By the end of 2019, few people would have suggested we’d live through a year any more devastating than 2016. That year, famous musicians seemed to be dying on a weekly basis. 2020 had even more of a drastic effect on the music industry with a global pandemic putting a halt on gigs and forcing various small, grass roots venues to close their doors forever.
On the plus side – and you always have to look for a positive, even in the most dire of circumstances – a dramatic change in circumstances has forced musicians to change their way of working. For those with home studios, it’s meant we’ve seen an increase in output. We’ve even been given unexpected albums – right at the end of the year, there were surprise releases from Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift and various other interesting albums were put together remotely. …And as we take stock on a terrible year, it seems that the gift of recorded music has been one of our only constants: 2020 may have been an absolute bastard in so many ways, but we’ve all found new music to love.
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.
Purveyors of a whole world of pop punk and power pop music, Spanish Label Ghost Highway Recordings will be best known for distributing records by The Dahlmanns, Bullet Proof Lovers and Electric Frankenstein. Their contribution to a series of charity releases ‘Music For Gloves’ not only gives a quick insight into the label’s wares, but offers fans a few previously unavailable gems for a good cause.
When the Kurt Baker Combo recorded their ‘Let’s Go Wild!’ album in 2018, they found themselves with material that didn’t make the final cut. One of the unused songs, ‘Turn It Around’ is a brilliant power pop number, pretty much as good as anything the KBC have ever recorded. It’s so good, it’s actually better than a few of the tracks that ended up on the LP.
In November 2019, Real Gone reached its ten year anniversary of being online. To celebrate, we shared thoughts on ten albums we loved from that decade. That list came with two strict rules beyond becoming favourites: each year had to be represented by one album and each album had to in some way have helped our site to become more established.
As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back more broadly on some of our favourite albums of the ’10s; albums that have kept us listening for pleasure long after the reviews and coverage have been completed. If you’re a regular visitor to Real Gone, lots of these names will be familiar by now, but we hope this time for looking back helps to reconnect with a couple of old favourites, or find you a new one somewhere along the way. [Full reviews & streams can be found by clicking on the individual titles.]