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The Sea and Cake @ Troubadour 12/4/08

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Venerable Chicago-based band The Sea and Cake hit the Troubadour this week for a pair of shows in support of their October release Car Alarm (Thrill Jockey). Playing together since 1993, core members Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt--along with drummer John McEntire and bassist Eric Claridge--proved in their almost 2-hour set Thursday night that rocking out isn't just for the young.

What is most amazing about The Sea and Cake is their almost-tangible synchronicity when they play together. Small head tilts and nods seemed to communicate entire thoughts, and when deeply engrossed in the act of creating rich, rapidly shifting segments of sounds, their enmeshment was palpable.

Car Alarm follows up their more pared-down 2007 release Everybody, and moves the band towards a more intense rock sound than on some previous albums. A fondness for what plays as more "ambient" on albums like Oui (2000) and One Bedroom (2003) made me wonder how they would translate live. The result: Phenomenal. The complexity of their compositions seen up close in personal through adept fingers flying over strings of guitars and bass and gripping drumsticks was staggering. Their frequent use of electronic beats took a back seat, despite the presence of the musician's ubiquitous right-hand man of late--the Apple laptop--which was only employed a couple of times in the set.