There’s an interesting exhibit entitled Now and Then at the Seattle Museum of History and Industry that takes historical Seattle photos from the past and displays them next to a current day picture taken from the same location. It’s an exhibit that gives you a real sense of place and makes history almost palpable. The other day I had a similar now and then experience brought on by a couple of songs.
Fun Deficit is essentially Mike Morrissey who is from both upstate New York and Oregon at the same time (magic). He sings about his friend Joe who has gone off to DC, present day DC. His friend works for the Department of Energy and plays tennis. H Street is now the cool place to live. Joe is in love and probably buys his music off of iTunes and doesn’t even know where the nearest record store is. There is no Vinyl Ink, Go! or Yesterday & Today any more to follow girls around to see what kind of records they buys. Today you download records and then blog about them on Tumblr so your friends/strangers can like/re-blog it.
What am I trying to say? I guess that things change, and you tend to forget about the past until a song or photo jars your memory. Fun Deficit’s Joe At Work did just that. The song is sweet vignette of the life of a friend in another town. The simple guitar and meandering melody bring to mind another song about DC written roughly ten years ago by the Sprites.
For a while there, you couldn’t turn on the TV without one of Kelley Stoltz‘ songs blaring from the boob tube being used to hock credit cards, hotels, Volvos and Viagra (not true). My guess is that about 70% of of Kelley Stoltz fans do marketing for a living. The rest of us do other stuff. To Dreamers is Kelly Stoltz third album for Sub Pop and number six overall if you’re counting. The man is still fastidiously solo, in his house crafting multilayered pop songs all alone and getting by with a little help from his friends when necessary. The guy is meticulous, every listen seems to provide some new found sound on every listen.
While To Dreamers is primarily a guitar album, Stoltz incorporates horns into a handful of the songs. The effect is subtle, and they are so deftly employed that you sometimes think they’re another guitar. On the opening Rock & Roll With Me I didn’t notice them until the second or third listen. I Like, I Like features a saxophone right up front, but not in your face like Springsteen and John Cafferty. You almost have to struggle to hear it near the end of the song, instead of it breaking out into some kind crazy solo.
The Kinks, Beach Boys and Harry Nilson are still ever-present in Stoltz’s antique glow, but he seems to be broadening his pallet this time out, because I swear I hear some Electric Light Orchestra (Rock & Roll with Me), Fred Neil (Pinecone), Bowie (Fire Escape), and Krautrock (Keeping the Flame) not to mention a bit of post punk droning in places. When he’s not being a rock n’ roll star, Stoltz works in a record store in San Francisco, and you see how the dusty stacks of vinyl seep into his mind and keep expand his musical horizons. To Dreamers benefits from Stoltz’ ever expanding musical palette, making it a more varied record and so far, my favorite of his albums. The record ends with the pensive Bottle Up which gives a nod with it’s baritone guitar to Jack Nitzsche‘s Lonely Surfer. Stoltz’ sixth album is another solo triumph, shooting the curl at some obscure California break. I just hope that there are some people back on the beach watching besides those in the TV commercial making business.
Check out this video made by Yours Truly about the making of To Dreamers. Sounds like Mikey from Eddy Current Suppression Ring turned Kelley onto doing the cover of “Big Boy” Pete Miller’s Baby I Got News for You.