The Washington Post

Critic’s Notebook: Kelley Stoltz, Juana Molina and Julie Roberts

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Kelley Stoltz. (Courtesy of the artist)
Kelley Stoltz. (Courtesy of the artist)

Kelley Stoltz

Imagine a Mount Rushmore for California’s latter-day garage rock troubadours. Maybe it’s made out of mashed potatoes or piles of soiled denim. Either way, Kelley Stoltz’s face belongs up there, flanked by his more heavily hyped contemporaries – Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin and John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees.

Stoltz’s new album, “Double Exposure,” is as cool and excellent as anything those guys dropped this year. Its highlight, “Kim Chee Taco Man,” a dreamy ode to a food truck, feels as dumb and cosmic as all great rock-and-roll should.


Juana Molina. (Photo by Marcelo Setton)

Juana Molina

This Argentine’s music has always been quirky. But reliable? At this point, sure. Her new album, “Wed 21,” is the latest chapter in a 17-year songbook stuffed with lullaby whispers, acoustic guitars and electronic blip-blops that all glow with nightlight softness. Molina has influenced scores of folk-tronic musicians on her native continent, but her songs offer a universal playfulness that’s entirely her own.


Julie Roberts. (Photo by Angela Talley)

Julie Roberts

If you like your country music sung by the underdogs, listen to the woman who spent the past few years losing her record deal, battling a chronic illness and watching her car wash away in a flood. Roberts’s soulful new album, “Good Wine and Bad Decisions,” finds the South Carolina native staging her big comeback in an even bigger, brassier voice.

Chris Richards is The Washington Post's pop music critic. He has recently written about the best recordings and lyrics of 2015.
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