Kurt Baker is a very prolific musician and songwriter. In the six year stretch between 2012 and Easter 2018, whether solo or part of a band, he’s released the equivalent of at least two albums per year. Against the odds, most of the material has been great.

Relocating from the US to Spain in 2013, Kurt formed the Kurt Baker Combo, a band who would ultimately inject a little more of a garage rock ethic into his gift for a power pop hook. Their first record, 2016’s ‘In Orbit’, was a little fuzzier than expected and took a bit more getting into than any of Baker’s earlier works, but still carried great choruses and a fiery energy throughout. Working to a similar formula, the Combo’s 2018 record ‘Let’s Go Wild!’, if anything, is even fuzzier. Given the rate Baker has released records, it was only a matter of time before one of his albums showed a couple of flaws. This is that record. In terms of production, some of the shinier power pop elements are absorbed by dense guitars and a world of vocal filters that sometimes make the material a little more difficult to process.

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MARK LANE – New Memory

Mark Lane’s fourth album ‘New Memory’ continues the Californian singer-songwriter’s voyage down a rabbit hole of retro pop. So much so, that it’s hard to work out whether its title is meant to be ironic. These ten songs do not so much create things that’ll eventually become a new memory as delve into old musical memories and stir them up. To say that Lane’s work is often the sum of its many influences would be an understatement, but there’s no avoiding the fact that – assuming you like retro pop/rock with a heavy 70s bias – ‘New Memory’ is a thoroughly enjoyable record.

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Having previously regaled the world with tales of TV Zombies, R. Stevie Moore and Pizza on their ‘Television Echo’ LP in 2015, Canada’s Outtacontroller begin 2018 on a similarly energised and fuzzed out wave with four more more songs of trashy debauchery.

Although comprised of recordings made at a brand new session, thematically speaking, there’s common ground covered on their ‘No Echo’ EP, since ‘Prime Time’ echoes their love of TV and ‘Something Wild’ hints at a band who believe firmly in the old Spinal Tap maxim “have a good time, all the time”. There may only be ten minutes’ worth of new music here, but this disc represents quality over quantity.

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MASON SUMMIT – Summer Cold

In the last quarter of 2015, Mason Summit left a lasting impression with his third album ‘Gunpowder Tracks’. Exploring various avenues of pop, Americana and folk, the singer-songwriter showed a talent and knowledge of influences that stretched beyond his years. With the world awash with great music in the digital age, it didn’t quite reach the size of audience it deserved but, for those who actually heard it, the feeling was unanimous – this was an unexpected gem that set expectations high for a follow up.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Songs, Bond Songs

In 2014, music fan and entrepreneur Andrew Curry masterminded ‘Here Comes The Reign Again’, a double disc set of recordings by cult singer-songwriters and power pop bands covering various UK hits from the 1980s. The results, as you’d expect, were a mixed bag, but the high points were high enough to recommend an addition to any quirky record collection. Three years in the making, the follow up brings back various familiar faces for a near complete run through of themes from James Bond movies. The results are…interesting…but mostly, nowhere near as good as such a project seems on paper. This is a project fraught with problems, not least of all that Bond themes just can’t be reproduced on a meagre budget. Continue reading