[sic] Magazine

The Brute Chorus – The Brute Chorus

It takes a certain type of eccentricity to release a live album as a debut, and The Brute Chorus have it in spades. Recorded at Camden’s Roundhouse in front of an audience of 300 earlier this year, their twelve tracks are interspersed with polite applause and rousing interjections from the backing singers.

Ranging from White Stripesian punk-blues on the ants-in-their-pants jig of ‘Chateau’ to the tear-drenched shudders of the Johnny Cash version of ‘Hurt’ on ‘Love’s Chain’, The Brute Chorus certainly have a rich story to tell. At time delivered by the near-spoken word (à la Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man’s medieval punk), and elsewhere with the art-rock theatrics of Art Brut, they encompass recurrent mythological and historical themes on ‘Nebuchadnezzar’, ‘Blind Ulysses’ and ‘Hercules’, as well as making reference to Joan of Arc, Jonah and others, including his Whale.

Woodblock percussion clops along enthusiastically with cowbells, staccato blasts of militaristic snares romp seductively and the wistful set closer, ‘I’m Gonna Shake Down Your Treehouse’, thinks for all the world that it’s The Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’.

And in the midst of all this calculated cacophony there is still time for a spot of genuinely stunning whoopin’ and a-hollerin’, the type of which has not been heard since The Bellrays were last in town. Guest vocalist Tigs, from promising up and comers Chew Lips, takes duetting duty above plucked strings and general high-spirited merry-making.

What The Brute Chorus lack in consistency (some tracks coast in the live setting, others are positively alight) they more than compensate for with enthusiasm. In lieu of a debut proper, this eponymous collection is nevertheless a fine substitute.

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