Review : I Am Kloot - Sky At Night
DrownedinsoundFor anyone reviewing the latest I Am Kloot album, there’s two things that, by law, must be mentioned. First of all, you have to comment on how they’re part of Manchester’s musical character, much-admired bridesmaids of Elbow and Doves who’ve never had their own big day – neglecting the fact that, for years, people said the same about Guy Garvey and chums until they swept the board with The Seldom Seen Kid.
The second thing you always have to mention is John Bramwell, Kloot’s poet in residence, painter of beautifully unflattering portraits, a man who can capture the minutiae of a doomed relationship in four lines, and still have time for a bad pun in the chorus. Again, the clause when mentioning the band’s frontman is to state how unfair it is that the band, and Bramwell in particular, have never been acclaimed by a wider audience.
Usually at this point, the reviewer would then comment on I Am Kloot’s latest LP, stating how this would be the one that’ll break them through to the big time, disregarding the musical evidence – a collection of unusual songs, crammed with regret and loneliness, exactly the type of thing that will only delight a small but devoted audience. If anything, Bramwell is an English equivalent to dry, observant American songwriters like Bill Callaghan or Will Oldham, and no one really expects them to be heading out on stadium tours anytime soon.
So, with Kloot’s fifth album, Sky At Night, we won’t be saying any of that. Erm, except for the fact that [cough] it could actually be the record that reveals their charms to a wider audience. Sorry.
To make it even worse, it’s that record precisely because of the Mancunian musical family they’ve got around them. Guy Garvey and Craig Potter of Elbow produce the record, and various members of The Earlies and other North West acts pop up to provide lush, varied backing. That’s not to say that Kloot’s songs have been scrubbed to a radio-friendly polish by their Mercury-clutching pals: it’s more that Bramwell has realised that this particular set of songs deserve a grander setting in which to tell their stories of barflies and bruised romance....full text
MusicomhIt seems to have become something of a cliche recently, especially when talking about Mancunian bands for some reason, to mention a band's long hard struggle for public recognition. The years of battling with record companies, the critically adored albums that sold very few copies, the bumpy journey that inevitably ends with Mercury Prizes and support slots with U2.
So, will I Am Kloot be 2010's version of Elbow and Doves John Bramwell's band seem to have suffered more than most over the last decade - their four albums have been met with gushing praise, but mention of their name to most people would probably provoke a look of puzzled bemusement. So, it seems somewhat appropriate that old friends Guy Garvey and Craig Potter of Elbow should come onboard to produce Sky At Night.
There are many parallels between Elbow and Kloot - mostly that both bands are masters at writing bruised, battered songs about heartache and the human condition and sketching characters who usually find solace at the bottom of a glass. And while there isn't the uplifting quality that Elbow can often provide - you'll find nothing as life-affirming as A Day Like This on here - the parallels between the two bands can easily be seen, although Garvey and Potter have wisely resisted the temptation to turn this into a watered down Elbow album.
To The Brink, for example, is a beautifully sketched tale of the grim kind of watering hole that will be familiar to anyone who knows Garvey's work. "Do you fancy a drink, I know a place called The Brink, do you wanna go there?" sings Bramwell over a steadying sway of strings before telling of characters like "the guy on the bus, who's not quite one of us" who "sits by the bar, much to everyone else's annoyance". Close your eyes, and you can almost picture the scene taking place in any down at heel Manchester boozer....full text
YahooAmong the many things about Elbow's Guy Garvey that should be cherished is the tireless promotion of his long-time drinking buddies and favourite band, I Am Kloot. So consumed with we're-not-worthy love is Garvey that it's enough to elicit a goosebump-accompanied "aw" each time he mentions them. And he's not just an audible patron, either. Garvey has taken Kloot on tour and produced Kloot's latest (fifth) album, a record that captures Johnny Bramwell's late night tales - an elegant, brooding mix of barfly melancholy, cosmic inflection and self-deprecating regret - perfectly.
With Garvey ensuring far more column inches than I Am Kloot are used to for this new album, plus posh suits bought on the advice of kindred spirit - in both sombre vibes and swoonsome musical styles - Richard Hawley, Kloot are set to elevate themselves beyond the rabble of criminally underrated bands that litter our record collections. Or so we're made to believe.
It would be disingenuous to think Bramwell doesn't hanker after fame. But he's been writing since the age of nine and he's even fostered a fondness for busking around Europe (Paris is the worst place to play for your dinner, he's said). Songwriting is simply what he does. He certainly never compromises his bedraggled stories and cutting insights, which are delivered with all witty half-truths that saw the trio introduce themselves on the sleeve of their 2001 debut 'Natural History' as Special Brew-chugging derelicts. Bramwell isn't going to change, looming success or not.
And why should he? His tinder-dry, world-weary songs are delivered in one of the most amiable, swarthy and surprisingly youthful croons in pop, a sound that's so warming that even Bramwell's fascination with climate change and terrifying meaningless of everything come with a small grain of comfort. Here, the bare, dramatic, horn-helmed 'Same Shoes' sounds like it's being performed under a lone streetlamp at night and yet it's triumphant, as if it's his "I've had a few..." moment....full text
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