I Am Kloot 

Gods and Monsters (Echo)

John Bramwell's Mancunian accent recalls his countrymen in the English band James, without that act's melodramatics or range. During acoustic solo numbers, Bramwell's reedy voice hovers hyperactively in the confined space like a hummingbird trapped in a tiny box. However, this narrow reach doesn't make Gods and Monsters a claustrophobic listening experience. I Am Kloot keeps its songs short and uses drum rolls and piano trills to reinforce -- and occasionally overtake -- Bramwell's vocals. Rattlesnake percussion, garage-rock guitars, pub-song piano and swarming kazoos conjure evocative scenes, and a detached narrator tells compelling stories (though they don't always match the action the accompaniment suggests -- "Dead Men's Cigarettes" is as dark as tar-blackened lungs, but Bramwell's voice volunteers no gloom, and the upbeat backdrop is almost tropical). Monsters is a chameleonic collection, changing color depending on its listeners' states of mind.

More by Andrew Miller

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