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Circular Sounds

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iTunes Review

For his fourth album, 2008’s Circular Sounds, San Francisco-based songwriter Kelley Stoltz headed into a proper recording studio, leaving his lo-fi bedroom demos to the past. The added fidelity is still far removed from what many listeners would consider ‘hi-fi.’ Stoltz keeps a jagged edge, even as his harmonies seek the swooning smoothness of Brian Wilson (“Everything Begins”). “The Birmingham Eccentric” pumps to a rough cut Velvet Underground rhythm with Stoltz pounding out piano chords with reckless abandon. Stoltz has an astute classic rock critic-record collector’s taste in influences. One hears the Kinks’ Ray Davies in the meandering melodies and shuffling rhythms (“Gardenia,” “To Speak to the Girl“), chunks of mid-60s garage rock in the shimmering guitar crunches (“Your Reverie”), touches of Love’s Arthur Lee in Stoltz’s wavering vocals (“Mother Nature”) and a folksy singer-songwriter ease once associated with now obscure singers such as David Blue and Paul Siebel. Yet, it’s hardly a retro-affair. A song as catchy as “When You Forget” belongs to any era. Stoltz is merely another fine songwriter in a tradition that operates well under the corporate radar.

Customer Reviews

He did it again

Another amazing record I can't stop listening to, or humming along with, for that matter. I just saw his mug on the front page of Myspace last week, so I have a feeling his star is rising fast. It's about damn time!


I've been listening to Circular Sounds lately, mostly in my car, and find it to be a refreshing burst of vintage-style, British-tinged rock. This guy has some talent, and has a busy and energetic band behind him. Kelley is an original, and takes those great elements of early Who, 60's and 70's Kinks, and some mid-period Beatles-esque production to bring a fun, fresh, and diverse recording to our ears. Highly worth it!

5 stars for real

Circular Sounds is the beautiful, smart, talented child of Stoltz's last two albums - Antique Glow and Below the Branches. The blend of piano based tunes and raucous guitar rockers all wrapped up in Stoltz's ability to synthesize the best elements of 60s psych, 70s songwriters, and 80s British post-punk into something that sounds fresh, innovative, and deeply personal is nothing short of remarkable.


Born: 1971 in Michigan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Kelley Stoltz grew up in the Detroit area, but eventually found his way to San Francisco after taking a detour to New York City, where he worked in the mailroom at Jeff Buckley's management company. Armed with a four-track recorder and a wealth of lo-fi pop songs, Stoltz began recording his own material, performing all the parts himself and drawing comparisons to artists like Brian Wilson and Captain Beefheart. Those songs caught the ear of Monte Vallier, who helped Stoltz clean...
Full Bio
Circular Sounds, Kelley Stoltz
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Customer Ratings


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