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Dirtbombs, Kelley Stoltz

Formed and fronted by Motor City music-scene veteran Mick Collins (Blacktop, the Gories), Detroit's Dirtbombs first detonated in the mid-'90s. Now supporting recent LP We Have You Surrounded (In the Red), the five-piece continues to blend '60s garage, punk and Motown soul to excellent effect, creating their own signature brand of American rock and roll sure to have heads boppin' and asses shakin'. Though it features classic nuggets like "It's Not Fun Until They See You Cry" and "Leopardman at C&A," Surrounded occasionally falters, whereas 2005's two-disc singles/rarities compilation If You Don't Already Have a Look shines bright throughout. No worries, though — with dual drummers and bassists, the 'Bombs will bring the goods, filling souls with gasoline and ears with bubblegum.

Graduating some from the strong, homespun Beatles/Kinks pop of 2006's Below the Branches, Bay Area troubadour Kelley Stoltz dips into '60s psych on February's aptly titled Circular Sounds. It's shaggier and less studied, with a fuller and more colored sound. Stoltz's charisma and piano-bounced craft are left largely intact, even when he employs trippy effects and heady distortion. It's almost as if he wanted to shake the soft-boy image of his past records and prove himself a proper rocker, but mostly it's just nice to see such a pop classicist smear a little soot in with his sparkle and shimmer. And paired with the Dirtbombs, Stoltz could well get even grimier live.


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