IF Kurt Baker is a new name on you then I suggest you sit up, Pay attention and get your purse at the ready. How could you not agree with that statement? It doesn’t matter what guise Baker releases music under be it solo or Combo or whatever the guy can do no wrong. He has a fine ear and knows exactly what is required to make a sumptuous ear caressing tune.
What began as noises emanating from a Maine basement is poised to be the soundtrack to a pandemic as Kurt Baker gets back to his roots on this rocking new album.
“The idea for the Combo was always to be a band that showcased my more Garage/Pub Rock/Punk side, while the U.S. group is firmly rooted in Rock/Pop/Power Pop,” explains Baker. Counting those two albums with the Combo, ‘After Party’ is the artist’s sixth full-length record, in addition to his previous work with Pop/Punk band The Leftovers.
After heavy airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and touring in Europe and the U.S. It seemed that the wider world was in on our little Rock and Roll secret that’s been cooking for a while over there.
Wyatt Funderburk, who produced, engineered and mixed the record, also played guitars and co-wrote all the songs with Kurt. The pair previously collaborated on songs for many of Kurt’s releases before he moved to Spain. “The fact that the songs came to us so easily, after such a long time not working together, made me realise how special this collaboration is,” Kurt recalls.
Keyboardist Kris Rodgers is now a successful Wicked Cool recording artist in his own right. The recent single “She Likes To Party” by Kris Rodgers and The Dirty Gems follows up “Every Little Crack,” which Stevie Van Zandt declared the number one Coolest Song Of The Year for 2018. “Kris shines with his vocals on ‘Wandering Eyes’ and piano on ‘A Song And A Drink.’”
Also on guitars is Geoff Palmer, well known to Underground Garage listeners with his band The Connection, who’ve received Coolest Song honors multiple times. “His guitar playing is just so Geoff and he makes sure you know that.”
Craig Sala, who has played with everyone from John Entwistle to Captain Kangaroo, rounds out the group on drums. “He tracked all the songs in a couple hours – a few in just one take.”
Most of the album was recorded in the basement of Kurt’s parents’ house in Portland last year. Funderburk tracked drums and finishing touches in his Nashville studio. “The best thing about these sessions was when we were all together singing into the same microphone, each of us doing our vocal parts, with Wyatt coaching us like Brian Wilson during a Pet Sounds session,” Kurt recalls.
Kurt rode out the terrifying early months of the pandemic in his Madrid apartment, amidst the epicenter of the first wave in Spain, where restrictions were serious. “Even when I’d go for a five-minute walk to the grocery store, the police would stop me to question what I was doing and what I was going to buy! It was a bit surreal. One thing that saved me during the lockdown was that each day Wyatt would send me a new mix of the record. This kept me positive and excited.”
The record opens up with ‘New Direction’ Nah he’s not gone death metal or techno, however, I’m sure if he did then he’d pull it off and make it most listenable. Anyway where was I? oh yeah, ‘New Direction’ immediately lockdown doesn’t quite seem so bad after all. The keys are light behind the big backing vocals and meandering guitar licks its classic power pop. Had Cheap Trick opened their new album they’d be back playing enormadomes. The middle breakdown is cool with the spoken words just smile and chew your bubblegum with a bit of attitude.
‘I Like Her A Lot’ has a bit of punch like Baker had been playing some Green Day perhaps for inspiration. The song motors along and sounds fresh as. You’ll be singing along before the first play is over. It’s a shame chart music isn’t full of songs like this anymore. If the kids only put down their game consoles and played some sunshine Rock and Roll maybe the world would be a better place, there would be more parties that for sure. Love the hook on the chorus and they nail those backing vocals. ‘Wandering Eyes’ is a killer track.
Baker drops a line in the inspiration pond and pulls out a staple from the fab four songbook for the light ‘Waiting For You’. We then build it back up with the new wave tones of ‘Good’ sure Costello looms large here but its shaping up to be such a great record so far and we’re only half way through and we’ve ventured through several of the power pop subgenres and done it with that seal of quality that comes with a Kurt Baker record.
The record continues to ebb and flows really nicely from the easier listening of ‘Used To Think’ with its doo wap diddy BVs through the synth-heavy ‘Keep Dreaming’ to the harder rockin Ramones meets Green Day vibe of ‘She Don’t Really Love You Dude’. ‘A Song And A Drink’ is a strange one something of a jazzy barroom number with a really dreamy vibe but an impressive vocal from Gina Brown to bring this one home and something that sits nicely on this record but not something I’d generally gravitate towards but hey, there’s a first time for everything.
To close this record off Baker pays tribute to Single Bullet Theory and it leaves you filled with hope at the end of the record and no matter if you’re feeling lousy this will pick you up as it builds and builds and confirms Kurt Baker as something of a power-pop genius and once again hes crafted along with the help of some supremely talented friends and musicians that ever clud indeed has a silver lining and ‘After Party’ is a lockdown tonic we should all take a swig of. Get on it!
Pre-save/Pre-add ‘After Party’ Here
Stream the single ‘Over You’ Here
Author: Dom Daley
What with the madness that is the end of the year there were some EP’s and some pretty good singles that hit us late on that we didn’t want to ignore and so we are here with a little extra crimbo treats for you good people who still believe in Rock n Roll. So as 2018 fades into the distance and we all look forward to 2019 we leave this neat little pile under the tree for your listening and viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
Darrell Bath & Los Tupper – Rocking The Streets (Sunthunder Records) Alright let the festive season begin. Sneaking in at the last knock of 2018 this cheeky three-track CD single hit the doormat just in time. Featuring Los Tupper & Mr Bath recorded in Spain it’s exactly what it says on the tin – ‘Rocking the street’. it’s just a very handsome 12 bar rock ‘n’ roll number done with style and a touch of class which we’d expect nothing less from Bath and Los Tupper.
Some lovely slide walking right over this bit of boogie it’s what every Crimbo party needs. It’s loose and sleazy and an excellent tune. Whilst ‘Hand Of Mercy’ is a different beast altogether, a more laid back track with Bath crooning on top of some lovely swirling Hammond courtesy of the Tupper boys. I wouldn’t want to give Mr Bath a big head but this could easily have fallen off a Ronnie Wood record when he was at his peak and be one of the standout tracks for that matter. Then tucked up nicely is ‘Hold Me Close’ is loose and a lovely tip of the hat to the one and only Mr David Essex. What a cool record glad it got to me in time. Cheers me dears! it’s only Rock ‘n’ Roll but I do like it. www.sunthunder.net
Lester Greenowski – let’s Get Fucked Up (Tornado Ride Records) songwriter Lester Greenowski, he of The Crybabys and Honest John Plains band is coming out with a brand new single “Let’s Get Fucked Up” on the 25th of December 2018. The single will be available on all the major web stores and precedes the release of his second solo effort “Out of Tune, Out of Key” out in 2019 on Tornado Ride Records. You know its gonna rock you know it’s gonna roll you know you want it so when you’ve finished stuffin’ the bird go online and click the links to pick up this festive cracker.
The Rizzos / Top Nachos – Split (King Pizza Records) Of course they’re from Brooklyn NY. They ply their rock n roll trade on the mean streets of the big apple and turn in a melodic garage slab of rock n roll where the amps are set to howl and the vocals courtesy of Meg are sugar sweet and lull you into a false sense of security before the noise breaks through. Two tracks are on offer from The Rizzos and pretty damn good they are too. ‘Bless This Mess’ leading the way with a thumping bass line and a neat tempo – pick of the pack for me right there.
As for Top Nachos contribution, well, ‘Fast’ is um, fast. It’s tuneful and rapid and LoFi and then it’s gone. Noisy and punk as fuck. I like it. The pick of the two is ‘Getcha’ with its Misfits like melody and a top tune it is too. rounding off a really good split EP and another two bands we’ll put into our little black book to remember to check out over the coming months and weeks to see if they have anything else released and we feel you should follow suit.
The Night Screams – Stuck EP (King Pizza Records) Wow another day another new band hits the RPM death decks and this time The Night Screams also on King Pizza Records and also from Brooklyn NY are down and dirty scuzzing around in the whole garage punk action rock scene and writing some really impressive tunes. Five song EP in less than ten pulsating minutes we absolutely endorse that and from the moment ‘The Road I Run’ crashes in we nod our approval. The sound is like these were recorded in a garage from the primal stomp of ‘That Look’it’s not about a slick production job its all about the tunes and there are five of them to band against your eardrum right here. ‘Big Picture’ sounds like the Hives without the sharp suits and the closing song ‘Freedom Of Choice’ is the longest and possibly the pick of the bunch here as it drives past some Devo meets Iggy and ends up with some duelling guitars through the feedback its a really good song and the more I play it the better it gets so why not take a chance and check out The Night Screams I’m glad I did.
Demons – ‘Bad Neighbourhood’ (Lux Noise) Wow another we didn’t see coming. Hot on the heels of their collaboration with RPM fav Jeff Dahl Demons knock out two new songs on our favourite Swiss label. Its a strong song that leads the way and packs a pretty mean punch from the barking guitars on the riff to the solo that leads into the gang vocals on the chorus its street punk rock and its an excellent single. The B side is a bastardised classic ‘I’d Much Rather Be With The Girls’ and we like that – of course its good, its sloppy rock n roll kids and it’s gone. Two songs one single just pick it up folks you know you want to! its only rock n roll and we like it!
PELLE MILJOONA OY – Anna Soihtusi Palaa (Stupido Records) I apologise in advance as my Finish isn’t as good as it should be and neither is my translator anyway, there are a couple of names connected to this that made us sit up and take notice and we think therefore its only fair that we should tell you good folks out there all about Andy McCoy and Sami Yaffa playing on some excellent new songs together. the lead track ‘Anna Soihtusi Palaa’ is a banger – we kid you not. McCoy’s guitar noodlings are all over this and it sounds fantastic. I haven’t a clue what its about but rock n roll doesn’t have barriers with language because we should all be singing off the same page and this lead track is most excellent.
‘Hei Hei Hei’ has a familiar feel to its opening riff that will be music to many peoples ears and the song has a bag of energy all the way to its rocking chorus. On closer inspection of the CD I did ask myself wow, could I pull off those strides Andy is wearing? I came to the conclusion that apart from Andy and possibly Ali ba ba nobody outside of Alladin could and that’s what makes him so special. The closing song ‘Olen Unessa’ is a fine way to finish a curious EP that I rather enjoyed to be fair despite the language barrier. Check it out folks.
OK seeing as its Christmas we thought we’d treat you all to a couple of festive related videos that have just been released for the Holiday season. We begin this visual wormhole with Mad Caddie and their seasonal offering out on ‘Fat Wreck Chord –
wonk unit – Christmas in a crack house (Cadiz Music) it doesn’t really need an explanation does it? its Alex Wonk and the rest of his unit with their seasonal offering from the most excellent ‘Terror’ album seasons greetings to you all and as a gift from them to us to you here is the rather soppy video for their limited edition red vinyl single ‘Christmas In a crackhouse’ don’t do it, kids, they did it so we don’t have to’
How about as its the season of giving we point you in the direction of some Free music? Yeah! can I get a Hell Yeah? well click the link and pay the Rum Bar a visit and let Lou introduce you to some of the excellent bands he has signed up on his rather splendid label. this free track is Nat Freedberg and the track ‘Devil Rockin Man’ you know it makes sense and it’s going to be good so what are you waiting for?
Kris Rodgers & The Dirty Gems – Every Little Crack (Wicked Cool Records) some of you will be familiar with Kris when he toured the UK as part of Scott Sorry awesome band and he also helped tinkle the ivories with Rich Rags on some Role Models tunes and also his album released on rum Bar records. Well, Kris is back in the hood with this spellbinding slab of rock and roll complete with some Stones like riffage and horn stabs that lift this belter into the realms of if the house party needs spicing up this Christmas then put this on and let’s trash the place. Its only rock n roll folks but boy do I like it. flip this bad boy over and those ivories get tinkled as Kris dishes out some mighty fine Rock n Roll in the shape of ‘All I Wanna Do’. Hey, Rodgers, we salute you-you rock my friend and this is a big as possible smiling slab of good time music that makes you glad to be alive.
Midnight Towers – All The Songs (self Release) Well this one slipped through the cracks released back at the end of October it will interest quite a few of you readers I guess if we mentioned Ex-members of The Black Halos, The Spitfires, Darlings of Chelsea, Kill Cheerleader, Die Mannequin, Wasted Again, Electric Blood, CJ Sleez, Red Hot Lovers, and more. you might be sitting up right now. well, this is a four-track EP full to bursting with plenty of Action Rock and Roll and right from the opener ‘Heartbreaker’ you know what you’re getting here. Zero bullshit just straight up punk attitude rock and roll. ‘Ride WithMe’ is a departure, Nah, it’s not, of course, it’s not. It’s more on the money riff-a-rama rock with added one-fingered piano tonking that would make Iggy and The Stooges blush seeing as they invented it. They even turn up the heat on ‘Crazy For You’ this would be the dogs danglies live I bet. Beefed up 12 bar riff all the way to the chorus and then you’re done. Oh, they do cram in a brief breakdown before the soaring solo – wickedly good rock n roll folks trust me. Just click the link and make the purchase they even saved the best til last as ‘Stuck In My Brain’ comes out swinging. Love it!
To finish off the singles and EPs of 2018 we thought we’d leave you with this lovely slice of punk.
Rat Cage – Night Of The Rat (Kids Of The Lughole) Every now and then its good to cleanse the soul with a slab of hardcore that just kills it dead. No fucking about just blunt trauma force that hits you square on the head and doesn’t relent for its short lifespan. Well, Rat Cage will certainly fit that bill two tracks on this single ok so they’re no Pizzatramp potentially prog in length compared but they more than make up for it with their attitude and delivery as they absolutely pulverise you with punk rock hardcore. Fucking champion stuff. ‘Night Of The Rat’ lulls you in then Bang! we’re off! just pick it up its angry – shouty and fantfuckintastic.
It would also be a dereliction of duty if we didn’t give you the new video from Jayne County to round up an awesome 2018 so as one year ends we sign off with ‘IgenderTy’ and look forward to what 2019 will offer in the 45rpm catagory and what great videos will also get delivered. Chow for now