I skipped through every song trying to find a redeeming track. After 20 minutes I gave up and placed the CD on a shelf with some of my books from college that I never plan to look at again. Shaking off what was literally the worst musical experience of my life, I picked up the second disc.
The Brute Chorus's new album “How the Caged Bird Sings” made me breathe an audible sigh of relief. While it wasn't the greatest album I’ve ever heard, it was a heck of a lot better than what I had just finished listening to.
The band has four key members: James Steel on vocals, guitar, harmonica and kazoo; Nick Foots on vocals, guitar, keyboard, and synth; Dave Ferrett on vocals and bass; and Matthew Day on vocals, drums and percussion.
This is not the first album The Brute Chorus has recorded, and it’s clear the band has settled into its own sound in a way that suggests the maturity and talent of its members. Their songs feature stripped down instrumentals where each note counts. In an instant, this sound can switch from being heavily distorted to the point of sounding muddled. The vocals are dark but nuanced and controlled.
What I enjoyed most about this album is that it was set up with an awareness of the form and continuity. What I mean by that is sometimes, an artist will throw together an album without a lot of apparent thought about how the songs fit together to produce a connected sound.
The Brute Chorus clearly set out to create a solid album. The CD starts with a song called “Lazarus” and finishes with a track titled “Heaven.” Each song stands pretty well on its own but if you have the time, give “How the Caged Bird Sings” a listen from start to finish, because it's much better that way.