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100 Albums: "Fashion Nugget" by Cake

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Cake
Title: Fashion Nugget
Released: 1996
Genre: lo-fi indie alt-rock


There was a summer when I was in college that I spent every spare minute playing Super Bomber Man on the SNES and listening to Cake's Fashion Nugget (and one other album that I will get to shortly). Cake broke in the late era of grunge with The Distance, a--ahem--driving song about a man racing to get back to his love, or something like that. The metaphor was unclear, but the song was catchy as hell. They followed it up with a cover of I Will Survive that was much more indicative of Cake's sound: lo-fi vintage guitar, a lead trumpet, John McCrea's deadpan just-off-rhythm singing and sarcastic lyrics, and Victor Damiani's frenetic bass-playing.

Fashion Nugget was independently produced under the ethos of "if you can't make it sound clean, make it sound dirty in an interesting way." It's extremely eclectic. It's got a little funk, a little jazz, a little swing, and a little rockabilly in it. It opens with EDM-influenced Frank Sinatra and closes with Sad Songs & Waltzes which is, in fact, both a sad song and a waltz. There's not a bad track on it. But because of the very specific instrumentation that shows up throughout, it manages to have a sense of cohesion anyway. In addition to the singles and the other two I've mentioned, I thoroughly enjoy Daria, Friend Is A Four-Letter Word, Stickshifts And Safetybelts, and Italian Leather Sofa (embedded). It's a bizarre album but accessible and fun, and it's definitely worth your time.

Further Listening: Of their other albums, Comfort Eagle is probably the one I enjoy the most, especially the title track, which has probably my favorite line from this band: "Some people drink Pepsi, some people drink Coke / The wacky morning DJ says democracy's a joke."

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