Our Daily Bread 436: The Flying Chaucers, Vicky Gray, The Armories, Temple Garden…

April 6, 2021

REVIEWS/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

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 just recently 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.

Singles/Tracks.

The Flying Chaucers ‘Down With The Creeps’
(Blang Records)  2nd April 2021

How can you not like a band when they are named The Flying Chaucers? Especially when the track is full of lyrical wit and melodeon flair. It jangles and flirts with a charm peeled straight out of the how to make music with charm and joy book, the kind of song you will be humming before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning and all the time in-between. Yes indeedy this is a dream of a single, one to put a smile on the face of the sternest motherfucker.

Joy Formidable ‘Into The Blue’

This is actually quite a lovely song, shame that it is produced in such a polished and unoriginal way that sucks all the soul and heart out of the song – no doubt in the hope of getting on the BBC 6 MUSIC playlists. The blogs will love it as they wallop down any above average generic indie guitar music especially when the bombast is turned up to 11. Joy Formidable are a decent band and this is a decent enough track if you like this kind of thing.  But it lacks a certain spirit: the spirit of Adventure.

Albums/EPs..

Vicky Gray ‘Atlaness’
(Stitch Records)  26th March 2021

If instrumental folk is your thing, you should check this four-track EP out, especially if you love the fiddle, as this is three fine fiddle instrumentals tracks that will have you and the person of your choice arm in arm reeling around your living room spinning like a mad thing: a mad thing that spins, not one that sits and rocks like a man out of your worst nightmares.

The fourth track is the only one with vocals and is a quite beautiful thing indeed, and one of those rare tracks that is not quite long enough; another few minutes of ‘Teif  on da Lum’ would have gone down very well indeed: imagine in the movie the Wicker Man, if there was a night club scene this would be the track that was playing a quite lovely strange and beguiling folk ditty in the background.

James PM Phillips ‘Bones’
(Link2Wales) 26th March 2021

To steal a line from the opening track ‘Blanketfort’: “Here is another form of mental entertainment”. And that is the perfect description of this quite beautifully strange touching album; an album that obviously had been made with great love, paying no attention to any musical genres but drawing on many, being folk, psych, dance or poetry. 

This is an album that has been made to entertain the maker himself I feel, and I assume James would love it, if others also find something of value something to draw a smile on one’s face something to make ones heart skip a beat something to make one tap their feet or just to make one think. Well, it has made me do all of the aforementioned, I think it especially in fact slapped me around the face reminding me that music is an expressive art form and not a product to be wrapped up and sold to the uncaring masses but something to lose oneself in.

Bones is not an album that will garner much daytime radio airplay I expect sadly, but underneath the gentle madness are undercurrents of a gifted melodicist at work and I hope this will attract the attention it and James deserve. If anyone is looking for a modern-day equivalent of Skip Spence’s Oar LP I would suggest they take some time and give Bones a listen.

Temple Garden  ‘Red Shift’
30th April 2021

This is the debut album by Temple Garden, a psych rock band from Austin, Texas, and it’s a sci-fi concept album inspired by golden era radio shows, and actually it is indeed pretty good. The words concept album normally have me running for the hills but this is very well done and at times reminds me more of Prefab Sprout than psych rock, which believe me is a point in its favour: I can quite imagine Paddy McAloon releasing this, him being a fan of the odd concept release himself.

The sound is very warm and smooth almost late-night FM radio listening and has moments of Steely Dan/ Weather Report/Rush type abandon (if abandon is the right word), and certainly strays into the prog territory at times.

So anyone out there wanting to relive the golden days of FM radio with an album awash with smoothly played smoothly performed and well written concept album this is indeed for you: The kind of release that Punk rock was supposed to get rid of, but thankfully didn’t.

Jason Crest ‘A Place In The Sun’
(Guerssen)  15th April 2021

Jason Crest were a 60s band from Kent who released five unsuccessful, commercially speaking singles. Artistically speaking they are a huge success and have in spades what was so magical about British 60s psych; the wonderful sublime mystically enhancing lyrics, all of course taken and written no doubt with a pinch of salt: the opening track ‘Turquoise Tandem Cycle’ is a complete gem of nonsensical imagery wrapped in a pure warmth of velvet 60s pop delight, part Procol Harum, part Keith West; if you close your eyes you can imagine being back in the late 60s soaking up the atmosphere of the Middle Earth club.

I cannot believe that Noel Gallagher had not heard and decided to rip off ‘Two By the Sea’ for the Oasis hit ‘Whatever’. So much so that I hope Jason Crest got their lawyers involved or are in the process of doing so for it is plagiarism undiluted. But where the Oasis track is a dull plodder of a song ‘Two by the Sea’ is a charming piece of 60s pop confectionary, as is the beautiful ‘Teagarden Lane’; both songs that the Bee Gees would no doubt have loved to add to their cannon of fine pop tracks.

How Jason Crest never managed to bother the hit parade is a bit of a mystery as ‘King Of The Castle’ had a certain The Move like charm about it, and the ba ba ba fade out is pure 60s pop magic, and also there is in fact a rather splendid cover of The Moves ‘Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree’ and also a rather great Baroque prog pop version of Smokey Robinsons ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ that has a lovely wig out at the end.

But all was not charming light and psych towards the end of their career, has they moved into Deep Purple territory with the organ drenched heavy metal like ‘Black Mass’. Maybe if they had stayed together into the 70s they may have found their niche and audience with the early years of the metal scene. 

This is a fine comp gathering together of a wonderful talented sixties band that certainly deserved more success than they achieved.

The Armories ‘Incognito’
(Big Stir Records) 1st April 2021

Is this the best album yet released on Big Stir Records? Well it is my favourite anyway. It’s an album where originals and covers are dispatched with equal aplomb, from the quite wonderful 12-string ringing poptastic version of John Cales ‘Paris 1919’ and the nostalgia churning cover of Christies ‘Yellow River’, and a version of XTC‘s ‘Senses Working Overtime’, which neither takes anything away from the original but adds a thin layer of sadness like a settling of dust on a once well-loved framed photograph of someone you once loved and secretly still do.

Melancholia is the texture of this album, and that is not saying it is an album of sadness and regret it is quite the opposite. It’s an album of life, in its many complexities; it has the magic quality that the Beatles oozed taking many influences and weaving them together so they always sounded like the Beatles and the Armoires have mastered that art taking new wave, folk, pop, country, power pop and pure guitar jangle and merging them into beautifully arranged heartfelt moments of pop life. It even has a rather wonderful tribute to the late great Mark E Smith with The Fall meets The B52’s like ‘Ghost Of Fall Singer In Depopulated Griefscape’, which had me thinking now, here is an idea would it not be great if Big Stir got Brix Smith to get the Adult Net back together and release an album through Big Stir that would be a match made in heaven. But until that dream comes true The Armoires “incognito” album will suffice with its songs that sting, ring, chime and pulls on the strings of your radio inflicted heart.

Nick Waterhouse ‘Promenade Blue’
(Innovative Leisure) 9th April 2021

Twenty seconds in and I knew I was going to love this album. All Drifters strings and Phil Spector dreams, the kind of album you imagine playing while you wait for your future soul mate to finish her soda pop in the all-night café; an album that takes you to the cartoon American dream of the 50s and early 60s when all the pop stars were called Bobby or Johnny, and Dick Clark would be hosting a twist competition on this week’s American Bandstand.

No this is not an album that sounds like it was made today, but 60 plus years ago and capturing the vibe and feel for those days perfectly if not knowing better, any of these tracks could slip into an oldies radio show without anyone blinking an eye.

Nick is a fine singer and songwriter and has mastered the nuances of early sixties pop and soul subject matters, lyrics, melodies, humour all mastered so much so he must be a little pissed off that when he wakes in the morning that it is 2021 and not 1961 even more than the rest of us! And I bet he has a hell of a good record collection. This is an album I’d more than recommend to you my dear readers to add to your collection. Smoothly frugtastic.

Patto ‘And That’s Jazz: Live 1971-1973’
(Think Like A Key Music) 9th April 2021

What we have here dear readers is previously unreleased recording from those progressive eccentrics Patto; recorded at the Torrington in London, early 1973. Yes, an album that captures the days of denim flares, long hair and head down lay it on me mama boogie; the days when Whispering Bob Harris would smoothly introduce the likes of Patto with whispering delight.

What Patto did so well was combine The Faces like rock with slightly more prog rock expenditure and a James Brown like funk  – especially on the wonderfully funky ‘Singing The Blues On Reds’ – and this fine album captures all the magic of their legendary live performances. They were indeed a band that could, as some would say, cut it loose, and genre hopped with some style, sometimes in the same song – ‘My Days Are Numbered’ take a bow, a beautiful mish mash of jazz rock folk and pure pop suss.

This album really is a time machine that takes you back to the magical 70s when the pubs were always full on a Saturday night and you could go and see a fine band and stagger home to watch Match Of The Day on TV with the sound of the band still buzzing in your ears. Yes indeed, this album manages to conjure up all those feelings of the true magic of music.

Ollie Halsall  ‘Lovers Leaping’
(Think Like A Key Music) 9th April 2021

The late great Ollie Halsall was of course a guitar player extraordinaire, not just the guitarist with Patto and session player with the likes of John Cale and Kevin Ayers, and also was under consideration to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones before Ronnie Wood got the gig, but also a fine vocalist and songwriter – supplying vocals on a number of tracks on the Rutles album no less. So what we have here is an album of previously unreleased demos of songs for an album he planned to record but for whatever reason never got around to. This album shies away from his guitar playing and concentrates instead on his songwriting; and what fine songs they are. From the lead off track the pop boogie of ‘Hey Hey Little Girl’ with the slight glam feel almost Trex like in fact, through to the McCartneyesque ‘Back Against The Wall’ – and McCartney seems to be a huge influence on the album, with a lot of his like touches. 

What we are treated to is an album of fine pop rock: ‘Crazy When I Fall In Love’ could easily have slipped onto the first two Big Star albums, and nobody would have blinked an eye. This really is quite fantastic stuff and this album could easily become regarded as a lost classic, and I’d advise anyone with even the slightest interest in 70s pop rock to invest in this mighty fine collection.

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.

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