PLATES OF CAKE
Plates of Cake
Catalog #: AHE-11
Release date: 2010
1. Living Winter
2. Emil the Soldier
3. Private Yacht
5. The Shining Path
6. A Band of Partisans
7. Old Debts
8. Leper Hill
9. This Way Not Some Other Way
10. Big Purse
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Plates of Cake
AHE-11 PLATES OF CAKE – s/t – LP: $13
The self-titled album by Plates of Cake plays like a two-sided LP should. It’s like spinning one of those mid 60′s folk rock records where you’re hit with one blast after another for a perfect half hour. The Byrd’s Fifth Dimension, The Turtles’ Wooden Head and Love’s first record all come to mind. From the moment the first chords are struck in “Living Winter” until the closing chant in “Big Purse” you’ll find no filler, just memorable songs that shed light on the dark daydreams clouding an otherwise sun-baked world. It’s a thrilling ride full of peaks and valleys, elegant wordplay, reverb drenched guitars, and snappy rhythms all played by the quartet of Jonathan Byerley, Joshua Carrafa, Gann Matthews and William Yale.
Recorded in a rented church in Nutley, New Jersey by drummer William Yale on 8 track reel-to-reel and 4 track-cassette, Plates of Cake has a sound that is homegrown and rich with reverberating tones. The band sounds at home in it’s adopted surroundings, and the way it was tracked brings a lively feel to the performances. With his sandpaper-sharp baritone, principle songwriter, Jonathan Byerley, acts as narrator to the album’s 9 songs, with occasional vocal harmonies bursting through the clouds compliments of bassist Gann Matthews and guitarist Joshua Carrafa. Byerley’s gruff vocal stylings recall balladeers like Lloyd Cole and Warren Zevon, which suits his expert penmanship perfectly. While the band seems to float six inches off the ground, it’s Byerley’s voice and lyrics that bring them back to earth with his old world themes of life during wartime, work and love, bohemia and oddball short stories. He is a gifted songwriter that plays with the idea of darkness rather than living in it, with lyrics as imaginative as tall tales that poke fun at, as well as reflect contemporary depressions. Take this cutting line from side B standout ‘A Band of Partisans’, “Now I live here with a kind assassin, a sleeping wife and her dagger collection. Life is pretty quiet when you’re living out of reach with nothing to return to except your memories.”
Stylistically the band doesn’t lean to heavily on any particular sound. The songwriting is so strong that the references one may pick up are garnered through love and respect rather than blatant copying; the candle-lit lyricism of Leonard Cohen on “This Way Not Some Other Way”, the twin guitar workouts of The Feelies on “Old Debts”, and even the heights of Village Green era Kinks on “Private Yacht”. Throughout it all though, if there were one ghost looking over the proceedings it would be that of Alexander “Skip” Spence. Imagine if Spence was the only songwriter/vocalist in Moby Grape and you get a little closer to what Plates of Cake are all about. They strike a balance between the tight and the bent, playing their songs casually and confidently, with no extra note or verse tacked on. With only the essential ingredients brought to the table Plates of Cake have made a startling debut.
-LP comes with download card.
“This is rock n’ roll for late night cab rides, rainy mid-day skies, blinking lights, almost-gone well drinks, cocktail napkins with phone numbers written in lipstick — this is The National if The National sounded like everyone says they do. . . Truly soiled music, dove-like in its beauty and full of gritty fire and sore guts.”
-Grant Purdum (Tiny Mix Tapes)
“Plates of Cake stake their claim in the guitar-pop arena. The melodies are tight and swelling with a quiet tension, the guitars shimmer and quake and the rhythm section subtly pushes it all along. The band also shows an impressive range, from the bright, nearly-twee pop of “Living Winter” to the propulsive rock of “Emil the Soldier” to the deathly, Cohen-esque waltz of “This Way; Not Some Other Way”. With their breadth of pop styles and their tight execution, the band puts forth an admirable set on this record.”
-Matthew Fiander (Pop Matters)
“With a booming bass foundation and the gruff croon of Jonathan Byerley — a blur of Nick Cave, Morrissey and Leonard Cohen — Plates of Cake are deceptively upbeat, with a foot-tapping rhythm that gets into your bones. It’s only once you start swaying that the words hit you: “The wilderness to the icy sea, I destroyed what you loved in me.” The Brooklyn-based foursome have an innate sense of beat and darkness; I suspect Byerley is making the absolute best out of an Episcopalian upbringing.”
-Isabella Yeager (Unveiled Arts)
“Brooklyn-based Plates of Cake have recently released their self-titled album on All Hands Electric (Zachary Cale, Woodsy Pride). Recorded on 8 track reel-to-reel and 4-track cassette, the album has a warm, retro sound that perfectly suits the music, which recalls Guided By Voices, The Byrds and sometimes, even The Replacements. Sharp guitars, interesting melodies, and lyrics both thoughtful and oddball (What’s so great about masking tape/ Is it the flesh tone color beige? from “Old Debts”) are heard throughout Plates of Cake. Songwriter/guitarist Jonathan Byerley has one of the most interesting voices I’ve heard all year – a deep baritone that is a cross between Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon — and somehow he pulls it off. Standout tracks include the pleasant rambler “Living Winter,” upbeat “Emil the Soldier” and Leonard Cohen-esque “This Way; Not Some Other Way.”
-DBosket (Record Dept.)
“A top-shelf lead single [Private Yacht] that we can show off to our friends…”
-My Old Kentucky Blog
“A British Invasion sound straight out of Brooklyn.” 2010 CMJ – Our Recommendations
-AM New York