Kurt Baker “Play It Cool”
Proving to be one of the most productive artists today Kurt Baker is like the Energizer bunny (going and going) quickly moving from his collaboration with The Connection on The New Trocaderos, and he’s back with his favorite producer Wyatt Funderburk on a new high energy album.
It all starts with “Sends Me To Mars” setting a manic pace; its written by Kip Brown (The Wild Hearts) and it fits the Kurt/Connection/Trocaderos style like a glove. “Enough’s Enough” is more straight Kurt Baker style, catchy as hell and deserves multiple repeat listens. The tempo is still speeding when we get to “I Got You” and “Just A Little Bit.” Kurt’s restlessness comes through on his party theme “Monday Night.” The NFL may want to buy this one (my tip, Kurt)!
“Can’t Say No” is like a marriage between Elvis Costello and Green Day, and finally we get a slower (mid-tempo) love song on “Talk Is Talk” with a wonderful Beatlesque chord progression. “Back For Good” has what I hear as a Funderburk-influenced love song with yearning lyrics and a magical middle eight. There are a few songs that tread the same ground, but overall this is another home run for Kurt. Makes my top ten list (was there any doubt?) for 2015.
The Nines “Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids”
The Nines are back with a rougher, tougher sound and the keyboard is no longer up front. Steve Eggers is still at the core of this Toronto band with the help of Bill Majoros (the Foreign Films). “It’s All in the Head” opens with deep garage rock riffs, and siren effects creating a rough car chase theme. “Just Another Party” has echoes of early XTC, Adam Ant, B-52s and the ’80s dance rock movement, and its great fun. Steve’s melodic composition skill comes out on “Never Take You For Granted” with it’s killer hook in the chorus.
The best impression is with the driving riff attack on “Wasted,” my favorite here – and very much a power pop classic. The tone slows a bit on “Sweet Tangerine” but picks up with the infectious “She Knows It’s Free,” again with the guitar riff in charge here. “Cathy” is another gem that is the best XTC song you never heard. Attempts to go darker, like on “Jimmy’s Girl” set a mood with descending riffs or synths, but don’t compare as well to the earlier tracks. Fans of early ’80’s sound will love it and its definitely highly recommended.