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The Brute Chorus: (This Christmas) Bury Me In Hawaii : A Single Review

An alternative musical Christmas offering

Written by Tommy Tiger


Don’t know The Brute Chorus? If you want a pigeon stuffed in a hole, buy more about this raw and inventive fourpiece are a sort of gothic rockabilly Arctic Monkeys, approved but you can’t quite imagine Gordon Brown claiming to listen to this lot. Not for a while anyway.

(This Christmas) Bury Me In Hawaii is their festive offering, help described by the band as a Hawaiian Death Carol. Plugging the gap between their recent debut album and new material on its way in 2010, it’s a slow suicide ballad from a band who’ve made their name with raw and driving folk-garage, coming over all tremelo guitars and shuffling downbeat drums, with a fine vocal performance from lead singer James Steel.

The beauty of this record is that it breathes. There’s texture in them thar hummin’ guitars and you can almost touch the breath of the singer, the thwack of thumb on double bass. It’s not the most amazing song in the world, but they’ve made the most of it in a restrained and tasteful arrangement and production, complete with 1950s backing vocals and even some sly sleigh bells. Though recorded in a studio (unlike their debut album which was reputedly cut in one well-rehearsed take, live in front of fans) it still has a live and spacious sound and is a refreshing change from the saturated digital soundscapes of what passes for hip contemporary rock. Some of The Brute Chorus’s over-produced peers should take note.


Discovering their lineage starting from Ocean Colour Scene (of all places) and going backwards to Neil Young and Dylan, then further to Woody Guthrie and the wider American folk tradition, The Brute Chorus are a product of the iPod generation, whose unprecedented quick and easy access to obscure music from every era means that any 18 year-old can bone up on 1930s midwest work songs in an afternoon and acquire a musical heritage which would previously have taken years of crate-digging, furtive swapping and leafing through specialist magazines. In this case, the result is a shade retro, for sure, but The Brute Chorus belong to the present era, whatever that is, and I’d have this as my Christmas number one over Rage Against the Machine anytime.
Rock’n’roll is dead? There’s plenty of life in the old beast yet.

The single is available now.


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