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Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of The Sea and Cake had a presence in the WERS studio as calm and pleasant as their music. The two represent half of the band, which includes John McEntire (drums) and Eric Claridge (bass and synthesizer). The Sea and Cake, who originate in Chicago, have been steadily making music and releasing albums since 1994, and their experience comes across in person. They set up their guitars, practiced for several minutes, and without any hesitation were ready to play.
The Sea and Cake are currently touring to promote their tenth album, Runner, which was released in mid September as a follow up to their 2011 album The Moonlight Butterfly. Runner is a ten-track album available with two very worth-it bonus tracks. The album has received good reviews and the band has been praised for their ability to stay true to their optimistic, jazz-rock vibe while experimenting with their sound. In this ago of electronic dance music and dubstep, the word ‘synthesizer’ might evoke images of DJs and clubs, but The Sea and Cake have used it to create a simplistic, natural sound. Prekop explains, “Synthesizer has always been a part of our pallet… It doesn’t stick out to us as separate from a guitar, its really just another voice.” Writing so many albums may seem like a lot of work, but Prekop lives to write and play music, claiming “If I could, I would be writing new records all the time.”
The two opened their set with “A Mere,” the third track off the new album. The song is upbeat for The Sea and Cake yet still relaxing. Prekop’s vocals are breathy and reminiscent of Jack Johnson. His voice blends beautifully with the instruments, creating a world of sunny optimism and meditation for the listener.
Next up was “New Patterns,” another new track, which opens with a steady guitar line that drives the whole song. It includes lots of reverb and plenty of opportunity to show off their well-developed skills. This one will surely be a fun one to hear live in concert. Despite the album’s chilled-out and positive sound, Prewitt says the band sounds more rock n’ roll when they play a live show. He enthusiastically explains, “Live, we’re a lot louder. A lot more rockin’ than what’s presented on the album. We really like playing live.” The band closed their set with “Coconut,” an old favorite from their 2007 album Everybody.
One of the many qualities of The Sea and Cake that stand out is their collection of album covers over the years, which are all unique works of art. This latest cover appears to be a collage or painting at first glance, but surprisingly is a photograph taken by Prewitt himself. “It was at a children’s park in Argentina, I took a picture through a fence and I liked the way I saw it, it seemed confusing and flat and dimensional all at the same time.” While The Sea and Cake’s music isn’t exactly confusing, it too has layers of sound and meaning. Just like the children’s park in Argentina, their music is simple, beautiful, and a true piece of art.