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Best Post-Punk Folkie San Francisco 2004 - Kelley Stoltz

Post-punk and folk music don't often go together. Post-punk is all black clothing and abrasive guitars, punk's energy and noise sculpted into something artier. In contrast, folk is flannel shirts, wide-brim hats, and quiet, mournful yarns. Somehow, though, Kelley Stoltz combines the two styles. Live, he looks something like a thrift-store pinup, sporting battered suits and frayed jeans, his hair chaotically anti-styled. His tunes -- like those on his impressive second LP, Antique Glow -- swing all over the map, offering chugging, fuzzed-out rockers, pretty acoustic numbers, bluesy ballads, and tipsy psychedelic pop. Some songs begin folkishly, with bittersweet vocals and plaintive acoustic guitar, only to head into freakier territory, steered off-course by circus-y percussion and spooky keyboards. Add in lyrics that dip from underwater whimsy to heartfelt poignancy and a voice that can both yelp and croon, and you've got the bastard child of Nick Drake and Ian McCulloch. Watch out, ladies.

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