Kelley Stoltz “Circular Sounds” Gets A Jump on The Best Of 2008 Lists

Because they’re friends, the reference point for San Francisco-based pop genius Kelley Stoltz has tended to be Brendan Benson.  And I can see that: they’re both incredibly clever pop classicists who can craft bespoke masterpieces out of threads pulled from old Beatles and Kinks records. On “Circular Sounds,” Stoltz’s brand new album, (his fourth) you could easily see him fitting into the Elephant Six Collective, with “Everything Begins” bearing resemblance to something by Beulah, and more than a few other songs invoking the late great Olivia Tremor Control.  But I mean this as the highest compliment: Stoltz is the pop Wes Anderson.  No, not for anything having to do with preciousness, but because of the way he conjures the greatest small moments from the exceedingly weird 1970s.  There’s a Spirit/Randy California-ish ring to the guitar, but Ray Davies and the Kinks — heroes of Wes Anderson —  would seem to be the songwriting model invoked most often.  Here is a completely realized vision: power pop (lower case ‘p’s) based on beautiful songwriting so removed from current trends and sensibilities that if you told me this was some great lost record from 1973, I’d fall for it completely.  Just as I fell for “Circular Sounds.”  Doubt me? Go to the iTunes store and listen to “When You Forget.”  If you can resist, you’re probably the type that can eat one potato chip.

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