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.
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.
Following the release of a couple of superb albums and a slew of EPs celebrating a classic late 70s/early 80s power pop sound, Kurt Baker relocated from Portland, Maine to Madrid. New horizons brought new inspirations and Baker joined pop punk/power pop band Bullet Proof Lovers and also formed a new band, The Kurt Baker Combo. Although the Combo still worshipped good old power pop, their sound was a little harder around the edges than the previous Kurt Baker Band, injecting Baker’s songwriting with a touch of garage rock. This was most obvious on the Combo’s second release – 2018’s ‘Let’s Go Wild’ – where a desire for fuzzy energies sometimes came at the expense of some great melodies.
There’s a new Kurt Baker Combo album on the horizon. ‘Let’s Go Wild’ explores some new territory for the singer-songwriter and his band, moving further away from the usual power pop tropes and deeper into garage rock. For those who love it rough and ready but still crave a big hook, the album serves up more than enough gems.
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.