Kelley Stoltz: Circular Sounds

By: Dennis Cook

What is the sound of effervescence? The music of SF's Kelley Stoltz has the bubble and happy tickle of Fizzy Lifting soda. Take a couple sips and your head rises a few inches above the smog. Stoltz knocks out great pop-rock with shocking consistency but he's rarely been as focused or dead-on as Circulor Sounds (released February 4 by Sub Pop).

Sounds finds Stoltz channeling vintage Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, The Move in one man, and lordy do he move! There's nothing tentative about this record, Stoltz's fifth full-length, which leaps out shouting, "Everything begins and seems to end with you." He's talking 'bout love's impact but there's something of genesis and decay here, the big bang and the final gasp. Heady stuff but the lilting melodies and wooing words – the natural, breezy kind that Lennon and McCartney used to sweat in their pre-studio hermit days – never allow things to become a philosophy lesson. Instead, we chase girls and morning suns on the way to the grave. Even if "all the king's horses and all the king's men can't give you the nerve to go up to her" you won't mind. You'll be too busy bopping your head to and fro, caught up in the, well, effervescence.

While I still hold a special fondness for 2003's Antique Glow, one of the great albums of the current decade and my jumping off point with Stoltz, it's fair to say jewels like "The Birmingham Eccentric," "Mother Nature," "Put My Troubles To Bed" and "To Speak To The Girl" show a level of confidence, sophistication and masterful ease that puts this collection at the top of Stoltz's stack. If The Beatles had truly won the war of radio Kelley Stoltz would a household name. In our gruff reality, he can play on sophisticated jukeboxes where folks' taste isn't all in their mouths. As spring takes a firm hold of things, Easter vibes filling the air with renewed spirit, you'd be hard pressed to find a better soundtrack for the seasonal shift than Circular Sounds.

Stoltz is on the road right now kicking ass in clubs countrywide. Peep his tour dates HERE. He's joined on most upcoming dates by garage rock and soul maestros The Dirtbombs

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[Published on: 3/19/08]

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D.B.Higdon starstarstarstar Thu 3/27/2008 01:16PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great write up. This is one album to add to your collection. I, too, must agree that Antique Glow will pull you in.