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Kelley Stoltz - Below The Branches

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Artist: Kelley Stoltz

Album: Below The Branches

Label: Sub Pop

Review date: Feb. 19, 2006


According to the Sydney Observer, Kelley Stoltz has a piano in his bedroom. This is not a manifestation of some Brian Wilson-like madness, but a matter of luck; it was there when he moved in. Since the San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist and tunesmith is a bedroom pop kind of guy, he put it to good use.

The tinkle and rumble of his honest-to-goodness upright is all over his new album Below The Branches, taking its place alongside the manís spare drumming, reverberant guitar licks, and multi-tracked vocal harmonies. From the sounds on the platter to the nifty gatefold sleeve, the result is a record that spits in the eye of assertions that they donít make records like they used to.

Donít call it lo-fi, because itís really pretty crisp-sounding; it just sounds like it was recorded down the hall from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Kinks, or the Velvet Underground back in their heyday, and a bit of the big boysí magic dust drifted under the door and onto his tape.

Stoltz evades accusations of being purely retro by writing about the eternal subject of love, or rather, being on the cusp of love. Heís a plainspoken poet of the moment when one party is either falling in or out of it. But more than the words, itís the tunes and sounds that make this record worth spinning over and over.

By Bill Meyer

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To Dreamers

Double Exposure

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