'How The Caged Bird Sings'

Recorded live at a show, The Brute Chorus achieved widespread acclaim with the release of their debut album last year.

A strong debut, it matched the energy of a live performance to some mature songwriting. Now with just eleven months passing by The Brute Chorus have confirmed a quickfire follow up - and you can hear it first!

'How The Caged Bird Sings' is due to be released next Monday (September 13th) but ClashMusic has been allowed a tasty preview. To celebrate, we are set to publish a series of articles from the band.

First up, a quick essay on how the album was actually made. Something to read while you take in the new album...

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Having recorded our first album live we decided to try a slightly more conventional way of recording for our second record.


In summer 2009 we had played as part of a ceilidh in a hall close to where Nick and Matt grew up in the Lake District and the sound had been so big and boomy that one of us joked that if we ever got to make another record we should record it there. We got that chance. So we did. Recording in the Lake District would remove us from the distractions of London and hopefully give our recordings a unique sound.

The night before we arrived in early January the Victorian heating system in the hall broke down. The caretaker of the hall suggested that we go back to London but we’d driven the length of the country with van packed with recording equipment, instruments our engineer Olga and producer Choque Hosein. There could be no return!

We borrowed as many gas heaters as we could but for the eight days we were there the temperature in the main hall never rose above 6?C. Wearing three pairs of socks, long johns a jumper and two jackets the whole time. It was the Brutes against the elements and we just knuckled down and did what needed doing. We played in the hall, Choque, the mixer and recording equipment were stationed in the tea room and the vocal booth was set up in the kitchen. The oven was turned on full blast with the door open as well as all the rings turned on to take the chill off the room.

The tracks were all successfully laid down that week plus four songs recorded completely live, Banged & Blown, Lyre Bird, Humming Bird, Everybody Knows My Name and Wife. The aim was to capture as much of the natural reverb of the hall as possible and so for these songs we just used a pair of distant microphones and performed them pretty unrehearsed to give them an edge over all the songs we were tracking.

Finishing the lyrics and getting good vocal takes took longer than planned and a lot of the lyrics had to be improvised at the time of recording. The album was mixed in a mere five days at The Strongroom in London. There's loads of tape echo that augments the already reverberant recordings. The whole effect is very moody, eerie in places and expansive in others. How The Caged Bird Sings captures dynamics that we failed to achieve on the live album and has a broader feel in terms of the music therein. We were able to use a wider variety of instruments and create textures that we’d missed before.

Looking back it was quite an ordeal; a battle against the cold, the clock physically and emotionally.

Listening now we can hear all those elements and are hugely proud of what came out.

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