Friday, November 04, 2016

New Kurt Baker album!

The man is back! If it seems like it wasn't that long ago that I was reviewing Kurt Baker's last album, that's because it wasn't! Play It Cool was released just 13 months ago, and Baker has already followed it up with the fantastic In Orbit! Out on Stevie Van Zandt's Wicked Cool Records, In Orbit is Baker's first studio album to feature his kick-ass Spanish touring band (Jorge Colldan on lead guitar, Juancho López on bass, and Sam Malakian on drums - along with the great Kris Rodgers contributing keyboards on the majority of the tracks!). And while this is a Kurt Baker album, it has a slightly different feel compared to the previous ones. Of course it's packed with massive hooks and catchy choruses recalling the heyday of power pop/FM rock crossover. But this is by far the most rockin' KB release to date - incorporating a lot more '60s garage/R & B/British Invasion influences and highlighting The Combo's well-honed bar band chops. Essentially Baker has doubled down on the more "live" energy of Play It Cool while still fully exhibiting his mastery of the three-minute pop song. Close your eyes, and there's a hot band right in front of you putting on a rip-roaring rock n' roll show!

In Orbit is as strong and diverse of a collection of songs as Kurt Baker has ever delivered. If you're looking for a pure power pop album or a pure garage/rock n' roll album, you might be disappointed. But if you're seeking the perfect mix of both, this is it! "Baby's Gone Bad", with its driving beat, knockout chorus, and ripping guitar solo, was the obvious choice for the album's first single. "Do It For You" is one of those rare examples of power pop with actual power! "Count On Me" and "Ugly Way To Be" dig deep into the roots of rock n' roll, while the 1-2 punch of "Modern Day Rock 'N' Roll Girl" and "Next Tomorrow" falls into the category of "vintage" Kurt Baker. The latter track is probably my favorite of the album. Also under heavy consideration is "Rusty Nail" - a high-energy soul raver that's sure to ignite non-stop dancing wherever it's heard.

Counting solo releases and bands in which he's a primary member, the number of Kurt Baker reviews on this blog has now reached double figures! If I had to name an "MVP" among the current generation of rock n' rollers, Baker would be my choice. He's a fine singer, a tremendous songwriter, and a steadfast believer in using music to make the world a more fun place. For an artist this prolific, it's remarkable how consistently killer his releases are. The man could be forgiven for phoning in a song or two, but he's just not wired that way. Heck, even his B-sides collection was better than a lot of bands' best albums! Good on Little Steven for recognizing his talent and exposing his music to a satellite radio audience that literally numbers in the millions. So yeah: great rock n' roll is still being made, and it's still being played on the radio! In Orbit is available digitally from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. and on vinyl directly from Wicked Cool!


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