Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Reviews Bonanza
(Unless stated otherwise, all releases are available now)

Singles

Cumgirl8 ‘Dumb Bitch’
(Suicide Squeeze Records)

If this song were a dick it would always be erect and ready for action. It is both sexless and sexy; a molten explosion of catcall frenzy. It is the way I wanted Wetleg to sound, instead of the pale imitation of white slacked disappointment that is made to appeal to the middle aged male wet dream fantasy of still being young and vibrant and with it. No, this is the real deal the real McCoy; this is the thing this is the sound; this is the true alternative.

Lucigenic ‘Joy’

I like this single. It sounds like a Blondie tribute band that has decided to start writing their own material. It is sassy tuneful and sexy, which all pop music should have at least traces of, and this is dressed head to toe in sass, so an enjoyable three minuets of post-punk pop.

Woog Riots ‘Beatnik’
(From Lo-Fi To Disco) 17th June 2022

I love this a wonderful fun cover version of The Clean classic ‘Beatnik’, a song of charm and distinction. And this is indeed a groovy rendition. In fact dare I say a version I prefer to the original? Yes, slowed down and jerky and quite simply charming with the wonderful organ riff, a true gem of a single.

Legless Trials ‘Dirt Bike/Failed Words’
(Metal Postcard Records)

Has groovy art rock ever sounded as groovy as this? The new single by the Legless Trials is a hep cat roll call of early sixties Cliff Richard twisting on a beach whilst a bikini clad Una Stubbs lies and suns herself looking heavenly. It is Mark E Smith drinking bitter bathed in flashing neon lights, flicking beer mats at a spinning disco ball. It is a psalm sang by a true believer in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll; a bible of pent-up frenzy Jerry Lee Lewis salivating over the line of bobby soxers awaiting to pay homage. Yes, already one of the singles of the year.

Albums/EPs

Wolf Vanwymeersch ‘The Early Years’

Pop music for the introverted is a much under praised thing. Pop music for the introverted is indeed a thing, and it is well thought out and intelligently written. This album is such a thing.

It’s the kind of music that soundtracks the day in a life of a pop art vagabond, the kind of person who loves life but on the whole does not love them back. It’s music for NHS glasses wearers and charity shop fashion. Wolf Vanmeersch makes such art; he takes a melody and wraps it in a comfiness of a favourite old sweater, dipping into his musical influences and bringing out fond radio remembrances.

He might stroke the velvet collar of Bowie or a Billy McKenzie or Talking Heads; loving the glamour of 80s alternative pop remembering the days when music could change everybody’s life and was part of everybody’s life and not pushed into the dark underground. Music is becoming more and more of a minority art and Wolf Vanwymeesch understands that music is art and is indeed an artist, and the Early Years is an album that will appeal to those who still worship at the altar of art is music and music is art. 

Team Play ‘Wishes And Desires’
(Soliti)

This is quite a beautiful album: the soundtrack of the unpeeling of a nighttime wish; the subtle crush of valonia, the strange bewitching aftertaste of your lover’s kiss. Vocal and piano accompanied by the swelling of horns synths and organs and flutes this is music that is made to fall in and out of love to. Teamplay have produced an enjoyable musical journey through life’s rich tapestry touching on subjects and emotions we all in one time in our life will experience, both happy sad and truly bewitching moments. And that is the perfect description of this debut album: happy sad and truly bewitching. I as I’m forever mentioning in these reviews I’m a sucker for boy/girl duets and this album is full of the lovely blighters: A musical heart play. Has ears dropping over a stranger’s heartache ever been so richly rewarding.

Spygenius ‘Jobbernowl’
(Big Stir Record) 24th June 2022

This is a manic depression of an album. An album that at times is manically happy like ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ on steroids but like manic depression, under the up, lies an enormous down: as the sun is most beautiful when you are stood in the shade.

It is an interesting and enjoyable listen. There is of course so many melodies and chiming guitars floating throughout, which of course you expect from an album released on Big Stir Records.

Spygenuis are from Canterbury it seems, and that makes perfect sense as this album sounds so lovely and English pastoral psychedelic. That they breath the same air as Soft Machine and Caravan comes as no surprise, as they take these sixties influences and cover them with a modern sheen, which at times reminds me of Green Day in their folk moments. With an injection of whimsy or Squeeze on psychedelics Jobbernowl is a rewarding listen and maybe one of my favourite releases on Big Stir.

Ghost Woman ‘Ghost Woman’
(Full Time Hobby) 6th July 2022

I like this album. I decided this as soon as the first bar of the first song started. There is something not quite like many of the psych rock albums that are sent for me to pour scorn and flick my love beads into the waste paper basket to. Or as I now call it: the waste love bead basket.

For the first song ‘All The Time’ reminded me of all people, the Everly Brothers; I can imagine the late Phil and Don doing a great version, and that really does not happen too often. Normally I get the ‘I wonder how many times these blighters have watched Dig’. Saying that the second track does show traces of the Dig disease but the lazy vocal stylings on ‘Do You’ somehow save it from a fate worse than psych fest.

This debut album is in fact an enjoyable listen; one that takes in the sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, the Everly Brothers, the JAMC and Skip Spence, and add a wonderful western guitar twang and jangle that at times is quite life affirming and magical.

Rogers and Butler ‘Brighter Day’
(Think Like A Key) 24th June 2022

A Brighter Day is an album that lives up to its title. It has a wonderful sunny timeless feel to it, all radio friendly guitar pop/rock, that has me thinking of The Kinks and Warren Zevon and Bowie, and is a record filled with really well-written songs with beautiful melodies. But sadly, it could well be an album that gets overlooked, as albums of well-written songs are quite overlooked as at this time. The music industry is overlooking artistry for the search of the next big thing: the next big thing being two young ladies singing about their trip to Ikea.

Rogers and Butler’s lovely little album does not deserve to be overlooked though as songs of quality and style are always needed to be heard, and hopefully should rise to the top, fighting its way past less the deserving and an ideal album to relax to as you spread your self over your Chaise Lounge.

THE PLAYLIST
Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver/Brian Bordello Shea

All the choice tracks from the last month, plus a few missed ones we’ve corralled from last month, the Monolith Cocktail team’s playlist revue is both a catch-up and showcase of the blog’s eclectic and mind bending tastes. Sitting in on this month’s selection panel is Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver and Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

TRACK LIST IN FULL IS:

Junior Disprol Ft. Krash Slaughta  ‘Rotund Shogun’
Deca  ‘Tuning’
Exterior  ‘Orthodox Dreams’
FAST DE  ‘Miss Trutti Finally Found Her Gem’
Pussy Riot Ft. Slayyter  ‘HATEFUCK’
Masai Bey  ‘Stanza X’
BITHAMMER!  ‘Make You Mine’
Flat Worms  ‘Into The Iris (Live)’
Salem Trials  ‘Vegaville’
Walker Brigade  ‘Disease’
Team Play  ‘Sunrise’
James Howard  ‘Baloo’ Adam Walton  ‘Mary Sees U.F.O.S.’
Joviale  ‘UW4GM’
Shabaka  ‘Black Meditation’
Kritters  ‘New York’
Ralph Of London  ‘Lys’
Ethan Woods  ‘Utopia Limited (Cuddly Tie-In)’
Staples Jr. Singers  ‘I’m looking For A Man’
Ramson Badbonez  ‘Rap Bio’
Mr. SOS & Maxamill  ‘War Criminal’
The Difference Machine  ‘Old Men’
Omega Sapien  ‘Jenny’
Mr. SOS  ‘Peace & Prosperity’
Jermiside & The Expert Ft. Tanya Morgan  ‘Crime Rule The City’
Quelle Chris  ‘DEATHFAME’
Wish Master & Billy Whizz  ‘THOUGHTS OF THOUGHTS’
Guillotine Crowns  ‘Killer’ Orryx  ‘Eldritch’
Celestial North  ‘When The Gods Dance’
Henna Emilia Hietamäki  ‘Protesti’
Lucrecia Dalt  ‘No One Around’
STANLAEY  ‘Fluorescent Fossils’
Your Old Droog  ‘Go To Sleep’
Tommaso Moretti Ft. Ben LaMar Gay  ‘A Call For Awareness’
Black Mango Ft. Samba Touré  ‘Are U Satisfied’
Avalanche Kaito  ‘Flany Konare’
Tomo-Nakaguchi  ‘Halation’
Private Agenda  ‘Splendour’
Sebastian Reynolds  ‘Four-Minute Mile’
Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers  ‘Agwetaroyo’
Misha Sultan  ‘Nyepi’
The Master Musicians Of Jajouka  ‘Khamsa Khamsin’
Gustavo Yashimura  ‘Las Prendas del Corazon’
Stephanie Santiago  ‘Activa Tu Cuerpo’
Gabrielle Ornate  ‘Free Falling’
Black Monitor  ‘Xexagon77’
Borban Dallas & His Filipino Cupids  ‘Too Convenient’
Martha And The Muffins  ‘Save It For Later’
Super Hit  ‘Blink 182’
Reverend Baron  ‘Let The Radio Play’
Alas The Sun  ‘Distant Drone’
Jelly Crystal  ‘I Tryyy’
LINN  ‘Happiness Is Real’
Lenka Lichtenberg  ‘That Monster, Custom’
Brigitte Beraha  ‘Blink’
Vera Di Lecce  ‘Altar Of Love’
Francesco Lurgo  ‘I Am Already Far Away’



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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ralph Of London ‘Yellow Sky Highway’

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

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

Cryptic Commands ‘Long Distance Call’
(Numavi Records)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam Walton ‘Afal’
(The Immediate)

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLAYLIST SPECIAL

The sounds that have piqued the team’s interest, filled their hearts, fucked with their heads, or just sent sauntering towards escapism, the Monthly playlist gathers together all the music we’ve featured over the last month. We’ve also picked some of those tracks that managed to evade us and some we just didn’t get the time or room to exalt.

Our eclectic as usual mix starts in Tel Aviv with the Şatellites and moves across continents to take in Rwanda’s The Good Ones, Sao Tomé and Principe’s vintage África Negra, the Georgian choir Iberi, and one of Scandinavia’s principle jazz ensembles, OK:KO.

There’s plenty of more, with a freshly produced diaphanous, slow knocking beat gauzy treatment of the burgeoning pop enchantress and dystopian muse Circe’s ‘Mess With Your Head’ – now transformed into ‘It’s All Over’ under the Secret World Orchestra guise -, and a rafter of choice hip-hop cuts from Billy Woods, Dabbla, Lyrics Born and Lunar C with Jehst. Pop, jazz, electronic, dreamwave, psychedelic and post-punk are all represented. And there’s even a track from our very own Brian Shea and his cult dysfunctional family band The Bordellos.

The Monolith Cocktail team, corralled into action by me, Dominic Valvona, currently includes Matt Oliver, Brain ‘Bordello’ Shea, Graham Domain and Mikey MacDonald.  

Those Tracks In Full Are:{

Şatellites  ‘Zuhtu (Live)’
Melody’s Echo Chamber  ‘Personal Message’
IKE (Ft. Sera Kalo)  ‘What Then’
Dana Gavanski  ‘Indigo Highway’ Crystal Eyes  ‘Wishes’
Pete Rock  ‘Brother On The Run’
Steve Monite  ‘Only You’
África Negra  ‘Vence Vitoria’
Samora Pinderhughes  ‘Holding Cell’
Izzi Sleep & Rat Motel  ‘Good Going Down’
Mercvrial  ‘Look Inside’
The Bordellos  ‘I Hate Pink Floyd Without Syd Barrett’
Peace De Résistance  ‘Boston Dynamics’
The Legless Crabs  ‘Boo Hoo Hoo’
Otoboke Beaver  ‘YAKITORI’
Papercuts  ‘Palm Sunday’
Kloot Per W  ‘Le Pays’
Nicole Faux Naiv  ‘Moon Really’
Liz Davinci  ‘Daisy’
Julia Holter, Harper Simon & Meditations On Crime  ‘Heloise’
Amine Mesnaoui & Labelle  ‘Bleu Noir’ Billy Woods  ‘Wharves’
Professor Elemental  ‘Inn At The End Of Time (Remix)’
Dabbla  ‘Alec Baldwin’
Nelson Dialect & Mr. Slipz  ‘Association’
SAULT  ‘June 55’
Nduduzo Makhathini  ‘Amathongo’
Rob Cave & Small Professor  ‘Respect Wildlife’
Lyrics Born (Ft. Rakaa Iriscience, Shing02, Bohan Phoenix, Cutso)  ‘Anti (Remix)’
Kino & Sadistik  ‘The Earth Was Empty’
Aethiopes (Ft. El-P, Breeze Brewin)  ‘Heavy Winter’
Laddio Bolocko  ‘Nurser’
Novelistme  ‘Never’
Astrel K  ‘Maybe It All Comes At Once’
David J  ‘(I Don’t Want To Destroy) Our Beautiful Thing’
Jörg Thomasius  ‘Okoschadel’
Ed Scissor  ‘Dad’
Violet Nox  ‘Eris’
Moscoman  ‘Dalmar Is Back And It’s Final’
Grandamme, Claudia Kane & Bastien Keb  ‘Nirvana’
FloFilz (Ft. Dal)  ‘Levada’
Chairman Maf  ‘Gammon Island’
Moon Mullins  ‘Welcome To Tilden’
IBERI  ‘Arkhalalo’
Papé Nziengui  ‘Gho Boka Nzambé’
The Good Ones  ‘Happiness Is When We Are Together’
OK:KO  ‘Vanhatie’
Ubunye  ‘Our Time’
Shrimpnose & BLOOD $MOKE BODY  ‘Beyond The Villian’
Justo The MC & Remulak  ‘Knockturnal’
Lunar C (Ft. Jehst)  ‘Any Given Wednesday’
Qrauer  ‘The Mess’ Circe/Secret World Orchestra  ‘It’s All Over’
Brianwaltzera  ‘tracing Rays [reality glo]’
Kota Motomura (Ft. Akichi)  ‘Flower’



PLAYLIST SPECIAL

Another eclectic spread of all the artists/bands/ensembles/collaborations that have piqued our interest, warmed our hearts and got us thinking during March, the Monthly playlist collects tracks from all the reviews, mentions during the last 31 days on the blog. There are also a number of tracks that got away, or we just didn’t have room for.

We have Matt Oliver once more on the rap control, picking another essential showcase of new hip-hop cuts from Your Old Droog, Fly Anakin, Juga-Naut, The God Fahim and Jesht. Plus a myriad of borderless picks from every genre imaginable; including tracks from El Khat, Koma Saxo, Big Thief, Sweeney, ASSASSUN, Crows, Alice Dreamt, Kick, Adam Walton, Kristine Leschper and plenty more.

THOSE TRACKS IN FULL ARE:::

Paten Locke & Edan  ‘Fried’
Koma Saxo w/ Sofia Jernberg ‘Koma Krig (Ft. Lucy Railton & Maria Reich)’
El Khat  ‘Djaja’
Terakaft  ‘Jagwar’
Etienne Jaumet & Fabrizio Rat  ‘Rive Opposte’
Big Thief  ‘Time Escaping’
Tone Of Voice Orchestra  ‘That Kind Of Day’
Pussy Riot w/ Vérité & Latashá  ‘Laugh It Off’
Martha D Lewis  ‘Dawn’
Sweeney  ‘The Break Up’
ASSASSUN  ‘Over Again’

Le Pietre Dei Giganti  ‘Ohm’
Bleak Soul  ‘Mundane, USA’

Kick  ‘Sirens Never Sleep’
Nova Charm  ‘Over.Loading’
Exociety  ‘Good Grief (Ft. Rav, Kill Bill: The Rapper, Scuare & Airospace)’
Raw Poetic & Damu The Fudgemunk  ‘Chewing Gum’
Fly Anakin  ‘Sean Price’
Neuro… No Neuro  ‘Take A Step Outside Of Yourself’
Mai Mai Mai  ‘Fimmine, Fimmine (Ft. Vera Di Lecce)’
Your Old Droog  ‘.500’

Flying Monk  ‘Fuck The Fame (Ft. Axel Holy)’
Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow  ‘Every moment (Ft. Dudley Perkins)’
PLOP & JUNNU  ‘Totnoy’
Tom Caruana  ‘3000 Volt Scarf (Ft. Lee Scott & Jazz T)’
Psych Major ‘Peace Bridge (Ft. Jamal Gasol, Wyze Wonda, DNTE & Toneyboi)’
J Scienide  ‘Danceteria’
Juga-Naut  ‘Dressed As Myself’
V Don & Sauce Heist  ‘Wray & Nephew’
The Other Guys  ‘Crepes And Breaks’
Isambard Khroustaliov  ‘Cryptoersatz’
Simon McCorry & Anthéne  ‘Distant Glitter’
Leaf Dog & BVA  ‘Devil’s Breath’

Stinkin Slumrok  ‘SHOW ME’
Jehst, Confucius & Mr Brown  ‘Daily Planet’
The God Fahim  ‘4 Matic’
Nicolas Zullo  ‘Strano Siero’
Chlorinefields  ‘Finally’
The White Russian  ‘B Child’
Shelterheart  ‘Empty Pockets’
The Lancashire Hustlers  ‘Happiness On A String’
David Åhlén  ‘My Only Treasure’
Rodrigo Bragança  ‘Third Walkers’
Fatoumata Diawara  ‘Dji L’eau (Malian Movement)’
Amaru Tribe  ‘La Serpiente’

Istanbul Blues Kumpanyasi  ‘Keep The Lord (In You) – Live’
Papercuts  ‘Palm Sunday’
Crows  ‘Garden Of England’
Alice Dreamt  ‘All Those Little Things’
Harry Christelis & Pedro Velasco  ‘LD13’

Alex Izenberg  ‘Egyptian Cadillac’
Bart Davenport  ‘Billionaires’
Carl Erdmann  ‘Turritella Flats’
Σtella & Redinho  ‘Charmed’
Adam Walton Cloudbursts II’
Kristine Leschper  ‘Carina’
Pjusk  ‘Aftenblå’

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Rave Reviews Roundup

Singles/EPS.

Papercuts ‘Lodger’
(Labelman) 1st April 2022

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

Adam Walton ‘Cloudburst EP’
(The Immediate)

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

Pit Pony ‘Black Tar’
(Clue Records)

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

Crows ‘Garden Of England’
(Bad Vibrations Records)

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

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

Albums..

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

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

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

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

Chlorinefields ‘Reclaim Your Brain’
(Radical Documents)

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

Plastic Candles ‘Dust’
(Paisley Shirt Records)

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

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

PLAYLIST SPECIAL

An encapsulation of the last month, the Monolith Cocktail team (Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and Graham Domain) chose some of the choicest and favourite tracks from February. It may have been the shortest of months, yet we’ve probably put together our largest playlist in ages: all good signs that despite everything, from Covid to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, artists, bands everywhere are continuing to create.

65 tracks, over 4 hours of music, February’s edition can be found below:

That exhaustive track list in full:::

Animal Collective ‘Walker’
Modern Nature ‘Performance’
Gabrielle Ornate ‘Spirit Of The Times’
The Conspiracy ‘Red Bird’
Cubbiebear/Seez Mics ‘All Friended Up’
Dubbledge/Chemo ‘Itchy Itchy’
Dirty Dike ‘Bucket Kicker’
Future Kult ‘Beasts With No Name’
Lunch Money Life ‘Jimmy J Sunset’
Ben Corrigan/Hannah Peel ‘Unbox’
Uncommon Nasa ‘Epiphany’
War Women Of Kosovo ‘War Is Very Hard’
Ben Corrigan/Douglas Dare ‘Ministry 101’
Sven Helbig ‘Repetition (Ft. Surachai)’
Ayver ‘Reconciliacion Con La Vida’
Lucidvox ‘Swarm’
Provincials ‘Planetary Stand-Off’
Wovenhand ‘Acacia’
Aesop Rock ‘Kodokushi (Blockhead Remix)’
Junglepussy ‘Critiqua’
Tanya Morgan/Brickbeats ‘No Tricks (Chris Crack) Remix’
Buckwild ‘Savage Mons (Ft. Daniel Son, Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon & Eto) Remix’
Che Noir ‘Praises’
Koma Saxo w/Sofia Jernberg ‘Croydon Koma’
Medicine Singers/Yontan Gat/Jamie Branch ‘Sanctuary’
Black Josh/Milkavelli/Lee Scott ‘Die To This’
Funky DL ‘I Can Never Tell (Ft. Stee Moglie)’
Mopes ‘Home Is Like A Tough Leather Jacket’
ANY Given TWOSDAY ‘Hot Sauce (Ft. Sum)’
Split Prophets/Res One/Bil Next/Upfront Mc/0079 ‘Bet Fred’
Nelson Dialect/Mr. Slipz/Vitamin G/Verbz ‘Oxford Scholars’
Immi Larusso/Morriarchi ‘Inland’
Homeboy Sandman ‘Keep That Same Energy’
Wax Tailor/Mick Jenkins ‘No More Magical’
Ilmiliekki Quartet ‘Sgr A*’
Your Old Droog/The God Fahim ‘War Of Millionz’
Ramson Badbonez/Jehst ‘Alpha’
Ghosts Of Torrez ‘The Wailing’
Pom Poko ‘Time’
Daisy Glaze ‘Statues Of Villians’
Orange Crate Art ‘Wendy Underway’
Seigo Aoyama ‘Overture/Loop’
Duncan Park ‘Rivers Are A Place Of Power’
Drug Couple ‘Linda’s Tripp’
Ebi Soda/Yazz Ahmed ‘Chandler’
Brian Bordello ‘Yes, I Am The New Nick Drake’
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets ‘Bubblegum Infinity’
Steve Gunn ‘Protection (Ft. Mdou Moctar)’
Jane Inc. ‘Contortionists’
Black Flower ‘Morning in The Jungle (Ft. Meskerem Mees)’
Jo Schornikow ‘Visions’
The Goa Express ‘Everybody In The UK’
Pintandwefall ‘Aihai’
Thomas Dollbaum ‘God’s Country’
Crystal Eyes ‘Don’t Turn Around’
Glue ‘Red Pants’
Super Hit ‘New Day’
Legless Trials ‘Junior Sales Club Of America’
Monoscopes ‘The Edge Of The Day’
Alabaster DePlume ‘Don’t Forget You’re Precious’
Orlando Weeks ‘High Kicking’
Carl Schilde ‘The Master Tape’
Bank Myna ‘Los Ojos de un Cielo sin Luz’
Park Jiha ‘Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans’
Simon McCorry ‘Interstices’



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.

ALBUM FEATURE/REVIEW
Dominic Valvona

Brian Bordello ‘Cardboard Box Beatles’
(Metal Postcard Records) 11th February 2022

Declaration of interests, yes, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea is a regular contributor to this esteemed blog. And so, in an act of what could be deemed as “pop eating itself” I’m going to somehow balance friendship with critical analyses.

Who am I kidding?! Brian is the best. And anything I’ve written or will write about both his idiosyncratic solo work and his music with the creatively dysfunctional family band, The Bordellos, will probably go unread by the masses, who should really be celebrating this St. Helens lo fi poet-of-the-people: if by people you mean despondent middle-aged white blokes learning to come to terms with their fates; ignored by all and sundry; not quite old enough to prove invaluable, yet too old to start over.

The Les Miserable of the North, Brian’s wit and aphorism one-liners make all his resigned lyricism more palatable. No one quite sums up life in an almost ungovernable modern Britain like our Brian. Yet there’s always a sullen but achingly heartbreaking fragility, delivered on Brian’s second most popular theme of romance: unrequited love; a love lost; a love undeserved. Regrets…he’s had a fair few. But listening to the lo fi (so lo fi as to barely register; making even the late Sparklehorse sound like a flash git) stripped of artifice recordings of this “nowhere man” (A Beatles reference which we shall come back to later) is never a slog.

Across the decades, shovelling away with a kid’s cheap plastic spade – left over from a northern beachside holiday many moons ago I envisage – at the music industry’s coalface, Brian has released his proclamations and wry wisdom in various guises and on a myriad of obscure labels. His latest album is for Metal Postcard Records (no strangers to this site; the “postcard” bit of that imprint the closest a fandom Brian will ever get to the original iconic Scottish label he adores) is about as basic as it gets: just an acoustic guitar, Brian’s wistful soft rasped voice and the hum and slipping rubber band of what sounds like a Tascam four-track.

Cardboard Box Beatle as a title does little to prepare the listener; the Cardboard title-track couldn’t be further from a Beatles homage, sounding like a St. Helens bedraggled Kurt Cobain unraveling his life, baring his soul to the disinterest of everyone else. Instead, the box in question can be seen as a metaphor for a cheap recycled life of low achievement; 50 plus years summed up in a box you might drop off at a jumble sale when someone dies, or leave for the local charity shop: leftovers, mementos, cherished low monitory valued memories deemed worthless. The charity shop will be something Brian is all too aware of, after like many of us, struggling to keep or losing their job in the Covid pandemic.

It’s also, no doubt, a descriptive name for the cheap knock-offs, those who still pray at the altar of a band that spilt up over 50 years ago. Whilst Brian himself wears his influences on his mothball, untangling sleeve, he berates the lack of ingenuity, freshness, zest, protest and, even, fun in most new music. As a reviewer for my site, he’s more than used to reading umpteen thousand press releases, and the eye-catching, dumbed-down use of “soundalike” references. Whilst the 90s to the most recent generation breaking through is the 60s to us 80s kids, there’s still such a hunger to sound, copy the music of their grandfathers and mothers. Brian’s own nostalgia doesn’t get in the way of championing the contemporary artists/bands that are trying something different. He’s sung of a pantheon of “motherfuckers”, from Scott Walker to Gene Vincent; Julian Cope to Dave Gedge; artists he feels gave the bird finger to compromise, or were just one-offs, never to be repeated.

Disparaging catcalls aside, the industry’s reliance on back catalogues is proving destructive to newcomers: Brian can be heard banging his head against Flyod’s brick wall. None more so than on the album’s almost flat, despondent opener ‘Yes, I Am The New Nick Drake’; a low-end wistful jeer no doubt at the production line of acoustic troubadours in awe of the fateful legend: but only in copying the adulation part, the young life cut short bit of that legend being a step too far to copy.

As far as The Beatles go there’s an air of melancholic Revolver on the disarming but pleaded ‘Please’; also hints of a Mogadon induced Wedding Present and The Las in the melody and strumming. It must be said that the low quality of these plaints, laments and maverick observations feels more like eavesdropping than a performance: as if Brian sits all day playing these often candid, cathartic but also piss-taking jibes to himself, and that we’ve just stumbled upon him and decided to secretly press record.

In the romantic, knockabout sentimental vogue, Brian exudes a Northern Syd Barrett (another hero of our Brian’s; forget Floyd after that though) trying to catch a free-spirited ‘Flowerchild’; grumbles about his bland perpetual Autumn wardrobe as a metaphor for lost love and mortality and lockdowns, on the “all my summers have gone” “dododoing” ‘Seasons Change’; languidly strums Catholic metaphors about a muse on the Dan Tracey-esque ‘The True Meaning Of Love’; and on what is a deeply offensive, but all the better for it guilty laugh, ‘Here Comes Eric With His Dead Child Song’ (contender surely for best title of 2022, if not ever), in drudgery, bemoans his own sad existence and behaviour to those held dear. 

But as I have mentioned already, this is the unraveling of an artist on the “scrapheap”; a moment (say a year in Covid lockdown) captured of mental fatigue, alienation, defeat. Songs like ‘Catfood On The Floor’ epitomize a modern “nowhere man”; a generation X life boxed-up with nothing worth keeping other than the trinkets that marked personal euphoria against a disposable, unwanted collection of CDs ripped from the covers of NME and Mojo: a summary lament of the emptiness that so many of us felt, experienced during the last two years. Brian even measures himself up for an “Instagram” friendly funeral on the ode to a ‘Salamander Fruit Fly’; a poignant, though well obscured in tune, song about death, mental health and the banality of narcissism seen through the vaporous lifestyles and validations of social media.

Brian takes it all in with an acidic, often witty pun(ing) amusement; even the most depressing moments magically dark in humour and self-depreciation. Never has so little musically evoked such reams of thought; a simple, slipping and warping because of cheap apparatus, guitar and voice denouncement of modern life spent under the cosh of Covid, Cardboard Box Beatles is more than the sum of its cheaply recorded parts.

Coming back round to that Beatles title, the album (as so many of Brian’s releases are) is released on the anniversary of the Fab Fours Please, Please Me recordings; a link back to nostalgia and love for the band that still influences legions fifty-nine years later. Because at the heart of Brian’s diatribes about our reliance for nostalgia, he still can’t quite escape it himself. But then, can any of us truly cut ties with the past and a so-called “golden age”. Perhaps it’s that age’s mysticism, the secret alchemy that Brian so cherishes – a life without 24/7 newsfeeds and Twitter accounts -, a complete opposite to today’s all too knowing show and tells and the relentlessness demystifying commodification of the art form. Striped back to the essentials, Brian encapsulates an array of displeasures like no one else can. Let’s just hope his music reaches the wider audience it deserves.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Idiosyncratic Reviews 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 will be released in February by Metal Postcard Records.

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

SINGLES/TRACKS.

Super Hit ‘Believe’
(Metal Postcard Records) 18th January 2022

I have no idea why this reminds me of Christmas but it does. Not that it matters what it reminds me of but all that matters is that this is a wonderfully whooshed beautiful version of the Cher classic. I really like it. Could be what Mercury Rev might sound like if they were down and outs and had too much cheap sherry and slept in a launderette with only memories of old top 40 hits for company. This really is quite a beautiful little number; I’m now excited at the thought of an album. 

Mermaid Avenue ‘Prisoner’

I like this single. It reminds me of the Rolling Stones when they wanted to be Gram Parsons; it has all the reaching for the sky trying to shake hands with God quality: The kind of song Primal Scream have attempted many times but not quite got there. It’s not as good as Cliff Richard’s version of Jesus but to be fair not much is. Yes indeed, a rather lovely scraping the stars from the sky track.

Tony Valentino ‘Barracuda’
(Big Stir Records) 4th February 2022

Tony Valentino from the 60s garage band legends The Standells has rerecorded the bands’ famous ‘Barracuda’ and issued it as a single on Big Stir Records. And a fine single it is as well. As you expect, it’s full of 60s garage rock goodness with psychedelic guitars, 60s garage rock organ, and is a total blast of fun and freedom that puts younger artists to shame: reminding us that music can indeed be fun and ‘cambunkishush’, a word I have just made up. But why the hell not? It is the perfect word to describe this fun filled action packed piece of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ghosts Of Torrez ‘The Wailing/ The Legend of Billy The Whale’
11th February 2022

This is rather beautiful; it is like floating on a cloud made up of memories from a time when you wanted nothing but a kiss from the girl/boy you once loved’s lips; a slow-moving nostalgic stroll down the riverbank of dreams. Yes, indeed this is a rather lovely candy floss track of a single and should be swooned over now.

ALBUMS/EPs…

Armstrong ‘Happy Graffiti’
(Country Mile)

The long-awaited album by Julian Pitt aka Armstrong is upon us, and as you expect from a man who has melody oozing, yes, oozing from his pores, it is a tuneful delight. As I have mentioned many times in past reviews, Julian is one of the finest songwriters in the United Kingdom at the moment and has been for many years: one of music’s best kept secrets in fact.

Happy Graffiti is his third album proper not counting comps and reissues, and anyone with the good taste to have his other two excellent albums will not be disappointed. Songs of love, hope and heartbreak are dispatched with some aplomb; Bacharach and David, Jim Webb, Roddy Frame, David Gates eat your breaking hearts out! These are songs that should be drifting from radio 2: ‘Eyes Wide Open’ a song of pure heart-breaking beauty, and ‘In A Memory’ a piano ballad that has me thinking of the sweetness of the Zombies mighty opus Odyssey And Oracle.

These are songs that are wrapped in a comfort blanket of familiarity, even if you’ve never heard them before; ‘This One’ being stuck in my head even after just one listen, and Happy Graffiti is full of these tuneful blighters: ‘Rock Star Rock Star’ and even the piano instrumental ‘Days turn Into Months’ is melody ridden. 

So, Happy Graffiti is an album of melodious delight, an album to soundtrack the days and months as winter turns to Spring and hope and loss merge into beautiful memories.

Sky Diving Penguins ‘S-T’

The Sky Diving Penguins album is one joyous pop thrill; an album that takes its Beatles, Nirvana, Zombies influences and makes an album that could have been released anytime over the last 50 years. Timeless is the word I’m looking for. Melodies float and quiver, at times reminding me of the Rentals or Fountains Of Wayne.

Sure, this is not the most original and ground-breaking albums that will be released this year and there will be hundreds if not thousands released that tread the same ground that wander the same Weary path, but I doubt I will hear as many as good and enjoyable as this. So, recommended to all you power poppers and lovers of sixties influenced pop, and anyone who’s god is George Harrison, should indeed investigate.

The Conspiracy ‘Sword Of Damocles’
(Metal Postcard Records) 14th January 2022

Do you remember the days when guitar music was the be all and end all in your life? I do, but then I’m of that age when all parts of your body start to lose its appeal, but your memories stand firm and wrap themselves in a mist of melodies coveted by nostalgia, which one dips and makes themselves open to the grace of growing old. And this five track EP has the same magical effect: Guitar songs that are well written and played and wrap themselves in a time when guitar songs could change your world or even just make it a more enjoyable place to exist or even live sometimes. An EP to cherish and hold close to your aching old heart.

Pulco ‘Crustacean Theory’
14th February 2022

If experimental art pop is your thing, you could do a hell of a lot worse than treating yourself to the new Pulco album; an album where poetry, discordant synth, occasional Fall like guitar and bass riffs collide with The Shaggs brilliance to upturn an already upturned apple cart, to set fire to an already burning building. This is the sound of a man stretching his art to new and extreme levels of bewitchery; a man arguing with himself knowing both sides of the argument being right: knowing that this album is an off-the-cuff work of pop poetry that will not break through the stagnant stench of so called alternative music scene.

For Pulco is a one off and people really do not appreciate one offs: they scare people you see. This is an album of real life, of dreams of nightmares of walking through a picturesque country landscape to see trees full of hanging Swans  dripping with a deathly decaying beauty, which again is a perfect metaphor for this wonderful eccentric work of aural art.

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