Power Pop Review: Kurt Baker’s Play It Cool
Kurt Baker has been responsible for a number of releases within the past year as Kurt Baker Combo as well as part of The New Trocaderos (two releases in 2015) and Bullet Proof Lovers. With Play It Cool, another 2015 release to his credit, one must wonder not only how the prolific Mr. Baker does it but why he does it.
I have a theory. Many years ago, friends and I often frequented bars that were popular with the young ladies of the area. One friend in particular would start approaching women early in the evening – long before the alcohol could make his lines sound genuine or the women’s expectations lessen commensurate with the later hour. When I’d ask him why it was necessary to start his “pitch” so early on, he was known to say the following: You’ll hear “No” ninety-nine out of a hundred times before you’ll hear a “Yes”. I wanna get those first ninety-nine out of the way as soon as possible.
And so I’m guessing it is with Baker.
Play It Cool differs from previous power pop releases in that while it is stylistically similar, Baker’s influences expand, resulting in a more diverse sounding LP. Most if not all of Play It Cool was co-written with Wyatt Funderburk (Second Saturday, Explorers Club) which may explain this to a certain extent. One thing remains constant though – the high energy aspect of his music. And with the ass-kickin’ Adam Cargin (of Screeching Weasel) on drums, this should come as no surprise. In fact, Baker & Co. have essentially turned it up to 11, if I may use a This Is Spinal Tap reference.
“Sends Me To Mars” starts things off like a hummingbird on one too many Red Bulls. We get a dose of Elvis Costello style defiance with “Enough’s Enough” along with a killer-hook that’ll stick with you long after the first listen. There’s the classic up-tempo power pop of “I Got You” and “Monday Night”, the latter with a sing-along chorus that makes it simply irresistible. My favorite song on the LP may be the Huey Lewis like title track, although the Beatle-esque “Talk Is Talk” comes in a very close second.
There’s so much to like about Play It Cool, particularly if you’re a fan of late 70’s / early 80’s power pop. There isn’t a throwaway track on this recording which, considering the rate at which Baker cranks out tunes, is quite remarkable.
Coming full circle with my theory, my “prolific” friend is now a very, very successful salesman – and I’m not. I guess that should come as no surprise. It may be that Play It Cool is the release that will give Baker a hit song and the success that comes along with that. If not, at least he has the first ninety-nine out of the way.
Release date is September 25. PRE-ORDER IT HERE.