TURN THE STICK and open the blinds until they spread and strips of gold light bisect the room. Now you're ready. In 2005, Kelley Stoltz signed with Sub Pop to release this year's Below the Branches. Before that, he was DIY in the San Francisco scene, pressing his own records and figuring out his sound. He's pigeonholed as experimental, psychedelic, and pop, but doesn't tell you much and doesn't get his aesthetic right. Stoltz's jumping-off points come from the peace-and-love decade, and those influences are obvious immediately.
On his single, "The Sun Comes Through," the electric guitar's heavy in reverb, the keyboard spreads space-odyssey atmosphere, and the kick drum keeps it moving forward under steady cymbal splashes. Stoltz's voice floats in echoes—lyrics sound almost like they're coming through a bullhorn.
It's easy to imagine that, as most good musicians should be, Stoltz is a huge Beatles fan. Listening to his work it's almost a game. This one is a Paul song, this one's a George, and this has to be a John. Mercifully there aren't any Ringo songs, at least that I can spot. But they aren't just reinterpretations: Stoltz has melded his influences into his own sound. One of the things I like the most about him is that every song is well developed, multi-layered, and polished to distinction.
This is sunshine music. Songs for warm highway drives. Put Stoltz on loud in the living room when you're out on the porch with the front door open, off work, and watching cars stream past up and down your street, happy you're home and with your friends. The sounds you hear emanating from your living room could be from '60s AM radio. They'd fit in perfect next to Pet Sounds Beach Boys or Rubber Soul-era Beatles, and they're great for summer days to come.