DOWNLOAD: The Sea and Cake - Harps (MP3)

'Runner' cover art

Chicago indie stalwarts The Sea and Cake have announced details of their 10th album, Runner, which will be out on September 18 via their longtime home of Thrill Jockey. That's the cover art above. You can download the bright, chipper first single, "Harps," above or stream it at the bottom of this post. The band will also be touring this fall, with two NYC dates: October 21 at Littlefield and October 22 at Le Poisson Rouge. No on-sale info yet for Littlefield but tickets for the LPR show are on sale now.

Runner began its life as a companion-piece to 2011's The Moonlight Butterfly, but then took a different turn. Co-founder Sam Prekop explains:

Normally I would ignore past efforts when writing something new, but this felt different, The Moonlight Butterfly was ripe for expansion. Keeping the butterfly in mind focused a direction and provided a good jumping off point. Between The Moonlight Butterfly and Runner, I wrote and recorded a soundtrack for a film called Pavilion. It was absolutely wonderful for a while not to know what I was doing, but working still, scrambling with purpose. I truly felt free to try almost anything. in completing a picture with sound, trying to record a nuance, the particulars became huge - to render a space, describe a time, follow a spell. Reaching in this direction has definitely informed the new record.

I was interested in writing songs that started not with guitar but with synthesizer/sequencer ideas. The modular synth parts didn't always make it through to the final recordings, but the influence is still there. On "Harps" for instance, that melody and structure could not have happened if I hadn't played off the sequencer right at the beginning. Having the pieces start in my home studio, I became quite cavalier with them, painting with a new fat sloppy brush. The songs were feeling pleasantly out of control and I was hearing music unlike other material I had come up with before.

The Sea and Cake worked remotely for quite a while on Runner. As a result, what the band brought was more reactionary, impulsive, since the foundation was already there. The pieces seemed able to absorb a new kind of risk taking. It was fascinating to hand over almost complete works and have the other members of the band have at it, rip up, reconfigure, reconsider. Just when I felt I couldn't go further on a song, someone in the band would change it forever. I firmly believe in taking cues and direction as the material evolves. I'm never one to impose preconceptions on a record and feel the most interesting work is found, rather than predetermined.

As mentioned previously, The Sea and Cake's label, Thrill Jockey, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In addition to the special concerts they're putting on around the country (including two in NYC), they are also reissuing some of their classic releases -- both on CD and 180-gram vinyl. Included are such titles as The Sea and Cake's 1994 debut and Trans Am's 2000 album Red Line. (No Tortoise Millions Living Will Never Die, though, at least not yet.) More details on all the Thrill Jockey reissues are here. The Sea and Cake tour dates are listed below along with the song stream.


The Sea and Cake - 2012 Tour Dates
10-18 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
10-19 Montreal, Quebec - Il Motore
10-20 Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
10-21 Brooklyn, NY - Littlefield
10-22 New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
10-23 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
10-24 Washington, DC - Black Cat
10-25 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
10-26 Nashville, TN - Cannery Row
10-27 Cincinnati, OH - Taft Theatre Ballroom
10-28 St. Louis, MO - Luminary Center
10-29 Chicago, IL - City Winery
11-01 Vancouver, British Columbia - Rickshaw Theatre
11-03 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
11-04 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
11-05 Eugene, OR - WOW Hall
11-06 Arcata, CA - Jambalaya
11-07 Petaluma, CA - Mystic Theatre
11-08 San Francisco, CA - Slim's
11-09 Visalia, CA - Cellar Door
11-10 Los Angeles, CA - Bootleg Bar
11-11 San Diego, CA - Casbah
11-13 Marfa, TX - Padre's
11-14 Austin, TX - Mohawk
11-15 Dallas, TX - Trees