In the age of streaming and the likes of Spotify supplying a world of new tunes at the push of a button, it sometimes feels as if music has become a disposable commodity. Albums often appear, get a six week promotional cycle and then disappear just as quickly, leaving the consumer to move on to the next quick hit.
Good music deserves far more of a shelf life. How else are new releases allowed time to grow into the new ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Born To Run’? Nobody understands how important it is to cling onto great music than Kurt Baker. He’s still busily promoting his 2020 album ‘After Party’. Since that album was released, he’s relocated back to the US, hooked up with his old bandmates (including Kris Rodgers of Dirty Gems fame), and started playing new gigs in support of the record. There’s so much about it that could be his best to date, so it really deserves this ongoing love.
Following his move from Spain back to the US, Kurt Baker continued to raid his archive of materials to bring his fans some great music. The digital releases – in conjunction with his label, Wicked Cool Records – have really helped to capitalise on the popularity of his ‘After Party’ album, but the newest instalment might just be the best yet.
It’s only been a few weeks since Rum Bar Records gave out the excellent ‘XOXOXO, Volume One’ sampler showcasing some of their current roster and upcoming releases, but the label is already giving away yet more music to satisfy your underground rock and pop needs.
‘Rocktober II’ features a few current bits and pieces, but in a brilliant contrast to ‘XOXOXO’, it digs much further back into the label’s history, providing a superb recap for those who’ve only just discovered Rum Bar and their family of musicians.
Despite a highly prolific power pop-centric solo output, releases with punkier band K7s and The Bullet Proof Lovers also showed Kurt Baker to be a great team player, able to transfer his musical chops to other guitar driven styles. His easy demeanour and gifts for a strong melody have always suggested that he’s a great addition to any band and a good guy to have around. His 2021 collaboration with Nuevo Catecismo Catolico reinforced these ideas, with his adding some great harmonies to the band’s punchy garage rock.
That release also marked the end of Baker’s years in Spain and coincides with his return to his home town of Maine. The return to the States also brings a more traditionally American sound, beginning with the standalone digital track ‘Anytime At All’. That saw Kurt melding a pop punk chorus to an old Chuck Berry riff very effectively, but the two songs from the ‘Keep It Tight’ download find the musician in far more of a comfort zone.
Spanish punks Neuvo Catecismo Católico have been cranking out tunes since the early/mid 90s. Despite being fairly prolific, they’ve not always gained a huge following outside of their home country due to the core of their material not being in English, but a trawl through a sizable back catalogue presents some great music. Exploration of past works also shows a band who more than know their way around a decent melody.