Borderline Latin: Cake, Mariachis From Hell

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Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature a song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.

Gloria Gaynor may not be crazy about it, but you have to admit it: their version of “I Will Survive” kicks ass. In fact, I think it is even better than their version of “War Pigs” –except for that trumpet section in the end: I’m sure Ozzy loves that part. But Cake, this week’s borderline Latin band, is about more than just a couple of covers. It’s about the Mariachi influence, the mix of hip-hop and alternative rock. Man, it’s all about that trumpet.

Cake formed in 1991, in California, with John McCrea in vocals and Vince DiFiore in trumpet. In all fairness, it can be said that they constitute the basic core of Cake: they have been the only two steady members of the band throughout its career. McCrea’s distinctive singing style and irreverent, almost sarcastic lyrics are one of the band’s staples. The other one is arguably DiFiore’s trumpet. It sometimes brings a Balkan air into the music –and, as we had previously established here, Balkan is another word for Latin. But sometimes it’s simply, totally, completely Mariachi. And you know that’s a good thing.

In 2011, Cake released Showroom of Compassion, an album entirely recorded in their solar powered studio. Powered by the sun, and produced independently by the band, this album performed quite well in the charts, and is still trying to reach new audiences. From that album, check out the official video for “Mustache Man (Wasted).” And if you want to see them live, they will be performing in New York City at Williamsburg Park this Friday, August 10th. Tickets are still available.

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Download Cake’s Showroom of Compassion below:

Click HERE to read more “Borderline Latin” profiles. For comments and tips, please contact me at:, and for more info on my “Borderline” works, visit Borderline Projects.