By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Sometimes, there's nothing more apt than a cliché, and so it is for Cake, a band best defined by the old chestnut, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
While there are of course some progressions to be found on the band's soon-to-be-released sixth full-length release—like the fact that this disc returns the band to its pre-major label run of the '90s, and that it was recorded in a solar-powered recording studio—the album, called Showroom of Compassion, contains the same brand of skeletal, mariachi-funk jams and cowboy ballads that made the band a staple of the post-grunge alternative-rock diet.
Another trademark of the Cake sound? The vibraslap, probably most recognizable from the song "Never There."
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"I heard somebody refer to it as a donkey rattle recently," says multi-instrumentalist Vince DiFiore, "It emulates an instrument made from the jawbone of a large equine-type animal—a yak or whatever—and it makes a sound like chattering teeth."
Like the rest of the band's sound, that instrument's return—it's heard at least 15 times on new song "Long Time"—is a comforting one.
"It works," DiFiore says. "Why mess with it? It's like coming home. It's a natural sound; I guess that's the thing that's nice about [the vibraslap]. It's acoustic, but it's strange enough that it sounds electronic. A little bit like some kind of metal coil vibrating in a synthesizer."