Circular Sounds is the fourth LP from San Francisco’s home recording auteur Kelley Stoltz. Its 14 songs are a stereophonic advance on the lo-fidelity psych-fuzz of Antique Glow (Beautiful Happiness, 2004) and the mid-fi piano-rock of Below the Branches (Sub Pop, 2006): two modest masterpieces which, by a curious coincidence, both made #24 in MOJO magazine’s “Best Albums” list for their respective years. Kelley has also been praised by such esteemed publications as Uncut, Rolling Stone, Q, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Time Out London, The Independent, and Ptolemaic Terrascope. In Australia he is a bona fide cult sensation, having scored a radio hit with “Underwater’s Where the Action Is” (off Antique Glow), while “Birdies Singing” (off Below the Branches) established him in Sweden after it was used to soundtrack a TV commercial for Volvo.
Circular Sounds is very much a pop record, in the classic ’60s mold. The horn-and-harmony-soaked romance suggesting Love covering “Good Day Sunshine” of “Everything Begins,” and the glorious, garage-psych dilation of “Your Reverie” are amongst the album’s 14 highlights. And these tracks boast Kelley’s fullest production to date: radio-ready yet retaining the organic warmth that gave his earlier work its character. He is no longer a marginal, ‘lo-fi’ artist: “I work in a second-hand record store and that’s made me more of a hi-fi advocate. It’s hard for me to listen to stuff that was recorded on a cassette player nowadays. By the last record I was mid-fi. I think I’m mid-hi now!”