Kurt Baker (Kurt Baker Combo, The Leftovers, etc) Announces New Solo Album ‘After Party’ Out October 23 on Wicked Cool Records

Scritto da il 4 Settembre 2020

“…punk-meets-Elvis Costello rocking… definitely fits in the power pop mold, but also has a heavier guitar presence that gives it more energy and intensity. Baker also incorporates a subtle New Wave touch, bringing to mind some of the finest rock gems of the 1980s. With plenty of shredding and infectious harmonies, “Over You” showcases the massive musical talent and tightness within this band and gets you excited for when we will finally be able to see acts like them perform live one day.”Glide Magazine


American musician, songwriter, music producer, and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Baker has announced details for his upcoming solo album ‘After Party’ set for release on October 23 via Wicked Cool Records. The Rock/Power-Pop wizard is giving fans a preview of the album with the release of the first single “Over You” which is now streaming on all digital platforms.

‘After Party’ marks a return to primo Power Pop form under Kurt’s own name, backed by his bangin’ five-piece American band for the first time in five years. The twelve-song sonic boom of hooks and melodies hits on the heels of two acclaimed albums with Kurt Baker Combo, his four-piece group based in Madrid, Spain, where the native of Portland, Maine has resided for some years now.


Pre-save/Pre-add ‘After Party’ here

Stream the single “Over You” on all digital platforms here

About Kurt Baker’s ‘After Party’: What began as raucous noise in a Maine basement is poised to be the soundtrack to many a socially distanced soiree as Kurt Baker gets back to his roots on the rollicking new album ‘After Party.’ “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.

The Combo’s 2018 album ‘Let’s Go Wild!’ was “a high-spirited and thoroughly enjoyable Rock ’n’ Roll record” (Faster And Louder). It built on 2016’s In Orbit, which The Big Takeover called “a fast-paced, high-energy ride.” Both LPs saw heavy airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and inspired endless touring in Europe and the U.S. A pair of standalone singles, “Can’t Go Back” and “(I Can’t Help) Failing In Love,” kept the momentum going through 2019. In the intervening years, the careers of the American band members exploded to the point where this reunion now amounts to a Power Pop supergroup.

Wyatt Funderburk, who produced, engineered and mixed the record, also played guitars and co-wrote all the songs with Kurt during a four-day Maine hang in summer 2019. The pair previously collaborated on songs for many of Kurt’s releases before he relocated to Spain. “The fact that the songs came to us so easily, after such a long time not working together, made me realize 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.

While rooted in ’60s and ’70s aesthetics, ‘After Party’ does feature ’80s AOR and New Wave sounds on tracks like lead single “Over You.” “If it’s not The Beatles or Beach Boys we’re drawing influences from, then it’s something from the New Wave era. Donnie Iris is huge to us, as well as Boston, Nick Gilder, .38 Special, Tom Petty, New England, Starz, and Cheap Trick.” Follow-up single “I Like Her A Lot” offers a bit of a grinding ’90s rock sound. “When it comes to ’90s music, Wyatt and I really love the Pop/Punk stuff, especially Lookout Records. So Green Day, The Queers, Screeching Weasel, The Mr. T Experience – we grew up on that.”

“Outta Sight” closes the LP in upbeat romantic fashion. “Wandering Eyes” adds an alluring French spoken-word interlude for which Kurt is coy about providing a translation. “It’s nothing too risqué, I promise!”

While the COVID-19 pandemic makes it unlikely that the full five-piece band can play shows in 2020 as planned, the goal is to tour in both the E.U. and U.S. eventually. A road warrior who has toured with the likes of The Offspring and Tommy Stinson in the past, Baker is always itching to play live.

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 latest Wicked Cool release distributed by The Orchard, After Party is receiving a full marketing push from the label, whose 2020 slate also features new music from Jesse Malin, WYLDLIFE, Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts, The Empty Hearts and Jessie Wagner.

And now, the songs of After Party in Kurt’s own words…

1. New Direction This song’s feeling is “We’ve been gone for a while, but now we are back with a fresh new start!” A great re-introduction to the sound and the group. I love the little spoken word bit in the middle – this would be a typical conversation at Amigos, a bar in Portland, Maine. Musically we were inspired by the work of Dan Vapid and his bands The Mopes and The Riverdales, and then the chorus has almost a Soul/R&B vibe. We really thought it was cool to go from a major chord intro and then switch to a minor suddenly when the verse starts.

1. I Like Her A Lot A lot of the topics on this record came out of conversations I would have with my co-writer and producer Wyatt. I’m sure I said, “I like her a lot” in passing and then was like, “Wait…it’s so simple, but why not make that the title!” I love the line “Monday night she goes down to Amigos, never afraid to get up and dance,” mostly because of the Amigos name-drop. I’ve talked about this bar in Portland, Maine a lot, but the place really is an important spot in the making of After Party. They say it’s a Mexican restaurant but to be perfectly honest, I’ve never eaten the food there. One of my favorite choruses on the record, Wyatt suggested a few variations of the melody line that really made it pop in the end. This definitely captures our sound during a live show.

1. Wandering Eyes This song came out of a session of songs I was trying to write a year or so ago, and the idea was for it to be an A-side of a 45 single. So, in my mind, I wanted to write a big pop hit. It wasn’t used as a single back in 2019, but it did finally end up on this record and I’m really glad this one didn’t get lost in the shuffle. I love Wyatt’s and Kris’ backup vocals on this song. They really soar. We recorded a lot of different vocal parts for this, and in the end we used them all because everything just worked out really well. By the end of the song, it’s pretty huge!

1. Waiting For You One of my favorite songs on the record, The Beatles being the main influence on this. Craig had an idea to do a “Ticket To Ride” Ringo part on the drums, which worked like magic. I remember Wyatt, being the great producer he is, telling me to get into the mindset of John Lennon, perhaps during the part of the movie Help! when they’re tracking “You’re Going To Lose That Girl,” so that was what I was imagining during the recording of the vocals for this track. Kris does a great “In My Life”-styled George Martin piano solo. I think The Smithereens did something like this once too. Really cool.

1. Good One of the more eclectic songs on the record. I don’t think originally this was going to have almost a reggae vibe, but finally it does, which I really like. The idea came about after helping some friends move in Madrid. My buddy and I had carried a lot of boxes up to their flat and were amazed about how great the apartment and the view from their balcony was. The only thing they had in the flat at the time was a guitar, so I picked it up and started writing this on the balcony. It’s got a bit of a dark edge to it. The guitar solo is definitely influenced by the band Kix, as I think they did something like this on one of their slower tunes.

1. Over You Wyatt and I were working on this song in Portland during a huge snowstorm and I discovered this gigantic rodent in our basement. It was a snow beast! I had no idea what it was…turned out it was a pregnant squirrel! The squirrel was ok. We drank a lot of Twisted Tea while shoveling out the driveway, and a handful of years later this song was finally finished. It’s got a very ’80s vibe. Big chorus. Great alternating guitar and keys parts from Kris and Geoff during the solo.

1. Used To Think This song showcases how influential The Beach Boys and The Beatles both are when Wyatt and I write a song. The intro has those Beach Boys backups and the bridge has a big Beatles vibe. A really fun song, with Geoff on the harmonica! Just a song about life.

1. Keep Dreaming I’m a big fan of a genre of music called Bedroom Pop that has been popular lately, and I love the production that many of these Bedroom Pop songs have. Lots of chorus on the guitars, and just really nice melodies. So, this song definitely was influenced by groups like Boy Pablo and Mac DeMarco. Wyatt and his wife Mandy sing on the bridge and it makes the story really come to life.

1. She Don’t Really Love You, Dude During the final songwriting session for the album, Wyatt and I had hit a little dry patch. So Wyatt decided to work on some lyrics and I went up to my room with a guitar and tried to just bang out some ideas, and this one came out of that. I think this song is about friendship. It might be hard to tell your friend the truth, but sometimes it’s for the best. That’s what a real friend would do. Our buddy Pat Heelan is on backup vocals for this.

1. A Song And A Drink I was playing around with a chord progression influenced by “Are You Alone” by the great Chicago Power Pop band Off Broadway. When Wyatt and I got together to finish the song it took on a Bossa Nova vibe. We both love Bossa Nova, so it was so cool to record something with that kind of vibe. Gina Brown’s vocals on this are incredible and it was so fun to record this with her.

1. Should’ve Been The One We had this song from the Brand New Beat sessions, but we’d stopped working on it because somebody said that it reminded them too much of Genesis. Now the years have passed and there isn’t anything wrong with that in my book, so it made the final cut. It’s got a lot of ’80s influence, especially Donnie Iris. We love Donnie Iris! Great backups on this one from Craig and Kris singing together on the verse.

1. Outta Sight The main influence on this track is the band Single Bullet Theory. They had one record in the early ’80s and are mostly unheard of, but Wyatt and I love them. Wyatt actually found two vintage Single Bullet Theory T-shirts on eBay and picked them up for us. When they came in the mail we sat down and wrote this song off of an idea I had for the chorus. We wanted to build up each chorus so that by the very end it was really big. I think it’s the perfect closer to the record.

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