Monday, February 11, 2008

Reviews:: Kelley Stoltz Circular Sounds

Two things grab you when you listen to Kelley Stoltz's new record, Circular Sounds. The first, and most obvious, is that you can easily envision Kelley's songs being unearthed from a time capsule (and before you get all uppity, I mean that as a compliment). Stoltz exists in a musical world where citing the Kinks, Floyd or the Fab Four as influences isn't said as a way to impress your art school friends and follow the hipster trends.

In fact, as I picture Kelley working at a used record store and searching Ebay for records, I honestly can't imagine anything that would interest him less than arguing the relevance of Vampire Weekend or the mild obsession people have with dub step now. No, when you are more concerned with finding hidden treasures in bins or auctions, trying to play to the right crowds becomes less of a concern.

As a result, I've always looked at his records as collections of sincere, honest songs that express his own love of music. I'd be lying if I didn't hear a lot of Ray Davies in his latest effort, but I'm not complaining at all. No, instead I think he is one of the few artists who can use the styles of the Beatles, the Kinks or the and not think he's just aping the greats. His understanding of music shines through and tracks like The Birmingham Eccentric and the dreamy Gardenia should appeal to any vinyl hunter. The horn work sounds fantastic and the punch of the lead single Your Reverie is rich in Anglo panache.

The second thing you should notice is how much better Kelley's getting at writing and recording his work. While the common critic might offer some kind of "old dog new tricks" type slashing dismissal about wearing his influences in plain sight, he's made more great strides on this record. Stoltz's home recordings keep getting better and better as he becomes more comfortable with his equipment and the sounds he wants to create.

He's evolved from guitar work and piano dominates creations (as he worked nicely on Below the Branches), to well created layers of piano, horns, guitars and percussion and balances the line between pop accessibility and psychedelic sounds beautifully. I Nearly Lost My Mind is a collection of sounds that builds and builds and really showcases Stoltz's new vision.

The recording techniques - Stoltz uses old tape recorders and reels of tape - breath a sense of life into the music. The sounds never feel like the sounds were manipulated with computers (although they were) and you hear those little pockets that made those classic recordings so exciting to hear.

You don't have to look any farther than Morning Sun. Like so many great pop songs from days past, the song simply makes you feel great. You get caught in the beautiful sounds and the fact it's about nursing a hangover can't even slow you down. But rather than constantly looking to eras gone past, hopefully Stoltz's new record will show people that good music will continue to be made for many years.

[MP3]:: Your Reverie

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Posted at 5:52 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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