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.

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.

REVIEWS/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Aua ‘I Don’t Want It Darker’
(Crazysane) Album/4th September 2020

I love this album. Should I just stop there and tell you to get your wallets out and buy it?! Or, should I give you reasons to do so?

Well if you have a penchant for Blur (when they are not being annoying and in an experimental frame of mind), or a love for the amazing Silver Apples this could well be the album to soundtrack these oncoming months of strangeness and wonder. There are even hints of Jean Michel Jarre, and I hate that cunt; but imagine if Jean Michel Jarre was good and wrote music with verve spirit and guile and been injected in the arse by whatever makes Can and Neu! so special, and if you can’t imagine that you need to buy this album anyway. And if that’s not reason enough it has a dark splendor I can imagine David Lynch standing and applauding. Another fine album to add to the list for the end of the year best.





Warped Freqs ‘Shifting Initiation’
(Wormhole) Album/24th April 2020


 

The sound of laid back wonky psychedelic rock has always been something I have enjoyed to varying degrees over the years and this ltd edition cd is a bit of a peach of a release; a psychedelic peach at that, the kind of peach Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine might have enjoyed; the kind of peach Stuart Maconie would suck on whilst hosting the Freak Zone in-between records dripping the juice down his Wigan rugby jersey giving it a hurrah of the 1967s. It also has a nice spaced out Saturday night at the movies feel about it that is as if the movie was featuring crimson pantalooned beauties who swung their hair as they slowly danced in the underground discotheque to the mellow becoming sounds of the Warped Freqs. You could have a wail of a time in a crochet hammock gently rocking to this, losing yourself in the looseness of the soft kisses this enigmatic little beauty supplies. There is a very ltd edition cd available so space cadets get one while you can.





Prize Pig ‘The Line’
Single/24th July 2020




The debut release from a new DIY bedroom pop prince in town, the wonderfully named Prize Pig; and what a lovely pop song it is to stomping drum machine a reverb guitar and a melody Andy Partridge would be proud of, and would fit on nicely on one of his Fuzzy Warbles albums. Yes it is that good, bathed in old English Pasture pop charm; certainly one to watch.





Tiger Mimic ‘Where The Fire Used to Be’
Single/14th August 2020




 

Tiger Mimic describe themselves as a band to watch and who on earth am I to disagree with such a statement. There is nothing wrong with being confident in your own music or otherwise what would be the point of making it. And I quite like this as it slightly has a strange amateur dramatics vocal quality about it, which you don’t normally hear in guitar indie rock. It also stops and breaks off into a “Be My baby” drum beat midway through, which is always an egg in my basket. I expect this to get lots of plays on radio x (but don’t let that put you off).


Nicky William ‘I Fell In Love With Her’
Single/Now




This is heartbreakingly beautiful, a song steeped in the romance and hurt that love inspires, a song that brings to mind the many fine moments of Smog and Lee Hazlewood, one that inspires a dark melancholy to fill the room, one that swirls with the mists of regret stumbling through the corridors of yearning and solitude and the loneliness of being in love with the prettiest girl you have ever seen but knowing every other fool also wants her, and all that captured in the magic of a three minute song: the true magic of music.





Shishi ‘Mafitishei’
Album/30th June 2020




If all girl post punk from Lithuania is your thing and by the sounds of it, it is indeed my thing, this could be for you; harmonious off kilter pop with angular surf guitar, the aroma of The Pixies in 45rpm splendor and early Fuzzbox surrounds the whole delightful surroundings. It also has the pop suss to have a song, ‘Nebesikalbam’, that sounds like the 60s beat classic ‘Fortune Teller’ and not everyone has the nous or spirit not only to blatantly do such a thing but have the panache to carry it off: the slight fuzz bass brings tears of joy to this old fools eyes; quite a wonderful track. And this LP has plenty of those. A quite poptastic album in a Lithuanian post punk pop kind of way.





Abel Cain and the Scrubs ‘Scrub This’
(Pigeon Cove Records) Album/28th July 2020




There is a touch of the Bob Dylan’s about this album that I very much approve of, but in a late 70s garage Stiff records kind of way, and at the same time it has a lovely 60s garage feel about it – I know, I will call it rock n roll and be done it with.

This is simple undiluted stripped-down basic rock n roll with all the magic it entails; fine melodies, decent lyrics played live in a cheap studio, the sound of blue-collar working-class poetry at its finest. I hear the glorious history of rock n roll laid out in these seven tracks, from Hank Williams via Dylan the beat bands of the 60s through to Springsteen, Tom Petty and the Clash, and right up to Green Day. It’s punk rock with a country bar band feel. It is simply a very wonderful timeless album, one I advise everyone should give a listen to.





Reardon Love  ‘Locked In The Panopticon’
Single/Now




It’s really lovely to see that there are young exciting bands taking the influences of 80s synth pop with all its glamour and sleaze and moulding it into modern fine pop songs. Alongside the wonderful Beauty Stab I can see Readon Love leading the charge and grabbing the ears and hearts of radio programmers and blog editors with their grasp of the glamour melodies and songwriting talent. Maybe in these dark times music may once again add the sparkle and escape we desperately need.





Keys ‘This Side Of Luv’
(Libertino) Single/17th August 2020




Let’s transport back in time to the golden days of 70’s pop, where the Bay City Rollers meets ELO in a mellow sunshine romp of Saturday summer days gone past. Very unusual and quite refreshing to hear actually, the lovely warmth the Keys emit, especially over the soulless dross I have just put my ears through, sometimes drawing on nostalgia for inspiration is a good thing indeed as this record so lovingly proves.



ROLES ‘Rinpoche’
Single/7th August 2020




This is sexy funky and unusual and I like it. This may have been what Transvision Vamp would have sounded like if they had got Brian Eno in to produce. It’s all glam guitar and wonky synths with a scientific edge about it; a pop song with an experimental undercurrent or an experimental track overcome with pop sexuality; either way a damn fine single.



SLONK ‘Postman’
(Breakfast Records) Single/7th August 2020




A song to capture the hearts and minds of all those who remember the off-kilter guitar pop of A House from the late 80s early 90s; a song that has everything one wants from a diy pop single, catchy chorus refrain, nice melodies and lyrics that are both heartfelt and heart-warming. Who did indeed not want to be a postman at some point in their life. I actually failed my interview; I don’t think they thought my love of the Cramps and inability to either drive or lack of bike riding panache made me an ideal candidate. But I’m going off the point, the point being that this is a fine three-minute pop single worthy of your attention; so much so I’m quite interested in hearing the forthcoming album.





REVIEWS/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent 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. His next album, The King Of No-Fi is due out next month on Metal Postcard Records.

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.


Beauty Stab ‘French Film Embrace’
Single/12th July 2020


Oh lord this is bloody good. It’s perfect pop in its most perfect form. It gives me goosebumps. It has everything one wants in pop music. No wonder there is a buzz about this band that has not been heard of since…well, lord knows when.

This is worthy of The Associates at their heartbreaking best; a song that could and should if there was any justice in the world be all over the radio to brighten and enlighten, we the listening masses. Maybe too early in the year to say single of the year…but I will say it anyway…single of the year.



Related:

Beauty Stab Interview

Beauty Stab ‘O Edan’ 



The Waterboys ‘The Soul Singer’
(Cooking Vinyl) Single/Out Now




I have a bit of a soft spot for The Waterboys; I quite like how Mike Scott had the music world at his feet with the release of the This Is The Sea album, and was on the verge of U2 like success. It was his for the taking, but instead he locked himself away in Ireland and made two beautifully of kilter folk albums. That kind of career sabotage has to be applauded.

One of rock music’s more eccentric and lovable characters, and here we have a sonnet to another one of rock’s eccentrics the grumpily lovable Van Morrison. This is a fine sun filled pop song in a Radio 2 kind of way, the kind of song that will have you tapping your fingers on the steering wheel as you listen to the radio stuck in traffic. I wonder what Van thinks of it.






She’s A Fish ‘Downstream’
(Puffy Pastryd) Single




This is one for all you pop pickers out there with a taste for the mildly twisted, Shadow hungry psychedelic sounds bordering on the kind of off kilter post punk delights served up by the wonderful Swell Maps all those years ago; hastily scrubbed semi acoustics scratch out the nagging melody of pure austere glory. A little gem of a song.






Peel Dream Magazine ‘Moral Panics’
EP/3rd July 2020




I like this especially track two, the ridiculously titled ‘Verfremdungseffekt’, which comes on like early Julian Cope circa his first two solo albums, and early Belle and Sebastian. A mellow pop treat for sure, the Casio organ and fine melody gives one a splendid few minutes of pop bliss. The rest of the EP is fine garage pop psych tinged mellow shoegaze with lovely floating Casio like keyboards that are both soothing and enriching, giving you the warm feeling of being sponged down by the greatest hits of a sexy but enigmatic European.






Violent Vickie ‘The Blame’
Single/10th July 2020




I wonder if Violent Vickie has ever had her music described as splendid before. For that is what it is: splendid. It has a splendid lo-fi dark syntheses about it that can only be described as, well, splendid. It has a lovely dark crunchy guitar and vocals that can only be described as, splendid. The splendicity of this track is one I enjoyed a great deal and I was a bit concerned at first the press release mentions Joy Division, and normally that is a big turn off in a press release mentioning Joy Division, as every bugger who classes their music as Dark Synth always mentions Joy Division and this sounds nothing like Joy Division I’m pleased to report; there will be no mishaps hanging up her washing…thank the lord, as there is always room for splendid music in my life.






Astral Swans ‘Bird Songs’
Single/10th July 2020




Now I do like a good pop song stuffed with self-loathing and unhappiness but disguised with pop melody and sing-along ability, and this track has those qualities in abundance. It has the same feeling and in fact same beat as Smogs wonderful ‘Cold Blooded Old Times’. It is a song to sing to yourself while walking alone in the park, and we all need one of those in our life.






The Legless Crabs ‘One People One Mind One Death’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/25th June 2020




The debut proper from the Texas Punk rockers The Legless Crabs is upon us, and what a fine LP it is too. Discordant guitar, ramshackle drums, echo laden vocals and off beat lyrics takes us to the strange world they inhabit. Pussy Galore, The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Shaggs are fine reference points, but placed into a glittering concrete music mixer to supply a musical house art all of its own making; a place where Roky Erickson would happily reside. The 13th Floor elevators are also brought to mind especially on my personal favourite, the wonderfully spaced out ‘Not The Good Kind’, which starts out as almost strange lounge punk and then erupts into waves of feedback, a track of pure wonder which perfectly fits on this album of pure wonders. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, one of the albums of the year.






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 Special/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.



Cosse ‘Nothing Belongs To Anything’
(À Tant Rêver du Roi/Grabuge Records) EP/12 June 2020



This EP has a certain moody dark grey charm about it: all Slint atmospherics and Jeff Buckley carefree smiles, a place where angst and beauty collide to make the soundtrack of a unmade 90’s road movie. Snarling feedback guitars and beautifully screamed whispers from both males and females slowly strips the layers of dust and heartache to leave the naked throbbing of the stripped down decaying heart of a future yesterday memory.






8 Floors Up ‘Roman Bones Make Good Glue’
Single/26th June 2020



Ah is this going to take us back to the wonderful summer of 89 when baggy ruled the airwaves. This is quite a magical groove that reminds one of the golden days of the Mondays and Roses a song I can see doing very well radio play wise in the months ahead. And for once, a song that will be worthy of such an honour; a track that is lying in the stars staring at the gutter.






Cathedral Bells ‘Undertow’
Single/29th May 2020



This is quite a lovely thing indeed, Johnny Marr ‘These Things Take Time’ guitar and the swooning like Cocteau Twins vocals merge into a blissful just under three minute pop rush of pure indie perfection: a song to be listened to on repeat with your favourite person by your side smiling along.






Inglourious Basterds ‘Something In the Air’
Single/3rd June 2020



A cover of the old Thunderclap Newman classic you’re asking yourselves? And the answer is yes. Covering a well known and overplayed radio fave is always a risky move unless you are willing to take the track and reinterpret it in a completely different way, making the song sound like your own; and to a certain extent The Inglourious Basterds succeed. The first part of the track just being drums and a fine vocal that brings out the beauty and meaning of the wonderful lyrics highlighting again the fine melody of the original and then it explodes into a Sonic Youth meets Dinosaur Jnr. guitar duel, where both parties are left beaten to a pulp by the tracks end and the winner being you the listener. It’s free to download from Bandcamp.






National Treasure ‘Come And Go’
(Keep Me In Your Heart) Single/19th June 2020



This track reminds me of a school project to make a pop single that’s to be sung by a saucy maths teacher. It has that slightly seedy feel which is a good thing. It also has a looseness and throwaway pop fluff feel to it too. The song is about faking an orgasm so maybe this sounding like a school project faking a pop single is what they were going for.






HighSchool ‘Frosting’
Video Single/8th June 2020



Joy Division keyboards, early Cure matching bass and guitar lines and sub Ian Curtis vocals: yes it’s another how much we loved indie in the 80s release. And this is a jolly enough affair. And if you like the indie sound you will like this as it is done very well, and is their debut release so good luck to them.







Aimee Steven ‘Darling’
(Jacaranda Records) Single/15th May 2020



I quite like how this sounds like Chicory Tip, not an influence you hear everyday it must be said but this is a catchy little ditty that goes around in a riff shaped circle, which for those who do not know what shape that is should listen to this lovely piece of guitar pop. I can imagine Mickie Most giving this a thumbs up on New Faces; and do you know what? The old chap would be right.





The Rubettes ‘Glamnezia’
Single/12th June 2020



I really wanted to love this, I really did. I loved The Rubettes in the 70s; them alongside Mud and Alvin Stardust and Gary Glitter sound tracked my infant and junior school days: I remember being sat in front of the TV every Thursday transfixed by the magic of Top Of The Pops. But sadly this song I listened to over and over again trying to decide as whether it was a joke or not, the lyrics really are so bad they are laughable, it has even to my mind surpassed Oasis’s song ‘Little James’ as the worst song written by a grown up. In fact I have to tip my hat to them for their guts to release it. “It does not get much easier in fact it gets much sleazier when you have amnesia”, even Jack Black would not succumb to such depths with his unfunny homages to hard rock; this track does in a cartoon overblown way, with the guitar turned up to eleven and the torturous vocals [yes torturous to listen to]. I bet the singer could eat three shredded wheat and I’m sure the producer must have had shredded wheat rammed down his ears to get through the recording session. But saying that, I’m looking forward to the album.



Guts Club ‘Song For Carm’
Single/29th May 2020



Since I’m the only person in this world who has never watched The Sopranos I have nothing to compare this to, as this is a cover of the theme song. Saying that, I like this; it sounds like a drunk mumbling down a well which is a lot better than a lot of the aural shit I have ploughed through this afternoon believe me.






Chris Cech ‘Sloth’
Album/8th May 2020



I know nothing of Chris Cech apart from the fact he recorded this wonderful album in his mother’s basement and it’s available to download from his Bandcamp site, which I advise you to do, as it recalls the manic pop thrills of the four great guitar ‘bs – Big Star, Beatles, Buzzcocks and Big Star again – without actually sounding like any of them. Actually it has more of a feel of the great Alex Chilton’s solo work and the early Go Betweens, but anyway it is brillant guitar music and has melodies aplenty and Chris has that rare pop nouse to make quite timeless gems sound like quite timeless gems, and this album is full of the little blighters. A very fine album indeedy.






REVIEWS/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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

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


Murmur Tooth   ‘A Fault In The Machine’
(Self-Release)   LP/ Available Now


Murmur Tooth is Leah Hinton, a young lady from New Zealand who is now based in Berlin, and is the vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer writer of this very fine album. Hinton is also blessed with a lilting almost folky voice filled with the kind of emotion you really do not associate with doom laden synth pop.

A Fault In This Machine is a dark sedate sultry affair; a dive into the night time of someone else’s life a life, where you spend the day hoping for that certain person to appear who lifts the boredom of a life that is not exactly happening.

There is a realness and dreaminess to these lyrics that draw you into Murmur Tooth’s existence. It really is a beautiful sounding and beautifully written album, one of the highlights being the lovely ‘Rain Rain’, a stunning piano ballad that for some reason has my mind wandering back to my teenage years of the 80’s when dark synth based pop ruled the roost: a song I would recommend to any other old timers like myself who can recall the majestic Wonderful Life album by Black.

Leah is a real talent, one that should be embraced and celebrated for A Fault In The Machine is a warm, soulful, dark and real sounding synth album wrapped in a blanket of subtlety, and that is something one does not hear everyday.






Vukovar   ‘Exhumation: The First Death Of Vukovar (2014 – 2019)’
LP/Available Now




Vukovar have decided to release a ltd best of cassette; a band that could and should have been a lot bigger and better known than they currently are, but they do have the habit of shooting themselves in the foot, so much so I doubt any of the band have any toes left. And here is another prime example; instead of releasing on one of the many labels they have released their seven plus albums on they have self released it instead – an action akin to The Beatles releasing Sgt. Pepper as a boiled egg or Shakin’ Stevens appearing on Top Of The Pops and not thrusting his hips in a cartoonish sexual manner. But lack of business sous aside the tracks on this collection are essentially a best of, so are the most commercial and ear friendly to the general public and would make a fine introduction if not released in such a ltd hipster fashion.

The songs are all of the highest quality and show their many influences, from their debut single Wedding Present Monster era like ‘Nero’s Felines’ through to the should have been all over the radio ‘New World Order’. There early to mid 80s post punk synth sound is truly a wonderful thing, as demonstrated on ‘This Moment Severed’ and ‘Clockwork Dance’. The album is jammed full of greatness and it’s a bit of tragedy that not more people will get to hear it. Maybe they will release the next as a ltd edition self hum.






Randolph’s Leap   ‘Petrichor’
Single/Available Now




Has Power Pop I wonder replaced Irn-Bru as the drink of choice in the band land of Scotland? For what we have here is another Scottish band showing their love for Teenage Fanclub/Big Star, with this lovely nifty little piece of perfect McCartney-ish like strum along pop. This really is a lovely thing: The sun is in the sky there is nothing to do nowhere to go but you can lose yourself in this little subtle gem.






The Legless Crabs   ‘Irregular On The Cellular’
Single/Available Now




Have you ever wondered what Legless Crabs sound like? Well I will tell you: they sound like the true spirit of rock n roll; they are the aural equivalent of the apple of your eye slowly self peeling the beauty of The Shaggs covering Jesus And Mary Chain. It is a thing of great wonder and maybe my new favourite band. You heard it here first; the Legless crabs are the future of rock ‘n’ roll.






Crumpsall Riddle  ‘Looking After The Duck’
(Wormhole World)  Album/Available Now




It’s a strange old time so the ideal opportunity to lose yourself in the strange world of Crumpsall Riddle: Old synths, old keyboards, the occasional guitar and jazz bass and flat caps and folk music and ranting and singing sweetly acapella style – I could be making up the flat caps bit, but who knows. These are songs improvised over three sessions, so have a lovely made up at the moment feel, which I enjoy as it is like having a permanent record of madness, the unveiling of inspiration hitting and the fading as quickly as it arrived and then moving onto something else like speed reading somebody else’s book collection whilst listening to the Bagpuss soundtrack as whistling Jack Smith rifles through your girlfriend’s knickers drawer just out of view. Anything could happen or be happening in the strange world of Crumpsall Riddle.






Harry Cloud   ‘The Pig And The Machine’
(Whiteworm Records)  LP/Available Now




What we have here is a blaze of magic mushroom stoner bubblegum stoner psychedelia, a lo-fi inventive curse of tomorrow and yesterday when morrow meets tomorrow in a slaphappy kind of way. Imagine if your radio was wired to play the soundtrack to your most out there sordid wish, this could well be playing as it jumps from the semi classical to the music that the not quite best looking member of a 70’s edition of Top Of The Pops audience would wiggle her arse to: not sexy but getting away with it.

This album is inventive, dirty, funny, dark and moving in so many ways. Like all great rock n roll should be it is a album that at times sounds like it is arguing with itself; sometimes being far too clever for its own good, but you love it all the same. How could you not when there is song as beautiful as ‘Haunted Hayride’, or, as weirdly rocking as ‘Browser’ – the sound of the Mothers Of Invention covering The Pixies. An album that could easily get on your tits, or, an LP you could love and fall in love with – and I have not quite made up my mind yet -, and for that he gets a big thumbs up from me.






Euan Hartley And Friends   ‘Ten Years At The Bottom’
LP/Available Now




Euan Hartley is singer with the band the Pit Ponies, and this is a LP four years in the making in which he worked with various musician friends. And what I like about the album is that it seems to mean a lot to him, which trust me, is not always the way. It has a lot of heart and a lot of pain seeping through the songs. Euan has quite an impressive voice like he has been gargling from the same glass as the godlike Robert Wyatt, and the music is pure [in the best way]; DIY indie style, not the generic, ‘I have a beard and Fender Jag way and am looking forward to playing the local music festival’ kind. The songs are way to quirky and heartfelt for that especially the Casio embraced beauty ‘Beatrice’ and the wonderfully weird chopped up Flaming Lips like ‘Selfies’.

Ten Years At The Bottom is a album filled with songs of purity soul and heartache and despite being made over a long period of time with various friends and his peers the album sounds like a album and not just a collection of songs lumped together: and what a fine collection of songs it is. Also, it is available as a pay what you want to download from bandcamp, so I honestly don’t know what your waiting for, get downloading.






Meat Whiplash   ‘Don’t Slip Up’
(Optic Nerve)   Single/15th May 2020




I normally do not bother reviewing old music as I don’t write for Mojo, and there are so many new records and songs released daily that deserve attention that sadly do not get the attention they deserve, and its so easy for a label to reissue some old song than putting the time in finding and promoting a new and up and coming band; for nostalgia is all well and good but in thirty years what will there be to be nostalgic about if the new is not embraced and loved? So I will say that this is a reissue of the one and only Meat Whiplash single released on Creation Records many years ago, and very good it is too; all Mary Chain fuzz guitars and early Psychedelic Furs vocals. They of course morphed into Motorcycle Boy who I saw live a few times back in the day -see I am getting nostalgic now. Why damn you Optic Nerve records and your excellent Optic Sevens reissue series…you cunts.


Sunbourne Rd  ‘Teenage Lyrics’
LP/Available Now




Yes it’s that time again, when I start to review catchy guitar pop. Dare I call it power pop without being arrested by the power pop police for wrongly diagnosing the LP?! No I’ll risk it: it’s power pop. It has power and is pop, and for once although obviously influenced by Paul McCartney, it is more Wings Paul than Beatle Paul: which I like as such subtleties make a difference.

What we have here is a compilation of eight singles released between 2014 and 2017 by Sunbourne Rd who hail from Northern Italy. And they obviously release fine catchy guitar pop with nods to all the usual power pop icons like McCartney, Rockpile, Mott The Hoople and their ilk. Nothing truly original or different just eight finally written songs bathed in melody – which is what we want in our power pop. And just how many times have I used the words power pop in this review? Recommended for all those who like their pop with power.




Chinofeldy   ‘Stay Home’
Single/Available Now




Another band from Scotland and another catchy 60s influenced pop song: it really shows just how wonderful the Beatles were, that 50 years since they split up they are still a huge influence on bands today. I suppose you may as well learn and borrow from the best. What we have here is a benefit song for the NHS; a worthy cause we all, I am sure, agree on. So you may as well download this lovingly produced slice of 60s influenced pop and do yourself and the much-underfunded NHS a favour. You know it makes sense.





REVIEWS/Brian ‘Shea’ Bordello





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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

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

Chris Church  ‘Backwards Compatible’
Album/Now


Power pop is an art form that not many critics takes seriously; quite often frowned upon and belittled. Why is it such a bad thing for songs to have catchy melodies and harmonies and a feel good factor. Is it wrong to be influenced by McCartney led Beatles and Big Star; to love the crunchy guitars of Cheap Trick; to have melodies so sharp that they could shave off your eyebrows if you got too close. Of course not all critics are arseholes who eat what they are fed, who will accept anything as long as it’s wrapped in the latest hip design [me using the phrase hip design proves I’m no critic and certainly not a fashion led one]. I’m a music lover. I love pop music. I love harmonies. I love songs with a feel good factor, and yes McCartney is my favourite Beatle.

If you are like myself a pop music lover this LP is certainly for you as it has all the above mentioned and more. If you love Matthew Sweet and Brendan Benson, or even quite like them, you really need to hear this LP. If you’ve never heard of either I would advise you do, but first give this fine album a blast. I’m pretty sure it will not get the attention or the radio play it deserves and that is a bit of a sin as this album was born to be played on the radio.



Yakima  ‘Go Virtually’
EP/20th March 2020




Scottish bands like Big Star and Bad Finger it seems. That’s what we have here: another band soaking up the melodies of the past and releasing them forth to hopefully inspire more bands to like Big Star, which in itself is a worthy cause, because you cannot really have too many bands releasing warm catchy pop music, and this EP’s six tracks of warm catchy guitar pop is just that. It’s like the aural equivalent of your cat nesting in your favorite old jumper, in a cardboard box; no matter how many times you see it, it still makes you smile and warm inside.



So Beast  ‘Super Black’
EP/27th April 2020




If I remember correctly (Editor: yes you did) I reviewed an EP (Fit Unformal) by So Beast last year and was very impressed. Well nothing has changed, as this is equally as impressive.

Once again bringing a dark sultry post punk sound that reminds me of a semi electro Bow Wow Wow; chanted, whispered talked vocals backed by backward drum machines, the bleeps and chimes of the electronic kind twanging guitars and a warm dark hush of their art causing expectant ripples in the part of your mind where you fold away stars and memories of unkempt kisses and elicit sexual acts you performed, or, wished you had. An EP of sultry dark wonders.




Geese   ‘Bottle’
Single/Available Now




Geese are a band or a group [as I’m old fashioned] or, a flock even, from New York and this is their second single to date [I think it is anyway; I could be wrong, and not for the first time]. And what we have here is a fine slice of indie rock; chiming, almost a prog like guitar matched with dark melodic harmonies that bathe in the nostalgia that has me spinning back to the days when people with guitars mattered. Well worth lending your ears to.



Tangled Headphones  ‘Death By Misadventure’
Single/1st April 2020




I really love this. Tangled Headphones describe themselves as anti pop, which I have to disagree with, as this is a fine pop single. It’s certainly lo-fi, which you should know by now is something I adore. It also has a great psych eastern feeling to it – again something I love. Imagine if you will, a Psych Beat Happening; maybe one of my personal favorite tracks of the year so far. Great stuff indeed.




Aimée Steven ‘Hell Is A Teenage Girl’
(Jacaranda Records)  Single/6th March 2020




I think I may just stop reading press releases because on the whole they make me not want to actually listen to the song, as it nearly did with this delight of a pop single by Aimée Steven. And I’m glad I overlooked the bad hype “ripping up rule books ” and such nonsense, because what we have here is a fine PJ Harvey like song injected with the pop fun of The Monkees: guitars that jangle and fizz and a melody that would easily pass the old grey whistle test. One to watch yet again.




Pabst   ‘Skyline’
(Ketchup Tracks / The Orchard)   Single/Now




I was, once again, not expecting to like this as I always look on the bright side, as you know. But I actually did! I like the post grunge with a touch of old fashioned Glam rock feel to it: imagine Suede with beards and holes in their jeans. It’s once again a well written song with decent lyrics a fine melody and with a head-banging inducing chorus, which those with youth on their side I would advise, as it is good exercise [I am led to believe].



REVIEWS
Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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

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


Loose Fit   ‘Loose Fit EP’
(FatCat Records) EP/3rd April 2020

I do like a bit of bass heavy post punk and Loose Fit do it better than most. This reminds more than a than a bit of Bow Wow Wow and then all of a sudden on ‘Reflux’ the memories of the wonderful X Ray Spex come surging back, which is no bad thing: a lot worse could come surging back than memories of one of punk’s finest. There’s honking sax, which you do not hear often in bass heavy post punk unless you call the Coasters bass heavy post punk, whom of course you can’t unless you have never heard the Coasters – and then you can think anything. Isn’t imagination a wonderful thing.




Ploom ‘Ploom EP’
EP/6th March 2020




What we have here my dears is the debut EP from Denver Psych band Ploom, or that is how they describe themselves in the press release. And that will do for me, as they do have a slight psych feel about them. Going off at various tangents throughout their songs at times, they recall a sunny Mothers of Invention or psychedelic Strokes: in fact you could call them Sun Strokes! (Please no groaning at the back). No really this is a rather excellent listen; a band to listen to whilst riding in a open top car to on a summers day and can imagine them doing really well on the festival circuit: a band to wave giant inflatable too.






Occult Character   ‘Steve Albini’s Kundalini ‘
(Metal Postcard) LP/9th March 2020




A brand new LP from the wonderful Occult Character, and as ever, dark funny lyrical portraits of life in the USA today is the order of the day, but this time taking on a more musically commercial slant. Synth led beats smoother production, and if not for the many curse words, you could imagine gracing daytime radio. This could almost be a pop album it certainly deserves to reach a larger audience. Who else but Occult Character would write a song about a homophobic microwave and other such oddities? It is indeed a crazy world and maybe this is the album to soundtrack it.




Various   ‘Mark Barton’s Sunday Experience Album’
(Bearsuit Records)  LP/27th March 2020




This LP breaks my heart a little as it is a tribute to someone I considered a friend; somebody who I talked via the internet to for over 15 years, and had a great drunken night out with together watching my sons band Vukovar: the first of many nights, or so we thought. But sadly he discovered he had cancer not long after and through various reasons we never got to meet up again.

Mark was a lovely great man who also happened to be a great writer and a great supporter of underground music, and the underground community thought a great deal of Mark, as this CD proves. This could have easily been a 100-track box set, for all the artists giving up tracks to this fine tribute to a fine man. This CD shows what a wide and varied taste Mark had, and he had a beautiful poetic way of praising the music he loved with his writing: one I won’t even try to match.

The music on this album is as I have already said varied, but what it has in common is that it is all excellent, all unique in their own ways; from the dark sweeping guitar sounds of bigflower to the psych tinged rock n roll of the Moon Duo and Schizo Fun Addict, to the wayward lo-fi shambolic of my own Bordellos – a song we wrote a few years ago in tribute the great man and his fine blog.

There are washes with the experimental: the excellent Harold Nono and the Polypores, BBC 6Music faves The Lovely Eggs, and JD Meatyard, even the legendary noise gods Godflesh make an appearance. So many great reasons to purchase this CD.

Mark would be more than a little embarrassed but also deeply touched by this compilation; I just wish he was still around for to enjoy this fine tribute.

All money raised goes to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.




Rita Braga ‘Tremble Like A Ghost’
Single/21st March 2020


Rita Berga - monolith cocktail

What the world needs now more than anything else is an electro Betty Boop. It really does. And that is what we have here. Three and a half minutes of pop fun. The kind of song that could make you breakout into sporadic leg and hand movements that resembles a meeting of the Charleston you know and love committee. Yes a quirky little pop gem, one for us oldsters and you youngsters and those in-between.




Schizo Fun Addict  ‘The Last Wave’
(Flicknife Records)  LP/Now


Schizo Fun Addict a band that should be cherished and held close to one’s heart. They are one of the many bands that deserve to be better known and raved about, so with this the new album I’m going to do just that and rave about the beauty and joy one can have by losing themselves in Schizos own and original sounding laid back beauty. Sixties psych merges with smooth American FM late night 70’s sounds and British 80’s pop, one of the only bands of today I can hear the influence of Prefab Sprout creep through as well as their obvious love of the Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine.

The Schizos have so much going for them. Not just fine original musicians and great songwriters but they have one of the most beautiful female voices in modern pop with the candy covered angel whisper of Jayne Gabriel: a voice I could listen to all day and completely lose myself in.

So for anyone out there who hasn’t heard of the Schizo Fun Addict go and do yourselves a favour start with this album and then work your way back through the treasure of a back catalogue. And a treasure it surely is: a band to be treasured in fact.



The Hannah Barberas ‘Into The Wild’
LP/3rd April 2020




Ah C86 those were the days; when boys with floppy fringes wore their hearts on their sleeves, and their guitar songs of love gone wrong and love in waiting. And this enjoyable album by the Hannah Barberas takes us all back there. Over jangly guitars, occasional northern soul beats, and songs of love gone right and long, this LP almost had me wanting to put leather patches on the elbows of my Oxfam jackets and dig out a Davy Crockett hat and kneel and pray to an effigy of Saint Edwyn. This album is highly recommended for those who want to return to those fine days of the June Brides and Brilliant Corners.




REVIEWS
Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

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

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






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

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

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


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




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

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

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




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




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




bigflower  ‘My Love’
Single/15th February 2020




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





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




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

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




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




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

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





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




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




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




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





Related posts from the Archives:

Proper Ornaments ‘Six Lenins’

Toxic Chicken ‘Uncomfortable Music’

Lounge Bar Orchestra ‘Washing Line’

Idiot Blur Fanboy ‘Oasis Are The Enemy’


The Monolith Cocktail Is Now On Ko-Fi

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

 

 

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