Although their origins stretch back much further, LA power poppers/garage rockers Prima Donna considered their self-titled full length release from 2018 to be a new start; the kind of record that really introduced the world to a band at their best. …And indeed, the bulk of its material showcased a more confident band; an act fully at ease with a commercial sound and a huge chorus or six. Over the next couple of years, some great singles emerged, with Prima Donna’s blend of timeless pop cool and garage rock flair eventually peaking on an unexpected cover of Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’ driven by a massive fuzz bass.
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.
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.