Last April, Kim Baxter, former member of Portland power-twee group All Girl Summer Fun Band, released her first solo album, The Tale of Me and You, though you’re probably unaware of it. That’s really through no fault of its creator, who would love nothing more than to put this album in the hot little hands and hard drives of music fans across the globe.
Rather, it comes down to the fact that, as much as the 35-year-old still loves making music and playing shows, she has to balance it with the realities of adulthood. When AGSFB decided to take an extended hiatus, it was because Baxter and bandmate Jen Sbragia were both having babies, and drummer Kathy Foster was occupied with her other band, the Thermals. Baxter was also plenty busy herself, finishing up a master’s program in applied linguistics.
So, when she and her husband, Chris Flanagan, decided to start recording The Tale, the process, according to Baxter, was lengthy.
“I never want to do that again,” she says with a laugh, hands wrapped around a cup of tea at a cafe in Northeast Portland. “It taught me to be really respectful of the process, but it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, let’s go record an album over a weekend.’ It was so much slower. Like, ‘OK, the baby’s napping, I’ll run down there and record something, and then let’s switch.’”
The Tale doesn’t have the breezy punch of Baxter’s former band. Instead, Baxter layers the songs with reverb-dappled guitar lines, ’60s keyboard tones and a denser production style that calls to mind the shoegazer explosion of ’90s Britpop.
Baxter says she took a more thoughtful approach when it came to the lyrical content of these songs, exploring the crossroads she has come upon over the past five years or so. The fuzzed-up rocker “Devil on My Side,” for example, came to life around the same time she was finishing her thesis. “I was weighing all these options,” she says. “Do I want to go on the road and travel, or do I want to stay here? How do I balance my home life and my creative life?” And, of course, there is plenty of material centered on her relationship with Flanagan, her partner for 16 years. “We’ve been in bands for 20 years now, so we have kind of learned how to communicate through music,” she says.
If anything else has fed into The Tale’s below-the-radar status, it’s that Baxter and Flanagan are handling the album’s promotion themselves. They’ve sent copies to supportive reviewers, and have been dipping their toes into playing live after putting together a band featuring ex-bandmates and longtime friends. So far, that has yielded only one local show beyond this week’s performance at Mississippi Studios.
The biggest move forward for the album will be a European tour to support its vinyl release via German label Expect Candy. But for Baxter, the most exciting part is to have her son on the road with her.
“I want him to see
how we travel and have friends all over the world who are like family,”
she says, “and that we made this connection with them through music.”
SEE IT: Kim Baxter plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Genders and Still Caves, on Wednesday, March 20. 9 pm. Free. 21+.