Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Roundup
Unless stated otherwise, all releases are currently available to buy.

SINGLES:

Schizo Fun Addict ‘Fate Chaser’

Schizo Fun Addict are one of the Magnificent Seven; one of the most important bands in the underground today: one of the seven bands that are making music as good as anything released in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Music wise they are a jack-of-all-trades and master of them all. They take musical genres and mix them with a cunning ease and panache that other bands can only stand with mouths agape wondering how they achieve such beauty and experimental originality. With this their new single they dip their toes into the magical myth that is the Laurel Canyon of the late 60s, and produce a song of supreme summer jangle. This is the sound of Michelle Philips combing her hair; the sound of Arthur Lee preening himself in front of a full-length mirror in the castle. This is pure nostalgia, a song of the summers we no longer seem to be blessed with; a tear stained memory of teenage romantic yearning.

bigflower ‘The Pill’

The dark world of bigflower once again is upon us with a lovely strange voyage of psyche and psychosis; an off-kilter journey where not everything seems to be where it should be, but strangely fits together perfectly. A song that strangely could and should last longer, which is indeed a very rare thing; an aural journey of a song with shuffling drum beat and beautifully simple strummed electric guitar led astray in a wave of vague drone solitude. Another winner from Ivor Perry.

Borben Dallas & His Filipino Cupids ‘Too Convenient’

I love this single. It starts off all scuzzed-up rock ‘n’ roll and dank and pringy and urgent, then in the middle goes all experimental and almost Beach Boys like. It gives one the impression that Borben Dallas has just found god or at least a God substitute. The post-finding-God section of the song goes back to the first but with an added pringiness that one can only bow their head or even shake it in a Status Quo like manner to. A spellbinder of a single. Originality is not dead it is alive and well and living in the essence of Borben Dallas and His Filipino Cupids.

Martha and the Muffins ‘Save It For Later’

The man who wrote this song is actually a bit of a fan of my band The Bordellos, calling me the natural successor to John Cooper Clarke. Maybe he meant I too am skinny and wear all black, but sadly my hair has long gone the way of my hopes and dreams completely out the window. But that man be the wonderful talented songwriter Dave Wakeling who of course was and is frontman of Ska Beat legends The Beat and this my dearest cherubs is a cover of their classic ‘Save It For Later’, and it’s not a bad version. It’s all post punk jangles and a melody no doubt one would hear emitting even echoing on a beach [see what I did there] from a tiny transistor radio this summer. Martha And The Muffins have indeed done a pop delight of a cover and has managed to put a smile on my face and a skank to my hips. [Please do not take that image to bed with you, I beg of you].

James Howard ‘Baloo’
(Faith & Industry)

As I sit mid Sunday morning writing reviews, this is pretty perfect listening; a song that takes and pulls in the art of traditional songwriting and wraps it around ones heart, squeezing tears and hope from your now moistened eyes. A track of pure beauty; a song I can imagine the great Elvis Presley performing with such gusto and panache extinguishing all the previous night’s demons.  James Howard could well be one to watch and I await an album with my breath somewhat baited. A true beaut of a song.

Fast De ‘Miss Trutti Finally Found Her Gem’
(Bloomer Records)

A lovely instrumental surprise of fuzzed-up pop grandeur, fuzzy synths get off my tail eloquence, and a sweet, so sweet scuzzy melody that it will not just rot your teeth as you chew on it, getting all the juicy goodness from the track, but your grandmas and her twice removed wannabe lovers teeth as well. Yes indeed it is times like this one can only sit back and enjoy the taste of adventure in music.

Pineapple ‘Trials’
(Metal Postcard Records)

Pineapple is a fruity little dish of a band, taking in post punk and talking in post punk sensibilities. It’s an EP of nostalgic splendor; one that takes me back to the days when the local punk band had to compete with the jukebox in the down at heel pub venue, we of a certain age all have played/frequented at some time in our lives. Yes, this is an EP of enjoyable guitar punky scrunge that takes in Billy Childish, Julian Cope and The Fall in equal measure, and ‘Snake & Ladders’ is one of the best songs about football I have heard in many a year.

Linn ‘Happiness is Real’

I love this track. I have listened to it a number of times in a row, and found it a song that is both utterly bewitching and quite disconcerting: imagine Jane [‘Its A Fine Day’ fame] being swallowed whole by early My Bloody Valentine on the sunniest yet saddest day of the year. I hope Linn has an album coming out soon as I think I’m ready to be seduced.

ALBUMs/EPs

Faust ‘Punkt’
(Bureau B)

Punkt is the lost album by Faust and everybody loves a good lost album. But in honesty many lost albums actually deserve to remain lost and never be found. They are lost for a good reason normally, the reason quite often being it is not very good, but years later are looked through rose-tinted nostalgic eyes and held to one’s collective bosom as a work of previously unreleased genius.

But there is always an exception, and like Shacks masterwork Waterpistol, Punkt is that exception. 

Punkt carries on where Faust IV left of, with a brief ear turned and tuned into melody where the industrial noise is swamped with psych-tinged song writing skill and invention. ‘Morning Land’ sounding very much like what Einstürzende Neubauten would make years later with great success. ‘Knochentanz’ is indeed a Chinese burn of a track, taking jazz and electronic noise to new extremes; like a melting corpse dripping into the eyes of the soulful bugler at dawn wondering whether alcohol will taste quite the same again, it is almost funky and after many spirit enhancing drugs could well be danced to and even at the length of 11.45 it never outstays its welcome. ‘Fernlicht’ follows as a short psychedelic interlude, again covering the noise and drone with a quite becoming melody. And that is a fair summing up of the album actually: the normal Faust invention of drone and noise but with a covering of instrumental beauty, as the quite breath-taking journey of a track ‘Schön Rund’ proves: the sound of Elton John slowly sinking into the ocean; a treat indeed.

So as a lost album this is indeed a found again treasure; one that all lovers of Krautrock will enjoy and stroke the chins over a martini to [or other tipples of choice]. 

Jelly Crystall ‘ILY’
(Smuggler Music/PIAS) 3rd June 2022

All said and done this EP is rather beautiful. The opening track reminds me of the beautiful Paul Quinn and the Spirit of Independence albums, which is indeed high praise. There is such a romantic 50s early 60s magic that those periods in time oozed with, and Jelly Crystal have captured the magic without being too retro.

This is music to be heard coming out of your radio whilst you slow dance with your significant other in the darkness, in the park with the cool evening breeze whispering sweet nothings…truly magical.

Alas The Sun ‘Wild Honey Inn’
(Taxi Gauche Records)

The beautiful sound of summer is what we have here; jangling guitars beautiful harmonies and well-written songs with heart and soul. Everybody who reads these reviews of mine knows I am a sucker for bands with boy/girl vocal duets, and Alas The Sun are indeed blessed with such a thing; both voices blending into a soft honey dew like substance that melts and makes you feel all warm inside.

Whether it be the jazzy ‘Distant Drone’ or the subtle ‘White Rabbit’ soft shuffling beat of ‘Love At Twenty-Two’, which is almost Prefab Sproutish in its texture and feel, Wild Honey Inn is an album of laid-back beauty; an ideal record to soundtrack sheltering in the shade on a too hot summer’s day, when lazing about relaxing is all one needs in life.

Black Monitor  ‘Snake Of My Heart’
(Ikarus Records)

Snake Of My Heart is an album full of tuneful joyful psychedelic pop, and lovers of such will indeed enjoy it. To be honest, there is nothing not to enjoy about it, as it is vibrant, wide space music made to fill the wide musical space in your life; an album taking in the influences of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, the Brianjonestown Massacre, early Blur and many other fine pop bands touching on c86 jangle, especially on the Sarah Records like ‘On A Wire’. But there is a slight difference as Black Monitor has a slightly dark edge to the music, a slight uneasiness that many bands that produce music of this ilk do not quite manage to achieve.

There’s a slight appealing wonkiness and depth to the songs that I think will draw me back to and explore more and more over the coming weeks, a quality that many fail to produce with alt radio friendly songs. This a quite lovely and rewarding listen.

Super Hit ‘Pocket Rock EP’
(Metal Postcard Records)

There is a beauty in lo-fi jangly guitar music that I cannot resist, and this seven-track mini album is full of the beautiful little blighters. Any one of the seven songs could quite easily fit onto the compilations Sarah Records released in their all too brief existence. Songs that beguile and charm in equal measure, songs soaked in DIY bedroom lack of glamour but steeped in a yearning and heartache and pure charm that really is hard to beat, and Super Hit is an artist deserving of more attention.

Spiral Of Silence ‘Landmark’
(Jezus Factory)

This is Spiral Of Silence’s first release in 20 years, a band I have not come across before, and described as the Belgian Joy Division – probably because they are from Belgium and have that Peter Hook/Cure bass thing going on and are quite dark and gothic. And despite all that I still enjoyed the EP.

It is nothing I have not heard before, but The Spiral Of Silence do the Joy Division thing very well and cover their darkness with layers of radio friendly melody, and I can see it appealing to the long black coat brigade [if they still exist].

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Reviews Roundup/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

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…

James Henry ‘Pluck’
29th June 2021

James Henry it seems is a scouser residing in London, and is rather fond of writing and recording fine power pop delight nuggets that recall Squeeze and Jellyfish, Mathew Sweet (with a touch of XTC) about them. And he succeeds in splaying my living room with an aural sun, which warms the very cockles of this pop loving soul. Pluck is an album that has everything one wants in a mature pop album: melodies, catchy guitar riffs, handclaps and harmonies, and well written lyrics, which is always a plus point as I often find albums in this genre are quite often let down by lyrical clichés. But I can happily report that is not the case here.

‘Afterthought’ and ‘Currently Resting’ also bring mid 60s Beatles to mind with some beautifully chiming 12 string guitars; and over the twelve tracks on this album you can hear the mid 60s pop influence gently seeping through. So anyone who has never gotten over the fact that Rockpile never made a second album should seek out this fun filled album of joyous melody.

Simon Waldram  ‘So It Goes’
4th June 2021

If buying an album of sublime modern day psych folk with a touch of indie pop is on your bucket list well I am here to help. For what we have here is an album of well-crafted heartfelt songs of the aforementioned.

The album gently kicks off with the lovingly atmospheric Nick Drake like ‘You’, which is followed by a beautiful melodious ‘I Miss The Sun’, a song worthy of Grant McLennan in the halcyon days of The Go Betweens, which is then followed by a piano ballad, ‘Don’t Worry’. Three tracks in and all beautifully written and performed and different to the one previous, and that is what is so annoying about this album. No not annoying because it’s an album of pure excellence, but for the fact that Simon is not ‘Better Known’ than he is. For songwriters with his talent and heart should be clutched to the music lovers’ collective bosom and cherished. There is no reason at all why this album should not be a huge success: it has radio friendly indie songs – ‘Boats In The Sky’ should be all over the radio -; it’s perfect indie pop – the wonderfully entitled ‘The Wild Wandering Of Wildebeest’, but for the “They don’t give a fuck” chorus that might cut down on radio play for that particular little gem of a track.

Not everyone can record a 8 minute plus song of bewitching guitar jangle without it getting a bit boring but Simon pulls it off with what I think is the centrepiece to the album, ‘Windswept’, which any Red House Painters fans might want to lend an ear to. 

So It Goes is an album that deserves to finally give Simon Waldram the recognition he deserves, as I do not think I have heard a better album this year, and this could well be his 16 Lovers Lane.

Sid Bradley ‘Child Of The Sea’
(Guerssen) 16th June 2021

What we have here my little ragamuffin Annies, is an album of lost and found studio recordings from the American songwriter Sid Bradley, recorded between 1971-79. And what a hugely enjoyable listen it is as well. The opener ‘Child Of The Sea’, is a track of pure hippy funk, with its hep cat hip swaying basstastic riff inducement of enlightenment that has one nostalgic for the days of the Age Of Aquarius, and as the album proceeds down its merry path, one is dragged smilingly to lose itself in psych folk pop of ‘Nothing Is Easy’ – a gem worthy of the Wickerman soundtrack -, or the pop delight of ‘To Be Your Friend’ – imagine the Monkees with Keith Richards standing in for a song or two. An album recommended for all lovers of 60s /70s guitar pop rock indeedy. 

Big Stir Singles ‘The Tenth Wave’
(Big Stir Records) 12th June 2021

This album is such an enjoyable listen. Once again a comp of the weekly download singles, A and B-sides, released by Big Stir Records in the months of October and November of 2020. And each track is a perfectly formed slice of pure pop; each one blessed with a charm that really cannot be praised highly enough. Each track, each band having their own sound own form of magic, from the wonderful take of John Cale’s ‘Paris 1919’ by October Surprise (which I actually prefer to the original) to the prog psych of Whelligan ‘Rabbit Hole’.

There is not a bad track among the twenty-two on the comp and is difficult to pick a favourite, so I will not bother in doing so. But Big Stir records should be congratulated in finding so many wonderful artists and songs to release to such high standards on a weekly basis, and I would recommend any music lover who has not yet had the pleasure to enjoy the ever growing cannon of pop magic released on that label to give this fine compilation a listen and then go back rediscover their other fine releases.

Occult Character ‘Bluzzed’
3rd June 2021

Occult Character has a double album due out soon on Metal Postcard Records, but before that Mr Occult has released this fine 8 track album of short acoustic songs, which act as short accurate snapshots of people and life: like an hour or so sat in the bar people watching.

Occult Character has the rare lyrical talent of picking out the small features about life and its inhabitants and making it both funny and at times heartbreakingly accurate. ‘Super Spreader Yeh!’ is a gem, a wonderful short humorous attack on some people’s attitude to Co-vid: “4000 people die a day but we got to twist the night away”. As I’ve said in past reviews of Occult Character, he is indeed the closest thing the USA has to Woody Guthrie, and is only a matter of time before he is discovered by the likes of Rolling Stone and such major publications.

Reviews Jamboree
Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last couple of months, both The King Of No-Fi album, and a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics. And just this week, Metal Postcard Records have put out a collection live Bordellos material on Bandcamp.

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

Singles/Videos/Tracks.

Volcano Victims ‘Canicular Years’

I like this for a number of reasons, the first being they are called the Volcano Victims, what a great name for a band, the second thing I like is that it is a lovely jangly affair full of melody and spring freshness: the kind of song I may hum to myself if the occasion merits it. And also, it has a guitar solo; one that I don’t just ignore and push to the back of my mind [I on the whole hate guitar solos], but one I actively enjoyed and brought a smile to my face. So well done Volcano Victims.

Tori Amos ‘Better Angels’
(Decca Records) Taken from the 4th December released Christmastide EP

Sometimes you need a bit of over the top melodrama from Tori Amos, so why not a bit of over the top Christmas melodrama from Tori Amos. Crashing piano, Brian May like guitar flourishes and Tori emoting about what a bad year 2020 has been, but at least we have made through to Christmas: well some of us have. But this is a lovely dramatic swoosh of a velvet stage curtain of a song; one to drink port while looking out onto the cold dark but still beautiful world in which we live haunted by the memories of the year past.

Jumbo ‘Fluorescence/Mouse’
27th November 2020

This is a fine two track DIY pop single from Jumbo. It reminds me of both the Flaming Lips and Polyphonic Spree in the way their music at times has a cracked wonder and life affirming joy that delights, thrills and wants one to get a gang of friends around and sit in a field playing guitars and drinking bottles of milk stout or other beverages of your choice, and being young and carefree. Once again pop pickers another example of the magic of music.

Mandrake Handshake ‘Gonkulator’
(Nice Swan Records) 20th November 2020

I really love this track, more Jefferson Airplane than The Brian Jones Town Massacre (which is quite unusual these days), this track being more old school psych than the have a guitar peddle will press it and be buggered with the writing a melody malarkey bunch. For this does not just have a melody but a wonderful flute floating throughout the lovely song.

Gillian Stone ‘Bridges’
20th November 2020

‘Bridges’ is a dark and beautiful song; a song of many textures all of them warm in a very cold and brittle kind of way; a song that deals with life memories and all of their unbecoming and becoming raptures, it is the kind of song that one should only share with their closest and to be trusted friend. But that is the beauty of music as all listeners are the artist’s friends and this song deserves many friends as it is a lovely fragile tattered love letter to hope and remembrance of the dark and light in one’s life past and present.

‘Covid Christmas Nightmare’
(Metal Postcard Records)

A dark spooky Christmas lullaby from a unknown unnamed act [even though I think I know who the culprit is], a tinkling keyboard and lyrics concerning facemasks and Covid related issues, poor Santa is hold up at home with Covid-19, but not to worry he has posted the presents to the children’s parents: Let’s hope he has used royal mail and not Hermes. A nice and bewitching track, one to download and add to your Christmas playlist.

Albums..

Sunstack Jones  ‘Golden Repair’
(Mai 68 Records)

Sunstack Jones might well be a band from Liverpool but they’re a band steeped in the sun and melody of the West Coast of California circa 1968-1973. Gentle guitar jangle and fuzz merge with the harmonies of Crosby Stills and Nash, and at times bring to mind The Charlatans/Primal Scream/Stone Roses/The Verve in their more laid-back moments. This is maybe not the most original of albums but not all albums have to be original to be enjoyed, and any fans of the bands just mentioned will no doubt find Golden Repair an enjoyable listening experience.

The Salem Trials ‘Meet The Memory Police’

Oh my lord here we go again. Yes, it is time to review yet another album by the finest guitar band of 2020: The Salem Trials. Meet The Memory Police is the trials 6th album of the year and once again is as excellent and entertaining as their previous five; this one having a strange Rolling Stones vibe about some of the tracks but still retains the strange Salem Trials sound/feel that is totally unique to them.

They have a strange twisted aura of summers gone by, the sound of reliving the glory of last night’s party with cold pizza and leftover wine and awaking in the arms of the girl that used to be. There is a melancholy joy that runs throughout their music and indeed runs throughout this fine album. The Salem Trials are like a magical musical sponge soaking up many influences from the last 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll and when you give it a squeeze music with sleaze, dirt, danger and a dark madness drip ever so slowly, leaving a puddle on the floor for the wayward likeminded souls to splash and strip and writhe and shout and scream. If rock ‘n’ roll is dead this is the soundtrack to the wake: the sound of faded glamour and sordid memories. Once again the work of a truly special band.

See also…

Salem Trials ‘Fear For Whatever Comes Next’  (Here)


Salem Trials ‘Do Something Dangerous’  (Here)

Salem Trials ‘Pictures Of Skin’  (Here)

Reviews Galore/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last month, The King Of No-Fi album. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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

Marshall Holland ‘Paper Airplane’
Album, 21st September 2020

Oh, fuck me let’s get it over with and call it power pop shall we. Yes why the hell not. It has all the right boxes ticked: fine melodies, 60’s, early to late 70’s, early 80’s pop guitar music influences. I have been inundated with requests over the last few days with bands pushing their latest waxings in the power pop variety some of it good some of it not so good and some of it bloody exceptional. I’m pleased to say that this falls into the exceptional category. I’m doing it a slight disservice, tagging this album in any genre, for this has much more to offer. Marshall himself has such a wonderful pop voice and is also a fine songwriter and a very good lyricist. He has a wonderful quirky way with words and imagery: one you do not really get to come across very often. He even has guitar solo’s that does not have me shouting get the fuck on with it which is very rare thing, which no doubt pleases my wife no end as I suppose it can be a bit off-putting having some aging old chap clad in pajamas and head phones shouting get the fuck on with it while you are trying to watch TV. But you do not want to hear about my quirks, this album is very fine indeed with not a bad track just joyous pop performed with energy originality soul and style: the key word being soul.

Another beauty for 2020.

Rob Clarke And The Wooltones ‘Putting The L In Wooltones’
Album

Nostalgia on the whole is something I avoid normally musically. I don’t mind listening to things influenced by the past but rammed on pastiche is something I normally find irritating to the extreme but as they say there is always an exception to the rule and this Rob Clark and the Wooltones album is one of those exceptions, as let’s be honest, Rob has set his cap on the power and joyous beat of the sixties, taking in Beat groups, psychedelia and pop. And he manages to capture the joy and fun in full Technicolor Glory with tongue in cheek humour and love, from what I think is a kazoo, on the ode to Liverpool beat poet ‘Adrian Henry’ – who was also was a subject of a song by the wonderful Liverpool songwriter Jimmy Campbell, which also featured a kazoo -, to the Shakin’ All Over guitar riff on ‘Statue at The Pier Head’. So, Rob certainly knows his rock n roll cult history. He also knows his way around a melody and is a fine guitarist. This album also has a warmth to the production that is very appealing and without looking at the credits is no doubt down to the production skills of Fran Ashcroft, if it is not I apologize to whoever it is but they have done a fine job on what is a very enjoyable album.

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 ‘ST’
Album

If you start off your album with Beatles like harmonies and ‘Come And Get It’ piano you are always going to get my attention. It is the holding my attention that is the difficult part, but this album does indeed do more than hold my attention. In fact it has me smiling and nodding my head, which in itself is a worrying state of affairs and something I’m not prone to normally do: my wife thought I must be having a stroke and I had to throw myself across the room to stop her dialing 999. For this is indeed a pure album of pop splendour from the Beatles through to the gorgeously gorgeous Carpenters like ‘You & Me Me & You’, which is one of the finest slices of pure pop I have heard in many a year. The very silly but clever ‘Monkee Song’ follows; again a lesson in how pop music can and should be both engrossing and throwaway at the same time. This a beautiful album that has one thinking of the Sunshine pop of the late 60’s early 70’s with the odd sprinkling of bubble-gum pop and West Coast mellow rock; the Partridge Family meet Carol King ‘Peaceful’ being one of the many highlights. And this beautiful album has quickly become one of my albums of the year; an album of lovingly written and performed pure pop magic, and one I cannot recommend enough.

Goodparley ‘Delay Cycle: Becoming’
(Recordiau Prin) Album/18th September 2020

There is no place like drone, especially guitar drone. For when it’s done well it’s the aural equivalent of swimming with dolphins or losing yourself in the blissful awash of yesterday’s memories, or taking a long bus ride to a place you have never been before, an expectant pause of the tulip symphony.

That is what we have here five longish tracks to lose yourself and let the sound wash over you, close your eyes and let your mind run and roam free. For that is the beauty of guitar dronery, it gives you the chance to relax and exercise your mind. Some mate call’s it “soundscapes”, I call it “soundescapes”. With most people not being able to take a holiday this year why not give yourself a Winter break without leaving your home; just place this fine album on your listening device close your eyes and let the music take you to places you have never been before.

Prize Pig ‘Out In The Street’
Single, 7th October 2020

Prize Pig is back with his second helping of home-produced bedroom diy pop and indeed it is another gem, one that has one’s mind racing to the halcyon days of when XTC ruled the roost in the intelligently produced pop stakes but with this I sense a touch of Devo like wizardry slipping in with this slice of perfect pop Fuzz guitars, catchy keyboards and for god’s sake even the drum machine is catchy. I await the album with baited breath.

Masayuki Sasano  ‘Fighter Plane Moon Jelly’
(Dry Flowers Records) Single

There is a certain beautiful eloquent grace about this track you normally do not hear too much in the Alternative Rock of today. Normally it is the same old same old, but this has a musicality about it that is certainly refreshing; so many different melodies at one time colliding and causing an explosion of pure joy: one that wants you to investigate the music of Masayuki Sasano further. A quite beautiful alternative guitar pop song.

Goat Girl  ‘Sad Cowboy’
(Rough Trade Records) Single

What I really like, not the track but near the beginning of the video, is that one of the blokes who is dressed like a animal is whittling a piece of wood and it really looks like he is having a wank. Yes, call me childish. Call me immature. Maybe it’s myself growing up with a diet of Carry On films…but “oooooooomatron” he really is scuttling his wicket. Well worth watching it for that piece of immature fun alone. The track itself is pleasant enough; all the guitars and keyboards are in the right places. A decent piece of modern indie rock/pop, one that will garner plenty of airplay from the BBCs sinking flagship 6music…but just watch the vid.

Salem Trials ‘The Lockdown Trilogy: Waiting To Surface /Stay At Home/Light IT Up’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/6th October 2020

The best guitar band of 2020 no doubt is the Salem Trials, so what we have here is what they are calling the lockdown trilogy: the three albums they recorded on lockdown and have decided to release on the same day through Metal Postcard Records. And what a mighty trio of albums: Waiting To Surface, Stay At Home and Light It Up.

All three are filled with rock n roll splendor, as is the other three albums they have already released this year, which are all worth checking out. What I adore about this band is their obvious love of music and knowledge of the rock n roll past; the way they combine the best of the post punk north (The Fall, Magazine, Joy Division). You can hear all their influences in there but you can also hear how they have a love of sixties psych and 70’s prog and glam and punk and how they feed those influences into the music and come up with their own unique sound. I love how the vocals float just underneath the music and not above it; how both members of the band sometimes sound like they are having completely different breakdowns but in the same room. There is a quite staggering beautiful underlay of darkness and humour in their music.

It is difficult to pick a favourite album out of the three but if forced at gun point I would venture that Light It Up is probably my fave as it is the most melodious and wrapped in such wonderful Velvet like riffs, especially on the opening number ‘4 Views’, and the post punk guitar delight that is ‘Ice Cream Soda’, which sounds like the myth of Postcard Records being eaten whole by Don Van Vilet. But all three albums have tracks that are currently head and shoulders above the current crop of guitar pretenders: take for instance the wayward guitar sleaze of ‘Conversation No 2’ from Stay At Home, or the cracked guitar turmoil of ‘Ugly Puppets’ from Waiting To Surface, or the following track of lyrical mastery that is ‘Suit Of Shadows’, maybe my favourite track from the three albums – but that is like choosing a favourite Beatle. Like I’ve said so many times before The Salem Trials are a rare and beautiful thing; a treasure that has been buried for too long and needs discovering and admired and enjoyed by one and all, not just us lucky few.

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 Galore
Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last month, The King Of No-Fi album. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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


Bruce Springsteen ‘Letter To You’
(Columbia Records) Title Track/Available Now


What a glam slam stomper of a hi energy dance around your handbag floor filler this new single is: a disco ball of sex and glitter. Only joking. No what we have here is the new song by Mr Boss himself Bruuuuuuuuuuuce Springsteen and yes it sounds like you would expect a slow paced Bruce Springsteen single to sound like, slow paced and Bruce like, which I’m not saying is a bad thing: if you love Bruce Springsteen you will love this, if you hate Bruce you will still hate him, and if you have no opinion on him this will not sway you either way. I quite like Bruce, so I quite like this.






This Is The Kit ‘Coming To Get You Nowhere’
Single/Out there now




Curse This Is The Kit, I was going to spend the afternoon catching up with my reviewing duties but instead I have been losing myself in the magic and wonder of This is The kit’s Youtube outpourings instead: this beautiful new single leading me astray into their wonderful and magical land of musical splendour of a back catalogue. Curse you and this new single! Yes is as magical as their other outpourings; fine stuff indeed.






Lizzy Young ‘Obvious’
Single/Available Now





I love this. It has a dark humour and a piano sound that reminds me of Captain Scarlet, which is what one wants from a short blast of a tossed away sass of a single; a blast of devil may care boredom and disinterest that runs through this way too short 3-minute pop gem. But that is far too obvious.






Beauty Stab ‘Beauty Stab’
EP/8th September 2020




Last month Beauty Stab released what I called “single of the year” with sublime erotically art synth pop beauty that is the lead off track from this new EP, French Film Embrace. So you would think that would be the highlight. Well how wrong you would be; this 4 tracker is one long highlight.

The already previously reviewed ‘French Film Embrace’ is indeed a beauty with a bass riff that sounds like a matador reliving the sexual wanderings of his youth. Next up is ‘The Rain’, a track that’s melodramatic post punk synth 60s pop genius, part John Leyton ‘Johnny Remember Me’, part Southern Death Cult, part Soft Cell; a track that is as camp as a row of tents and as dark as the darkest of nights: another pure pop gem.

The 3rd track ‘Protégé’ shows the other side of the band, the more experimental and art pop side, that they cradle with a gentle beauty only the gentle of soul truly possess. The Final track is ‘O Eden’, which was their debut single that was released on Metal postcard Records last year but in a remixed form, and a track that has not lost any of its heart breaking beauty, is a synth ballad to end all other synth ballads. Dan proving once again he is the rightful successor to Scott Walker with a truly outstanding vocal, this should have been all over the radio last year.

So hopefully with its reappearance on this EP that will be put right. An EP of true pop genius in a time when we need EPS of true pop genius more than any other.




See also…

Beauty Stab Interview (with Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea) (here)

‘O Eden’ Review  (here)



Deepfake Moneybomb ‘Deepfake Moneybomb’
Album/8th September 2020




There is a Randy Newman feel about this album that I like. I have always had a thing for music when you can hear the performer arch his eyebrows and I certainly think Deepfake Moneybomb is arching both brows on this joy ride of subtle adventure. This is a songwriter who knows long words and is not afraid to use them. A man who is not going to dumb himself down so some knucklehead Oasis fans can swig their larger and belch and fart along to his quickie sci-fi folk songs.

We really need artists like Deepfake Moneybomb in these days of blandness and disease to offer us his quirky outlook on love and life and quantum mechanics. This album is an example of the DIY bedroom recording culture at its very best and has me wanting to go and dig out my Charles Douglas CDs and lose myself in laid-back home-recorded pure musical invention.






The Amplifier Heads ‘Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks’
Album/9th September 2020




A new album by The Amplifier Heads is always something to look forward to, for you are always guaranteed sublime melodies beautiful lyrics and the magic spell of true rock n roll invention. Part XTC part Cleaner From Venus but mostly The Amplifier Heads psych power pop and guitar jangle meet in an album of melancholic nostalgia songs recalling the end of the summer’s past.

This 14-song album is a concept album of sorts with as mentioned the “Abandoned Amusement Arcade” being a metaphor for the passing of youth and your memories of it. So, songs of youthful abandon and abandoned youth are covered quite beautifully; leaving one with the same feeling one has after watching George Lucas’s masterpiece American Graffiti.

Music for Abandoned Amusement Parks is the perfect album to soundtrack the oncoming Autumn/Winter months and anyone with a love for guitar and melody this album is a must have.






Salem Trials ‘Fear For Whatever Comes Next’
Album/Available Now




So the third album of the year by the most exciting guitar band of 2020 arrives and once again with little fanfare, slipping it out on their Bandcamp, and once again proving how unfair this rock n roll malarkey is as the very average Fontaine D.C. achieve all kinds of sales and critical ravings are heaped upon them. This fine album songs of Buzzcock like panache and excitement mixed with early experimental escapades of Barrett’s Pink Floyd and early 80s Fall and full on Beefheart shenanigans will no doubt go by unnoticed.

This is the true sound of the guitar underground. This is where the magic is kept. This is what should be what is coming out of your radio when you turn it on after 9pm. This album sounds like a best of John Peel radio show. This is the true alternative and just how wonderful the true alternative sounds.




See also…

Salem Trials ‘Do Something Dangerous’ Album Review  (here)



Nicky William ‘Pathetic Fuck’
Single/28th August 2020




A funky little offering from Nicky William, who goes all dandy on us, with a short and sweet dark swipe at his own character traits. A strange subject matter I suppose, but one that needs exploring and indeed he does explore it in the two minutes 15 seconds this little gem spins around your head, with its drum beats, flutes and “oooh” backing vocals. A fine track, and one that’s taken from his forthcoming EP.



Reviews/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last month, The King Of No-Fi album. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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



Ludwig Dreistern ‘Linda/New Oddity’
(Ikarus Records) Single/Out there now


The debut single by Ludwig Dreistern does have a touch of Granddaddy about it and that can only be a good thing surely. It has the same hushed whispered vocal style and the off kilter like psych synth lines they used with a sparing relish that for a short time in the late 90’s was the rigour: it was the thing to flourish at alternative parties by those who loved to dress in black and say such things as “Mercury Rev are to die for” and such…honest I kid thee not. So relive those days of student splendour and working in a record shop at Christmas with this two-track bevy of Granddaddy like remembrance: you will not be sorry.






Loverground & BB Sway ‘About You’
Single/Out There Now




There is something quite Prince-like about this lovely piece of pop fluff. The kind of fluff that sticks to your cardigan and no matter how many times you think you have flicked the litter blighter away you look again and there it is still attached and growing until it reaches a badge like status that you eventually wear with pride; it is always there, always there as a reminder of something so small that means so much to you and makes you smile to yourself: a piece of fluff you never ever want to live without.




Hiroki Tanaka ‘Inori’
Single/Out there now




This track is a fine slice of musical beauty wrapped in a sweet chocolate like covering of yearning sadness. A song to serenade your dark side into a soft becoming ball of slush with a Radiohead-becoming-The Beatles like melody that sucks you in, and, doesn’t spit you out but just hugs you with a gentle rocking slumber of your most darling hopes wishes and dreams. I bet the forthcoming album is going to be a gem.






Lou Terry ‘If I’m Me Who Are The Other One’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/Out there now




A shallow bathe in the lost beauty of misery and of love lost and found, the power of gentle melodies and the light touch of the lyrical twist really cannot be underestimated, and the master of all those things is Lou Terry whose new album is brimming with songs full of those qualities.

Recorded over the lockdown, like so much of the new music I’m listening to, it is graced – well with the grace and understanding and sublime loss that normally can be found in the outpourings of 80s Go Betweens and the obscure 70s home recordings of John Lennon. When Lou Terry’s voice cracks it is thing of true beauty as it does on ‘Sickly Peach’. You wonder how on earth he is not better-known; it has the same effect as spying a long-lost lover across the street and her shyly smiling the smile that breaks the passing of the years and in an instant you are eighteen and beholden, you are completely lost and once again under the power of her magical spell. And the beauty of this album achieves all this. It almost wants you to feel broken and betrayed lost and bewildered. If I’m Me Who Are The Other Three is the album to soundtrack the oncoming melancholy of Autumn nights; a thing of great beauty.






James PM Philips ‘Manikhana’
Single/Out there now




This is a rather wonderful beast of a track, a lo-fi adventure of pure undiluted home recorded psych; one that brings to mind the off-kilter joy of Skip Spence’s masterpiece Oar, or the magical musical workings of Craig Smith/Maitreya Kali. A song to chant to your own personal god, be it a badly buttered slice of toast or the mythical goddess of pop Deborah; a true work of off the cuff musical madness, one that should be both lauded and applauded. Great musical outpourings indeed.






Lo Tom ‘LP2’
(Self-Released) Album/11th September 2020




Polished Mary Chain-like guitars played by Bryan Adams kick off this self-released [a round of applause for Lo Tom] album of alt rock, and although it attempts nothing new or revolutionary this album it is no worse and a lot better than a lot of the Alt Guitar rock music I’m sent to ponder over. It has a certain bombastic melodious appeal that the Icicle Works sometimes achieved and the emotionally charged exuberance a lot of people will find rewarding. Although not the kind of album I’d normally choose to listen to I can think of a lot of people who will really enjoy this album of well worked alt guitar rock. So if bombastic alt guitar is the kind of thing that rocks you Daddy-O I would advise you to give it a listen.



The Green Child ‘Low Desk: High Shelf’
(Upset The Rhythm) Single/Out There Now




This lovely piece of synth poppery is a fine example of how pop music is still alive and kicking in 2020: A song built on such a floating-on-the-air synth riff it could have kept the Titanic afloat. Beautiful melodies, whispery soft as silk fragile vocals combine to give three and a half minutes of perfect pop.






Feral Wheel ‘The Dolphin Way’
Track/Out There Now




The second track from the rather marvelous newish Liverpool band Feral Wheel takes us drifting back to the late sixties, when the lazy guitar sounds of Arthur lee and his merry band of Love ruled the roost. There is something quite magical about great Liverpool guitar bands and trust me the Feral Wheel show all the signs of being a great Liverpool guitar band. They have the air of woozy stoned- out summer afternoons, of an 1980s stroll down button street after spending far too long deciding which volume of Pebbles the Garage rock comp you were going to buy from the old Probe records store; the sun was always shining the girl you was with was always beautiful, your friends full of wit and a shared excitement for the future, and there was always the music, music like the Feral Wheel to soundtrack the passing of those late summer days, quite sublime sounding like the Feral Wheel.






Agent blå  ‘Frustrated’
(Kanine Records) Single/Out there now




A Gothic like pop subculture melts into Wayne Hussey’s out-stretched arms in a riff ridden glory ride of a skinny dipped PJ Harvey. Pink hi ho silver away tear dropped shaped memory of a gurning John Peel dressed in spurs and a cowboy hatted joker of dead eyes and frippery. Yes those were the days nobody ever mentions anymore. A fine single none the less…and yes, if you put it close to your ear I am sure you will hear the ocean.




Floodlights ‘From A View’
(woo me!/spunk) Album/28th August 2020




Americana from Australia – shall we call it Australiana -, which is the sound of Billy Bragg playing the near hits and misses of the Go Betweens or vice versa if you like, either way what we have here are ten very well written songs of heartache and its many varieties. Guitars that jangle and solos like an escaped riff from Primal Screams Velocity Girl whilst twirling with gay abandon with the dark wistfulness of the well composed lyrics. I also love the boy girl vocal interaction on the album; they do it very well, it fits together with a charm like a forced in piece of a jigsaw puzzle that does not mean to go there but looks better anyhow and gives it a unique look of its own. Oh I do like this album it reminds me of a down at heel Triffids and one cannot pay a higher compliment than that believe me.





PLAYLIST REVUE/Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver/Brain ‘Bordello’ Shea





Join us once more for the most eclectic of musical journeys as the Monolith Cocktail compiles another monthly playlist of new release and recent reissues we’ve featured on the site, and tracks we’ve not had time to write about but have been on the radar.

The August edition kicks off with a blistering sunny-disposition Ron Gallo,space rock barrage returning Secret Machines and riotous Young Knives. Later on we’ve a host of jazz smarts from Stanley J. Zappa & Simo Laihonen, Charles Tolliver and Donny McCaslin.

As diverse as ever though, there’s a host of genres represented, including ‘Sufi Dub’ (Ashraf Sharif Khan & Viktor Marek) ‘after geography’ ambience (Forest Robots), ‘Eastern European femme fatal punk’ (Shishi) and ‘Euclid inspired polygon techno’ (Kumo).

Matt Oliver furnishes as ever with a host of choice hip-hop tracks from Fliptrix, Helsinki Booze Mercanhts, Loki Dope and Verb T.

There’s also a second despondent melodious grunge-y new wave rocker from the burgeoning talent that is Jacqueline Tucci. Something for everyone, more or less.





TRACKS 

Ron Gallo  ‘HIDE (MYSELF BEHIND YOU)’
Secret Machines  ‘Everything’s Under’
Young Knives  ‘Swarm’
Death By Unga Bunga  ‘Trouble’
Shishi  ‘OK Thx Bye’
Jacqueline Tucci  ‘Sweeter Things’
Elian Gray  ‘High Art’
Loki Dope  ‘Have You Any Wool?’
Stanley J. Zappa & Simo Laihonen  ‘E38 E 14th, City Of Piss, USA’
Charles Tolliver  ‘Copasetic’
Nosaj Thing  ‘For The Light’
Donny McCaslin  ‘Reckoning’
VRITRA  ‘CLOSER TO GOD’
Remulak & Type.Raw  ‘Mad Skillz’
Vex Ruffin  ‘Hinde Naman’
Mazi & Otarel  ‘Staiy’
Fliptrix  ‘Holy Kush’
Sausage Spine & Relentless Exquisite  ‘Skin Diamond’
Verb T & Illinformed  ‘Rotten Luck’
Pitch 92 & Lord Apex  ‘Suttin’ In The Trunk’
Helsinki Booze Merchants  ‘Tokyo Drift’
Fliptrix  ‘Powerizm’
Diassembler  ‘A Wave From A Shore’
Forest Robots  ‘Over The Drainage Divide’
Mark Cale, Ines Loubet and Joseph Costi  ‘Bodies Of Water’
Lucia Cadotsch, Otis Sandsjo, Petter Eldh  ‘Azure’
Paradise Cinema  ‘Possible Futures’
Only Now  ‘Merciless Destiny’
J. Zunz  ‘Four Women And Darkness’
Alan Wakeman, Gordon Beck  ‘Chaturanga’
BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON  ‘Numb’
Brian Bordello  ‘Rock n Roll Is Dead’
The Hannah Barberas  ‘W.Y.E.’
AUA  ‘I Don’t Want It Darker’
Ashraf Sharif Khan & Viktor Marek  ‘Drive Me On The Floor’
Harmonious Thelonious  ‘Hohlenmenschemuziek’
Kumo  ‘South African Euclid’
Cabaret Voltaire  ‘Vasto’
Pons  ‘Subliminal Messages’
Freak Heat Waves  ‘Busted’
Constant Bop  ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’
Josephine Foster  ‘Freemason Drag’
John Howard  ‘Injuries Sustained In Surviving’


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





The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last month, The King Of No-Fi album. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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


Violent Vickie ‘Division’
Album/4th September 2020


Thank the lord for the splendid Violent Vickie and her love for waving darkly at both inanimate and moving objects, for what we have here is a dive head first into her musical synth art of an album: the place where synths whoosh and drum machines do the noise drum machines make, which on the whole is much preferable to the sounds a drummer makes and without less sweat, unless Prince Andrew was the drummer that is and if that was the case someone should warn young Victoria to watch her back and front and all her other areas for that Prince is a bad un.

But what we have here in fact is a royal treasure of an album; an alternative disco Goth delight of an album; one that builds and interjects with an atmospheric grace most dark wave releases [yes and I hear plenty of those; most I ignore] would love to achieve. What moves this album up a notch from 99 per cent of all the other alternative dark synth dark wave that comes my way is Violent Vickie’s grasp of melody and the catchy synth riff, ‘The Blame’ track being a prime example, a riff that weaves its merry way throughout the track without overstaying it’s welcome.

There is also a slightly “ok I am about to lose it feel” about the songs; the “yes I am teetering on the edge and I am not sure what way I am going to fall” feel; a feel I fully support, recognise and understand and which gives the music a touch of “this is my real life, my art, not me playing at being a pop princess” and I have no doubt pop princess is something Victoria could become if that was her want as she has the panache of a Peaches or Miss Kitten when the dark wave succumbs to the total disco glitterball of all the underlying influences this album possess; all but exploding on the sultry ‘Secret Wife’, a song that reeks of glorious seedy glamour.

This album is a wonderful rare thing not just a dark wave album I will want to listen to again but one I could also dance to, but that is a sight I would not force on anyone or anything living or dead: a dance I would name the Violent Vickie. And yes, this album Division is a true joy… [sorry could not resist].





See also…

Violent Vickie ‘The Blame’ Single Review



The Hannah Barberas ‘Fallow Days’
EP/13th August 2020




All the money made from this lovely jangly EP of sublime summer pop songs go to a food bank Lucy from the Hannah Barberas works at, which is reason enough to give it a spin. Four songs that are jangly and pop affirming: I would have said life affirming, but pop music is life to so many of us and this EP proves what a wonderful life pop life is with songs that have the spirit of C86 running through them. For all lovers of Orange Juice, June Brides even Belle And Sebastian and all those other bands we indie poppers love will in no doubt embrace this fine work of indie popdom.





See also…

The Hannah Barberas  ‘Into The Wild’ LP Review



Death By Unga Bunga ‘Trouble’
(Jansen Records) Single/Out Now





I like this, but then I do have a soft spot for songs with power, fun and melody, and this track has all of the aforementioned. A song that will send you spinning back to the days when power pop was briefly en vogue in the late seventies’, early eighties. Yes it almost has me wanting not to finish writing this short and sweet review and nipping onto Youtube and get misty eyed over the hits near hits and misses of The Motors. A lovely little nugget of the power pop variety.






Occult Character ‘Race To The Grave’
Track/Now





It is great to see that Occult Character is finally getting some recognition and radio play from WFMU-FM in America; a man who I’ve been writing and raving about for a couple of years now: although John Robb will probably claim to have discovered him at some point in the future when he actually gets round to hearing him.

So once again we have a under two-minute slam-dunk of a track spraying piss over the state of America and its current failings. Occult Character releases far too much material to actually stay up with him and is probably doing himself a disservice, so by the time this goes to press no doubt there will be another dozen or so tracks to marvel, laugh and cry over.





See also…

Occult Character  ‘Steve Albini’s Kundalini’ LP Review

‘Cult Of Ignorance’ Mini LP Review

‘Chittering Noises’  LPs of 2019


Various ‘Songs Of The City Of The Four Faces – Cambodian Music Of The 60s’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/19th August 2020





I admit I know nothing about Cambodian pop music from the 60s, so I jump into this album with a little trepidation. But I’m a great lover of 60s beat music and garage rock and 60s pop and spend many a hour delving into the vaults of time unearthing forgotten gems, so I have high hopes. And I’m not disappointed with what I find. What I discover is that this is a treasure trove of 60s hip swinging beat magic; a treasure trove of groovy basslines enthusiastic backing vocals; wonderful cheap sounding 60s guitars, the kind of guitar you would pay a fortune for today; and warm Hammond organ sounds, the kind Clint Boon no doubt has wet dreams about and in the case of the track ‘Kanha Roup Sros’ by my fave of the 5 artists Ros Seresysthes, a horn led little beauty Dexy’s would release 20 years later. In fact I’d say that but Pen Ron could well be my fave newly discovered artist; pure undiluted pop genius from strange psych to out there beat pop magic to melodramatic horn led soul. On the whole this album is one of pure joyful discovery and one I would recommend to anyone even with a passing interest in 60s pop /beat music.





See also 

The Cambodian Space Project ‘Whisky Cambodia’ LP Review (Ben P Scott)

Various Artists  ‘Khmer Rouge Survivors – They Will Kill You, If You Cry’ Albums of 2016 (Dominic Valvona)



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



Salem Trials ‘Do Something Dangerous’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/5th July 2020


This is the label debut LP from one of the bands of 2020 – a fact I’ve previously mentioned in reviewing their first two singles, both of which are featured on this wonderful album; the Captain Beefheart meets the Buzzcocks ‘Head On Rong’ and whip frenzy Wire like pop gem ‘Pictures Of Skin’. The rest of the tracks are no slouches either; mining their influences from late 70s early 80s post punk but without just being a post punk photo fit band, the influences are there but they add their own unique twist adding a beautiful wash of pop melody and some simply stunning guitar playing – especially on the beautifully dark but life enhancing ‘No Light Escapes’.

Andy Goz is one of the most inspiring guitarists I’ve heard in a very long time and is obviously not just an extremely talented musician but must also have a great knowledge and understanding of what makes great rock n roll as the pre punk spirit of the Stooges, MC5 and The Pink Fairies are not just captured but hoisted on flag stands and waived as a taunting warning to all the other many less inspired guitar bands that there are new kids on the block and this simply fine album is the benchmark that they probably have not a hope in hell of reaching. A simply stunning debut.

 






Japanese Television ‘Bee Cage’
(Tip Top Recordings) Single ahead of a new EP, released 4th September 2020




I like this, it’s a short blast of wonky keyboard organ led heavy bass Sci-fi surf frenzy: Just what one wants to pickle an egg. Dick Dale goes for a moonwalk with Joe Meek whilst wondering what goodness lies beneath the waves of yesterday. Summer sweet sensation, a joyride for the bequiffed buffoon that lies deep within all men of a certain age. A Deeley Bopper of a single.






Various ‘A Picture Of Good Health Compilations’
(Wormhole World) Albums/Volumes 3.1 & 3.2 14th July 2020




What we have here is the latest comps from the experimental Wormhole World Records; two albums full of experimental genre hopping music with something for everyone; from the beautiful almost David Lynch soundtrack like Goodparley to the experimental mellow dance sounds of Gnaarf and DXII, to the crazy mad world of Toxic Chicken, to the poetic Crumpsall Riddle, and any fans collectors of 80s synth pop will be interested to find a new track by Blancmange – the beautiful synth instrumental ‘This Is The Moment I Have Been Waiting For’.

In all, this is a massive musical project and all tracks believe me are worthy of investigation: a great way to soundtrack a Sunday afternoon as I’ve discovered to my great pleasure.

There are in all thirty-nine tracks spread over two limited edition CDs 3.1 and 3.2 or two downloads from the Wormhole Bandcamp and is well worth a explore; and if you buy both CDs at the same time you save yourself a £1, so go and treat yourself.






Twisted Ankle ‘A Bag of Pasta’
(Breakfast Records) Single/19th June 2020




A bag of fall and Captain Beefheart discordance shaken up and let lose to breed and corrupt the inner workings of a Daily Mail readers fan club convention; a disconcerting eyelash flutter at the conventional tale of Siegfried and his lust for finding the ideal companion for apple bobbin. Yes a loose cannon of a single.






The Top Boost ‘Tell Me That Your Mine’
(You Are The Cosmos Records) Single/22nd June 2020




The sound of the Byrds going through their country phase is brought to mind with this fine blast of summer jangle. At the moment there seems to be a lot of jangle about and that cannot be a bad thing when it is performed with such style and panache. Two more tracks of 60s influenced guitar pop for you dear readers to soundtrack you sunning yourselves with.






Renaissance Grrl ‘Happy When I’m Sad’
Single/5th June 2020




This is a lovely sad well-performed song of melancholy by the 18-year-old Alannah Jackson. Alone with her guitar, nothing more nothing less, just a simple moment of purity, which should be cherished and held close; proving once again that keeping it simple is sometimes best especially when you are blessed with such a fine voice and songwriting talent.






The Icebergs ‘Add Vice’
(Imaginator Records) Album/17th July 2020




Beautifully strange is the only way to describe this marvelous album of pure poetic bliss. What grabs me from the off are the wonderful lyrics (an art form much ignored in the music biz today). Lyrical streams of them flowing weaving beautiful, frightening heart-breaking images throughout, bringing the early works of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey in a mellow mood to mind and musically reminding me of Nick Cave’s band of merry men the Bad Seeds rockabilly, folk, the Velvet’s guitar pop and the sounds of late Seventies no-wave, all merging to form a canvas for the poet Jane LeCroy to paint beautifully vivid pictures with her wonderful prose and wonderful voice.






bigflower ‘hunneh’
Single/27th June 2020




The Monolith Cocktail continue in their quest of promoting the under-the-radar beguiling guitar power of bigflower, who once again releases a beautiful sublime slab of free to download aural magic with this wondrous instrumental. When oh when will a record label get their act together and compile an album of the wonders bigflower is releasing on a monthly basis?






Spam Javelin ‘Fuck You/Cogged Off’
Single/20th June 2020




This is a double jab in the eye of pure punk rock old style; two tracks that both last around the 1 min 30 mark and come charging into your life, rattles a few of your remaining brain cells and then pisses off again: which all good punk rock songs should do. Both have rather marvelous guitar riffs especially ‘Cogged Off ‘, which has a wonderful Fall like guitar riff running throughout.






Beaulieu Porch ‘Vivit Sumus’
(Carmite Records) Album/7th June 2020




The lonely world of home-recorded psych can be a beautiful cathartic thing. It can be a thing filled with beauty, magic and soul, and the music of Beaulieu Porch has all three of those ingredients. Mid 70s Lennon and the wayward beauty of the Flaming Lips and the lost music of late 60s early 70s psych folk and Baroque pop collide in a thrilling mismatch of wanton musical adventure. Beaulieu Porch make such beautiful music it deserves to be heard by all instead of by the lucky few in the know; yes once again a musical underground musical maverick who deserves more is becoming quite a feature in these review round ups nowadays, so if you have not heard the music of Beaulieu Porch before do yourself a huge favour and give this fine album a listen; and if you have heard them no doubt this cd will already be in your collection. One of the undergrounds finest.






The Vapour Trails ‘Golden Sunshine’
(Futureman Records) Album/19th June 2020




Sometimes a bit of 60s inspired guitar jangle is what one needs in their life. And if you need that dose of sunshine in your life currently, one could do a lot worse than give this album a listen.

Hailing from Scotland The Vapour Trails are yet another band who wear their love of all things guitar very much on their sleeves: although I’m very sure The Teenage Fanclub influence is there it’s not as prominent as a lot of bands I have been sent music to review over the last 18 months. The opening track ‘Golden Sunshine’ had me thinking of the excellent and much underrated Spirea X [remember them] and a few tracks on this album have the early 90s guitar band feel of The La’s [especially on ‘Different Girl’] and the Cotton Mather; but that comes with them in turn having the same 60s influences (Beatles Byrds and such), and I’m sure the Shack’s masterpiece Waterpistol had more than a few airings in The Vapour Trails rehearsal space.

This is a fine album full of melody catchy guitar lines and is steeped in an obvious love and understanding of what makes great 60s inspired guitar music and what makes 60s inspired guitar music great.






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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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

REVIEWS GALORE/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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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


The Original Magnetic Light Parade ‘Smoke & Mirrors/Confusion Reigns’
(Bearsuit Records) Single/26th June 2020


Once again Bearsuit Records bring us music of beauty and sheer magical elegance, with this fine experimental two tracker by The original Magnetic Light Parade. Sci-fi synths float and caress the air to bring us, the listener, to a higher state of consciousness; a lone acoustic guitar leads us on a gentle floating journey through the clear water of the love laden memories of a past we so wish we had. So yet again, a release of true wanton instrumental genius.




Deleo ‘Mythomania’
(Made It Records) Single/19th June 2020




Ah at long last a song with melody and a melancholy pop freshness that has been missing from this batch of new releases. Yes I have had a heavy metal EP were all the songs are about video gaming and a LP the Quietus has said nice things about according to the press release (do they expect me to fall down to my knees get my cock out and wank over it just because the quietus likes it). If the quietus likes it, it can mean two things either that it is tuneless shit that so called intellectuals will pretend to like or it came out 40 years ago. But with this release the lovely sad mellow pop Deleo saves my early Saturday morning reviewing session with a blissful three minutes of sublimeness.





Bananagun ‘The True Story Of Bananagun’
(Full Time Hobby/Anti-Fade) Album/26th June 2020




From the off I like this LP. It sounds like a barrel load of monkeys discovering the joys of sunshine pop. 60s harmonies, fast strummed guitars with wah wah solo’s, and that’s only the first track, this is a band that grew up watching Matt Helm films and Beatles cartoons and longed to own a time machine so they could have played the hip and happening clubs of swinging 60s London.

5th Dimension Funk meets Syd’s Pink Floyd in an explosion of technicolour wonderment, a true joy of nostalgic longing wrapped up in the sound of pure unadulterated joyfully playful psych tinged sunshine pop.




Colossous ‘Running In The Sand’
Single/15th June 2020




This is a rather marvelous single; 80s pop synths and even amusement arcade middle eight. The kind of song that would have enriched an early 80s Top Of The Pops (you can imagine it sandwiched between Duran Duran and The Teardrop Explodes) but with a slightly post punk feel; John Peel no doubt tapping his toes and arching one eyebrow whilst we at home sang along from the printed lyrics in that week’s copy of Smash Hits. A gem of a single.




Sir Robert Orange Peel ‘Piers Morgan 1-0 Everyone Else’
(Metal Postcard Records) Single/9th June 2020




I love this. There is revolution in the air and this wonderful track sticks two fingers up at the government and their bordering on criminal handling of the Covid-19 pandemic; a track that features the sense and outrage spoken by at one time one of the most despised characters on British TV Piers Morgan, but who for some strange reason has suddenly become one of the only voices of reason and true outrage at our flimsy poor evil fat cat government who puts money over lifetime and time again this is both a wonderful protest song and a tribute to Piers Morgan [who would have believed it ]shows what a crazy world we are living in.





Salem Trials ‘Pictures Of Skin’
(Metal Postcard Records) Single/13th June 2020




The best new band of 2020 anyone?? The second single coming not even a month after their wonderful debut, these two tracks are ram jam packed of Wire like pop suss: imagine Pete Shelley gargling with a mouthful of spiders [from mars] whilst juggling old vinyl LPs of Tubeway Army and Subway Sect bootlegs, whilst starring Johnny Rotten style at some leather clad beauty who is far too good to even consider you. Yes this is perfect rock n roll that captures the magic and true spirit of the greatest of the art forms. And a big round of applause should go to Metal Postcard Records who released this, and who are quietly becoming the greatest label on the planet.





The Amplifier Heads ‘The Man With A Sun For A Head’
EP/18th June 2020




Although at the moment of typing it is currently raining cats and dogs, but even the inclement weather cannot put a dampener on this fine EP of XTC like pop wonder. The lead off title-track is a fine example of how to make let’s throw the kitchen sink at it work. A song of bright sunshine goodness leaps from the speakers leaving the room to sparkle and bathe in a glow of sunshine psyche so much so that it could easily hold its own on XTC’s excellent Oranges And Lemons album: a song so British sounding it could have only been made by a American. If this was 1967 I would predict a hit single in the offing.




Ageing Children ‘Live’
(Bearsuit Records) LP/18th June 2020




Noise is a musical virtue; it is one of the wonders of the world when it is performed right, and in the right situation can make the dullest of days seem like an adventure into the unknown, and this album of discordant guitar noise is a case in point. This has everything one wants in a noise album; it has atonal discordance it has melody seeping from the dark corners of your psyche. Track two, ‘You Have to Work Hard To Live Like This’, could have easily fitted onto Scott Walker’s masterpiece The Drift, and the wonderful ‘Silaninans Head’ sounds like the theme of Jaws played under water by the Mary Chain in the middle of a fox hunt: a truly magical listening experience indeed.

If anyone out there wants to dip their toes into something a little different and get away from the four white boys playing guitars and drums and singing about love, then this is an ideal place to start from. This is one of the most rewarding listening experiences I have had this year; for it has everything one wants from an album, it has noise power and moments of sublime beauty.




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