Kiera Butler

Kiera Butler

Senior Editor

Kiera answers your green questions every week in her Econundrums column. She was a hypochondriac even before she started researching germ warfare.

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Kiera has written about the environment, arts and culture, and more for Columbia Journalism Review, Orion, Audubon, OnEarth, Plenty, and the Utne Reader. She lives in Berkeley and recently planted 30 onions in her backyard.

New Music: The Sea and Cake

| Mon Nov. 10, 2008 3:53 PM PST

seaandcake150.jpgI must admit that when I first heard that Chicago rockers The Sea and Cake had another new album out—just a year after their last one—I was suspicious. That kind of prolificacy is rare to say the least. I mean, who are these guys, Stephen King? I suspected they would have lost some stamina along the way.

But I need not have worried, since this album, Car Alarm, is every bit as energetic and enthralling as the band's 2007 effort. A bit of background: At the height of Chicago's mid-'90s scene, members of legendary groups Tortoise, Shrimp Boat, and Coctails came together to form the Sea and Cake, which, since then, has evolved into a jazzed-up post-rock band. The quartet's eighth album finds the boys up to their old tricks, buzzing effortlessly from buoyant pop songs ("Aerial," "Window Sills") to dreamy steel-drum jams ("The Staircase"). This time, though, the buzz is subtle—think Sunday morning coffee, not nightclub. "Well I want inspiration/I keep it locked up, I want more," singer Sam Prekop whispers in "Down in the City." It's that sense of holding back—the energy just beneath Prekop's imperturbable cool—that gives this album its delicious tension. Contrary to its name, Car Alarm is anything but monotonous.

Read Stereogum's interview with the Sea and Cake guys here.

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MoJo Audio: Linguist Robin Lakoff Analyzes Sarah Palin's Accent

| Fri Oct. 3, 2008 6:11 PM PDT

Last night after the veep debate, my friends and I couldn't stop doing the Sarah Palin accent. But is she the only candidate on the campaign trail who sounds like where she comes from? And does she do it on purpose? I called on Robin Lakoff, a professor of sociolinguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, for some straight talk about the speech patterns of Sarah Palin, Joe Biden, John McCain, and Barack Obama.

In this podcast, Lakoff explains how Obama and McCain's speech have evolved since we talked last year during primary season—and why there's more to Palin's speech than her Wasilla ways.

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