reviews for  "antique glow"

 

Kelly Stoltz

Kelley Stoltz
Antique Glow
2003 Jackpine Social Club

I sit here, 3 a.m., depressed. Jet lagís the price to pay to play showbiz, a wise soul once said, and after two weeks away from home, Iím lagged and sad and alone. A swig of electric-colored Gatorade quenches my thirst, but I need a quench for my soul and it ainít coming from some hokey series of books with "chicken soup" in the title.

I hit up Kelley Stoltz.

Iíd stumbled upon his album Antique Glow to placate my borderline psychotic record collecting. An in-tune employee at Amoeba in San Francisco hipped me to the limited to 100 copies hand-painted sleeves. The sleeves were salvaged from thrift stores and painted funny. $10 never hurt anyone. $10 was never better spent.

Itíd be a month or two after buying the album that Iíd actually listen to it. Remember, I was judging this book by its cover; I wasnít concerned about the pages within.

Slowly after sticking the needle on to the groove of "Perpetual Night" like Iíve done a thousand times before, a warmth still comes over my body like a late night slug of vodka. The guitar starts as the shadow of the Beatlesí "Here Comes the Sun" but evolves into a whirr of synthesizer and bass flourishes around terribly sparse lyrics about a dinosaur lying on its side. This song is pure soundscapes.

I sit and listen, imagining Kelley in a shoebox apartment, in squalor. A lone lamp without a shade, the Detroit boy in San Francisco, missing home, alone in a far away city, no one to love, no one to love him, hovering over a four-track recorder, dying to just get the song right, to have something, anything to look forward to. I imagine myself in that situation. I want to cry my tears for him. I want to help. I want everyone to hear the record and imagine what Iím imagining.

Despite this, the album knocks on the doors of many of our timesí most important musical forbears. Solo acoustic neighbors like Beck and a "if he had Prozac" Nick Drake have apartments right next to Kelley and theyíve all been trading Son House LPís and wondering if Pet Sounds by any other name would still be as influential.

That being said, Kelley still spends time down the street at the coffee shop where he can hear the latest Pretty Purdie inspired break beats while imagining sixties Dutch beat fuzz lines to sew into them. The influences are varied and unpredictable, the instrumentation eclectic and damn near marching band at times, but thatís the beauty of it allÖ envisioning Kelly sitting there laying down a tuba track with no one else around to appreciate the humor in it all.

Antique Glow lets me feel that Iím not alone. Antique Glow is gloomy when I feel sad and gray, yet joyful when the sun is shining and Iím happy to be here. Antique Glow is a record that is as temperamental and unpredictable as the modern life we all live. Itís a record that adapts more to your personal state of mind each time you listen to it. It will mean all different things to all different people, and that is what makes it beautiful. Itís not a record to listen to, but a record that will listen to you.

 

ben blackwell, october 2003


"Kelley Stoltz stumbles with a melodic drawl into a batch of creatively-recorded pop on Antique Glow.  Recalling everything from the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake to Beck and Wilco, this disc feels like a classic you've known all your life.  There are shambling, energetic cuts and morose folkish laments, each memorable and bursting with great lyrics and sonic treats.  And you won't hear a better sequencing of songs this year than the four that close this record out.  Antique Glow was recorded by Stoltz, mostly in the bedroom of his San Francisco apartment on a Tascam 388 1/4" reel to reel with just an SM57.  Recording at home allowed Stoltz to capture songs as they were conceived.  "I've never had much success reworking things, redoing vocals and stuff.  I usually  find that the initial inspiration gets trampled or dulled by repetition."  He notes though, "when writing and recording simultaneously, it's really important to keep good notes.  Pay attention to the timer and what comes in when.  That way you can cram as much stuff as possible on each track: percussion, harmony vocals or whatever in the spaces you have."  After getting the majority of the album down on tape, Stoltz and the 388 went to Kevin Ink's Studio That Time Forgot.  "Kevin's sonic janitorial skills were invaluable..."  (Matt Mair Lowrey)  Tape Op Nov/Dec 2002 www.tapeop.com 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"This is a limited LP with handpainted sleeves in true Sun Ra style.  On closer inspection, Kelley's obviously got 100 remaindered LP's and redaubed the sleeves, as the lettering is showing slightly under the paint.  Half recycled art object, half top quality album containing folk and Moog odysseys of limitless charm and strangeness, the record mixes electronics and chimes, guitar and reflective vocals over its 12 tracks.  Beefheart trashcan blues, 60's garage with shortwave.  Think Gorky's and Mercury Rev.  Think Stumptone meets Tom Waits produced by the Chocolate Watch Band. 'Perpetual Night' is 'Here Comes the Sun' if Phil Spector had produced it with the Radiophonics Workshop, fucking killer vocals, Kelley has a voice and ear for composition major labels ought to be killing each other for (and may well be yet).  There seems to be a yearning to live in Atlantis as 'Underwater's Where the Action Is' and other immersion lyrics prove, the tremelo and Les Baxter sounds only back this up further.  Be quick (but be sure) to track one of these unique gems down, there are less than 100 left out there (99 now I've got one!) and you now how endangered species go in these ruthless times... It's great isn't it?  Just when you're not looking someone casually strolls up with some imagination, paint and a four track and proves without a doubt why we don't need the music industry any longer, EMI please stand down now.  As for me?  I'll be getting my coat."        (Steve Hanson)  PTOLEMAIC TERRASCOPE #32    www.terrascope.org

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Hello Kelley -

I have listened to your album a couple of times and like it very much.You
have made a lot of progress from your first recording to this.This one is
much better.I was pleasantly surprised.I like the fact that you're not
afraid to experiment.I heard many influences, including the Beatles and the
Beach Boys.I was surprised to hear you sing at a lower register on "Jewel
of the Evening","Mean Marianne" and "Silver Lining" which, incidentally, I
found most interesting in terms of the vocalist. That was you singing those
songs, wasn't it?I wasn't sure if maybe the vocals were being sung by two
different people because of the difference in sound.If it was you singing
in that low register, like Gary Burger, Kurt Cobain, or Leonard Cohen, when
you sing low, you have a sound that only belongs to you and could become
easily identifiable to listeners.I would encourage more of it.

I enjoyed the sounds and arrangements on all the songs.There was plenty
humor in "Underwater's where the Action Is".In "Please Visit Soon" I could
imagine Ringo Starr looking out the window of his flying submarine.

Each song had its own character.The arranging was excellent.The effects
were also very good.I liked the double vocals on "Fake Day."At moments
many of the songs could have been in the Beatle's repertoire when they were
into psychedelia, but then you managed to deconstruct it enough to make sure
that it was definitely today.

"1000 Rainy Days" was different, even though it was fashioned from a Delta
Blues.Panning the two guitar tracks was effective and the sound was not
only authentic, but also innovative.

I especially enjoyed "Tubes in the Moonlight" even though I don't know what
it is about.I somehow heard "Tubas at Midnight", because of the bass sound,
which I really liked.I also liked what seemed to be the influence of some
psychotic German, howling at the moon and then walking through some empty
room at the Bates Hotel.I think it was my favorite, in part, because of the
bass sound. I got the feeling that this song invented itself, which is the
mark of a good artist.

My favorite vocals were the ones sung in low register.They had a unique
character to them, marking the singer as different.

The cover is proof that vinyl is better.†† All my old albums have works of art
on the cover and you managed to do it as well with your art work.It was
very impressive.It's definitely a good album to look at, as well.You named
it "Antique Glow"?I think of it as "The Great Escape"...(that's a
compliment).It was also very well engineered.I liked the rough edges as
well as the smooth.

Here's the blurb:

Rock music doesn't get more visual than this.There are many instruments and
sounds. The textures are both rough and smooth.The soundtracks are rich and
overlapping. I saw the bloodied clown, riding the mirrored carousel.I heard
the psychotic tuba player singing his spirit song at midnight, then pace
through the empty room at the Bates Hotel.I visited Sgt. Pepper and waved
at Ringo Starr, who waved back at me from the window of his flying submarine.
There are a lot of surprises in this recording.When I compare this album
to Kelley's last, I become eager to hear his next.For now, I'm very
happy to listen to this one.

Take care,
Eddie"
(Eddie Shaw bassist for music legends the MONKS and author of "Black Monk Time" a book about his life in the Monks and "ACowboy Like Me" collection of short stories.)
For more info on the Monks go to www.the-monks.com
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's been two years since Kelley Stoltz released the past was faster, and apparently that was as long as he was prepared to wait. While he figures out which label will release his next album proper, Stoltz has devised Antique Glow as a DIY stopgap -- a super-limited vinyl LP (100 were made) in a hand-painted sleeve (for my copy, Stoltz painted over the jacket from the Doodletown Pipers' Sing Along '67). Just the thing, in other words, for testing my new turntable.

After the release of The Past Was Faster, critics (rather lazily in my opinion) compared Stoltz to Guided By Voices. Yes, Stoltz and Bob Pollard share four-track aesthetics and an appreciation of classic rock, but whereas Pollard reveres The Who, Stoltz shifts his allegiance from Jimi Hendrix to Ray Davies, and from Syd Barrett to Fairport Convention, as he pleases. But fear not, young 'uns, you'll hear plenty of modern -- or at least trendily retro -- sounds in Stoltz's music. The strong garage-blues vibe on tracks like "Underwater's Where the Action Is" and "Are You Electric" suggests that Stoltz and Headcoat honcho Billy Childish would get on well, while slower songs like "Mean Marianne" place Stoltz's vocal talents somewhere between Roy Montgomery (whose sparse compositional style he also echoes) and Ian McCulloch. You'll also hear the influence of The Clean's Kilgour brothers, and the energy of very early Joy Division, in stripped-down, guitar-centric tracks like "Tubes in the Moonlight" and "Mt. Fuji".

The production quality, admittedly, is middling; listen to Antique Glow a couple of times and you'll start to wonder if you've developed a head cold. It's clearly the appropriate level of polish for Stoltz's folk/rock/blues hybrids, but if Elephant 6 stuff is too lo-fi for your tastes, this will probably elicit a similar response. Stoltz, however, is older and wiser than most of the E6 stable -- less prone to self-indulgence and better versed in a broad cross-section of music. You don't have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of music to enjoy Antique Glow, but the more you know, the more you'll recognize the goodies Stoltz slips into his songs, from overt nods to well-known rock songs to "borrowed" fragments of familiar tunes.

Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to wait until Stoltz finds a label to release Antique Glow, then nab yourself a copy. However, if you're a die-hard record collector, you know that if the album ever receives an official release, it'll only increase the value and collectibility of the vinyl version -- and Stoltz will happily sell you one if you e-mail him.  You'd better hurry, though; at best, there are only 99 more copies on the market. I'll be holding onto mine.   

(George Zahora)    www.splendidezine.com