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The Sea and Cake: Artists in Residence

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: February 26, 2003

The Sea and Cake
w/ Califone
March 6
9 p.m.
Sokol Underground

13th & Martha


Three years between CDs seems like an eternity to most people, but it's only a wink of an eye to Sea and Cake guitarist Archer Prewitt.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a gap to us," he said from his Chicago home during a break from doing his taxes. "We had just finished a half-year-long tour for our last CD when I went into the studio for my solo record and then we started the sessions for One Bedroom. I haven't had any downtime."

Just released on Thrill Jockey, One Bedroom is a jittery caffeine dream, all click-clacks, intricate synth noises, chip-chop kick drums and vocal razzamatazz that sounds like white scat over ever-bouncing rhythms. Check out "Shoulder Length," for example, with its neck-popping backbeat and vocalist Sam Prekop mewing sexily "Summer time / don't give it all away." It's perfect music for driving downtown in a convertible on a windy morning with an electric blue sky overhead. There is a "brand-new" quality to Sea and Cake music that makes it feel fresh and European like walking through a pristine, well-lit Danish furniture store.

Formed eight years ago, the Chicago-based four-piece has been called an indie-rock super group, consisting of vocalist Prekop and bassist Eric Claridge, both from seminal post-rock band Shrimp Boat; guitarist Prewitt, formerly of Kansas City loungers The Coctails, and drummer John McEntire of experimental instrumentalists Tortoise. Other than Claridge, everyone takes a turn on synthesizers.




Prewitt said making One Bedroom differed from their last CD, Oui, because all four members took part in the "loose-limbed practices" in which it was born.

Like all their recordings, the final touches come when Prekop adds vocals to the finished tracks -- vocals that the band never hears until the last minute. "It's a really odd way to do things," Prewitt said. "We never hear the vocals and lyrics until the mixdown, then it's 'What the hell is this?' Of course I don't like the sound of it initially, because I'm used to hearing it one way. He puts down a different type of melody that sits on top or interweaves or reacts to the situation. The whole listening experience becomes more broadened with the lyrics and vocals. More than half of our sound is Sam's voice and phrasing, which is different than the run-of-the-mill pop band."

In addition to their musical endeavors, Prekop, Prewitt and Claridge are accomplished artists, while McEntire is a respected engineer and producer. If you do a Google search for Archer Prewitt, you'll find just as many results for his Sof' Boy underground comic as his music. Sof' Boy is an always-smiling, puffy, ghost-like critter whose misadventures with Flitty the Fly, Pidgy the Pigeon, and the cannibalistic drunk bum have been documented in comic book published by Drawn & Quarterly.

"In some ways, I kind of long for the simpler way of doing things," Prewitt said. "Just doing my music would be simpler, but I like to juggle things and see what comes of it. The art of it is really exciting."

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Published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader Feb. 26, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


"We never hear the vocals and lyrics until the mixdown, then it's 'What the hell is this?'"