The Sea and Cake Car Alarm

The Sea and Cake Car Alarm
Hot on the heels of last year’s Everybody, their first album in four years, Car Alarm is the engine-heated sound of Chicago’s the Sea and Cake as they’ve always been, but with an urgency driving their airy substance. Beginning in 1994, the storied quartet of Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, John McEntire and Eric Claridge prolifically worked on a new record per year until almost the end of the decade. As solo work and McEntire’s commitment to Tortoise ramped up, releases emerged sporadically, challenging the Sea and Cake’s unique interplay. When the Brian Paulson-produced Everybody appeared in 2007 — their only record not overseen by McEntire — the band’s itch to play together was matched by a palpable re-familiarization with themselves. Staring down adulthood, the members’ time together is particularly precious now and they uncharacteristically went immediately from touring Everybody to writing and recording Car Alarm. Right from the Mission of Burma guitar charge of "Aerial” it’s clear the Sea and Cake are more in sync. Their jazz-infused rock arrangements are tightly wound on "Fuller Moon” and "Weekend,” while the title track exemplifies the band’s unique power. Peerless in underground pop, the Sea and Cake slickly set off Car Alarm.

What prompted this quick follow-up?
McEntire: We knew we had to do something while we were still in the zone, otherwise it would’ve been another four years. Sam was due to become a father this past summer, so that was another motivation to get it done. With Everybody, it took us a while to get back into the swing of playing together because it had been so long. We knew that if the iron was, at least warm, we could probably capitalize on it.

You’re back producing the band again, why?
It was nice to have a bit of a break when I wasn’t recording us. But we’ve made so many records together, just the four of us, it’s like the chemistry we know that works. I know what Sam likes and how he likes to operate and it just gets things done quicker and more effectively.

Is the Sea and Cake a going concern again?
It’s hard to say. We’ve got some touring lined up in November. I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen after that. It’d be nice to keep the momentum up, definitely. I love playing with those guys; it’s always a total blast. (Thrill Jockey)