorts out of drummer John McEntire (of Tortoise and occasional collaboration with Gastr del Sol), guitarist Archer Prewitt (of The Coctails), bassist Eric Claridge, and guitarist and vocalist Sam Prekop (both formerly of Shrimp Boat). Each member had cut their teeth in Chicago’s independent music scene, and shortly after banding together, hit a hot creative streak by releasing their first three albums – The Sea and Cake, Nassau, and The Biz – in just barely over a calendar year’s time. The Fawn followed in 1996, demarcating a stylistic change in the band’s oeuvre, favoring synthesized experimentation while still maintaining their guitar-bass-drum setup to this day.The Biz represents the tail end of their year-long recording sprint and their final album to not prominently feature synthesized instruments for some time, produced by John McEntire and recorded at his very own Soma Studios. It is often cited as one of the more jazz-influenced guitar records of post-rock’s nascence.Review by u/EconoJammerThe term “post-rock” is so fickle and free-associative that its vagueness of application makes it moot in most discussions of said music. The Six Parts Seven sound nothing like Battles for instance and yet both have earned the descriptor. Some listeners hear the phrase and immediately think of Explosions in the Sky while American Analog Set comes to mind for others. Its related artists are stylistically disparate at best in many cases, but one thing is for sure when concerning the genre as it applies to The Sea and Cake – their foremost quality that they have fused with traditional rock elements has always been a heavy blend of jazz, bossa nova, and tropicália.Having delved further into Sam Prekop’s solo discography, including the incredible self-titled debut produced by aural genius Jim O’Rourke, it is easy to note that he stands as the principle songwriter, given the similarity between songs released under either name. In a Pandora Whiteboard Session from 2012 in which Prekop and Prewitt performed “A Mere,” a cutaway shows papers Prekop brought with him featuring his handwritten lyrics. This is odd, considering his style seems to rely on the loosest composition of lyrics possible. There’s no agreed upon certification of his lyrics – unless you’re able to get your hands on his written pages) – and the guy can be heard clearly altering them in live settings when the mood strikes him. It’s not that lyrics aren’t important to Prekop, it’s that his approach to successful lyricism stems from the human notion that saying the right thing is difficult. Instead, his words read like passionate drunken Post-It notes strewn together to form an accurate mood rather than story. Even songs with titles suggesting of a narrative like “The Kiss” don’t really leave us with one, but rather an abstract poem. This can’t be stated any better than the album’s closing statement in “For Minor Sky,” when he sings, “I’ve been so… aw, man,” as if Charlie Brown’s “good grief” catchphrase was translated into a beatnik’s routine on open mic night. It’s the vocal equivalent of not being able to concisely express oneself, and it’s in that flighty or frustrated predicament that Prekop cements himself as a genius lyricist. Like a smile can be understood universally, Prekop’s lyrics paint a portrait of a disposition that can be grasped in the same way.The title track acts as a primer for everything this band does exceedingly well. John McEntire – one of the greatest working drummers in the industry – demonstrably attacks his deadly combo of snare and hi-hat with surgical focus and complete control. His crisp production from behind the soundboard also helps his kit really shine with each crack of the snare drum. Prekop takes rhythm duties before the song’s outro, working jazzily up and down the neck and crooning with typical caprice, “Wait a minute, say, wait a minute for my breath, I’ll wait.” Prewitt takes a textural position on “The Biz” by providing the backing guitar swell. In a live setting, Archer e-bows this part, but on the record, the best way to describe its sound is the analog moan of a small robot on opiates. Prekop delivers what I believe to be one of the greatest guitar solos of all time to close out the song. He perfectly melds free jazz with convention, letting his guitar appear to trip a few times while descending a staircase, frantically hitting “right” notes 75% of the time while fumbling artfully over the rest. For how much of a jam the song quickly becomes, it never loses its sense of sophistication. None of this record ever does. Even a later instrumental track like “Escort” never derails despite its chaotic avant-garde leanings. All of The Biz is like that; it’s an effortlessly cool record. It’s jazz music palatable enough for non-jazz listeners and it rocks enough for jazz-oriented folk to dig it as well.Eric Claridge is the band’s dark horse. He crafts seemingly simple bass lines that intertwine with the guitars to create a more complex melody due to his unwavering propensity to often avoid root notes. His bass lines are much more complimentary than reinforcing, as most bassists are wont to do the latter. This comes into play notably on “The Transaction,” the closest the album comes to having a bona fide indie rock hit. The driving riff is the most undeniably catchy thing on the record that ventures into the wheelhouse of conventional ‘90s college radio, and it owes its endurance to Claridge; while Prekop’s repetitive riff during the verse does its work, Eric takes it through several motions by switching the bass note critically on every beat two.The more I listen to their albums, it grows more and more apparent that the band consistently orders their track listings prior to assembling them in the final stages of completion. Nassau, Everybody, and Runner end with songs of grand gestures; watershed moments that go out swinging and lower the curtain without any question of encore. “For Minor Sky” is the most triumphant of their batch of album closers, beginning with Prekop’s lamenting of a crummy state of being because of one bad night. “This night wrecks my week,” is such a true sentiment for anyone partial to romanticism. “So it had to rain.” Well, of course it had to rain. Nothing else was going well, it might as well rain too. Of course. The intro flawlessly visualizes someone dusting themselves off from an arduous night of misfortune, as comfort slowly creeps in with the opening burst of McEntire’s skins and Claridge’s bass. Without openly stating it in any sense, this is the band’s “With a Little Help from My Friends,” if the “friends” in question manifest in the form of Prekop’s poetic sense of the world and its happenings. Hell, if Prekop were ever more specific, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear people calling The Sea and Cake an emo band. Vibraphones enter in sync with cooing backing vocals to usher in the song’s final movement; our protagonist has licked their wounds and are prepared to face a new day, free of judgment or expectation. “I still give all I got,” sings Prekop. It’s this encompassing mood that the album strikes – a balance of bewilderment, daydream-like amour, and woebegone will that still soldiers on for the sake of art – that defines the band’s mission statement better than any other selection from their catalogue.Favorite LyricsI’ve been so… aw, manFor Minor SkyDevoted to wasted timeDiluted what’s on my mindAn AssassinStraight to the mouthFits of electricityStation in the ValleyBut I hope we laugh all daySo, let’s be missing right before dawnThe KissI’m ten flights upI’m ten flights downOw, manLeeoraI’ve been trying to stay misunderstood, yeahAnd so it’s working in some wayI’ve been toldImpossibleStay near and lonely and I wonder whyThe BizTalking PointsHave recent The Sea and Cake albums (Runner, Car Alarm) gotten too formulaic? I don’t think the band’s made anything close to a lackluster album, but I feel that efforts following Everybody have seemed to rely on a system of songwriting and production that doesn’t appear as varied or hungry as the first four albums.What do you make of Sam Prekop’s loose approach to lyricism?In a scene of eclectic Chicago musicians (Tortoise, David Grubbs, Wilco, Jim O’Rourke, Joan of Arc, etc.), do you feel that The Sea and Cake’s importance is unsung?For those of you that have listened to Sam Prekop’s solo efforts – particularly the self-titled debut – what differences can you spot between the songs he brings to this band and those he has released solo?Is there anyone who thinks that The Biz is not their best album? If so, which is and why?Thanks once again to /u/econojammer for the great writeup! That does it for For Your Consideration in 2016, as we’ll be going on a one-month hiatus throughout December. If you want to see what’s coming up in 2017, check the schedule in the comments below.Additionally, as of now, the application freeze is over, so if you’d like to apply to write an FYC, send me a PM with the album you want to cover, the artist, and maybe a bit about why you want to write about it. Once you do, you’ll be added to the schedule.And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that the Album of the Year series begins this Thursday when /u/ReconEG posts his writeup for James Blake’s The Colour in Anything. If you’re scheduled to contribute a writeup and haven’t gotten in touch with your OP, I would advise you do so ASAP. You can look at the schedule for AOTY 2017 here. Thanks for your time, FYC will be back in the new year!
Hum Tv Dramas Lyrics 2015
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For Your Consideration #85: The Sea and Cake – The Biz