Our Daily Bread 433: Abacaxi, Chinese American Bear, Ex Norwegian and Friends…

March 23, 2021

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Reviews Column

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last couple of months the King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and in just the last 24 hours a double-A side single, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

Each week we send a mountain of new releases to the self-depreciating maverick to see what sticks. In his own idiosyncratic style and turn-of-phrase, pontificating aloud and reviewing with scrutiny an eclectic deluge of releases, here Brian’s latest batch of recommendations.

Chinese American Bear  ‘Dumpling’
Out Now

We all need a little bit of light quirky indie pop in our lives believe me. It gives one a feel-good sugar rush of pure pop freedom, an aural ray of sunshine that can light up the drabness of everyday life. And that sparkle of pop freedom in this round up is supplied by husband-and-wife duo Chinese American Bear, a duo that wraps the quirky melody around the listeners’ hearts until it pops with smiles and flowers and quaint kitschy hugs, burrowing down to visit the place where ‘There Goes Concorde Again’ by the Native Hipsters used to reside: a place that lies deep inside all of us.

Opus Kink  ‘Wild Bill’
(Nice Swan Records)  19th March 2021

This is a bit of a rum do; a song that is a little shimmy of just being a shammy of Joe Strummer in the post Clash nonchalance that was The Mescaleros. Yes we have the sound of brass and chanting ‘all-in-it-together’ backing vocals that marimba like an overheated Italian Western survivor that Nick Cave would no doubt cover in admiring glances whilst filing somebody else’s nails with a file made from the discarded bone of a reflected vision of a Tom Waits memory. All in all we have a fine musical Odyssey of drunken obsession. A little belter as they say up north. 


Abacaxi ‘Mainstream Desire’
(Carton Records) 19th March 2021

How does Add N To X do Prince sound to you? If you think yes that is right up my aforementioned, then this two-track album is for you. Discordant keyboard funk guitar collides in a scream of space invader fury all amusement hall feedback and globetrotter chic, blank TV mantras and the forbidden corpse of an ex-girlfriend’s tongue: oh yes! And that is only the first track. And when it finally deems to end, it does so to the sound of Sun Ra having jollies with a miscreant.

The second and final track takes off where the first one finished; feedback squalling rock n roll guitars, the sound of a steam train doubting itself whilst picking up pace going in a downward direction that will only stop when reaching destination hell. This is indeed a fascinating listen and one only a psychopath could hum along to.

19th March 2021

Normally I’d avoid reviewing old music as this is called the Monolith Cocktail not Mojochronic Codpiece, but I like to occasionally look back; especially as I have more than a fondness for 60s psych, and this, would you believe, is the first time a collection of Kaleidoscope has been released on CD, so is well worth giving up a bit of my time to write about the wondrous release.

Yes, this is a fine collection but Kaleidoscope were a fine band so what would you expect. One minute, they are mid 60s Who like with the catchy poptastic ‘In My Box’ and the next, stretching the minds of incredulity with elastic like relapses of thrown together wonders with the likes of ‘A Dream of Julie’: a song that is both like the Hollies being entertained and bewitched by a pill popping Syd Barrett, and Syd Barrett enjoying confusing the poor Mancs into believing they could be the greatest band ever to set foot on the rotating stage of melodeon delight.

How I love the thrill and splendour of the 60s. No wonder there are still so many bands still trying to capture the magic that was in the air, trying to breath in the complexity of acid induced togetherness, but you have to feel a little sorry for them when fine CDs like this are released to remind us that they are nothing but poor imitations of this. And yes, Kaleidoscope where there first with all those other lucky post second world war baby boomers to weave their magic. And 50 years later this still sounds like magic. This collection like the band themselves are ones to clutch to your hearts and cherish for this music never grows old and will forever influence the young upstarts and remind those of us that are old enough what it was like to be young. A staggeringly magic comp of musical magic. 

Ex Norwegian and Friends ‘Sing Jimmy Campbell’
(Think Likes A Key Music)

This album pleases me; it makes me happy. Why I hear you ask, well because it means the late great Jimmy Campbell is finally getting some attention: attention he well deserves.

For anyone who has not heard of Jimmy Campbell before, he was a fine and underrated songwriter from Liverpool who released a series of wonderful singles in the 60s with his band The Kirkbys and the 23rd Turnoff, and then he released three stunning solo albums of quirky psych folk British beat albums and a cult classic of an album called Yes It Is with his band Rocking Horse – a band made up of ex Merseybeat’s and The Escorts. But none received the acclaim and success they deserved.

As you can tell I am a bit of a fan. I even played a tribute night to the great man many years ago in Liverpool, in front of many of his family and friends with my band The Bordellos. Also playing that night where members of The La’s and Shack and The Christians, which just goes to show what high standing the Liverpool music community hold him in, and what a great influence he has had. So myself a huge fan of the man and his original recordings, and giving this album a rave review, which I’m about to do, should in fact just show how good this album is, as covering brilliant songs and doing them well is not such an easy thing to achieve, but somehow Ex Norwegian and his myriad of friends actually pull it off. Each have done rather great covers and showered them in the magic and love they deserve. From the piano strolling sweet rendition of ‘Baby Walk Out with Your Darling Man’ by another great undervalued British songwriter John Howard, through to Ex Norwegians Beatle like White Album take on the dark brooding ‘Half Baked’, or Joe Kanes beautifully rocking take on ‘Yes, it Is’, this album does not put a foot wrong: in fact it skips along beautifully, track to track taking in psych, pop, folk and even venturing into the extremes of Power Pop and late night FM radio territory. This really is a splendid collection and a fine tribute to the great man. On a strictly personal level the only downside to me is that I’m not on the album: I would have loved to have included a beautifully lo-fi version of his ode to heartbreak and loneliness ‘In My Room’, but this album is a complete success and is recommended not just to fans of Jimmy Campbell but also would be a great introduction to the man’s genius song writing.

The Dials ‘And Another Thing…b-sides and asides’
(Kool Kat Music) 19th March 2021

If this album was released in 1966 it might have been seen as hip and happening, the album sleeve might have been carried under the arm of some groovy hip cat like a badge of honour. But it is not 1966, it is 2021, and all is not well in the world. People are dying with the new plague; people are losing their jobs and their minds; the music industry is in dire straits needing a kick up the arse from some new musical savior. Sadly, The Dials are not that musical savior; they are a band with both feet stuck in the 60s alongside their head and hearts and guitars, and to be honest who can blame them. For what The Dials do, they do very well. They have melodies that The Monkees or a Monkees cover band would adore; they have guitars that chime and ring; harmonicas that could have been blown from the lips of Dylan; organs that have leapt straight from the scratchy vinyl copy of ‘Incense and Peppermints’.

I don’t actually think The Dials have an original bone in their paisley wrapped bodies, an original idea in their John Lennon capped heads, but that is not saying they are doing anything wrong. What they are doing is making catchy enjoyable musical homages to your record collection, or even your Dad’s record collection, or to our younger readers, your granddad’s record collection. Yes, this is not new it is not original it is not trying to be different but it is enjoyable. And I am sure people who buy the albums released on Kool Kat Records and likeminded record labels will love it. If Your fave bands are The Beatles and The Byrds or any 60s band whose name begins with B, you will love it.

Olivier Rocabois  ‘Goes Too Far’
2nd April 2021

There is something quite timeless about this album it could have been recorded anytime from the late 60s to the present day. Described in the press release as Baroque pop – and I will certainly go with that to some extent – it is an album of pleasing pop songs pre–Ziggy Bowie with overtures of the Beach Boys wrapped in their Pet Sounds bubble of warmth and also reminding me of the English treasure that is John Howard, who makes a guest appearance on the beautiful Baroque ballad ‘Tonight I Need’. But this album is filled with pleasing slightly quirky songs of love dripping in sublime chamber pop coverings that fans of the Divine Comedy [the band not the book] would stand and applaud. This is an album to invite into your musical life as a permanent houseguest.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.


One Response to “Our Daily Bread 433: Abacaxi, Chinese American Bear, Ex Norwegian and Friends…”

  1. […] Ex Norwegian and Friends ‘Sing Jimmy Campbell’(Think Like A Key Records)(BBS)  Review […]

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