BRIAN ‘BORDELLO’ SHEA’S REVIEWS ROUNDUP

SINGLES/TRACKS

Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothings Ever Required’
(Timeless Music Records)

‘Nothings Ever Required’ is a gem of a aural discovery; a moody piece of John Carpenter-esque solitude over five minutes of pure instrumental poetry. The kind of mood piece to soundtrack the passing daylight by watching passing strangers walk past the old coffee house window trying to read the faces, read their thoughts, lost in your memories, and hopes slowly making the coffee last, cusping it in your warms to keep in the warmth, with Alexander Stordiau gently caressing the shifting time of loneliness.

It’s Karma It’s Cool ‘A Gentle Reminder’

‘Gentle Reminder’ is a in fact a gentle reminder that pop music is a wonderful thing, as this tuneful little ditty shows three and a half minuets of perfectly formed guitar pop rock, with a Peter Holsapple guesting on keyboards – that is in fact one of the highlights of the track  – giving this perfectly formed pop rock of a song a slight new wave sense of danger.

Anxiolytics ‘S​{​R​}​[​C​]​O​[​{​T​}​[​R​]​CHED EARTH’

Anxiolytics are an experimental synth duo from North Wales and have an evil but lovingly portrayed glint in their eye I bet, this single being a strange and haunting affair that takes me back to the post punk early 80s of the Passage and Soft Cell and offers something both original and different; a song that has a cold warmness that will smother and intoxicate you with a germ ridden freshness that has not been inhaled since the passing of the great David R Edwards and the wonder that was Datblygu. Once again I am left awaiting the debut album.

Floorbrothers ‘Drive’
(Ikarus Records)

Ahh Mr Floorbrothers,Fade Into You’ by Mazzy Star is one of my favourite tracks as well. So slowing it down and making it into a drug induced waltz, adding new lyrics and making it sound like Mott The Hoople needing a good night’s sleep is a pretty nifty idea and one I stand and applaud. A good single then.

Bigflower ‘Tried To Care’

The first new track from the mighty bigflower in a few months I think, and yes, they have once again supplied a dark piece of dense guitar magic; a track to help soundtrack these dark, dark frightening days and months that lie ahead in the UK; the kind of track we need to be blasted from car radios as we head to work knowing after a week of hard slog we will still not be able to afford to pay our bills and put food on the table. Although this is not an out and out political lambasting of our uncaring and failing government it is a song to capture the intensity and hopelessness of these worrying times.

EP

Rob Clarke And The Woolltones ‘Rubber Chicken B-Sides’
(Aldora Britain Records)

This is an enjoyable little forage into the dim and distant past. Four songs that take the hip swinging beatitude of the sixties, all beat chords and “What’d I Say” riffage songs your nan would have curled her hair to in her youth before going down the ballroom to watch the local beat band. Four songs that are all enjoyable and warm sounding and with the final track, ‘Love And Haught’, being especially splendid, a track worthy of the final days of the wonderful Escorts: close your eyes and you are back in 1966 heaven. A beautiful release and only 50p to download: that is 12 and a half pence a track. Yes this EP does take you back when half a pence was such a thing.

ALBUMS

The Pixies ‘Doggeral’
(BMG) 30th September 2022

I used to love The Pixies back in the day when they first appeared, and to be honest I’ve not really listened to them much since they got back together. I’ve not really listened to them since Indie Cindy, and I think I might have been missing out if this album is anything to go by; although they are obviously missing the divine Kim Deal. But that is all they seem to be missing. They still have quite a loud thing going on (‘Haunted House’), are still masters of distorted surf guitar (‘Vault Of Heaven’), and have not lost their knack for a catchy strange pop tune, (‘Get Stimulated’). The lovely charmingly charming pop beauty that is ‘The Lord Has Come Back Today’ might just be my favourite track on this rather fine enjoyable album. They even have a whistling solo on ‘Pagan Man’, which there is certainly not enough of in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. So, the eighth Pixies album is in fact quite a musical treat.

Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Bubblegum Boogie’
(Gare Du Nord) 23rd September 2022

What we have here my lukewarm fluffy bunny fetishists is an album of sophisticated polite pop – and we all need a little sophistication and politeness in our lives. Remember children always say please and thank you afterwards [ooeer missus]. And this album of melody rich pop could be your injection of sophistication for the day.

‘Trojan Pony’ kicks off the album with a fine Harry Nilsson like pop ditty that would not sound out of place on any of his early 70s pop masterpieces. Kieran Phelan is obviously a fan of the seventies laid-back pop as we find a tribute to the lovely gentleman and cult favourite John Howard with ‘Song For John Howard’, a lovely short piano ballad that not just recalls the music of the great man but also Brian Wilson as well, which indeed cannot be a bad thing.

The whole album is awash with gentle laid-back slightly quirky songs that have a layer of sadness and memories, and sometimes, sad memories are the most beautiful. And Bubblegum Boogie is indeed a beautiful little sophisticated bubble gum pop album.

Grave Goods ‘Tursday. Nothing Exists’
(Tulle)  9th September 2022

“Step softly into the new world of the underground” is the opening line from the opening track ‘Come’ from this rather fine post-punk album of clattering guitars and such malarkey. And it’s an invitation I would readily advise all fans of clattering guitars and such malarky to well accept. For they will be treated to seven tracks of aggressive alternative rock post-punk that takes some rather fine lyrics [which I am very taken with] and guitar riffs that put Grave Goods a step up from the usual gallop of the many many other post-punk bands. An album well worth investigation dear readers.

The Legless Crabs ‘And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’
(Metal Postcard Records)

Thank the fuck for the Legless Crabs. After spending over an hour going through my emails to see what delights I could pontificate about and tell you lovely readers all about, I was left bereft. I had listened to loads of power pop with shite lyrics; shoegaze which in itself stands alone as why I have not reviewed it: anything that describes itself as shoegaze is enough to put me off, we all know what shoegaze is, music that reaches for the stars but very rarely manages not to leave the ground. So thank fuck for the rock ‘n’ roll un pc digs at modern life the Legless Crabs on a regular basis release. And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is up to their normal high standard.

Guitars that fuzz and buzz and on this occasion form layers of pure confusion that take you back to the golden age of watching loud guitar bands in dingy clubs. ‘Piss Lake’, ‘Anti -Christian Scientists’ and every other track on this album are filled with an anger and disgust at the way modern life is shaping up.

This album is a much more serious and mature sounding album of rock ‘n’ roll. They no longer sound like the slap dash young noise merchants that overdosed on JAMC and the Cramps and Pussy Galore and now sound like they have had to grow up and get jobs. And that has just made them even angrier.

This is an album of darkness like their others, but the others came with a cheeky wink this with just a terrifying blank stare.

Salem Trials  ‘Postcards From The Other Side Of The Sun’
(Metal Postcard Records)

A triple album by the Salem Trials: well it would be a triple LP if it were released on vinyl. There are 29 tracks and each and everyone is filled with the whip snap guitar madness that the Salem Trials deal in.

Songs that echo the world we live in full of dark humour, nostalgia, darkness and T Rex riffs. ‘Black Flash’, which imagine instead of David Bowie guesting on the Marc Bolan Show you had Mark E Smith, and instead of it being in a TV studio it was on a small boat that was slowly sinking below the waves, slowly lapping around Marc and Mark E’s knees; a song of pure and beautiful magic and maybe my fave ever Salem Trials song. Pure brilliance. But there are so many. Andy and Russ are quite incapable of not doing anything that is not at least very good; they have their own sound; they have their own feel; they have their own magic.

The Salem Trials are one offs. They take their influences of post-punk, psych, seventies glam, no wave, indie pop and merge into what can only be described as a unique and rewarding listening experience.

Andrei Rikichi ‘Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness’
(Bearsuit Records)

Apart from Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness being a great album title it is also a fine album; an album that takes electronica, dance and cinematic sculptures to a new and experimental place, a place where white noise and James Bond soundtracks collide to great and unusual effect. ‘What Happened To Whitey Wallace’ sounds like monks playing on a old ZX 90 computer game and ‘Bag, Lyrics, New Prescription’ could be on a soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock movie set in a colourful but black and white jazz world.

Yes, indeed once again Bearsuit Records have released an album crammed with original thought-provoking music that is both experimental but also very listenable; an album to soundtrack the spin of a roulette wheel and the shadow-stained wet pavement of a neon signed littered night time street.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Roundup

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 last album Atlantic Crossing, a long overdue released collaboration with 20th Century Tokyo Princess’s Ted Clark, was released last year. A new album entitled Cardboard Box Beatle has just been released on Metal Postcard Records.

Each month we supply him with a mixed bag of new and upcoming releases to see what sticks.

Singles

Goa Express ‘Everybody In The UK’
(Ra-Ra Rok Records)

My self being a miserable bastard, I thought I would not like this as it is a jolly tune with upbeat message and fun video. But I actually like it: probably in the knowledge that in 20 years these young whippersnappers will be as worn down with reality as I am. But let’s not think ahead, let’s celebrate youth and all its shenanigans; let these talented young men enjoy their moment in the sun and applaud their way with a catchy BBC 6 music like tune as it is pretty spiffing [which is a much-underused word in reviewing circles].

Burnsey ‘Nail Your Colours’
7th February 2022

I really like this track from Burnsey, the sound of an exiled scouser living in Germany. And yes, you get all the lovely Liverpool psych that seems to run through the blood of so many musicians from that city; all sea shanty wonder and spaced-out bliss, a track the Coral would no doubt sell their ma’s last pot of scouse for. And as the old saying goes, “you can take the man out of Liverpool but cannot take the Liverpool from the man”. And thank the lord for that for this is a lovely track of pure scouse whimsy. I await the album. Record labels check this man out.

Pintandwefall ‘Last Minutes’
(Soliti)

I like Pintandwefall: if I remember correctly, I gave their 2020 album, Your Stories Baby, a glowing review. And ‘Last Minutes’, taken from their forthcoming album, Seventh Baby (due out this Friday, the 25th February) is also a bit of a musical treat; a melody filled piece of pop candy that has me grinning like a loon, like a caricature of Sid James overdosing on 70s boobs and dairy free ice cream. Yes, it is that good. I once again look forward to the album with my breath indeed baited.

I like this. I love old time country music; my dad was a huge country fan so I grew up hearing it all the time. And this certainly has the same feel – the same way Bill Callahan does it. And I’m sure if my dad was still alive, he would also appreciate this; for a well written song is a well written song no matter what the genre, and this is a well written song. I predict we might be hearing more of Thomas Dollbaum: not that I want to curse Thomas as my predictions of greatness normally end in total anonymity for the poor performer. But you never know, Thomas might be the one to break the curse.

bigflower ‘Free’
12th February 2022

bigflower is back with another whoosh of a track; a song that moves with an urgency of a runaway train; a song with atmospheric guitar and keyboard and a drum machine that hammers the pain into your eyeballs: but in a good way [if that is possible]. 

‘Free’ is a song that has the mid 80s alternative shine about it; a song that has one remembering the days of the Psychedelic Furs, and like a lot of bigflower tracks, I can imagine it appearing in some moody black and white movie where the antihero does not end up getting the girl just a load of shit thrown at him. Yes indeed, another winner from bigflower.

Albums

The White Russian ‘You Are’
(DripDrop Records) 3rd March 2022

Myself being the self-proclaimed King of No-Fi, I really enjoyed the production on this. Coming in at the hi-fi end of lo-fi, this EP has a great deal of heart and soul and real life about it: in film terms, more 60s sink drama than Hollywood blockbuster.

This is a beautiful 5 track EP and my favourite of the five excellent tracks is ‘You Are’, which reminds me of Paul Simon at his most tender. This is one of those rare Eps you wish was an album as I certainly want to hear more from The White Russian. And any band you want to hear more from is indeed a very good thing indeed.

Red Pants ‘When We Were Dancing’
(Paisley Shirt Records) 18th February 2022

I like it when I see I’ve been sent something from Paisley Shirt Records to review, as I know there’s going to be more than a good chance that I’m going to like it. And I’m pleased to say they have not let me down with this fine release by Red Pants; an album of lo-fi(ish) indie rock, an album where murmured vocals are mixed way down in the mix which gives the album a “we are doing this for the love of our art” quality not to be indie rock superstars. It’s like discovering an old band cassette at the bottom of a box and remembering the fun you used to have dancing the Watutsi with the skinny long brown-haired girl who you would of one time offered your world to. It’s an album of fond remembrances; an album of drinking too much and not caring enough; an album of total lo-fi beauty; a cassette of the best kept secret in the world.

Super Hit ‘S-T’
(Metal Postcard Records) 28th January 2022

The magic and love of C86 is alive and well and living in Portland, Oregon. Simple drum machine beats and jangly chiming guitars back whispered vocals that takes one back to the golden days of Sarah Records.

There is something simply charming about the love and fragility of this album. Melodies float and glisten making this 18-track album of short songs a must have album: an ideal album to soundtrack the coming spring months when the nights get lighter and hope takes a peek at the departing darkness. An album that will grow and become a daily occurrence in your life.

Legless Trials ‘Legless Trials On Main Street’
(Metal Postcard Records) 15th February 2022

The Legless Trials are back with their second album Legless On Main Street’, an album that sucks in the spirit of the Fall and The Cramps, The Velvet Underground and smothers it with a radio friendly sheen that fairly sparkles and shimmies like an alternative hit in waiting. Any one of these nine gems should be blasting from your radio in the coming months.

The Legless Trials are rock ‘n’ roll personified; they are Little Richard, The Banana Splits and Captain Beefheart rolled into one. They are Bob Dylan’s snide grin and Elvis Presley’s erect penis. They are Jagger’s crossing the road walk. They understand the importance of Jack Goode screaming limp you bugger at a leather clad Gene Vincent. They understand the meaning of rock ‘n’ roll and are one of the five crucial acts in that movement today, and if you don’t believe me listen to this album of purity, anger, humour and song writing genius and then try and tell me I am wrong without looking like a puerile piece of Pat Boones shit. 

The Monoscopes ‘Painkiller And Wine’
(Big Black Cat Records)

There is a beauty and sadness that sometimes can only be released through the magic of music. It’s like a windswept spell, a lone call through the echoing of a radio dial and the wizards casting the spell on this occasion are the Monoscopes with a debut album filled with soulful yearning; a car crash of psych-tinged velvet indie guitar goodness.

A really enjoyable journey through the feelings and emotions most human beings experience at some time, be it lust, heartache, betrayal, hopes raised and then dashed, watching a shooting Big Star crash into the broken effigy of Alex Chilton’s breaking heart. Painkillers and Wine is a celebration of life in all its dirt and glory, sound tracked by chiming guitars and melodies to wrap and lose yourself in. In other words, simply a fine album of melancholy guitar goodness.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Reviews Column

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’, ‘Daisy Master Race/Cultural Euthanasia’‘Be My Maybe/David Bowie’ and All Psychiatrists Are Bastards / Will I Ever Be A Man). He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped-down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics. His latest album Atlantic Crossing, a long overdue released collaboration with 20th Century Tokyo Princess’s Ted Clark, was released last month. Plus a new album entitled Cardboard Box Beatle will be released next month by Metal Postcard Records.

Each month we supply him with a mixed bag of new and upcoming releases to see what sticks.

The Singles.

The NoMen & The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies ‘The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth’
(Self-Release) 1st January 2022

The ideal start to the year is a tribute to the great Joe Meek with this two-sided wonder of Meek like madness from The NoMen and The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies; tracks that are filed with wonky guitars echo filled joints of smoked black fountains. Two tracks to make you feel that 2022 is not going to be that bad after all. Roll on the coming 12 months, and one can only hope it will be as magically wonky as this fine single.

bigflower ‘Bang Bang’
(Self-Release) 26th December 2021

bigflower is back with another cover. Yes, a dark and dense version of the 60s Cher classic ‘Bang Bang’. Once again Ivor Perry drenches the melodious with a swamp of becoming darkness that calls out to be used in some enigmatic black and white foreign subtitled film that one loses themselves in occasionally in the early hours of a Sunday Morning; a track that breaks hearts whilst stoking the embers of half remembered love affairs. Ivor’s bigflower is a band with a mission, a mission to cover this world with the magic of his spoken softly whispered beautiful guitar washes: a mission we should all encourage him in and publicize.

The Jazz Butcher ‘Running On Fumes’
(Tapete Records) 4th February 2022

This track my lovely cherubs is the first single taken from the new and posthumous album by the sadly no longer with us Pat Fish aka the Jazz Butcher, a band I loved and listened to a great deal in my indie pop loving late teen years. Yes, I soundtracked many a romantic interlude to the dulcet tones of the Jazz Butcher, their Live in Hamburg album was a particular favourite of mine, and I’m both pleased and saddened to say even after all these years Mr Fish never lost his way of writing a catchy melodious piece of guitar pop loveitude. He will be sadly missed by myself and many others: a great and talented songwriter.

treesreach ‘How it Seems’
4th February 2022

‘How It Seems’ is a lazy hazy piece of American indie rock with a lovely mixture of Sweet Jane guitar strums and an indie Boston like explosion of AOR melodeon tomfoolery: a rather lovely way to spend a few minutes. So I suggest you give it a listen.

The Albums And The EPs..

Colonial Skyway ‘Evening On Earth’
(Submarine Broadcasting Co.) 14th January 2022

The silent hum of a city landscape keeping its dark secret from the prying eyes of the solitude, the indifference of the praying masses awaiting redemption from the cold bloodied imaginations of the dearly departed only a hop skip and a jump away from the black bird soaring high through the now clear skies as the empty factory puffs the ghost of the smoke from god’s great ash tray into the remembrance of the sky. This album is an aural sweep stake of memories yet to happen a delve into the subconscious a brief awakening of the dot in the centre of an old tv screen saying goodnight one last time.

Salem Trials ‘Something PRETTY DRASTIC’
(Metal Postcard Records) 10th January 2022

Oh, the post-punk joy this 4-track EP emits is tangible, it is eatable, you can catch the magic in a net and rub your face in it; it is pure spell binding: the opening track ‘Table Turning’ sends goosebumps down my arm. It’s like it’s a missing track from Orange Juices mini–LP Texas Fever: it’s pop in its purest form.

This four tracker is the sound of The Salem Trials at their most commercial: I can imagine every track at one point coming from the radio stuck on BBC 6 music after 7pm. As readers of the Monolith Cocktail know I am a huge Salem Trials fan and I will tell you why. It’s because I have good taste. And if there is any justice in this world it should take something pretty drastic to stop Something Pretty Drastic haunting your radio.

K. Board & The Skreens ‘Langue EP’
(Metal Postcard Records) 28th December 2021

Metal Postcard Records, the record label of 2021, kick of 2022 with another fine release; a five track EP that has one scrabbling around in early new year frenzy thinking where on earth have I put my Syd Barrett CDs. Yes, a five track EP that covers the Syd like ditties in electronic 8-bit bedroom magic, all funky whirls and drumbeats. 2022 style modern-day dance meets the magical past to explore the inner workings of musical deep thinking. Sci-fi minds, maybe a work of an evil Bond villainy…who knows or cares when the music is this much fun and original sounding.

Chris Church ‘Darling Please’
(Big Stir Records) 21st January 2022

An album that kicks off with the sound of Quasimodo having a wank is not a bad way to start off an album of radio friendly guitar pop; it gives the album an air of darkness which I greatly appreciate. It is much better than being sugar-coated in platitudes of esteemed Mojo lite political correctness by jean wearing bingo hop bunned men who really should know better than to try and listen to his record collection of likeminded backward thinkers whilst his wife is not out scanning the racks of Sainsburys for the butter her mother’s best friend swears by.

Yes indeed, Chris Church has released an album of well written guitar pop rock that lovers of Mathew Sweet and the ilk will love and dream of being spoon-fed by Anthia from the Generation Game all those years ago: how did Brucie catch such a dish of the day we ask, and if we are not asking, we certainly should be…and as Brucie once said give us a twirl and I advise you guitar lovers give this album a twirl as it is not half bad.

Claptrap ‘Adulting’
(Un je-ne-sais-quop) 28th January 2022

Claptrap by name but not by nature. No indeed, what we have here is an enjoyable a free-thinking adventurous album of original pop songs, an album that I expect the great Paddy McAloon might enjoy with its Prefab Sprout like sense of playfulness – especially on the opening track ‘The Rewrite’. And the playfulness continues throughout the album, recalling the days when music could and should be fun; an album that takes electronica, psych and eyebrow twisting like McCartney Ram era pop and invention to quite wonderful heights.

Adulting is an album that proves that here we are in 2022 and pop music can still be as a rewarding an experience as it was 50 years ago when everything was fresh and exciting, all that is needed is a fresh and exciting outlook on your art. Nice one Claptrap.

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.

REVIEWS/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, 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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic 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.

With all live gigs and events more or less quashed for the foreseeable future, buying music (whether it’s physical or through digital platforms such as Bandcamp) has never been more important for the survival of the bands/artists/collectives that create it. We urge you all to keeping supporting; to keep listening.

Princess Thailand  ‘And We Shine’
(À Tant Rêver du Roi and Luik Records)  Album/Available Now


If the swooning sound of post punk is the thing that swings your swinger then this fine album by Princess Thailand is the thing for you. Siouxsie and The Banshees attitude and early Cure like darkness melts over the proceedings like a black-hearted vamp of loneliness offering you one last grasp of togetherness. Guitars and sultry vocals merge with the feeling and memories of 80s post punk and, dare I say it, Goth to bring together an enjoyable flange filled half hour or so of dark sparkle angst.






Sir Robert Orange Peel  ‘Are You Mod Enough’
(Metal Postcard Records)  Single/Available Now




Welcome to another musical history lesson from Sir Robert Orange Peel; this time teaching us all about the mod culture fashions from the 60s: myself being too young to remember such a thing, but old enough to remember the late 70s revival. The joys of being a rockabilly in the early 80s, leather jacket winklepicker boots and huge Stray Cats like quiff surrounded by the be-parkered ones at a early 80s Kinks gig: and what a gig it was.

This is a joyful hipster swing of a track; one you could imagine Michael Cain sipping on a whisky and coke to, wearing horn rimmed glasses whilst watching the mini skirted beauties shaking their tail feather and there long lank hair swaying to this organ led beat happening at the London groovy discotheque.







Sir Bobby Jukebox  ‘Friendship Gift’
(Already Dead Records)  Album/22nd May 2020




Is there anyone out there old enough to remember the early 90’s and the wonderful joyful happy sounds of the Frank And Walters, who mastered in releasing catchy indie pop with melodies that caressed all the parts you wanted caressing by joyful indie music whilst hiding the dark underbelly of sadness.

Well if you do, this could well be for you. It has the same magical qualities but with the added spice of diy everything but kitchen sink woozy psychedelia, the injection of a “nah nah” chorus rush frenzies, and the Postcard era jangle of guitars – especially on ‘the has Edwyn entered the room’ ‘You Only Dance’. A joyful sugar rush of an album.






Bigflower  ‘Hold You In Place’
Single/Available Now




Another day in lockdown and another slice of dark wonderful distorted searing guitar from the equally wonderful bigflower, an artist that should be celebrated not ignored: if this was the 90s when people still gave a shit about new music bigflower would be all over late night radio and in the serious music press. As this is Monolith Cocktail, and one of the only remaining serious music blogs still standing [no clickbait 10 songs about making tea from us] it is our duty to review and to publicize such a serious talent.

If dark beautiful guitar music that you can dive into and totally submerge yourself in is your thing, bigflower is certainly the man/artist/band for you. Get downloading: it’s free. And tell your guitar loving friends to do the same.







Palavas  ‘Centerpiece’
(Wormhole World) Album/Available Now




Discordant noise merges with electro soundscapes that paint a sweeping aural picture of dark beauty, sometimes verging on the slightly psychedelic industrial sound that Throbbing Gristle used to thrive in producing; and I would advise any fans of Throbbing Gristle to give this festival of noise [noise in the best way] a go as I think they could well enjoy and be intrigued by this sound wash of danger. Once again Wormhole World Records produce the goods.






Salvatore Baglio ‘Sonic Doom: A Lo- Fi Home Companion’
Album/Available Now




Lo-fi is what I do best musically, so when I’m introduced to a 25-track album of such lo-fi beauties I’m indeed like a pig in muck. Recorded in various places on various recording equipment over the last 20 years by Salvatore Baglio, and compiled into this gem of a release.

Songs that makes one think of XTC, Guided By Voices, Cleaners From Venus, Clinic, and The Beach Boys at their crazy best amongst many other, what these songs have are invention, melody and tongue in cheek humour, and a great amount of songwriting talent.

There is the wonderful warmth that one gets from using cassette tapes to record that this album and these songs benefit greatly from; the warmth most of these songs, if not all of these songs, couldn’t be improved upon by using a state of the art 64 track studio, for what people do not quite grasp is that to succeed in making truly great lo-fi music you have to be a hugely talented songwriter with a inventive mind as you cannot hide behind 32 tracks of synths or millions of overdubs and get some producer to cover up some of your weaker tracks with studio trickery, and this album really does not have any weak tracks.

From the experimental instrumentals to stunning guitar pop all are polished gems. Some achievement that over the 25 tracks one does not find their minds wandering or wanting to skip songs. This really is a album all music lovers need to dive into and lose themselves in; a truly wonderful album and a masterclass in songwriting.







Nightingales  ‘Four Against Fate’
(Ting Global Productions)  LP/22nd May 2020




The Robert Lloyd warble is a thing of punk and post punk beauty, and here we are still in 2020 still enjoying the lyrical dexterity and humour of the great man: and long may it continue. As always songs of post punk verve leap from the speakers drenching you in memories of late night glories of listening to the much-missed John Peel; it really is like the last 35 years have not happened.

This album is simply timeless guitars jangling and twisting and distorting – as all great post punk guitars should do. Melodies reach out and throttle you while gently pulling on your heart strings reminding you no matter how bad things seem to be getting their are wonderful bands and characters like the Nightingales making enjoyable discordant pop songs full of wit adventure and wonder.





Xqui  ‘Microchasm’
(Wormhole World)  LP/15th May 2020




Found sounds or found zounds if you want to be funky, and I’m in a funky mood, the kind of mood where I feel like listening to cut up sounds welded together to make music with or without melody, the kind of thing you may find attractive whilst cutting a garden hedge or two. You can imagine Fred Astaire walking down a staircase whilst surrounded by beauties in fine gowns in black and white photos, whilst some guy is annoyingly recording the clip clop of his feet and making a strange trance like dance track from the aftertaste of the be-swathed one.

Found Zounds as I am now fond of calling them are something to be admired and beholden in a fashion not known by man, or men depending how many there are, or women even – let’s not be sexist about this. If you want to start and experiment into making found zounds you could not do worse than giving this a listen and losing yourself in the found zound wizardry of Xqui.






Simon Klein ‘Cat’
(Gare Du Nord) Single/Video/15th May 2020




Ah at last I was just beginning to despair of finding something I liked enough to be kind to in a review when this bountiful in bounce beauty came into my email box; a song that flounces with a fine subtle rockabilly beat, the kind of song that one twists to in their kitchen whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. And did you notice I wrote song and not track for it has lyrics and melody and everything. It is a song you can both dance to and stroke your chin to: hurrah!






REVIEWS
Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, 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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic 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.

Catholic Action  ‘Celebrated by Strangers’
(Modern Sky)  LP/27th March 2020






I like this album; it has a fine arrogant strut about it. It’s an LP that caresses a love of not just Wire, Gary Numan, XTC but Donna Summer as well: an album that bathes in the music of the past whilst casting a eye and ear to the present and future.

I also love the overly enthusiastic use of handclaps and the rebirth of the Thin Lizzy twin guitar sound on “Yr Old Dad”. Celebrated by Strangers is an album of well thought out and subtle homages to the obvious love of their musical influences. I can imagine the mighty Marc Bolan doing a fine version of the sultry semi ballad ‘And It Shows’, and ‘People Don’t Protest Enough’ is a song worthy of slipping off the pen of Difford and Tilbrook .

I can safely predict that come the Spring many of the tracks from this fine LP will become over familiar after BBC 6 MUSIC decide that it is the best thing since the last commercial hook laden, slightly alternative guitar LP was released. Shall we call it the Bandwagon-esqe for the year 2020? I think we shall.


Proper Ornaments  ‘Mission Bells’
(Tapete Records)  LP/28th February 2020




Guitar music really does not grow old does it? Not when it’s done right anyway; may it be by Buddy Holly or The Beatles, The Velvets, Big Star or The Smiths or Teenage Fanclub. I was going to say Oasis But they’re a leaden dull thud of a band and show how disposable and uninteresting guitar music can also be.

But the Proper Ornaments I’m pleased to say fall into the first category, a band that write songs with verve, soul and power, a band that make timeless guitar music that will stand the test of time, and this new LP, Mission Bells, takes off were last years Six Lenins left off, and is another example of how to write songs with lyrics and melodies that will pull at the heart stings and not just rehash old Slade riffs and sing of bowling balls [the last mention of Oasis I promise].

This is a fine and interesting album and should be played to all youngsters who want to take up the guitar as a example of how it should and can be done, and if I was giving it marks I would add extra, for once again it sounds like a album and not just a collection of songs. A very good album indeed.




Piney Gir  ‘Puppy Love’
Single/14th February 2020




Ah another song released on Valentine’s Day extolling the joys and virtues of love, and why not there is not nearly enough love in this world. This song is a fine power pop jangle that the The Fountains Of Wayne would be overjoyed to have written [little known fact the Fountains Of Wayne debut LP might be one of my most played LPs…now you weren’t expecting that were you] [and do you care, it will hardly come up as a question on the chase…or will it]. Anyway back to ‘Puppy Love’ [which I might add is not a cover of the Donny Osmond classic, classic being used in the loosest possible sense of the word] but a lovely way to spend two minutes 48 seconds of your life. Pop music is a wonderful thing, as this single proves.




bigflower  ‘My Love’
Single/15th February 2020




As the passing of Valentines Day slides away for another year the excellent bigflower release yet another free to download track of melodramatic dark sweeping beauty, soaked in a melting reverb, distorted to the extent of your own personal god grinding his teeth. Once again a track one should be hearing seeping from your radio, but as there is no justice in this world you will just have to check it out yourself via Bandcamp.





The Lounge Bar Orchestra  ‘Pilot Episode’
Album/30th March 2020




What we have here ladies and gentlemen is the coolest hip swing finger popping LP of the year; music that takes you from the dire depressing early months of 2020 to a time when the sun always shone, when there were only three TV channels and half the time they were showing a test card with some little girl [who actually looked a lot like my wife] playing noughts and crosses with some strange cuddly toy. And this LP could in fact be the music playing that you listened to as you lost yourself in that test card, staring waiting to see if the girl would blink passing the time as you waited for Bagpuss to start.

This ladies and gentlemen is the sound of a variety shows of the late sixties early seventies when you had to name that tune and that tune could well be something off this mighty fine album. This could be the music as Anthe twirled and Bruce felt something move in the trouser department. The music I would imagine Parker played as he drove Lady Penelope around the countryside in the pink six wheeled Fab 1. For god’s sake this LP is cool enough to be the soundtrack for “The Man In The Suitcase” and let’s be honest it does not get any cooler than that.




Harold Nono  ‘We’re Almost Home’
(Bearsuit Records)  LP/20th March 2020




What we have here the rattle tattle of experimental pop music, the sound of one’s mind losing itself in the magical world of sci-fi movies and 60s spy movie soundtracks; an LP to be played whilst reading Beat poetry. This could have been playing in the car when Dylan uttered the immortal line “give the anarchist a cigarette!” in “Don’t look Back”. It is a collision of Neu, John Barry, John Coltrane and My Bloody Valentine, which Joe Meek has collected up and put into one great melting pot. It’s genre non specific as all great experimental pop music should be and this album is great, it captures the many moods of life from the hip swinging happy to the crestfallen beauty of the sad.

Bearsuit Records have once again released an album of true original beauty and if there is any justice in the world should be finding themselves in the best LPs of the year lists come the end of the year, and be a constant fixture on BBC6’s saving grace the Freakzone radio show, in the coming months. Another gem.





Void Vortex  ‘Everything I Am (Is Built From You)’
(Wormhole World)  EP/28th February 2020




This EP is a thing of beautiful experimental wonder; the sound and beauty of the lone piano blissing out and getting down in technological escapades of noise, a instrumental soundtrack to a land of wilting dance beats and robotic poetry and available for all to download on a pay what you want basis, so no need to wait for payday.




Toxic Chicken  ‘Live at Scaledown’
Live Performance/29th February 2020




There is something quite stunningly beautiful in this 15-minute live performance from the Toxic Chicken, recorded at Scaledown – described as London’s finest hidden event. This is the sound of the experimental underground at its best; electronica psychedelia and subtle humor merge into a bewitching hypnotic instrumental mantra one can lose and then re-find oneself in. Part 1967 era Beatles, Syd’s Floyd and the Aphex Twin this is really gripping stuff. A joy to behold.





Related posts from the Archives:

Proper Ornaments ‘Six Lenins’

Toxic Chicken ‘Uncomfortable Music’

Lounge Bar Orchestra ‘Washing Line’

Idiot Blur Fanboy ‘Oasis Are The Enemy’


The Monolith Cocktail Is Now On Ko-Fi

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.

 

 

Reviews
Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, 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 project, Roi (with John McCarthy and Dan Shea, of Beauty Stab and Vukovar infamy) debuted at the end of 2019 through Metal Postcard Records with the paean to local record shop single, ‘Dormouse Records’. They’ve also released their seasonal dirge, ‘Christmas Morn‘.

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.


bigflower   ‘Sound Of Silence’
Single/1st January 2020

How apt that my first review of the year is a cover of the Simon And Garfunkel classic ‘The Sound Of Silence’; a song associated with the mid sixties when the world was full of hope and revolution of peace and love; a beautifully written and recorded folk rock classic. This version by the brilliant bigflower is quite the opposite. This is a dark piece of nihilism a psychotic and slightly psychedelic sleazy lounge lizard rendition, a version that soundtracks the lack of hope we have for the future new decade as we exist under the cloud of hate poverty and despair.

As ever, this shows the world just what it is not getting to hear as it’s force fed smart phone pop (or should that be pap on radio and TV). In these times of unease we should be hearing the call of revolution of high art; we should be letting the kids enjoy the feeling and exhilaration their parents and grandparents felt when they turned on the radio. There are bands artists out there who are just as capable and talented as the bands of yore. Just that they are not being given the chance to shine. Come the revolution – and believe me it is only a matter of time – bigflower will be leading the way.




Pintandwefall  ‘Your Stories Baby’
(Soliti Music) LP/17th January 2020

 

Ah rock n roll I gave you the best years of my wife. The not so subtle sounds of garage punk and well-written pop, of which I have grown very fond of in my 53 years on this planet. This is a little gem of an album; nothing outstandingly different to many other indie garage punk pop albums, but this has enough quirkiness and more importantly it has a soul and immaturity that many other bands can only wish for. A band that has been touched by the hand of pop suss; a band that sounds like it has been force fed 60s girl group records followed by post punk hits for their afters: twangy guitars, one fingered keyboard riffs, “na na na” choruses and synths that whiiirrl. Perfect imperfect pop: and what is more perfect than that.




Sunflowers  ‘Endless Voyage’
(Stolen Body Records) LP/14th February 2020

 

This is a concept LP I’m led to believe, and on the whole I’m not a great fan of them as they normally play out as a way to release an album with shit lyrics, and try and con the listener that it’s more important than it actually is. Normally it is a cabbage like thing dressed up as full salad with relish and everything. It’s a sign of a band that is getting bored with itself and is running out of ideas and have forgotten how to write good songs, but not in this case. On the whole Endless Voyage is a very enjoyable album with screeching guitars, twonking synths, and is mostly instrumental: hence the lack of shit lyrics. The instrumentals are the better tracks on the LP; the tracks with vocals are the least interesting – reminding me of Blur when they where going through their American art rock phase but without Blur’s pop suss. If the Sunflowers had made it a wholly instrumental album I feel it could have been something pretty special instead of the just pretty good album we have here.




Shadow Show  ‘Silhouettes’
(Stolen Body Records) LP/14th February 2020

 

Any LP that kicks off with a wonderful blast of The Beatles’ ‘Taxman’ riffery (‘Charades’) is fine with me. Sparkling sixties jangle tangle with melodies not heard since the last band decided that The Beatles are not such a bad thing, and if you are going to be influenced by anyone why not the greatest band ever.

Silhouettes as I have already mentioned in a few reviews of other new releases already this year, isn’t the most original of albums but it is a damn fine listen, filled as it is with great catchy guitar pop tunes. And Shadow Show is better than most at plundering the wonderful musical sounds the decade of the 60s produced. When it comes to the end if 2020 I wouldn’t be surprised to find this LP being one of my most played and loved of the year.




Bruce Hendrickson and The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies  ‘Any Sunny Day’
Single/24th December 2019

 

‘Any Sunny Day’ is poetic stroll of Sparklehorse like beauty, softly strummed guitars and eerie synths that takes you on a journey to the psych of a perfect day; a soundtrack to a long lost black and white photo of happier times. The b-side or second track if you like, ‘Roll End Credits’, is what the Velvet Underground might of sounded like if they were obsessed by Hank and his Shadows and produced by the great Joe Meek. Please tell me that there is going to be a album, as this is magical.




Stovepipe  ‘Born to Jive/Never Surrender’
(Jezus Factory) Single/21st February 2020

 

Is Garage Rock the new garage rock? Is it making a bit of a comeback or has it never gone away, as I’m certainly being sent loads of it to review. This single/EP is a five track (three of which are bonus tracks) treat for lovers of loud guitars and garage rock organ sounds. Once again nothing ground breaking but it is garage rock. It’s what it says on the tin or the label in this case, and lovers of 60s tinged frenzy and pre-punk pub rock – even occasionally slipping into post punk psych as on ‘I Wanna Be Your Favourite Pair Of Pajamas’ – will no doubt enjoy it and will want in their record collection.




Floodlights  ‘Backyard’
(Spunk Records) EP/21st February 2020

 

What I like about this EP is how Australian it sounds – a bit like the Hoodoo Gurus meet the Triffids -; four songs that recall traveling across the wilds of Australia. Not that I’ve ever been there, but I imagine Backyard would make a wonderful soundtrack if I were ever lucky enough to. It also reminds me of early 80s Kinks around their time of the ‘Come Dancing’ hit, which again can only be a good thing as Ray Davies is certainly no slouch at the old song writing lark. So all in all a very impressive EP.


REVIEWS ROUNDUP
Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, 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. Each month we send him a deluge of new releases and await to see what sticks.

Lark ‘Blink’
(Wormhole Records) 16th August 2019


An LP of darkness; an LP that emerges from the post-punk sound of the early 80s. Discordant guitars and twisted bass back beautiful songs of lyrical wordy beauty – it is a delight to hear songs with wonderful lyrics instead of them being treated as an afterthought.

At times this reminds me of the recent work of Babybird, a man who ploughs his own path through the music industry and also writes songs with melody darkness and humour. It also brings to mind the Southern Death Cult and Nick Cave, and early New Order.

Originally released in 2014 now available on very ltd cd from the wonderful Wormhole World label, I would snap one up while you still can as this is an album to soundtrack the oncoming Autumn and Winter of our discontent.





Asbestos Lead Asbestos ‘Nature Of Feline’
26th July 2019



When an LP starts with a flurry of “fuck yous” and goes into indie pop strum along, and then goes into more “fuck yous”, I know I’m going to enjoy it. A clamour of glamour and toss pot glitter shillyshally into the mists of swollen lo fi beauty, it reawakens memories of dreaming of the girl you can only dream about whilst listening to Bongwater: the band not water from a bong.

If I wrote for the music blog Get Into This, I might describe this LP as being “boss scran for thought”, as it jumps from chaos to chaotic hipster speak to dirty yearning for the fucked and fuckable. Acoustic guitars drift through electronic distortion to unveil yet another great album for 2019, and when that same album has a song called ‘Motherfucker Won’t You Pass The Marimba’, how can it not be worth investigation.





bigflower ‘The Look Of Love’
4th August 2019 



If a sparkling dark beautiful rendition of one of the most perfect love songs ever written is what you are after then look no further as bigflower, the musical gift that keeps giving, has supplied us yet again with another guitar gem: this time not a self composed number but a rather wonderful version of the Bacharach and David classic, ‘The Look Of Love’. And what a sensual dark version of the original it is too; a track that is crying out to be used in the next Hollywood blockbuster.

Record labels are you deaf or just retarded?!! Another gem.





The Cigarettes ‘You Were So Young’
(Optic Nerve Recordings) 20th September 2019



There nothing quite like the sound of young rebellion. If you are in agreement then this new comp of the classic underrated band from Lincoln, The Cigarettes, is just what you need. It includes their wonderful singles compilation tracks, their legendary John Peel session, plus previously unreleased tracks.

For all lovers of golden age punk this is a must have; The Cigarettes showing that they matched the Buzzcocks and the wonderful Subway Sect on the melody front. In fact, it is a bit of a mystery how they weren’t become better known and received, all the boxes ticked, songs of teenage troubles, life slashing buzz saw guitars, catchy choruses, one string guitar solos, all in all, perfect pop.

Maybe with the release You Were So Young they will finally get their full due and the recognition they deserve as one of the great lost bands of the punk/post-punk era.





Unwavering ‘Freeze,Thaw, Chorus’
16th August 2019



Do you ever challenge yourself to do something you don’t like? It could be opening your eyes in the morning and breathing; it could be cleaning out the cat litter tray or, in this case, listening to an LP that has been sent to you to review that has described itself as shoegaze. For shoegaze is one of those genres that cry out, “I am really uninteresting. I have all the pedals but no songwriting talent. I have ambition and ego but not the talent to match.” So a word to the wise, unless you are one of those unfortunates don’t describe your music as such as you are doing yourself a great disservice especially when your music is a wandering lo fi folk that happens to use the electric guitar a little like a more wayward Red House Painters.

Unwavering dispatch a fine dark melancholy, awash with many layers of guitars with distant slightly reverb vocals at times that remind me what a Stone Roses LP may have sounded like if they had left Mani and Reni at home and where more down for it than up. This is a quite beautiful album; melodies melancholy and a bewitching scenic beauty weave a hypnotic spell. A band/artist I think one should keep an eye out for in the future.






Repo-Man ‘I Can Live With It If You Can, Son’
(Stolen Body Records) 6th September 2019



This is real free form rock n roll. It reminds me of the wonderful Wigan-based band The Volunteers from the late 80s, who brought out a classic mini LP called Bladder Of Life. A wonderful LP by a wonderful band, and like I said, this reminds me a lot of them. Captain Beefheart like madness connects with their inner Fall to unveil a magical projection of psychedelic whimsical John Cooper Clarke poetry. It is indeed a treat to hear a band that attempts to go their own way in their twisted art flow instead of following the old melody of verse/chorus/verse/ chorus/guitar solo/middle 8, have a smoke of trendy class arsehole drugs and point their chins in the right way so the camera can capture the unnatural good looks of yesterday’s poster boys.

I really like Repo-Man, they are fun, they have the quality that they are probably hated by other bands from the same town because they dare to be different and probably could clear a room of punters from any pub they play: like all great bands can at will.

So I would say I Can Live With It I You Can Son is a must have album; an LP of sonic aural dyslexia. A true gem.





Occult Character ‘National Razor’
4th August 2019



Another new song from maybe the finest songwriter in the USA today, the wonderfully eccentric Occult Character; a man who takes both hip-hop and lo fi folk to new extremes; a man who writes beautifully about the madness engulfing America under the Trumpster and the common everyday problems like never being able to find what you want in a full fridge: a true musical maverick.

This new free to download track is Occult wearing his hip-hop hat, a two and a half minute swagger of humor and strangeness and a forerunner to his forthcoming LP on the smarter than the average label Metal Postcard. It’s free, so get downloading.





Rose McDowall & Shawn Pinchbeck ‘Gem’
20th September 2019



The sound of Autumn is upon us. Gem is the stolen sway of a shimmering distant light, a parchment of lost memories kissing the hem of the garment of your long lost loves’ smile. Gem is a beauty of a single recalling the dark sultry eloquence of Paul Giovanni and Magnet’s Wicker Man soundtrack; a truly beautiful and haunting piece of musical wonderment. One of the songs of the year no doubt.





REVIEWS ROUNDUP
Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

Toxic Chicken - Monolith Cocktail



Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, 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. Each month we end him a deluge of new releases on his virtual desk to see what sticks.

Toxic Chicken ‘Uncomfortable Music’
21st July 2019


I don’t apologise for writing another review of Toxic Chicken, as this is his 3rd LP in as many months, and this like the other two is a work of pure maverick pop genius: and not just because there is a four second track called ‘Brian From The Bordellos’ on it!

This LP has everything that I love about the magic and joy of music. It has humour and a madness that at times reminds me of the great Syd Barrett and the wonderful White Noise Electrical Storm LP. It is eccentric pushed to the extreme. Songs with the subject matter of eating politicians and love songs for cats and for Mother Nature and what is bad about England, but that track only being under two minutes long does not quite manage to list everything.

Uncomfortable Music is certainly an enjoyable and rewarding listening experience, and at times, the subject matter does live up to its title. But this album is a pay-what-you-want to download, so is well worth a listen. Another great album from a great artist: And I mean artist. And the track ‘Little Snail’ is the best dance track I have heard all year.





Snapped Ankles ‘Stunning Luxury’
1st March 2019



The whirring and exciting sounds of post punk circa 2019 coming at you like a extravagant wholemeal piece of chiffon scarred alternative disco meat; the sound of Devo fucking the brains and beats out of the B52s whilst the horny ghost of Mark E Smith watches on making cutting asides whilst stomping on the hopes and dreams of the not yet born love child of David Byrne and Lena Lovich.

This LP is one big extravagance of dark dance and post punk joy, the sort of album to soundtrack your wildest night out ever: sordid clubs, cheap drinks, hanging out with girls and boys who really should know better, the best musical electro porn one could ever hope to gorge oneself on.

Stunning Luxury is dirty, it is funky, it is experimental, it is blistering rock ‘n’ roll. A luxury indeed. One that should be enjoyed by all.





Anton Barbeau ‘Berliner Grotesk’
(Beehive Records / Pink Hedgehog Records) 19th July 2019



There is a dark playful melancholy I love about this LP, not the weeping into your hanky kind, or, the “oh I feel so sorry for myself kind”, but the, “I am middle aged and looking back at my life through the good and bad the happy and bad” kind. There is hope in the future kind, the kind of melancholy that Martin Newell thrives at writing. Even the cover of the Beatles ‘Love Me Do’ is enriched with a sadness the original misses; this version overcomes the familiarity by transforming it into a slightly electro reggae beauty.

But not all is sadness and tears there is also fine pop of the power variety: the sort Jellyfish so excelled at releasing. The Bowie Mott and the Fabs influences of course shine bright bringing a lovely old time Englishness that is so often ignored in modern music of today. This LP is a finely crafted pop album, with enough quirks and twists to make it a very enjoyable listen.





Simon Waldram ‘Into The Blue’
27th July 2019



Simon Waldram made one of my favourite LPs from 2016, the wonderful self released Insolation, an LP that dipped and swayed, taking in JAMC one minute and the next, beautiful swathes of psych folk. This, his new album, Into The Blue, takes off where that album left off, but is a slightly more subdued affair: Songs of darkness, love, depression and hope merge into a quite beautiful collection.

In these days when the acoustic guitar has taken over the electric, sales wise, there is certainly a market for LPs of softly strummed melancholia, and Simon does it far better than most; bringing to mind at times, the beautiful slowcore shimmer of Low (especially on ‘Breaking Waves’), at other times, recalling the magic of the Go Betweens and The Smiths.

The highlight for me though is the beautiful psych folk instrumental ‘Sea Turtles’: a few moments of total bliss.

Into The Blue is a fine LP and with the right backing and a bit of luck could well fight its way to the top of the overcrowded melancholic brigade, and could find favor on many late night radio shows. An album of real beauty and sadness and hope.





Moody Mae ‘Throwing Rocks at John E. Road’
2nd July 2019



Indie pop from Sweden is on the whole a wonderful thing indeed, and this EP/mini LP from Moody Mae keeps within that wonderful remit. Beatles like ‘Martha My Dear’ piano, lovingly could not give a toss female vocals, ba ba bas and lofi psychedelia join forces to force music lovers to nod their heads and grin like grinning idiots. And to think that this was recorded in 2005 and has taken 14 years to see the light of day. I think it may be time for Moody Mae to reform and record a full length waxing. For when a band has the gift of pure pop wonderment it is a shame not to share that wonderment with the less fortunate. A treasure of a release.




Radio Europa ‘Community Is Revolution’
(Wormhole) 19th July 2019



It seems like a weekly event that Wormhole Records release a new underground LP of chilled out darkness. This weeks release is by Radio Europa and is an LP of chilled out darkness with the odd offering of a glimpse of light appearing through the cracks of the drawn heavy curtains called life: The beam of light showing the particles of dust exploding and hovering around the thoughts of insolvent tomorrows and the broken promises of yesterday.

Gentle soft spoken vocals lilt into the wave of dark synth and drum beats that blanket you in the warmth of the cold that whispers sweet nothings whilst grinding a worn down stiletto heel into your vacant soul.

Community Is Revolution is an album to soundtrack these uncertain times; an album to close your eyes and let the music sweep over you and take you to the dark recess of your mind where devils and angels juggle with the happy/sad of your life.





bigflower ‘Night And Day’
13th July 2019


Another week another fine free to download single from bigflower. An explosion of post punk guitars do battle with horns and a bass riff so mighty it would make Jean Jacques Burnel want to call it a day and to take up flower arranging. When oh when are this mighty band going to be picked up by some label. For this is far to a fine a track to slip under the radar yet again. Blogs, djs of the alternative variety should be ramming this down people’s throats instead of some acoustic guitar charlatan whining on about how twee their girlfriend’s vagina is [like they have saw their girlfriend’s vagina! They saw an egg box and let their imagination take hold]

Bigflower are one of the most exciting underground bands around at the moment and we at the Monolith Cocktail will keep ranting on about their majestic take on modern life until the less with-it blogs catch on. Blogs, djs, record labels for God sake get your fingers out.





Why Sun ‘Frugte’
14th June 2019



Softly strummed guitars and deeply crooned vocals kick start this beautiful five track EP of softly strummed guitars and deeply crooned vocals; songs that bring the joys of Galaxie 500 and the Wild Swans oozing into my mind, and lovers of those bands and the many bands of that ilk should enjoy this. So give it a listen especially if you are hung-over or on the verge of doing fuck all.





REVIEWS
Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea



Dubi Dolczek  ‘Voyage To The Cat’s Paw Nebula’
(Stolen Body Records)  16th August 2019


Well what’s not to like? Anyone who does not like twangy guitars and Joe Meek meets The Bonzo Doo Dah Dog Band experience of rock n roll should be injected with the space dust of nostalgia and force fed the meanderings of a Larry Parnes managed faded dream failed pop star.

All that glitters is not chrome as this album sparkles with a delight that can only be found in vintage sci-fi comics. Dan Dare discovers that the Clangers were indeed more than cute and cuddly aliens but in fact reverb soaked 50’s bikini clad Theremin wielding mother fuckers who enjoy nothing more than dancing the night away at the local space hop. Who would have thought that soda pop space dust and doo-wop would be just what the doctor ordered in 2019.







Anthony Reynolds ‘A Painter’s Life’
(Rocket Girl) 26th July 2019


I liked both Jack and Jacques so there is no good reason I wouldn’t enjoy the new LP, A Painter’s Life, from Anthony Reynolds – an LP that at times brings to mind Lee Hazlewood and Japan. This LP is influenced by Reynolds growing up in the Cardiff ghetto Splott [his words not mine], and to make the place sound beautiful in which he indeed does, he embellishes it will echoes of Scott Walker: Splott Walker if you like.

Synth pop, cinematic strings and Welsh county collide in a wash of stray beauty and kitchen sink drama on an album that succeeds in capturing the down at heel glamour of South Wales. I spent a number of years living in Pontypool and spent many a day/night in and out of rehearsal rooms in Newport and Cardiff and this record actually brings back images of those wonderful days.

An LP I hope will gain the attention that Jack and Jacques deserved but never really received, A Painter’s Life is both a fine and rewarding one.







Ray Kosmische ‘Anti-Litterbug’
7th January 2019


If lo-fi psych folk is your bag well fill it with this, an LP of Slip Spence OAR like misadventure, tin pot percussion and moaned and whispered vocals, weaved together with a magical effect. Acoustic guitars and whistles journey together to the land of Summerisle via the greyness of the Manchester skyline; a car journey past the terrace houses of the north west, sending out the subliminal sounds of my childhood. An LP, as I am listening, I feel myself becoming a little obsessed with.

The oddness, strangeness and beauty of Anti-Litterbug is a weary, welcoming thing indeed.







Bigflower ‘What You Get’
26th May 2019


Bigflower consistently releases music of the highest quality but has somehow slipped under the radar, and this song his latest of many one off bandcamp single releases, is no different: A five-minute slab of post punk psychosis. It is a wonderful skyscraper of a guitar track, which comes as no surprise when you hear that Bigflower is none other than the latest carnation of Ivor Perry, former guitarist with Manchester indie legends Easterhouse and the man chosen to replace Johnny Marr in The Smiths. How Morrissey could do with this standard of tunesmithery now as he stumbles from bad album to an even worse taste in badges, this track is so fine it could resurrect the deadest of careers.

I insist that you give this bandcamp page a visit. You will not be disappointed: am I ever wrong?!







Scandinavia ‘Premium Economy’
18th April 2019


Power pop is alive and well and living in the hearts of Scandinavia, from the opening track guitar chime of the Ash like title-track to the closing chiming guitar riffage of ‘Pax Americana’. You are treated…yes, treated to melodies galore. Melodies that bring the golden days of power pop back from the late 70’s and the early 80’s. Anyone out there who has swooned to the beauty of The Motors Airport will indeed enjoy Premium Economy. Anyone who has wrapped their ears around Danger Games by the Pinkees will be in ecstasy.

An LP that demands to be played loud whilst the sun is shining; an LP that deserves the sun to be shining. It is a shame Power Pop music is now often ignored and derided. This album proves that music does not have to evoke images of the dark side of the psyche to be worthy of appraisal. Premium Economy is a fine record of pure guitar pop, and for that Scandinavia should be congratulated.

Premium Economy is available on bandcamp but also as a CD, and I would advise anyone out there to splash-out and buy the physical version, as it really should be enjoyed as a piece of power pop art.







Toxic Chicken ‘Wormhole’
(Wormhole) 7th June 2019


I reviewed Toxic Chicken last excellent eccentric LP earlier in the year. His brand new release Wormhole has just appeared as a new release on the label of the same name. Once again an eccentric foray into electronica, not quite as bat crazy as his last release, this has more subtle eccentricity about it.

This is Toxic Chickens pop album if you like, an album to lie back and let the obscure catchy melodies flow over you, my fave being ‘Drinking Coffee With Norwood Grimes’, which I can imagine as the kind of track Joe Meek might have created if he was alive and experimenting in electronica today, a Gameboy frenzy of duet misgivings, a lovely left turn of leftfield precision.

I would certainly recommend this to anyone with a yearning for something slightly different in the field of electronica.




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