Kurt Baker is Rockin’ for a Living

Larger than life
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  November 23, 2011

LIVIN’ LARGE Kurt Baker.

There's so much more to Kurt Baker than his music. His first album of original music since he broke out on his own from the Leftovers, Rockin' for a Living, has all the same pop sentiment he's known for, repeating choruses and songs so upbeat it's like you're listening on speed.

I think if you really love this stuff, it's because you pine for the same kind of alternative reality that Baker inhabits. Like living inside an issue of Archie Comics. A place where things are black and white. Where two guys vie for the attention of one fabulous gal. Where you get all kinds of punkish and angry on a song like "The Problem," but the worst insults you dish are "shut your mouth" and "your stupid face."

It's unfair to call this music "simple," as there are cool bridges (the whoah, whoah pull back in "Just Forget About It"), great arrangement (the Animals-style organ on "Can't Have Her Back" is delicious), and vocals that are more nuanced than anything Baker has done in the past. The pleasures are simple, though. Guitar and organ solos. Vocal harmonies. Singalongs.

"Kiss Me" is the one cover on the six-song EP (various versions of the vinyl release include bonus tracks by the Queers and the Wonders), penned by one Pat McCurdy, a songwriter from Milwaukee who lays claim to some 600 songs. He's a guy after Baker's heart: "Girl, I'd rather die than live without you/No matter what your parents say."

Baker is so invested in the pop tradition, so enmeshed in the jolt of a simple great song, it's clear he'd rather die than live without this music.

ROCKIN' FOR A LIVING | Released by Kurt Baker | on Oglio Records | with the Pontiffs + the Outfits | at Geno's, in Portland | Nov 25 | kurtbakermusic.com

  Topics: CD Reviews , Kurt Baker, Kurt Baker, Geno’s,  More more >
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