Photography: Marty Saleh

KELLEY STOLTZ

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  • The Cubical
  • Dirty Ghosts
24 Kitchen Street 27/11/15

Since the release of his debut LP The Past Is Faster in 1999, KELLEY STOLTZ has been drawing attention with his boundary-pushing and at times baffling output. Stints as a fan-mail sorter for Jeff Buckley and as a producer for Thee Oh Sees have helped solidify his place on the fringes of contemporary popular music, and it is a place he seems to occupy with a great amount of comfort. Anyone present at tonight’s show who witnessed his last Liverpool outing at the Shipping Forecast will be safe in the knowledge that we are in for a treat, but before that suspicion can be confirmed, San Franciscan compatriots DIRTY GHOSTS set the scene.

Currently in the midst of their first-ever European tour, they appear slightly unnerved as they emerge onto the small Kitchen Street stage. But any concerns about their readiness are quickly undone as they launch into an assured opening song. Their blend of new wave with a distinctly K Records brand of punk rock is a refreshing thing to witness in these humble climes.

THE CUBICAL, who are doubling as promoters of tonight’s show (being huge fans of Kelley Stoltz), may seem like a slightly strange addition to tonight’s bill. While the other two bands are clearly heavily indebted to the New York and Seattle scenes of the late 80s and early 90s, The Cubical seem to have been lifted straight out of the Bohemian London of the 1970s. There’s a Beefheartian punch to their sound, which is more of a diversion from tonight’s theme rather than a continuation.

Looking charmingly dishevelled, Kelley Stoltz takes to the stage backed by three of the four members from the opening act plus two others. This Californian cross-pollination proves to be a worthwhile endeavour and the result is an organic and satisfyingly loose display. Ostensibly still touring on the back of 2013’s Double Exposure LP, Stoltz’s set is a mixture of both new and old. The title track from that release is a definite highlight, and the psych folk strains of Are You My Love also appear to be a crowd favourite. Never one to let a soapbox pass un-straddled, Stoltz takes several minutes to inform us about the immorality of littering before easing into the brilliantly named Hot Igloo. The dichotomy of his serious speech and the absurdity of this song encapsulate the Stoltz aesthetic fairly well: a talented songwriter with a message who is also interested in the surreal and entertaining qualities that popular music can possess. The Bay Area vibe is always present, with hippy virtues, 60s psychedelia and garage rock sitting alongside each other like rambunctious guests. Add to this Stoltz’s aptitude for thoroughly composed lyrics and unique imagery and you begin to get the picture.

Considering that Echo & The Bunnymen are his declared heroes, any show in Liverpool must have an extra edge for Stoltz, and it’s safe to say that tonight has been distinct and memorable. Just don’t leave it so long until next time, Kelley.

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