The Sun Comes Through (Sub Pop)
Last we checked on San Francisco's rock revivalist Kelley Stoltz, he was busy nabbing a Bay Guardian Goldie in honor of his melodic self-released LP Antique Glow. The press must've done some good because Stoltz is putting out the follow-up on Sub Pop. While we await that tempting bounty, The Sun Comes Through EP is here to hold us over. The disc finds Stoltz still playing the consummate record store clerk-musician, turning in another set of vintage pop glow. Where so many other '60s throwbacks can't help but seem contrived, Stoltz is too charming and musically tasteful to come off as anything less than sincere. The opening, title track is the type of song John Cusack's lead in High Fidelity would've fallen head over heels for; a descending cavalcade of piano chords floats effortlessly atop a warm, buzzing soundscape. As for the other four tunes, Stoltz is in great shape if these are the throwaways. The infectious synthesizer melody on "You're out of this World" would be right at home on the first side of Abbey Road, and the finale, "Where You're Going," has a ringing Richards guitar lead and strutting vocal line that would've made the cut for Forty Licks. That Stoltz can invoke these past masters without sounding flatly imitative is a great gift indeed. That he has such fun doing it and stays playfully humble about the whole affair makes his local-favorite status a cinch. (Max Goldberg)
San Francisco's Love Is Chemicals wear their influences right on their Le Tigre polo shirt sleeves. Their latest self-titled album is a mishmash of styles and speeds, playing like a 30-year-old yearbook, with each song paying tribute to a different indie rock band. "Claw Your Sweater" sounds like it could have been on a mid-'90s mix tape the melodic guitars, the soft bass, and the dulling voice of impatient youth bring back memories of hearing Pavement's "Shady Lane" for the first time. "Everyone Is in on It" highlights drummer Steve Galbraith's tight, militant snare slaps, which fit perfectly with the fragile tonalities of the Sonic Youth-ian guitars. The album continues its decrescendo and eventually winds up at "The Hex," a slightly cheesy tune that distinctly sounds like a letter I wrote to a girlfriend in high school. But no matter how sickeningly sweet the lyrics are ("You're right about oh so many things / Oh how you make my bells ring"), you can't escape the music's honesty it's right there in front of you, take it or leave it. It's easy to see how one could quickly fall in love with this record. (Justin Yu)
Mail stuff for review to Sarah Han, Bay Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107.