KURT BAKER – Rock ‘n’ Roll Club

Ever since the release of his ‘Brand New Beat’ album in 2012, Kurt Baker has been synonymous with a party-centric brand of power pop. Taking a huge influence from Joe Jackson, Shoes and a host of early 80s skinny tie wearers, he added his own voice to a classic sound on a run of enjoyable albums. Each new LP came with a certain expectation of something familiar, but that’s not to say there haven’t been a few musical surprises. 2018’s ‘Let’s Go Wild!’ showed off a more abrasive edge, increasing a few garage rock influences, and 2020’s ‘After Party’ – released mid-pandemic, making promotion more difficult – mixed the solid power pop fare with tunes that drew from New Romantic sources, and even dabbled with lounge jazz. ‘After Party’ wasn’t just Baker’s most adventurous album to date; it was also his best.

Over the following year, Kurt released a couple of stand alone digital singles; he collaborated with Italian power poppers Radio Days and US garage rockers Indonesian Junk; he played a pivotal role on the second K7s LP, and even released an excellent EP with Spanish punks Nuevo Catecismo Catolico. He might have been in danger of spreading himself too thinly by that point, but sessions for a new Kurt Baker Band album were also undertaken over the following year, and the resultant tunes – as featured on 2023’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Club’ – are very strong.

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Watch Kurt Baker’s new animated video for ‘New Direction’

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.

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Kurt Baker shares new digital single ‘Turn It Around’

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.

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Grab another free sampler from Rum Bar Records

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.

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KURT BAKER – Keep It Tight / Get Away

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.

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