Well, whaddya know, the I Am Kloot album finally turned up a few days after I finalised my end-of-year posts and turned out to be brilliant. It’s a less rough and aggressive sound than on Gods and Monsters: while the band’s styles as musicians continue to shine through individually, here they are adorned with twinkles of piano, organ and pedal steel. Sitting on top of this is Johnny Bramwell’s haunting voice, delivering slices of Northern melancholia that make me want to go and watch a black and white film like A Kind of Loving. While he has occasionally fallen victim to rhyming-dictionaryitis in the past, here the lyrics are delightfully judged. Smashing.
By contrast, the album from Okkervil River – which I must admit I approached with very high expectations – has disappointed me on first listen. It seemed to be fairly unremarkable college rock, but I’ve got to stress I’ve only heard it once and will give it much more of a chance. I feel somehow cheated over Okkervil River – more than that, somehow that I’ve cheated myself. Dan very kindly gave me a compilation CD featuring them a good while back – last year, I think – and although I vowed to follow it up, their stuff seemed only to be available as expensive imports at the time. Now it’s more readily available in the UK and everyone loves them! But the track Dan gave me had strange but effective combination of an aggressive dynamism and the openness of country music; they seem to have moved away from this slightly.