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Album Thu May 19 2011

The Sea and Cake Chase Some Moonlight Butterflies


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 »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
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Beat Kitchen
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Buddy Guy's Legends
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Elbo Room
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Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
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Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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