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Have your ‘Cake’

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Even in a neighborhood known for its bakeries, a piece of cake can be a welcome addition.

Touring in support of their first full-length album in four years, “Everybody,” the Sea and Cake, the Chicago-based indie pop band, will hit the Warsaw on Sept. 29, the latest in a string of high-profile shows at the sleepy club which is tucked into the Polish National Home.

“A bigger audience helps, because longtime fans know all of the songs, and it makes it fun for us,” said guitarist and vocalist Sam Prekop.

It shouldn’t be a problem for them to pack the house, since after 14 years of making music together, the band has gathered quite a following.

“The Sea and Cake is ultimate soundtrack for a dinner party with a friend or three. How classy and refined their music is makes up for the lack of class in your friends or grungy New York apartment,” said Jesse Cannon, a freelance record producer living in Cobble Hill.

But until recently, Prekop wasn’t so sure himself. “We always have a set of ideas that fall away and become completely worthless,” he said. “I can’t count how many times I’ve said I want to make a blues-rock album and it never happened.”

He even admitted to GO Brooklyn that it took two months of listening before “Everybody” began to grow on him. “I needed time away from it, but once I took a break and I was able to hear it in a different light, I really liked it.”

But the record has found favor with the band’s fans. James Bradley, owner of Williamsburg’s Sound Fix record store confirms, “It’s been a steady seller and it was in our top 10 for many weeks.” And as for the all-important Pitchfork.com rating, “Everybody” scored a 7.6, which is no small feat on the notoriously picky Web site.

This time around, Sea and Cake turned to an outsider, Brain Paulson, to produce the record. Until now, the knobs were twiddled by drummer John McEntire.

“We decided we needed the input of someone outside of the band because we’re always a complete, self-contained unit,” said Prekop. “It’s really useful to have another opinion.”

The band works in what Prekop called “an organic process [where] ideas feed off each other” — and that didn’t change on the new album. But the group has taken a step back from the synthesizers and mapped-out, prerecorded beats of previous works to focus more on the fundamental elements of rock.

“There’s a very subtle aesthetic difference — it wasn’t radically different, but the changes added up and that’s what we were going for.”

“Everybody” manages to be both mellow and poppy at the same time. Tracks like “Up On Crutches” build layers of warm, playful sounds, transitioning into an upbeat, foot-tapping favorite, while songs like “Transparent,” which closes out the album, returns with the melodious, dreamlike qualities Sea and Cake fans expect.

“We don’t predetermine a direction, we just take what’s coming, so the records always represent a very specific time,” he said. “We never have stuff just lying around waiting to record. [Our songs] are very project-specific — the records are cohesive in that sense.”

As the members continue their side projects, from painting, books and comics to solo projects and recording studios, the Sea and Cake’s ship continues to sail. “I think it just boils down to if you want to do it enough it works itself out,” Prekop said.

The algo-rythm

Sure, everybody seems to love the Sea and Cake, but what do they really sound like? GO Brooklyn, using very scientific methods, has deconstructed the band’s latest record to give you an idea of what you can expect from its Sept. 29 concert at Warsaw. Additionally, thanks to technology borrowed from NASA, if you press your ear to the page, you’ll be able to hear tracks from the album. Seriously, just try it.

Take the hypnotic magnetism of Radiohead’s 1995 album, “The Bends,” and add the sweet acoustic dreaminess of Pinback’s self-titled record. Toss in a bit of Yo La Tengo’s pop sensibility, apparent on 1997’s “I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One” to get The Sea and Cake’s most recent release, “Everybody.”

The Sea and Cake will play at 9 pm on Sept. 29 at the Warsaw at the Polish National Home (261 Driggs Ave., between Eckford and Leonard streets in Greenpoint). Tickets are $20. For information, call (718) 387-0505.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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