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The Sea and Cake vs. Pterodactyl: A Friday Night in Seattle

Posted by December 2nd, 2011 No Comments »

The Crocodile Presents: THE SEA AND CAKE w/Lia Ices & Elba / Tickets $13
Pterodactyl w/Tom Greenwood (of Jackie O Motherfucker) & Philip Sambol (of The Strange Boys) / Tickets $8
By Derek York 

On what is sure to be a dark, frigid evening in early December, Seattle will be awash with the sounds of flying dinosaurs and maritime dessert tonight.

I love living in a city with such a rich local and touring music scene, but sometimes it can make my evenings challenging, logistically.

The Sea and Cake, an Indie rock band fronted by the talented Sam Prekop, are playing the Crocodile. I have always liked their music, but haven’t seen them live, so I’m really excited to check them out.

On the other hand, I was asked to review the new Pterodactyl album, Spills Out, a couple weeks ago. I liked their psychedelic folk pop so much I looked into their tour schedule, and it turns out they are in fact playing Seattle tonight too.

On top of all this, the excellent Sub Pop band the Cave Singers are at Neumos. Hmm. What to do, what to do.

Well, the Cave Singers are out, if only because I can see them any time. But that still leaves The Sea and Cake and Pterodactyl. These two bands sound nothing alike; they just both make great music and happen to be playing Seattle at the same time.

To help my decision making process I picked up The Sea & Cake’s latest album, The Moonlight Butterfly, which came out last May. With just six songs it feels more like an EP, though at thirty-three minutes its run time falls just behind Pterodactyl’s forty-two minute album. So I was comfortable with my sample set.

One of the first things I noticed as I began to compare these recordings is that the title tracks both stink. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever
heard two title tracks that I like less. Sea and Cake’s “The Moonlight Butterfly” has me hitting skip before the first of its four minutes are
up. In fairness, “Spills Out”, Pterodactyl’s title track, is only just over a minute long, and swells in a spaced out build for most of that,
so it’s gone by the time I’m annoyed enough to lean forward and hit skip.

Fortunately, the title tracks are the only real misses on either album. Pterodactyl produces a jangly wave of sound, which I imagine is similar to what the Beach Boys heard in their heads when they experimented with psychedelics. The Sea and Cake do refined indie jazz, which gets your shoulders swaying just enough to “accidentally” nudge the girl in the
cool frames next to you.

"We could totally take The Sea and Cake"

“We could totally take The Sea and Cake”

Road trips are a great proving ground for new music, so I did a second comparison during my Thanksgiving jaunts to Northern California and back. It was nice to try each album against different backdrops and see if the soundtrack fit.

Pterodactyl had a slight advantage during the daytime – they are far more upbeat and energizing when the road goes on forever – but night driving on bad roads is a perfect setting for both. If you find yourself navigating dark, winding roads through redwoods, in the fog, trying to avoid elk, just pop in either of these albums and roll on.

By the time I was home I knew I couldn’t decide. The only solution is to try and catch both bands tonight.

Pterodactyl will be performing at the Vera Project with doors at 7:30 p.m., and the all-age venue tends to get out early. The Sea and Cake will be less than a mile away at the Crocodile, where, with two opening acts, with any luck they won’t hit the stage until 11:30 p.m.

You can follow my adventure via @nadamucho. And please aid and abet me in my heroic Indie rock quest if you’re out and about.


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