sex as a foreign language

awkward aural adventures

The Brute Chorus – Freedom Studios, Roundhouse, 28th Feb

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It’s not for the faint hearted. The prospect of recording your debut album infront of a live audience of baying fans would send most bands, used to the insular privacy of the recording studio, fleeing to the hills.

Not so The Brute Chorus though. The Whitechapel boys have packed out the Freedom rooms in the bowels of The Roundhouse in order to add a little soul to the conception of their debut opus. It could have been a suicidal move, but what transpired over the dying moments of February 2009 was something just a little bit special.

Before the band strolled onto stage we were treated to a run down of special rules for this occasion. No wild whooping until the songs had finished, no storming the stage, and no undue swearing at the band.. well not until we hit the bar afterwards. So taking to the stage The Brute Chorus, their mothers call them James Steel, Nick Foots, Dave Ferrett and Matthew Day, take to the stage with what is already a charged atmosphere.

They quickly explain that they will attempt everything in one take and hopefully not have to repeat anything later. Within seconds of the band kicking off though it is hard to imagine anything about this evening not being incredible. The band are on fire, lithe, locked in and playing their tracks with a swagger and energy completely juxtaposed with the staid imagery of a band cutting an album. For those of you who haven’t heard them before The Brute Chorus trade a fine line in classic storytelling songs, backed with a dirty, angular, acousto-blues rock that resembles a band of Buckfast filled gypsies ram raiding a recording studio and retelling their favourite legends and myths to each other with the assembled instruments. Frontman James Steel has more than a hint of a cockney, youthful Nick Cave as he bounces around the stage whipping himself, the band and the assembled throng into a frenzy that nearly results in the breaking of all the aforementioned rules in one go.

Highlights of the frenetic set and no doubt of the album itself when it is finally cut include first single, ‘Chateau’, the delirious ‘Nebachadnezzer’, and ‘ The Cuckoo and The ‘Stolen Heart’ which features on eof the best male/female vocal duels you’ve heard in many a while.

Taking their reference points from across the cultural spectrum The Brute Chorus manage to fashion songs that reference Sampson and Delilah whilst musing on the transient nature of relationships and the devilish ways of love. Their are elements of Cash, The Pogues and The Bad Seeds here, but they pull off that most illusory of tricks and manage to present it in ways that you think you haven’t really heard before.

If a fraction of the soul and energy makes the transition from the walls of the Freedom Studios in the Roundhouse’s basement onto record, then The Brute Chorus will have one of the most vital records of 2009.


Written by Jonathan

March 9, 2009 at 3:08 am

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