Posts Tagged ‘Kelley Stoltz’

Picture yourself in front of your record collection, deciding which one you’ll listen to next. You finally choose Kilimanjaro by Teardrop Explodes; you haven’t listened to it for a long time. In that moment, you notice that your partner placed your Face to Face copy in an incorrect slot. It goes with you to the record player too. A few minutes later, you corroborate that both Cope and Davies made prevailing, lucid and brilliant records. And you dream thinking how would they sound together, in an hypotetic alloy that feels almost impossible straight away. There are only fourteen years away from one record to
the other, but they seem made in different centuries, different planets. We find the answer at the Electric Duck studios in San Francisco, Kelley Stoltz’s base of operations. A Detroit-native, Kelley was an adolescent moved by post-punk and English new-age, and became an adult falling in love with the extensive pop legacy from the 60s.


Both references define one of the strongest, most talented
discographies of the last years. Filtering and tying those sounds together with freshness and distinction is what makes Kelley an unique composer. Stoltz gets ostentation and histrionics out of the best 80s pop and supplies it with outstanding melodies and sense of humour. What Brian Wilson doing a cover by Wire’s The 15th would feel like.

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Que Aura

When  Kelley Stolz made the jump to Castle Face with his 2015 album, “In Triangle Time” he got weird. Or maybe he already was. Either way, something about the way time and space coincided meant that Stoltz made the loosest, oddest record of his long, mostly buttoned-down career as a pop craftsman. He added synths, played around with structure, and made choices he may not have in the past. For his next album on the label, 2017’s “Que Aura” he took another leap, this time a deeper dive into the sounds of his beloved ’80s. An Echo and the Bunnymen fan to the point where he recorded a version of Crocodiles,  Stoltz actually did join the Bunnymen  as their touring second guitarist.

This gig seems to have unleashed something within Kelley Stoltz, and along with his trademark ’60s-inspired shaggy pop, plus side trips into space rock, warped synth pop, psych, and even some off-kilter disco. Through it all, Stoltz’s way with a hook means that no matter what sounds he dresses the songs in, they are always one sharp hook away from slicing up the speakers. Slick, keyboard-heavy tracks (“Feather Falling”) and insistent synth-driven songs (“Same Pattern”) sound just as good as the jumpy rockers (“I’m Here for Now”) and oddball pop tunes (“Walking Against the Greenlight”), and even the total left turn, the slinky disco number (“Empty Kicks”) ends up sounding really good.

Stoltz has always been a first-rate arranger and producer, but with his last couple records he really seems to have hit his stride. Que Aura is the richest, most diverse, and interesting-sounding album he’s done yet, with the songs to match.


American singer songwriter residing in San Francisco with comparisions to the Velvet Underground, Brian Wilson, Nick Drake, signed to Jack White’s label Third Man Records,