The Brute Chorus
It would be easy to imagine the scene at the record label: “No pressure lads, but due to cutbacks we’ve decided to combine your next gig and recording your debut album into one session! It’s either this or let Belinda the receptionist go!” Lunacy, surely?
But this isn’t a financial decision. As a band comfortable on the live circuit The Brute Chorus felt it was a natural decision to record their incredibly important debut in this fashion. 300 punters. Standing around scratching their arse while someone tries to get that top E to sound “just right”. Madness I tell thee!
Throwing caution to the wind the band made their way to The Roundhouse’s FreeDM studios, for a buy-one-get-one-free exercise in rock and/or roll. On hearing the results, the decision not to take the traditional route of studio debut album may have been a mistake. What we have here is a collection of fairly uninspired blues-meets-indie tracks about Greek mythology, relationships and cuckoos, a shame as their track on the 2008 In The City Compilation ‘Chateau’ is really great, but the live version is a real disappointment.
If you’ve got the kahunas to name the band after a William Oldham track and one of your songs ('Grow Fins') after a Beefheart compendium, you have to deliver the goods. The collection of tracks here not only fails to deliver when put side by side with the legends, they are also outclassed by their peers. Mumford & Sons do this so much better.
There’s a song about Hercules, a song about Ulysses and a song about Joan of bloody Arc. Enough with the historical characters! ‘The Ransom’ features backing vocals from The Muppets and ‘The Cuckoo And The Stolen Heart’ with its TV Western backing track and a nails-upon-the-blackboard female singer grates severely – at one point fans can be heard desperately trying to flee via the fire escape.
Had this brave but ultimately flawed decision not been made and some time in the studio allocated, some of the rough edges could have been knocked off. Maybe they could have delivered on their early potential. Let’s hope this isn’t the end of the road and they get to chance to ply their trade in the studio and improve upon this disappointing effort.