Only if You Consider Round Funny

Kelleystoltz2Kelley Stoltz‘s records remind me of my grandmother’s house. There’s warm light hitting the best corners, mismatched furniture everywhere and a oddly comforting musty smell is unavoidable It just feels right.

That comforting feel is what really appeals to me about Stoltz. It probably comes from working in a used record store, the kind of place where all you do all day is sort through and listen to old vinyl. Last time I saw him perform he was dropping references to Ken Nordine and Pharoah Sanders. He sounds like an old soul too, despite being a mere 37. And his albums are made on an 8-track reel-to-reel in his San Francisco home so they’ve got that already-worn-in feel to them. The title to his second album probably sums up things the best: Antique Glow.

Stoltz’s fourth album, Circular Sounds, is out today on Sub Pop. It’s hi-fi compared to his three previous releases (but probably only compared to them) and a return to guitars after the generally piano-based Below the Branches. But it’s pure Kelley Stoltz. The first single, "Your Reverie," owes more than a little to "My Love Explodes" by XTC psychedelic pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear, which in turn owed a lot to the Count Five’s "Psychotic Reaction." He makes no bones about this and has always worn his influences like a great big hug.

You could go though Circular Sounds song by song and pick apart the references but that is beside the point and takes away from the magic a bit. I say just dig it, man… from the lopey beat and "bah bah bahs" of "Putting My Troubles to Sleep" to the mellow, harmony-driven vibe of "Gardenia" to the Love-ly "Morning Sun." My favorite, though, is "To Speak to the Girl" whose off-kilter beat reminds me a bit of the Monks by way of the Kinks. So much for not picking apart the references. It’s what I do.

MP3: Kelley Stoltz – Your Reverie

MP3: The Dukes of Stratosphear – My Love Explodes

MP3: The Count Five – Psychotic Reaction

Kelley Stoltz’ Circular Sounds is out now, so buy it, won’t you? He’ll also be on tour in March and April, opening for garage punks the Dirtbombs. I wish he was doing club dates on his own, but sometimes you gotta take what you can get:

Mar 21 Bloomington, IN Jake’s
Mar 22 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
Mar 24 Memphis, TN HI-Tone
Mar 25 Little Rock, AR Revolution Music Room
Mar 26 Dallas, TX House of Blues
Mar 27 Austin, TX Emo’s
Mar 28 Houston, TX Rudyard’s
Mar 29 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s
Mar 31 Ashville, NC Orange Peel
Apr 1 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
Apr 2 Atlanta, GA the Earl
Apr 3 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
Apr 4 Baltimore, MD Sonar
Apr 5 Washington DC, Rock N Roll Hotel
Apr 6 Hoboken, NJ Maxwell’s
Apr 8 New Haven, CT Cafe 9
Apr 10 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
Apr 11 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
Apr 12 Cambridge, MA Middle East
Apr 13 Montreal, CN Cabaret Music Hall
Apr 15 Ottawa, CN Babylon
Apr 16 Toronto, CN Horseshoe
Apr 18 Toledo, OH Frankie’s
Apr 19 Ann Arbor, MI Blind Pig


  1. At least he's coming to your town, no west coast at all. That bassline from To Speak to the Girl just sounds so vintage, I love it. Great album…just as good if not better than Below the Branches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *