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Album Thu May 19 2011

The Sea and Cake Chase Some Moonlight Butterflies

moonlight-butterfly-500.jpg

It's been a few years since we got a real tasty morsel from Chicago musicians The Sea and Cake. Since 2008's Car Alarm the sole release the group put out was a split 7" paired with Broken Social Scene. The Moonlight Butterfly, the band's ninth offering, isn't quite a complete meal, clocking in at just over 30 minutes with only 6 songs, but it's definitely doing something more than just whetting your appetite. It's a little more than an EP (and indeed, it's not being branded as such) but maybe it's something like a tasting menu in sound form.

The Moonlight Butterfly is on target with previous releases by The Sea and Cake — full of dreamy lyrics from Sam Prekop and fanciful guitar interplay between Prekop and Archer Prewitt. If you're already a fan of what this band does best, you'll do well to pick up this release. Recorded by drummer (and sound engineer) John McEntire at Soma Studios in town, and held together by bassist Eric Claridge, this is, in some respects, exactly what fans are after. But there's more to The Moonlight Butterfly than just that. The title track is all divergent glitchy keyboard noodling that I wish was more integrated into the other five tracks, instead it kind of sits in the middle of the album and gives you time to go get a soda from the kitchen while you wait for the rest of the tracks to cue up. Not to say I dislike it, but where Car Alarm had almost ghost-like reverberations from a distant steel drum interspersed as background percussion on several tracks, the keyboard track is kind of like the surprise jalapeno slice on your Banh Mi sandwich — it's doesn't turn you off, but man, you just want to get to that tasty barbeque pork and veggies. "Inn Keeping" does a better job of leading us into the song with a bit of electro-drum, and keeping the song steady with light guitar and stronger vocals from Prekop.

All this is not to say that The Moonlight Butterfly isn't a good time to be had, because it certainly is. The majority of the album is a clear Sea and Cake affair, but I almost wish they'd waited out the release by six months or even another year to see where this journey was going to take them. Is there something to the album's title track being the most out-of-place? Perhaps it's a sharp growing pain from a band locked into a particular dream-pop sound. Perhaps it's just an experiment that doesn't quite fit in a neat little bundle of an album. I'll be intrigued to check out the band live on Saturday at the Empty Bottle and see what their performance has to say for their current artistic mood. If you're a fan, might not be a bad place to find yourself either.

[mp3] The Sea and Cake - "Up On The North Shore" from The Moonlight Butterfly

The Sea and Cake play Saturday, May 21st at the Empty Bottle. Doors open at 8:30pm. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 day of show. Openers include Plush with Liam Hayes and James Elkington. The Empty Bottle is located at 1035 N. Western Ave. 773-276-3600.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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