Pressure Chief

Pressure Chief

5.0 3
by Cake

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For the past decade, this Cali-bred combo have walked the ever-finer line between quirky charm and novelty-band inanity -- almost always ending up on the right side. On this, their fifth full-length, they continue that streak, paying equal attention to catchiness -- always a strength -- and lyrical flair. Those elements dovetail neatly on the energized "Carbon…  See more details below


For the past decade, this Cali-bred combo have walked the ever-finer line between quirky charm and novelty-band inanity -- almost always ending up on the right side. On this, their fifth full-length, they continue that streak, paying equal attention to catchiness -- always a strength -- and lyrical flair. Those elements dovetail neatly on the energized "Carbon Monoxide," on which singer John McCrea rants convincingly, yet not didactically, about the spread of the SUV plague. The band weave their typical web of jaunty guitar on the tightly wound "No Phone," a song that could easily make a bookend for "The Distance" on alterna-radio playlists, while flexing their often-ignored instrumental prowess on tunes like the adrenalized finger-picker "End of the Movie." As usual, Cake take on an unlikely cover -- this time, Bread's über-mellow "Guitar Man" -- and mark it as their own, but Pressure Chief is good for eliciting more than just a wink and a knowing nod. It's the sort of party album that'll appeal to just about anyone whose idea of a good time involves both drinking games and word games.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Johnny Loftus
Released in 2004, Pressure Chief marks Cake's tenth year with a set of sardonic, engaging alternative pop that shows the Sacramento band's economical sound unwilted after all these years. Chief features artwork and typography typical to the group, as well the familiar three-color print scheme and stiff cardstock paper. John McCrea's wit is as dry as ever, and his tongue has grown sharper with the addition of a social comment streak that occasionally goes quite cynical. Single "No Phone" decries the encroachment of technology, while "Carbon Monoxide" is an upbeat, Beatlesque number that nevertheless wonders cynically, "Where's the air?" Later, the wispily funky "Tougher Than It Is" encourages listeners to take it easy, because life's going to keep throwing curve balls anyway. Cake have always positioned themselves as cultural observers, but McCrea's opinions on Chief rely more on clarity than wryness. This doesn't make the album a downer. It opens with "Wheels," a song built from the best parts of Cake's thrifty yet effective arsenal. McCrea's narrative mostly concerns a breakup, and life moving on ("Wheels keep on spinning 'round..."). But his imagery is on overdrive once he hits the singles bar, where the "Muscular cyborg German dudes dance with sexy French Canadians." The song's punctuated by a classic Vince Di Fiore descending trumpet line and some fan-favorite "HEY!"s from McCrea. In the tradition of "I Will Survive," the band tackles another cover song, this time reinterpreting Bread's "Guitar Man." With its vintage synthesizers squiggling off the cues of an acoustic guitar, their version meanders at a comforting pace akin to Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1," and even gives McCrea a chance to sing a little. Other highlights include "She'll Hang the Baskets," where guest Chuck Prophet fills out the mournful melody with some fuzzily toned electric guitar, and "Dime," where the charmingly home-recorded quality of Pressure Chief really stands out. Smart, subtly subversive, and always catchy -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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Product Details

Release Date:


  1. Wheels
  2. No Phone
  3. Take It All Away
  4. Dime
  5. Carbon Monoxide
  6. The Guitar Man
  7. Waiting
  8. She'll Hang the Baskets
  9. End of the Movie
  10. Palm of Your Hand
  11. Tougher Than It Is

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Cake   Primary Artist
Chuck Prophet   Electric Guitar,Guest Appearance
Xan McCurdy   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Drums,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Vince Di Fiore   Percussion,Trumpet,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Melodica
John McCrea   Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Vocals
Todd Roper   Drums,Guest Appearance
Paulo Baldi   Drums,Guest Appearance
Matt McCord   Drums,Guest Appearance
Greg Vincent   Pedal Steel Guitar,Guest Appearance
Tyler Pope   Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Guest Appearance
Gabriel Nelson   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Drums,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Vincent Di Fiore   Percussion,Trumpet,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Melodica

Technical Credits

David Gates   Composer
Cake   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Craig Long   Engineer
Mark Needham   Engineer
Kirt Shearer   Engineer
John McCrea   Composer,Cover Design
Don C. Tyler   Mastering
G. Alan Nelson   Composer
Patrick Olguin   Engineer

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Customer Reviews

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Pressure Chief 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cake is and will continue to put out the best music known to man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A song narrated from the perspective of a dime! Pure goddamn genius.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I pre-ordered Pressure Chief and so it arrived right about the 5th of October. Since I'm going to see Cake live at the Royal Oak Music theater on the 18th I wanted to be familiar with the tracks before the concert. My grok of Pressure Chief: YES! This offering is no exception to the previous stellar lineup of Cake CDs. I'd heard 'No Phone' and watched the music video a few weeks previous to the release and loved it -- the tai chi lady at the beginning set the tone -- and have been listening to the CD every day since I got it. How many of us can relate to what I almost consider the harassment of being plugged in with modern technology? There is no escape! Our electronica monitors us 24/7. 'No Phone' says give me a break! Let me step back now to the first track, 'Wheels'. Another commentary on modern society: 2 yuppies who spend so much time getting up there and not with each other one asks why are we even together. It's not a down song, and some of the lines, starting with, "In a seedy karaoke bar..." had me laughing out loud. 'Dime' rules. It took me a few listens before I realized it was a song about a dime. Love it! One of the things I love about Cake is their unique and wonderful look at the ordinary. 'CO2' is a great anti-SUV commentary. It's an upper-cruster cruising LA in his Mercedes with the windows up vs. a pedestrian breathing in the fumes. Awesome rendition of 'Guitar Man'! My older son said Tom Petty had done a version but I told him there is an earlier original of the song. What's nice is hearing the talented guitarist embellishing an old favorite. Is that the usual lead singer singing?? 'She'll Hang the Baskets' is an anthem song for a woman who can't sustain a relationship. It creates a mystery. Why? Like 'Dime' it shows a deep wisdom of the cosmos. The writer of these lyrics has incisive perception into human nature. Mostly I've concentrated on the lyrics so far. The lyrics would be poetry alone. Accompanied by the melodies and instrumental genius of Cake, we are talking heaven. Please give this CD a listen. If you are already a Cake fan, you will not be disappointed. If this is your first Cake purchase, soon you'll own the complete collection of their works.