Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Roundup
(Unless stated otherwise, all releases are currently out there)

Pussy Riot And Slayyyter ‘Hate Fuck’
(Neon Gold Records)

This is quite wonderful. A fine blast of smart phone pop that is dark, dirty, sleazy and dangerous. Why can’t all modern pop be this rewarding. I know, because of the title it is not going to be played on daytime radio, which is indeed a shame as that is where it deserves to be as all great pop music deserves.

Boycalledcrow ‘Wizards Castle’
(Waxing Crescent Records) 6th May

I nearly didn’t bother reviewing this because I always spell Wizard wrong, and it really annoys me. But I’m glad I did, and overcame my laziness of fixing my bad grammar, for this album is an enjoyable foray into a land where squelchy synths and atmospheric gentle frenzy collide to supply us with a magical sea of splendour.

This darn rooting touting adventure of an album set me thinking where on earth is my copy of Joe Meeks I Hear A New World album. And in fact did I own a copy, or was the copy my son’s, Dan, who now has left home and taken Joe’s Jewel of 60s sci-fi magic with him. Anyway, I digress: see how an album of total instrumental brilliance can set one’s mind racing and heart a pounding, as boycalledcrow really has managed to succeed in capturing the same magic Joe Meek captured with his masterpiece. 

This album is a thought rewarding jewel that glistens and dips and swoons taking in electronica and experimental instrumental pop and ambient, and leading it into a direction that few can as the Wizards Castle is a magical spell-inducing treat.

Amoeba Teen ‘S-T’ Out Now
The Walker Brigade ‘If Only’ 27th May 2022
(Big Stir Records)

Big Star (the first two albums), The Beatles, Jelly Fish, Squeeze, Wings, Fountains Of Wayne, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, The Cars, Sweet, The Raspberries and Blondie. If you like these bands there is more than a good chance you will enjoy this.

Another album of tuneful songs about love lost and found, with melody and crunchy guitars and guitar solos and “ba ba ba” backing vocals in all the right places. Yes, everything is in the right place and if you enjoy albums of everything being in the right place and well written and tuneful, then this album is for you.

The sun is in the sky so maybe it is the right time to be listening to an album of summery sounding LA guitar pop rock, new wave, songs that evoke memories of X and for some reason a punk-y Fleetwood Mac: which is surely not a bad thing, is it. For music is a stunning thing, a mystery of intense contradictions. One can lose themselves in the heartbreak of an overly aggressive guitar chord played with the ferocity of a diced ferret whilst reading about the face of a phoney cavalier.

Yes music can cause ones mind to go into overdrive as the melody kicks about with your few remaining brain cells. And this album does just that: one minute you are sat in your hometown, a dying slum of a place filled with fond memories and streets now patrolled by ferule youths on bikes way too small for their wiry ill-informed bodies, and the next you are taken away to a smoke-filled room full of heaving bodies all jumping together in unison to a band willing to sell its soul for the elusive hit single. The Walker Brigade is that band; a band that takes the riffs of the Stooges and covers them in a sunny delight and the hopscotch beat of a willing slave to the rhythm. This is a band that makes you want to venture out and taste the live action of rock ‘n’ roll again. A band that will never reinvent the wheel, but the wheel does not need reinventing, and neither does the Walker Brigade for they are fine as they are.

Bithammer ‘Minimum Style, Maximum Effort!’
(That’s Entertainment/Apollon Record)

Lo-fi garage rock when done well is so life affirming. And that describes this wonderful album: life affirming.

Recorded on a smart phone with a cheap drum machine, distorted garage rock guitar riffs explode and swirl like a long-lost treasure chest of forgotten garage psych gems. The version of The Seeds ‘Pushing too Hard’ is one such gem; a song that has been covered many times but has it ever been covered with such vigour, throwing in “you really got me” riffs and Crystal Ship organ tomfoolery.

Minimum Style, Maximum Effort! is an album of lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll abandon, and we all need a bit of that in our lives. An enjoyable blast.

Ralph Of London ‘Yellow Sky Highway’

Ralph Of London’s debut EP is an enjoyable 5 track of pop alternative guitar pop, if you like, with melodies and everything else you would expect to hear on an EP of pop. But it does have some rather attractive 80s sounding keyboards on the second track ‘White Bred Blues’, which are fairly nifty – which is probably an underused descriptive word in music reviews, one that would not probably be used in The Wire or another respected stroked chin of a mag/blog. I’m not saying that the Monolith Cocktail is not for the well educated; for we are jack-of-all-trades and masters of most. But once again I go off track.  

Ralph Of London’s EP is a very entertaining one, at times reminding me of both the Charlatans and The Bluetones, but without at all reminding me of either. Maybe it is the inoffensiveness of the music that makes me think that, but pop should not offend it should put its arm around you and befriend, which this lovely EP certainly does.

Cryptic Commands ‘Long Distance Call’
(Numavi Records)

With 90s alt/indie rock sound currently the flavour of the day, with the over hyped Wet Leg, I can see Cryptic Commands doing very well with their catchy take. Are they the new Breeders, the new Beatles I wonder?

Long Distance Call is a 10-track album of well written and performed indie rock; no more or no less at times reminding me of the aforementioned Breeders, even reminding me of Placebo on ‘Devil’ and ‘Elemental’. But I won’t hold that against them, as on the whole this album is an enjoyable listen and ‘Eyes Like Teeth’, apart from being a great title, is a long summery breeze of a track all “Old Friends” guitar chords and bewitchery.

Salem Trials ‘Love Joan Jett’ & ‘Vegaland’
(Former Self-Released, the latter, Metal Postcard Records)

Another week another album from Salam Trials, this time only available on a pay what you want basis from their Bandcamp. And do you know what, this is supreme rock ‘n’ roll. Its as dark and dirty as anything you will hear this year: maybe as both members where suffering from the effects of Covid when it was being recorded.

As ever channelling the spirit of the Fall Gang Of Four and your local down and out after drinking 4 litres of white lightning cider straight from the plastic bottle, they have the knack of knocking out off-kilter melodies that only true rock ‘n’ roll lovers can, and weaving them into an accident in progress. There are so many moments of pure magic and madness on this album, ‘Skin In The Game’ being a favourite, coming across like Southern Death Cult with stomach-aches. As I have said an album of magic and madness from one of the five most important bands in the underground at the moment, leaving all the other bands with not having a Wet Leg to stand on. Pure guitar genius.

The second album in a week from the Salem Trials, this one not self-released but on the best record label of last year, Metal Postcard Records: and the way it is going, the best record label of this one as well. The second album in a week: just how much madness can this man take in a week! Well, actually, I can take as much as the wonderful Salem Trials can offer. I could live in the crazy musical world of Russ and Andy. They never disappoint.

It’s a world where Captain Beefheart is the minister of culture, and breakfast adverts show Mark e Smith eating Tom Waits for breakfast. Yes, this is the crazy world of the Salem Trials; this is where Keith Richard joins the Fall for a jam and the streets of New York circa 1979 are rained on by the poetry of a psychedelicized Bob Dylan after watching reruns of the Banana Splits.

Yes, this is the strange angular sounding world of the Salem Trials; a world in years to come BBC4 will have a documentary about, on which John Robb will appear claiming to have discovered them inside his towel whilst washing his hair in Blackpool.

Adam Walton ‘Afal’
(The Immediate)

I recently reviewed Adams Cloudburst EP and said any fans of Elliot Smith or Paul McCartney circa acoustic White Album days should give it a listen. Well, after hearing the album that still stands.

A full album of beautifully melancholy acoustic musings is a fine way to spend 40 minutes or so. This is a gentle refined album, an aural equivalent of picking flowers on a summer’s day and slowly watching them slowly die. As this album has an underlying layer of sad melancholy and an underlying layer of anti swagger. Afal is one of those albums that captures the magic of those great forgotten about psych folk albums from the late 60s early 70s that ooze peace and love. An album that captures images of faded lost innocence a snapshot of the beauty in sadness.

Sophie Sleigh-Johnson  ‘Nuncio Ref!’
(Crow Verses Crow)  6th May 2022

The sound of being a naughty child in the 70s, sent to bed in the early evening after receiving a spanking from your angry dad for shooting piss from your water pistol at passing neighbours and strangers. And as you lie there with moist eyes and a throbbing backside you lose yourself in the collective sound of life in a terrace street in Northern England.

The sound of your neighbours chatting over the back yard walls. The passing cars with the sounds of summer blaring from the radio. Your dad sipping tea whilst channel hopping on TV: of the three available channels. Your mum baking with the radio on, half listening to the Radio 4 play, half listening to your younger sister chat about her day at school, all the time whilst telling your dad he is not a bad lad just a little misguided. The football beats out a rhythm on the wall out front, and how you wish you where adding to that beat instead of listening to the soundtrack of your pre teen years acted out in living black and white. The crackle of radio Luxembourg turned low under the covers. The discovery of life, love and family. The etched heartache and the memories this beautiful work of art emits, and what you would give to return to those days for just an hour. Memories of a  real kitchen sink drama unfolding on a D90 tape.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and his cult dysfunctional family band The Bordellos currently have a ramshackle bets of compilation out on Metal Postcard Records: I Hate Pink Floyd Without Syd Barrett.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Rave Reviews Roundup

Singles/EPS.

Papercuts ‘Lodger’
(Labelman) 1st April 2022

The press release describes this lovely slice of 60’s influenced psych as “woozy West Coast Psychedelia”: and for once the press release got it right. It must be a red flag day or at least a woozy psychedelic coloured one, for this is a smashing single, smashing being my word of the day, one that is said in an archetypical working class northern way with flat cap and everything, maybe even a whippet by one’s side and married to a girl called Vera who I shall call our Vera and say our Vera is a grand lass and is partial to a bit of woozy West Coast Psychedelia. So is well chuffed with this foot tapper.

Adam Walton ‘Cloudburst EP’
(The Immediate)

This is a rather beautiful 4 track EP of acoustic wonder; songs that skirt and skate around the mind, plucking at the heartstrings, reminding me how much I used to like Ben And Jason albums and why songs of mellow introspection can sometimes scream and move and excite you as much as an angst ridden punk rocker of a number, as these 4 songs prove. An acoustic guitar and talent for melody is sometimes all you need and Adam Walton has both of these things. An EP to cherish and hold close, and fans of Elliot Smith and McCartney acoustic balladry circa 1968 should really enjoy this.

Pit Pony ‘Black Tar’
(Clue Records)

Ah, the joyful sound of young people with guitars is something I will never get tired of when it is performed with such passion and style. They give one hope for the future, and I think Pit Pony might have a future worth living, with all their angst and youthful musical aggression and attitude. They certainly seem to be a step up from a lot of the alt guitar bands I get clocking up my email. A band to watch I think.

Crows ‘Garden Of England’
(Bad Vibrations Records)

A tromboncino of a track is what we have here. Yes, a true piece of British rock ‘n’ roll or punk ‘n’ roll if you like or, even if you do not like I am at this point in life uncaring one way or another but either way a rather good soundtrack to kick around the decaying corpse of Brexit. Yes, how well did that go.

Oh Boris, you are a cunt, but sadly you are not alone in that field of nationalistic gung ho-ness; how your supporters must be slapping themselves on the back at their good sense because how on earth would we be getting through the pandemic without your leadership qualities, and I am sure we have the right man at the helm steering us through the troubled European waters of the Ukraine invasion. We need songs and bands like this singing songs of life and politics. As the great Edwyn Collins once sang, “too many protest singers not enough protest songs.” So thank the lord for the likes of the excellent Crows, showing that there is life in the old guitar yet.

Albums..

The Monochrome Set ‘Allhallowtide’
(Tapeate Records) 11th March 2022

Allhallowtide kicks off with the title track, which is a rather fetching 60s beat band croon of a track, part Scott Walker part The Left Banke. And a fine way to kick off this the latest album from the guitar band veterans. And what a fine and enjoyable album it is as well; a true black polo neck jumper of an album; the kind of album that would soundtrack Napoleon Solo and April Dancer nights of near passion; a pure beatastic swirl of sophistication, all whammy bar red Fender guitars and whirling organs.

Shelterheart ‘Shelterheart’
(Perpetual Doom) 8th April 2022

This album is nothing more or nothing less than a well written well-crafted album of songs; songs that dip their toes in pop, folk and Americana with some rather fine embellishments, with ‘Empty Pockets’ reminding me of both ELO and Wilco. It will no doubt be the radio hit of the bunch. I feel shelterheart could well be one of those albums the more you listen to it more the hooks and melodies will take hold and slowly become part of your everyday life and soundtrack any part of your day. This is an album that could quite as easily be listened to over breakfast as to before winding down for the day, its own sweetness and melancholy etching its way onto your heart.

Chlorinefields ‘Reclaim Your Brain’
(Radical Documents)

Chlorinefields make rather a beautiful easy laid-back lazy wash of a sound: the sound of a hug maybe. Gently strummed guitars and floating vocals casts you adrift in a sea of indie tranquillity; a hypnotic journey into the mind’s eye, slightly psychedelic slightly muffled FM radio hidden under the pillows of your bed, the quilt holding the tales of all those names you so long to utter in the throes of passion. The soundtrack to the unmade film playing in your head; an explosion of silent thoughts and lackadaisical wishes, this is the sound of a young person’s dream and a rather beautiful and pleasing dream at that.

Plastic Candles ‘Dust’
(Paisley Shirt Records)

There is something utterly bewitching about this release. It has a lo-fi warmth that one can lose themselves in. It’s how I imagine the My Bloody Valentine bedroom demos might have sounded, except I probably prefer Plastic Candles subtle beautiful madness to the out and out bombast of MBV.

The Plastic Candles have mastered the art of a frayed melody: as so many tracks on this album demonstrates all too well. The final track on the album ‘Pacific Blue’ is well worth the price of the cassette on its own, the sound of a chocolate heart melting on the lips of the one you so long to kiss. One of the most beautiful tracks I have heard this year. Another fine release from the quite essential Paisley Shirt Records.

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