I downloaded an album several weeks ago and it’s been growing on me ever since: Below the Branches, by Kelley Stoltz (Sub Pop).

Randomly, a few days ago, I received a press release (one of dozens I get each day), and what should it say, but:

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), together with the Green-e program of the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) announced today that recording artist Kelley Stoltz’s newest album, titled Below the Branches, is the first album to incorporate the Green-e label on its product packaging. The logo explains to consumers that the album was recorded using 100-percent renewable energy.

Well I’ll be damned!

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I wouldn’t do this if it were merely a good album, or if it were merely created with renewable energy, but the combination adds up to the very first Official Gristmill Music Recommendation: Below the Branches, by Kelley Stoltz. Buy it. And tell ’em Gristmill sent you.

If you’re curious what it sounds like, here’s the AMG review:

Kelley Stoltz seems to have a bottomless well of great songs. Catchy tunes and great vocal melodies seem to come as easily as breathing for this guy. His third full-length album is basically more of the same — solid D.I.Y. rock & roll — but there are a few new wrinkles. As pointed to by the EP The Sun Comes Through, piano plays a larger role than on the earlier albums (adding something close to a music hall feel on some tracks), and he’s using more falsetto vocals and even a bit of tamboura on a couple tracks. He gets a little more help from his friends than on previous outings, but it’s still basically a one-man show. "Wave Goodbye" is a piano-driven rocker that kicks the album off before moving into more Nick Drake territory with "Little Lords." The gleeful "Birdies Singing" has great chugging bass, slide guitars, handclaps, and glockenspiel. "Ever Thought of Coming Back?" is a new sound for Stoltz, channeling the Beach Boys in a teenage symphony to Jesus Christ. "Words" is shaped by piano and acoustic guitar, and has a vocal that almost could have been lifted from Pink Floyd’s "Fearless." Stoltz’s production sense is unerring, adding just the right touches without cluttering the sound, and the songs have the loose feel of a band performance. There’s nothing really new or earth-shattering about this album, but that’s not a prerequisite for great rock & roll as Kelley Stoltz demonstrates once again.

Update [2006-3-9 22:3:29 by David Roberts]: Oh, hey, look at this. You really can’t beat Jeff to anything.

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