Fans of what is called power-pop need to immediately get this record. Que Aura, out tomorrow on Castle Face Records, is the new solo album from Kelley Stoltz. Kelley is a guy who's been making this sort of music for some time but it feels as if this release is the sort of thing that is going to get him the high level of attention he's deserved all along.
If opener "I'm Here For Now" bristles and crackles like early solo numbers from Brian Eno, tracks like "Get Over" coo in the manner of classic-era Todd Rundgren. Stoltz is so good at this sort of thing that one can forgive him as he dabbles in a few separate genres, from the Seventies wash of "Empty Kicks", to the angular New Wave of "No Pepper For The Dustman", and on to the sleek electro-pop of "Same Pattern". At his very best, each cut, no matter the style, retains the kind of sense of precise song-craft that few artists pursue anymore. On "Looking For A Spark", there's a trace of mid-Nineties Britpop, a vibe extended in the Pulp-like "Feather Falling", even as the odd "For You" nods in the direction of Lodger-era Bowie. Still, for all of those moments that make a listener recall some worthy artist that may have inspired this material, or even Echo and the Bunnymen's stuff, a band that the guy was in recently, Stoltz manages to keep this fresh, and less a revival act's last gasp. At his very best here on Que Aura, Stoltz seems intent on perfecting his art even while he keeps listeners whistling. Supremely catchy and sometimes light as air, the tunes on Que Aura earn favorable comparisons to all the best records in your record collection. And rather than make this a slap-dash affair as a result, Stoltz has a firm hand on this stuff, the cuts serving as some of the best examples of the power-pop genre one is likely to hear in 2017.
[Photo: Uncredited promotional picture]