Listen to the Village People

 Wax Tablet

Kurt Baker and band

Down here in Portland, it’s easy to overlook the sub-surface burblings of TURNED WORD RECORDS, the magickal outer folk label from Belfast. They’ve been quiet a bit since the release of the spiritually infused folk record Knife Gift Debt by ASA IRONS, but have offered two mysterious new cassettes of import this season. The first is a recording of spare, moody improvisations by the neoprimitive guitarist Tashi Dorji titled Hills Rose Up...; the second an album’s length of post-rock noise concoctions from John Trevor Benson, a/k/a JTB formerly of West Coast heavy pioneers A Minor Forest. The label’s flagship artist VILLAGE OF SPACES look to deliver a new platter of warped farm-folk over the winter, too. Those unafraid to traffic in obscurity take note. The stuff coming out of Turned Word makes up one of the more interesting sonic plotlines in the Maine music scene. Visit for more.

Ready for some terrible news? Portland’s eminent mod KURT BAKER is relocating to Madrid, Spain, in December, where he plans to continue playing his hook-filled retro-pop indefinitely. Baker just released a video for “Don’t Go Falling in Love,” a song with a chorus so unfailingly catchy it should pay rent in your brain. Baker revives “Mod Night,” a Portland dance classic, for a session at Empire November 16, and fans will have one last chance to see the Kurt Baker Band play the day after Thanksgiving, where his upbeat anthems will be neutralized by the horror-punk of COVERED IN BEES at Geno’s. Do issue the dude an adios.

Ambient, unpredictable jazz is the métier of local trio PASTEL SOUND EXPLOSION, whose new six-song EP Greatest Hits, Best Of, Vol. 2 makes a nice excursion from the day’s routine themes. The trio consists of Theodore Treehouse members Asher Platts and Sam Chandler and Butcher Boy’s Elliot McInnes, yet their music — moody, meditative, and clatteringly expressive within structures equally observed from post-rock and modern jazz — sounds very little like what you’d expect from that pedigree. Check it out at

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