It wouldn't be much of an overstatement to say that Jim Rao's mid-90's bedroom pop recordings put him at the forefront of the Shrimper Rebellion-- those home-tracked twee pop artists with "thing" names (Refrigerator, Fishtick, Paste, Orange Cake Mix, Beanpole, Wallpaper, Crayon, etc). If you're into the Chilton/Bell songs on Big Star's "#1 Record" and the Chris Bell demos that came out afterwards, as obviously I am, then there's some Orange Cake Mix stuff out there that you've definitely gotta hear.
That's not to say that all of the Orange Cake Mix releases are great; it seemed like Jim had a new CD or 7" or 12" coming out every week once his music started to catch on, and most of them are pretty much crap, actually. For a while there I used to buy one Orange Cake Mix 7" or CD or LP after another, in search of at least one track where Jim would set aside the baby crib synthesizer noises and finally remember to plug his guitar in, but almost always came up empty.
"Observations of Tomorrow and Today", though, represents the peak of Rao's Chilton/Bell-styled output (along with the Orange Cake Mix track on Cher Doll's "Champagne Dancing Party" EP, which is a real gem). But you don't just have to take my revisionist version of history this time; here's my review from twelve years ago, in Brushback #5:
All I have now is the single-channel "mono" version, although I fixed it so that the one track shows up in both speakers. Always fixing what others fuck up, that's my motto.
Orange Cake Mix -
"She Won't Fade Out"
"Closely Guarded Secrets"
"Don't Let Tomorrow Get In Your Way"
(these files are now listen-only)