Our Daily Bread 449: The Bablers, Brendan Byrnes, The Pink Chameleons, Amy Cutler, Nicholson Heal, Island, Mekong and Gruff Rhys

May 25, 2021

Reviews Roundup/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea
Photo Credit: Mark James for his shot of Gruff Rhys

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The BordellosBrian ‘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 King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and a series of double-A side singles (released so far, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’ and ‘Daisy Master Race/Cultural Euthanasia’). He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped-down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

Each week we throw whatever sticks at the inimitable music lover, and he comes up with this…


Gruff Rhys ‘Mausoleum Of My Former Self’
(Rough Trade Records) 21st May 2021

So Gruff Rhys the nicest man in rock is back with a lovely laid-back strum along of pure pop bliss, the kind of track Teenage Fanclub no doubt wanted on their latest album but somehow got bogged down in middle agedness. But Gruff averts the oncoming of middle age with the pop suss and blissed out pop magic one would expect from the leader of one of the 90s finest bands. ‘Mausoleum Of My Former Self’ is not just a great song title but also a rather dandy pop song.

Nicholson Heal ‘Apophenia’
(Breakfast Records) 21st May 2021

This is a rather charming bbc6 radio friendly track; normally the kind of track I pour scorn on and makes me want to get out my todger and piss all over the listening device. But for some reason I find myself liking this. For some reason it reminds me of the golden boy from pop past Nick Heyward, but does not actually sound like him. Maybe it is the sunny lightness and all-round niceness of the song or maybe I’m being taken over by an angelic entity. Let’s hope for the future of pop that is not so and this is just a slight blip in my dour outlook on everything.

Island ‘Do You Remember The Times’
(Frenchkiss Records)

I like the romance of the lyrics to this little ditty – the kind of thing the underrated Babybird knocks out with alarmingly regularity. It has an all-round sheen of melancholy and catchiness that pop singles are supposed to have but with an underlying edge of darkness like a beloved TV entertainer with hidden mental health issues.


The Pink Chameleons ‘Peace & Love’
(Soliti) 21st May 2021

The Pink Chameleons are offering us a wham bam thank you mam of a garage rock album. Nothing truly original but this is garage rock so what do you expect. You get songs about the shitiness of life (‘Dead End Life’), and every other song on the album, but it is done in such a lovingly angry way that it really is appealing: all fuzz lead guitar lines, guitar chops and Stooges attitude.

It’s also blessed with some fine 60s tinged melodies, the kind you hear on those wonderful garage rock comps Pebbles and such like. Peace and Love is an album of supreme 60s tinged enjoyment and one I would recommend to all you connoisseurs of Garage rock and all things 60s.

Amy Cutler ‘The End (Also Ends) Of (The) Earth And Variants’
(Crow Versus Crow) 14th May 2021

This album was described as earthen lullabies in the press release, and who am I to argue. It’s not the Shangri-La’s, that’s for sure, and certainly not a wannabe Beatle mop top; no, this is an album of atmospheric mood pieces: and is actually very good.

It’s very relaxing; like lying in bed on a cold night as the icy rain beats its merry rhythms on the windows and the ghosts of your mind slow dance with the dead and the dying; embers of a burned out shell of past lovers come back to caress the parts of you no longer thought about, and Jacob Marley tap dances on the window sills of your youth. Earth crackles and open log fires takes turns in slowly rewinding that old tape you never get around to playing and oscillates with the most heavenly voices you can only dream about sound tracking your forthcoming descent into slumber.

There are only 50 copies of this beautiful cassette, and I would advise anyone wanting to escape the pressures of life for 60 minutes or so could do worse than investing in a copy now.

Brendan Byrnes  ‘2227’
28th May 2021

Imagine if you will if Joe Meek had invited Sonic Youth into his home studio to record an album of Microtonal jazz guitar pieces, it may or may not have sound like this. What this sounds like is an enjoyable album of instrumental tracks that range from songs you may hear soundtrack the little girl play noughts and crosses on the 70s TV testcard, which if I remember correctly featured some pretty out there music: one minute Manuel and His Music from the Mountains, the next, a Zappa like freak out. This of course wanders more into the Frank Zappa territory.

Passing through the collected works of Weather Report with a subtle 60s sci-fi feel, you can imagine the track ‘Pangaean Islands’ fitting nicely on the already mentioned Joe Meeks I Hear a New World album. That is what is so great and enjoyable about this album, as all good instrumental albums should; it succeeds in taking you to places letting your mind run riot painting pictures of many colours of many things of many emotions, and 2227 succeeds in doing that extremely difficult task.

Mekong ‘End Of The World’
14th May 2021

I think maybe that Mekong have heard of The Cure and have a few of their albums in their record collection. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they all have Robert Smith Tattoos on their arses. They are definitely an influence to put it mildly, and I against my better judgment am warming to them.

Is it possible to warm cold wave I wonder? But no this is an enjoyable comic romp through the dark side with some really funny [unintentionally I presume] lyrics: ‘Saving Jesus’ had me laughing out loud. This album really is a must hear for all the right and wrong reasons. But music is an entertainment and this album is certainly entertaining; ‘Black Swan’ has the classic opening line: “He has the body of a leprechaun and he parties so hard like he is 21”. Pure and utter comic gold.

Mekong might be becoming my new favourite band the further I indulge and listen to this wonderful gothic comic gold of an album.

The Bablers ‘Psychadilly Circus’
(Big Stir Records)  29th May 2021

The Bablers Psychadilly Circus is an album of what I call middle-aged Psyche; an album full of songs that people of a certain age and a certain taste in music will enjoy a great deal. This is a album that knows its audience and caresses that audiences taste buds; an album filled with the influences of The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Bad Finger, Bill Fay (especially on the opening track ‘Love Is Everything’) and all other late 60s early 70s psych bands but with a added hint of power pop.

Psychadilly Circus is an album filled with well written, well produced, well performed songs; songs that are not going to break into a rap in the middle of, or suddenly go all punk rock. These songs are like an old favourite jumper that always fits and you always feel comfortable in; an album that will fit into your record collection perfectly next to your well thumbed through listened to critically acclaimed rock classics.

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 449: The Bablers, Brendan Byrnes, The Pink Chameleons, Amy Cutler, Nicholson Heal, Island, Mekong and Gruff Rhys”

  1. […] “Peace and Love is an album of supreme 60s tinged enjoyment and one I would recommend to all you connoisseurs of Garage rock and all things 60s.” Monolith Cocktail […]

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