Posts Tagged ‘Agitated Records’

Kelley Stoltz

There’s no time for stagnation it seems in the Kelley Stoltz catalog. The last two years alone have seen four albums and Stoltz’ quality never slips from view. Ah! (etc) marks the second LP for 2020 and the pair alone are an impressive feat of duality within his songwriting prowess. Hard Feelings embraced a low-slung vision of power pop — an almost quick and dirty album that let a blast of cold air jolt it with life. The record wasn’t too far removed from the fertile garden of hooks and humility that mark Stoltz output, but with its inspiration laid in a cheap guitar and a cheeky pseudonymous side project from Jedediah Smith (My Teenage Stride, Jeanines), it marked a bit of a departure from the darker strains of his pop universe. The schism pinned Hard Feelings as both an outlier and also one of his best offerings. The album was immediate and unfussed. His second wind in 2020 sees Stoltz slot back into his former hallmarks nicely, with the layered pop taking the reins once again and the clouds forming once again over the studio.

While it doesn’t benefit from the same sharp slap of Hard Feelings, the new LP boasts a new wave wash and a cameo from Echo and The Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant. The record pulls the curtains against the sun and sulks a bit, but does so with a flair that can hardly be accused of being dour. Stoltz brings out the synth sway, a strum and crunch in the guitar game and his bittersweet hooks that can’t help but let sighs build up underneath the glossy veneer. In a way this is a continuation of what was built on My Regime — a pliable, chameleonic pop animal that’s trying on new wave and melancholic pop skins and burrowing into the brain with hooks that are subtle, yet endlessly effective. If given an ultimatum to choose one Stoltz LP you need in 2020, I’d have to say that Hard Feelings edges the win, but there’s a lot to love on Ah! (etc).

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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Kelley Stoltz – “The Quiet Ones”

For those of us who’ve found the entryway into Stoltz’ disorienting alternate history of pop, each new record is a tumble down a new unseen corridor in his secret world. The last record pulled on a crooked tie and a cocked smile for a power pop pub crawl that came and went with only the lucky to nab it for their shelves and the rest to pine. Stoltz is a wily one, though, and he’s not through with 2020 just yet. Another LP looms, with the SF songwriter returning this time to his roots at Agitated Records, stewards of his ’01 kicker Antique Glow. The first taste of Ah-etc packs the power pop back in the suitcase and returns to the lacquered Formica lilt of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Tiptoeing a guitar slink through hallways of chromed keys, the song turns up the voyeurism and eavesdrops on the neighbors, lurking with a queasy charm. Stoltz, ever the Echo & The Bunnymen fan, spent time as a touring member and his bandmate Will Sergeant returns the favor and lends guitar to “The Quiet Ones.” There’s something of a lost afternoon feeling to the track, swirling around the listener and feeding the internal monologue that turns neighbors into puzzles that populate the mind. The loneliness is palpable and the fluorescent flicker just seeps into those synths harder on each listen. The LP is out November 20th from Agitated.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE or HERE.

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