Kelley Stoltz: Mr. Nice (And Talented!) Guy


courtesy of Kelley Stoltz

Kelley Stoltz is a humble guy. Exhibit A: The first time I met him it was directly following a show for which he was the opening act, and my friend (who, in her defense, had been preoccupied by a fight with her boyfriend) joined the conversation late. She gamely asked how we knew each other, to which Stoltz replied “through work.” Then she asked what it was that he did. Sure, he wasn’t gonna ball her out in front of me, but he definitely could have sported some attitude in an, I was literally just playing on stage two seconds ago and remember how I just toured with the Raconteurs? kind of way. He didn’t. Instead he replied, “I’m a musician.” She smiled as if to say, “Good luck with that.” She’s retroactively horrified.

The title of Stoltz’s new album, Circular Sounds (Sub Pop), is equally humble—and seems to (at least partly) nod to the fact that while the sounds he makes may be astonishing (considering he records them himself at home and they sound like the work of an entire band in a studio), but they’re also ending up exactly where they started from. Stoltz is known for proudly wearing his influences—to the extent that he’s put out an entire song-for-song cover record of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Crocodiles—and this time around he displays them in full force.

Turning down the piano-banging of his previous album Below the Branches in favor of easygoing and sometimes–psychedelic-sounding ’60s harmonies, Stoltz’s newest album is drenched in a golden afternoon feeling: think bike ride scene at the beginning of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Stoltz sums it up best on “Your Reverie,” following a Stones-sounding guitar riff with his own spin on his repurposed vintage situation, “I’m up to my neck in someone else’s garden.” If you ask us—and pardon the Mary Poppins-ian turn of phrase—it’s blooming great. Stoltz’s new album is available now. Catch him when he plays the Independent on Feb. 28 for noisepop.
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