Reviews Roundup
Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent project, Roi (with John McCarthy and Dan Shea, of Beauty Stab and Vukovar infamy) debuted recently through 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.

The Monochrome Set  ‘Fabula Mandax’
(Tapete Records)  27th September 2019


The new LP by The Monochrome Set is a concept album about the female warrior Armande de Pange, a sidekick of Joan Of Arc. It takes all sorts I suppose; whatever floats your boat and other such benign sayings. It really doesn’t make any difference really as long as the songs/tracks are of an enjoyable quality and this LP, I’m pleased to say, is full of enjoyability. It is positively rammed with the stuff.

The usual twangy and hastily strummed guitars are all present and correct as you would expect from the mighty Monochrome Set; spaghetti western melodies float above the spinning strange story of Armande, bringing a party to ones headphones, and making it a most enjoyable listening experience.





The New Art School ‘Mod Kid (Single)’
(Metal Postcard Records) 27th August 2019



Well what a wonderful song; what a wonderful single. I don’t know what I was expecting; maybe sub Secret Affair or the Lambrettas, but no, what we get is a five minute foray into the edgy joy of ripped up teenage yearning with a guitar riff equivalent of a sneaky smoke at the back of the school bike sheds with a quick snifter of your mums stolen gin. A song that makes you wish you were fifteen again so you could show off to your mates about a great new band you have discovered; a track covered in magic normally only normally woven by the mighty Comet Gain. Another winner from Metal Postcard records.





The Pooh Sticks ‘Seven Inch Box’
(Optic Nerve Recordings) 22nd November 2019



The Pooh Sticks are one of the most perfect pop bands from the last 40 years; they released the “Great White Wonder” album for god sake, so how could they not be, and this, a box set of their first singles, captures them at their most immature fun best two minute-blasts of pure pop perfection. This is how The Shangri-Las would have sounded if they’d produced by Pete Shelley rather than Shadow Morton.

It’s the sound of teenage summer pop. It has a song called ‘Life’s A Gas’ and they’re, maybe, the only band that could get away with it – and not being disappointed that it’s not the Marc Bolan classic.

They even released a song that mentions Alan McGee without calling him an arse (which he is obviously).

They have such a pure outlook on pop life they should be sainted. They have ba ba ba choruses they do versions of ‘Knock Three Times’ that does not pale in comparison to the original. They are pure pop for forever people; the sound of buzz saw bubblegum you never ever want to pop. I do like the Pooh Sticks and so should you…if you don’t already.






Lounge Bar Orchestra ‘Washing Lines’
11th September 2019



A tremor of sixties England, the soundtrack of Joe Meek picnicking with the swinging hipsters of yesteryear; open top sport cars speed around the county lanes as the sun shines and the radio plays the latest Sandie Shaw hit wide eyed barefooted and pulling on the heartstrings of boys who should know better. This is the soundtrack to a land I would quite happily live in; a beautiful magical land of cord jackets and mini skirts; a land when shops closed on a Sunday; a land where Ray Davies resides. I could quite happily live inside this song.





The Cult Of Free Love And The Magic Seas ‘Split EP’
28th October 2019



What we have here is a split 12-inch single of excellence. Kicking off we have Welsh electro psych gothic cult The Cult Of Free Love offering up a rather stunning voyage of psychosis want with the sublime ‘Visions’, a song to haunt, flaunt, bewitch, caress the bejesus out of your record player; a modern day ‘Porpoise Song’, a track already a musical highlight in a year when there has been many a fine tune. Track 2 by The Cult Of Free Love is ‘Substance’, a 7 minute plus journey of trance like adventure sounding like the feeding of The Beatles ‘It’s All Too Much’ through a psychedelic trip hammer of dance inspired Acid House; a return to the misty fields of your deepest feelings, late 80s Manchester but without the guns just pure love and emotion: another stunner. Get ready for The Cult Of Free Love to be your new favourite band.

To the other side of the 12 inch we find The Magic Seas kicking off their side with ‘Count In Threes’, a song that once again takes you back to the golden days of guitar pop, a song with the wonderful gift of melody flowing throughout guitars shimmer and shine and lassoing the sun, pulling the warmth into the indie boy and girls hearts: a truly lovely song. The second track by The Magic Seas, ‘Long Winter’, is even better. A hypnotic 12 string dives straight in to gently rattle the insides of your doubts that you are listening to a very special band indeed. Oh if I were only eighteen again, The Magic Seas would be my new favourite band alongside The Cult Of Free Love: I would just have to alternate days. This EP is indeed something special.





Equinox ‘Correction’
(Wormhole) 30th August 2019



The new LP by Equinox carries on from were the last triumph of his debut left off, taking in the darker feelings of the psych. Poetic spoken word utterings of the lovelorn, crestfallen and heartbroken fourteen collaborations with fourteen underground artists that range from the electronica of ‘Driven’ with Reed Hayes to the almost Oasis like ‘Janine’ with the Razorrawks.

An album to wrap around the drunken late nights of the inward looking, the sound of a man who is past the end of his tether; someone who has found love in the second coming of remembrance the first view of the last rainbow of summer, the coiling of the fading leaf of Autumn, a current so deep one cannot do anything else but curl up into the epiphany of a mistake anyone can make but only the lucky few do. This is an album the shamelessly poetic will take to their heart and listen and cherish as there heartbreaks and their mind explodes. An album of pure beauty, to have, to hold and not let go.






Occult Character ‘Cult Of Ignorance’
(Metal Postcard Records) 5th September 2019



In this day and age you need people like Occult Character to tell the world how it is and what just is happening, and this mini LP is, as I have said before about OC, a modern day Woody Guthrie writing modern day electro folk songs describing life in the Trump led America: and this album proves it.

This could be one of the most important albums released this year. It is the sound of the underground raising two fingers to the “Me” generation. If OC were as well known as John Lennon the US government would be trying the damnedest to get him deported. This is the sound of a artist at the end of his tether writing short requiems to the death of the country he loves ‘Police State /Shit Sandwich’ could be the angriest songs you will hear all year. He pulls no punches; dark humour hides the sadness in these short songs the harshness of the beats only goes on to soundtrack the knife-edge world in which we live today. This is a must be heard album by the most important artist in the US underground today.





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Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





A couple of weeks ago we at Monolith gave the Storm the Palace Delicious Monster LP a well deserved rave review as the album is both beautiful, cheeky and a little dirty. So I am pleased that they have sent us their latest video-single, ‘Clive’, as an exclusive treat, a video that is entertaining, beautiful, cheeky and a little dirty. In fact a video that introduces potted plant porn to the world.

The Edinburgh indie Baroque folk outfit have this to say about their pot plant swingers’ new video:

The video follows the story of the song’s protagonist – a morally bankrupt cheese plant named Clive. We were inspired by 1970s films of excess, pretension and indulgence, such as La Grande Bouffe, Abigail’s Party and the soft-porn classic, Emmanuelle.

 

So ladies and gentlemen please feast your eyes your ears and your loins to the beautiful sights and sounds of Storm The Palace and ‘Clive’, a song taken from their forthcoming Delicious Monster album (released on the 4th October 2019). A must own LP of 2019 I might add.




REVIEWS
Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Proving a highly popular roundup from the idiosyncratic Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, the cult leader of St. Helens dysfunctional geniuses The Bordellos, this regular splurge of advice/critique and pontificating is doing a roaring trade with our readers. We even love the constant self-publicising – God knows he needs it -; a constant reminder that the Bordellos have been gnawing away at the coalface equivalent of the music industry for decades without success, knocking out albums at a rate that even makes The Fall seem fucking slack – though they have lost their titan figurehead leader in recent years and grinded to a halt, that might be an unfair comparison to make. You can find a tiny portion of that back catalogue here… A new album – which Brain has aggrandised as one of the best albums ever made, period -, Bordello And Clarke, is due out next month.




Skyjelly  ‘We Pull The Stars Over Our Heads Like Covers’
(I Heart Noise) 25th May 2019


This is a slandered youth of an LP, a jab in the eye with a rusty nail, a rewound coil waiting to spring the bejesus out of a waiting catholic mass of persuasion.

Slaughtered guitars and hyperactive bass makes light with the idea of topping the hit parade with reverb littered witterings of your off-the-head-neighbour trying to make sense of the backward spinning of the Brianjonestown Massacre after overdosing on the best tea served in the china cup, after being retrieved from Carol Deckers vagina.

Skyjelly are the type of band you would take home to meet your parents if they were dead or blissfully unaware of any situation; the type of boy I would love my daughter to bring home as it would mean she would be enjoying her youth and hanging out with people with a outsider view on life and art: A band that sticks two fingers up to the bland and monotone; a band with an attitude that can only be admired, and an LP that should be enjoyed by all.








Stereo Total ‘Ah! Que! Cinema’
(Tapete Records) 12th July 2019


This LP is bloody genius. Any LP that kicks off with a track that sounds like The Prodigy but played on a Bontempi organ is not going to go very wrong, and then carries on with the pure blissfulness of French lo-fi garage pop.

‘Ich Bin Cool’ lives up to its name – if only all pop could be as glorious as this I would actually walk about with a smile instead of my constant unbecoming frown.

There are melodies that could melt the heart of the sternest of motherfuckers: Tin pot drum machine twangy guitars wonderful sexy French female vocals dripping with drop dead Sandie Shaw like shoeless beauty, and when the ballad ‘Methadrine’ kicks in, has there been a better song recorded this year? A beautiful offbeat ballad of sadness and humour and drugs: “nine days a week we were so high”. 

This LP is so good it has pissed me off a little. I thought I had made the album of the year with the Bordello and Clark Atlantic Crossing LP, but this has knocked it into a cocked hat. But don’t mind, especially when there are bands capable of making records of such beauty; when bands can come on like Stereolab one minute and a French Velvet Underground the next – ‘Brezil Says’ is a track worthy of the Velvets at their finest: pure pop heaven.

I think the playing of Ah! Quel Cinema may become a daily event this year; an LP to lose yourself in the pure beauty of perfect lo fi pop.





Spam Javelin ‘Fake News’
(link2wales Records) 7th June 2019


In these days of blandness and political correctness I’m happy to report that there is something of an underground renaissance of the guitar band; the kind of band that actually have something to say and to bring back the feeling of ‘oh fuck off you cunts, Buddy Holly did not die so you could pitch tune the hell out of this smartphone friendly soulless money making piece of fluff.’

Leading this charge are the North Wales non stop gigging machine Spam Javelin, who have just released a fine piece of punk rock fuck offery in the shape of Fake News. Three minutes of pure rock ’n’ roll, nothing more nothing less: Do you need anything more than three minutes of pure rock ’n’ roll? If the answer is yes you do, then you are dead from the waist down and the neck up. You are nothing but a chest with arms. I look forward to the LP, The Crack Whores Of Betws Garmon, and so should you.







Bloome De Wilde ‘Soul Siren’
8th July 2019


There is beauty in life and there is life in beauty, and this single by Bloome de Wilde is brimming with both; a wonderful shimmering haze of early summer evenings wrapped in a chocolate box wish; a slow dance to the long forgotten hits of Sergio Mendes; the rapture of your first long lingering kiss, this song in under four minutes captures the magic of all this.

This lovely chime of aural pop art is the first single taken from Bloome de Wilde’s debut solo LP, which going off the loveliness of ‘Soul Siren’ could well be this years “Shoegaze Bossa Nova” – which of course was last year’s submergence in blissful if onlys by Schizo Fun Addict. If Bloome de Wilde’s debut is half as good, then we are truly in for a summer of love.

Listen download and enjoy.







Krause ‘The Ecstasy Of Infinite Sterility’
(Riot Season) 5th July 2019


Rock ’n’ roll sludge, but good rock ’n’ roll sludge.







The Goa Express ‘The Day’
5th July 2019


I like this: It has a wonderful old early 80s post-punk feel about it, like the Teardrop Explodes before they signed with a major. It’s like a ramshackle polyphonic Spree; a band erupting out of the rehearsal rooms with a willingness to share their love of pop music with the garage psych subtleties of a young Syd preferring to do lasting damage to his brain than spend time in the company of geography teachers. I look forward to the LP.



Reviews Roundup: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea



John MOuse ‘There’s A Hole In My Heart (An Area The Size Of Wales)’
(Keep Me In your Heart Records) 24th May 2019


John MOuse and the wonderfully titled ‘There’s A Hole In My Heart An Area The Size Of Wales’ is a rampant romp through the indie pop hills of blissful wanton love. A song that could bring the smile to the face and polish the soul of even the most miserable of curmudgeon gits: it made me smile anyway.

Orange Juice guitars and Neil Hannon like vocals erupt from the speakers to nudge radio programmers to add the ode to forthcoming playlists…if there is any justice in radio land that is. A fine pop single.


Sue ‘It Will Never End’
Out Now





Stooges and Sex Pistols riffs abound as Sue put in their claim for the for leaders of the wannabe kings of the new guitar movement – as there certainly are a number of fine guitar bands forming and releasing records at the moment, and Sue are indeed up there with a fighting chance of making their way To the top of the pile.

What gives Sue the edge is that they have a fine vocalist; he has the Lyndon sneer perfected, and when he screams “I gotta get outta here” in ‘Gotta Gotta Gotta’ you somehow believe him. This boy has soul. Anybody can scream but not everybody can scream with such style – he has a wonderful early Marc Almond quality too his voice (listen to Soft Cells Last Night In Sodom and see if you disagree).

I await with interest to see how this band develops and grows over future albums as they certainly show that they know how to knock out a decent tune and know their way around the art of songwriting, and am sure more influences will show as they progress with their career and yes they are indeed fine enough to have a career. Mark out as ones to watch.





The Pinheads ‘Is This Real?’
(Stolen Body Records) 24th May 2019





I love how the first track is called ‘Pure Hate’, it is a fine way to start a rock’n’roll LP and the song in itself lives up to its title; a song that has a subtle spite and fuck you quality that all the best Stooges tracks have. This is the sound of a band at the top of its game. The world, us, theirs, it’s there for the taking and the great thing about it is they know it is theirs.

It really is a joy to listen to guitar music as joyous as this: What is it about guitar bands that come from Australia they all seem to have a certain magic with a melody that we Brits seem to have discarded in a fit of generic apathy: maybe it’s the lack of sun. For this is what it sounds like to be young. Well, in a rock’n’roll road movie kind of way.

What I really love about this album is how it makes me want to be young again myself; it makes me want to experience hearing these riffs for the first time as they have been played so many times by so many bands over the years but when it is played with so much passion energy and enjoyment as this the pleasure spits itself out of the speakers. This LP should be forced into the lives of today’s teenagers and maybe then they will take their eyes off the screens of their fucking Smartphones and start listening to music and going to gigs and experience life instead of posting a “selfie” on instagram.

Is this real? is a fine LP, and indeed, is the real deal.





Earth Tongue ‘Floating Being’
(Stolen Body) 14th June 2019





Is Stolen Body Records quietly, or not so quietly, becoming one of the best record labels on the planet at the moment? It has not only just released the fine new LP by The Pinheads but also this wonderful album by Earth Tongue. [I wonder if they fancy releasing a Bordellos LP?]

If you have ever wondered what the sound of the d&a of the B52’s, Bongwater and the Cardiacs would sound like if they were melted down and stirred in a big rock n roll pot then purchase this fine album and find out, even if you haven’t ever wondered, still buy the LP anyway as at the time of writing it has stormed right into my 5 faves of the year already.

This is what real psych punk should sound like; distorted fuzz bass and guitar colliding with the chiming guitars with beautifully stomping drums. I never knew ethereal vocals could sound so enthusiastic, like an angel after drinking too much fizzy pop.

Floating Being is a beautifully produced rock’n’roll psych punk rock gem that could be destined for bigger things. I love discovering new exciting bands.






The Blue Orchids ‘The Magical Records Of The Blue Orchids’
(Tiny Global Productions) 7th June 2019





The Blue Orchids doing an LP of obscure 60s garage rock covers and an unrecorded song written with Mark E Smith, what is there not to like.

A quite beatastic affair in fact, I do like The Blue Orchids and am very passionate about 60s garage/psych music so it is pretty obvious I’m going to like it. It doesn’t matter that the versions are not quite as good as the originals as they are all performed with enough style and panache and love for the music for the album to be a huge success.

Something else I like about the album is that it sounds like all the songs could have been written by the Blue Orchids in one of their poppier frame of minds, and to hear Martin Bramah play garage rock riffs as sublime as these is quite heavenly, like for example, ‘Painted Air’, a stand alone wonder of a version.

This album is a nothing more or nothing less than a gem of a listen, go and give your ears a treat.





Delta Mainline ‘Bel Avenir’
3rd May 2019





This is quite a pretty record at times, resembling a quite not as heartbreakingly dark or as special Sparklehorse – a band I have a deep love for -, and at other times, it resembles Wilco. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it is a most pleasing way to spend forty minutes or so.

Bel Avenir is one of those albums I’d love to hear stripped right down to the bone; to take away as much of the production as possible and see if it would stand up on its own two feet, or whether it would wither and diminish. Production sometimes can be the enemy of song and I feel as well produced as this LP is and as commercial as it sounds it may actually take the genius away from the song: as they are all in fact, very fine songs.

Although I think the LP may flow more if it wasn’t interrupted by soundcloud ads for just eat and car insurance, but I am sure they will not appear on the compact disc or vinyl version, or maybe they will. If so, an original and groundbreaking money making idea selling advertising space on your album. But back to the album. Delta Mainline are a band that wear their influences on their sleeves, but wear them pretty well and with great style. For example, ‘Mountain Music’ is a fine country lament that brings Spiritualized to mind – my favourite track on the whole Album. Bel Avenir is an album I would recommend to all fans of the above mentioned in this review.






Brian Shea is the maverick patriarch bandleader of the infamous St. Helens family cult lo fi band, The Bordellos.  


Reviews: Brian ‘Bordellos’ Shea




Every other week we ask Brian ‘Bordellos’ Shea, of the legendary St. Helens lo fi cult that is The Bordellos, to accelerate through a mixed bag of new releases for the Monolith Cocktail, offering opine, vitriol and words of wisdom. This week he runs through a trio of oddities and madcap releases from the Guerssen hub, has chemical induced fun with a Toxic Chicken, and finds the Gang Of Four’s latest a drag and disappointment.

Susana Estrada ‘Amor y Libertad’
(Espacial Discos) 18th April 2019


This LP was originally released in 1981, and is a fine early 80’s Italo disco/funk album that really couldn’t of come from any other time.

The opening track, setting you in the mind to get down and boogie, is all Chic guitar riffs and ‘Good Time’ bass, the rapping of Susana Estrada recalling a girl who left her heart on the dancefloor of San Francisco, orgasm yelps and the faint popping of cheap champagne corks: a wonderful way to start any album.

The sign of a good disco or dance LP from the late 70’s/early 80s is that it should not just make you smile, but should also have the effect of a tidal wave of memories that wash you away, taking you back to those long summer nights of bad small town discos, you trying not to look too stupid with your slightly out of time drunk dance moves, trying to catch the eye of the pretty girl dressed in white with her not as attractive friend trying her best not to spill her drink whilst tossing her hair and wondering what time the chippy stays open till.

Amor y Libertad is not just a fine disco album but also succeeds in being a fine pop album of melodies abound, which is not always the case with disco LPs from this time – quite often just a couple of singles surrounded by extended dance filler. But this really is a well-written, well-performed, well-played, disco funk pop album; worthy of investigation by anyone with an interest in Italo Disco.






Mcphee ‘ST’
(Sommor) 18th April 2019




Mcphee were a psych rock band from Australia, this album being originally released in 1971 and described as one of the rarest albums from that country, which is maybe why I have never heard of it before – as I do have a love for psych rock.

This is a fine LP of the genre, riff heavy, wailing Hammond organ and Jefferson Airplay like vocals and with all the great Psych rock nonsensical lyrics, “Sunday Shuffle of the freedom kind”, but when have lyrics really ever mattered in Psych rock, they are feel good preaching peace kind of songs.

The group’s limited songwriting ability may explain the inclusion of some covers; the version of Neil Youngs ‘Southern Man’ is indeed a fine version and gives the chance for the guitarist to show off his no doubted ability. There is also a cover of Spooky Tooth and a strange ill advised slowed down almost stoner rock rendition of ‘I Am The Walrus’ which needs to be heard to be believed. And also, they do a more than good version of the Leon Russell/ Carpenters ‘Superstar’; in fact it is rather beautiful, even the sax solo does not destroy the moment.

The real highlight of the album is the 10 minute plus final track, ‘Out To Lunch’, a song that takes you on a trip that starts off all fab lounge music then leads you into the blues and then the Jazz rock of the Mothers of Invention: But I’ve always been a sucker for a heavy wah-wah workout. All in all a very enjoyable album and another great reissue of a lost out there classic.





Thomas Hamilton ‘Pieces For Kohn’
(Mental Experience) 18th April 2019




I find writing about music sometimes as hard as writing about sex. Not that I actually write about Sex; I’m no Jackie Collins, but to try and capture the passion music evokes is sometimes very difficult without sounding clichéd.

Pieces For Kohn is a case in point, an LP that was originally released in 1976 by Thomas Hamilton on his own label Somnath records, based around a series of electronic noises and spaced out beeps. And so, not the sort of music you can sing along to in the bath or something you would play whilst getting ready to hit the town in a wild night out unless you are R2 D2. Not something to turn the lights down and get ready for love, it isn’t exactly Barry White, it is as I said a series of spaced out beeps and electronic noises after all. Saying that, I find these four long instrumental pieces very enjoyable, they have a certain treasure in their strangeness; I could quite happily sit alone to this record and lose myself in my thoughts whilst sipping on a glass of red.

Not an LP to everyone’s taste I’m sure [but what is], but anyone who enjoys the workings and experiments of such doyens as Delia Derbyshire could well find this a rewarding listening experience.





Toxic Chicken ‘Fun’
6th April 2019




There is a genius in this LP that can really only be described by listening to it. Generic indie bands should be injected with this album, it may spark some sense of wild abandon and make them realise that there is more to life than dreaming about playing Glastonbury and getting a badly written review in a clickbait blog by someone who thinks Oasis are the be all and end all of rock n roll.

Fun is a emotional breakdown of a album; there is just so much happiness going on it is like a psychedelic children’s party, there are jelly riffs with fondant icing, a game of musical chairs when all the competitors are on speed, or their fizzy pop shaken to the extent of a eruption of volcanic LSD proportions.

Please do yourself a favour and give this album a listen, even if it’s just the once: you might be only able to listen once as the happiness might rot your brain. I do love eccentrics; there are just not enough of them. Toxic Chicken should be cherished.





Xqui ‘Settlers EP’
(Wormhole)




I am currently a little obsessed with the record label Wormhole, and I make no apologies for it, for they currently release some of the strangest, more out there, music available and it needs some praise and people writing about it or otherwise how are people going to hear about it and want to investigate the total mind expanding hipness. After all if the Monolith Cocktail don’t feature it there are not many other blogs brave enough to.

This latest release is a 5 track, more mini LP than, EP, as it lasts over 25 minutes and it is by Xqui, the Beatles of found and manipulated sounds if you like. He manages to find sounds and expand their strange and wonderfulness to new and strange heights, taking a low drone and turning it into a Bittersweet symphony. On ‘Biff’ he starts off with just a low hum and over the 11 minutes takes you on a slow relaxing trip towards heaven.

‘Suppose’ is a backward walk through snow; an aural delight of ignoring the scream of a MJ wannabe; starting something from a found sound dance of monks, a striptease nun licking the blood off the cross, on, what is, the shortest track on this entire EP. Settlers finishes with ‘Eye’, a Philip Glass like silent explosion of experimental pop. One might hope to hear the title track itself on the radio, if music like this got played on the radio: are you reading Stuart Maconie?! Get it on the Freak Zone.





Gang Of Four ‘Happy Now’
(Townsend Music) 19th April 2019




It must be hard being punk/post punk legends as obviously you have a history to live up to, but Gang of Four make it sound oh so easy with Happy Now. Maybe it’s because Andy Gill the legendary guitarist is the only remaining original member, but there’s a freshness that I wasn’t expecting to be honest.

It sounds like a new modern BBC 6 Music friendly band, making commercial easy on the ear guitar indie rock/pop with an occasional nod to dance. You can hear influences of bands that Gang Of Four themselves influenced: Nine Inch Nails in their poppier moments, Franz Ferdinand, even LCD Soundsystem.

Not everything is perfect; the lyrics are sometimes, shall we say, on the poor side but are covered up well with the ultra smooth production.

Happy Now is a well-produced modern sounding radio friendly album that would make an ideal soundtrack to your drive to work or to drop your kids off to school. There is a place for an album like this; an easy on the ear undemanding steering wheel tapper.






Reviews Roundup: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea



Wand ‘Laughing Matter’
(Drag City) 19th April 2019


A wave of the Wand and the magic commences. An album of sublime modern life psychedelia, ‘Scarecrow’ kicks it all off with the sound of Radiohead melting in a honey tangle web of sunshine sadness. I cannot believe this band are not fans of the wonder that is Clinic; ‘XoXo’ could easily fit in amongst the Liverpool band’s finest. The repetitive synth and drum beat of that track descends into a mass wave of wonky a plonkyness.

This really is a fun listen, fun but with a dark undertow of sadness – a serial killer with a painted on smile on someone else’s face, or should that be someone else’s farce.

There is a balance to the madness that emits from this Laughing Matter, the more it goes on the more I lose myself in their crazy world of sullen sunshine; it’s a real pick you up in these days of uncertainty and sadness whether it be the Stone Roses meet Jed Clampett like instrumental ‘Hare’ or the fuzz bass monster of a wonder track, which is actually called ‘Wonder’, and is one of the finest pop moments on the whole album: which is actually full of them. ‘Airplane’ for instance is a nine-minute flight of beauty a true marvel of a track, air-pure vocals float over a reflective shadow of instrumental solitude only to explode in a mass of singular eclectic guitar frenzy. Track thirteen, ‘Lucky’s Sight’ is a modern space rock masterpiece; ‘Wonder (II)’ lives up to its name, and the final song, ‘Jennifer’s Gone’, is worthy of the mighty Lou Reed in his early 70s pomp.

Laughing Matter really is a fantastic album, and it reminds us that such makes delightfully heartbreakingly beautiful and adventurous music such as this is still being made and released.






Charly Bliss ‘Young Enough’
10th May 2019




To be honest I nearly dismissed this LP, but I’m glad I didn’t. As I don’t really think I’m the target audience Charly Bliss are going for – I probably have older guitars than this bunch of pesky kids.

I can though imagine my 20-year-old daughter loving this record; it is power pop, punk pop, or is it pop punk? Anyway, whatever it is they do it very well but pop music is pop music whatever your age, whether you are making it or listening to it and if you cannot enjoy well written catchy songs, if you cannot remember what is like to be young and falling in love for the first time or remember the yearning for the girl/guy you will never get or the girl/guy you did get but could not keep, if you cannot remember I recommend you give Young Enough a listen and all those wonderful happy sad memories will come flooding back.

It has the wonderful melancholy magic all great pop is blessed with, and Charly Bliss are blessed with a fine pop singer in Eva Hendricks who writes fine catchy pop punk songs with darker than normal lyrics: “Eyes like a funeral mouth like a bruise” she declares in the beautiful ballad ‘Hurt Me’.

So the next time one of my middle-aged friends says to me “they just do not know how to make music these days” I will think of this album and tell them to FUCK OFF!







Shit Creek ‘Prozac Rainbow’
(Wormhole World) 15th March 2019



I have been told many times that I’m going insane, and if so, this could be the LP to soundtrack my descent into that madness. This is not music as such, well actually it is, it has melodies it has an obscure soul to it that I find quite heartwarming.

It is not something you will hear if you tune into BBC 6 music during the daytime or night time, come to think of it, maybe the Freakzone if you are lucky.

Prozac Rainbow is a magic concoction of found sounds manipulated into a series of experimental sound bites; a wavitude of spellbinding oddities that verge not just on the psychedelic: The ‘Ice Cream Van Glimmering In the Nascent Sun’ track is a modern piece of psychedelic wonder though – Imagine the Clangers winding up a giant clock whilst kicking Roger Waters up the arse. Marvelous stuff indeed.

Once again that marvelous new record label Wormhole has unearthed another experimental gem, still available at the time of writing on very ltd cd. Get in there quick my beauties.







She Keeps Bees ‘Kinship’
(BB* Island) 10th May 2019



I am tense. I am uninspired. I am in need of an escape, something to take my mind off the general shallowness of modern life: mobile smart phones, ipads on buses, people losing themselves in the latest stream of facebook, twitter posts of mediocre mass produced mainstream music cluttering up my once invaluable, once best friend, the radio. I am in need of this LP by She Keeps Bees.

I need this call for the beauty hymn to nature. I need this maybe a modern equivalent to Gene Clark No Other album, all brushed drums haunting organ/keyboards strummed and plucked acoustic guitars that at times remind me of Nirvana’s finest moment [their Unplugged LP].

This LP is indeed a lifesaver; an LP to lose yourself in as the world turns from mad to insane. But there is power, there is magic in this life and that magic is music. And She Keeps Bee’s cast such wonderful spells.

I could give you many reasons why you should buy this LP, but I won’t. I will just say you need this album more than you will ever know.






Outside The Glitch ‘ST’
(Wormhole World) 22nd March 2019




What is the word I’m looking for? Ambiance. That is the word to describe this mini LP/EP; a work that Eno would no doubt put on his slippers to whilst lighting his pipe after a night out with Bryan Ferry, everybody’s favourite lounge lizard.

These five tracks you can imagine turning up in a late night thriller; one can smell the tension in the air; one could throw down ones towel and whisper quietly to your old time neighbour called Cecil and wish him a fond goodnight. Like good old canary sex it is both unexpected and highly unlikely. What on earth am I reading?! That’s probably what you are thinking to yourself as you read this review. Well that is my point, ambient music means different things to different people everybody has a different way of viewing things, one man’s goose is another man’s gander. Music like this sets people’s imagination floating in different directions.

This a fine release with a quintet of very mellow tracks that set one’s imagination into flight. From the sublime to the sublime, Wormhole Records should be congratulated on yet another unusual and different release: You really should check out their catalogue.






Julinko ‘Néktar’
(Toten Schwan/ Stoned To Death Records) 15th April 2019




Looking at the song titles I realised that this wasn’t going to be an album of happy disco stompers, and I was right. The intro, called ‘The Flowing Stream Plunge Me Deep’, is a beautiful short instrumental piece that sets the mood for the whole LP; an LP that has the decadent shimmer of an Autumn day spent with your dead memories, a slowed down purge of emotion of grief for a former lover who is not dead but still alive and living in the same town, the same house, you have to pass every day on the way to work, so you can afford to carry on with your mundane existence.

Néktar brings to the surface the same emotions you feel when listening the magic weaved by the Cocteau Twins. At times it reminds me of listening to PJ Harvey in slow motion; not the LP to play whilst doing the housework unless you live in 16th century castle surrounded by cobwebs with a hunchback dwarf sat on a wooden stool in the corner begging you to put away your broom and to pay him some attention.

This is indeed a dark beauty that is not only to be cherished but also indulged. A fine album indeed.




Playlist: Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver




I’ll be brief – less chat, more music please – as you want the goods, but the Quarterly Revue is our chance to pick out choice tracks to represent a three month period in the Monolith Cocktail’s output. New releases and the best of reissues plucked from the team – me, Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Gianluigi Marsibilio – rub shoulders in the most eclectic of playlists. The full track list is awesome, global and diverse and can be found below.



Tracklist in full: 

Abdesselem Damoussi & Nour Eddine ‘Sabaato Rijal’
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (Ft. Abdoulaye Diabate) ‘Fanga’
Foals ‘Cafe D’Athens’
Kel Assouf ‘Tenere’
Deep Cut ‘Sharp Tongues’
Royal Trux ‘Suburban Junky Lady’
Ifriqiyya Electrique ‘Mashee Kooka’
39 Clocks ‘Psycho Beat’
The Proper Ornaments ‘Crepuscular Child’
Swazi Gold ‘Free Nelly’
Eerie Wanda ‘Magnetic Woman’
Julia Meijer ‘Fall Into Place’
Mozes And The Firstborn (Ft. PANGEA) ‘Dadcore’
Lite Storm ‘People (Let It Go Now)’
Downstroke & Gee Bag ‘Ooh My My My’
Errol Dunkley ‘Satisfaction’
Old Paradice/Confucius MC/Morriarchi ‘Sunkissed’
Black Flower ‘Future Flora’
Santiago Cordoba ‘Red’
Dexter Story (Ft. Kibrom Birhane) ‘Bila’
Houssam Gania ‘Moulay Lhacham’
Garrett N. ‘Avant’
Sir Robert Orange Peel ‘I’ve Started So I’ll Finish’
Gunter Schickert ‘Wohin’
Defari & Evidence ‘Ackknowledgement’
Eddie Russ ‘The Lope Song’
Oh No & Madlib ‘Big Whips’
CZARFACE & Ghostface ‘Mongolian Beef’
Greencryptoknight ‘Superman’
Choosey & Exile (Ft. Aloe Blacc) ‘Low Low’
Little Albert ‘Gucci Geng’
The KingDem ‘The Conversation (We Ain’t Done Yet)’
Wiki ‘Cheat Code’
Dear Euphoria ‘Push-Pull’
Tim Linghaus ‘Crossing Bornholmer (Reprise, Pt. II)’
Station 17 (Ft. Harald Grosskopf & Eberhard Kranemann) ‘…And Beyond’
Heyme ‘Noisz’
Clovvder ‘Solipsismo’
Ustad Saami ‘God Is’
Louis Jucker ‘Seagazer’
The Telescopes ‘Don’t Place Your Happiness In The Hands Of Another’
Blue House ‘Margate Jukebox’
Tempertwig ‘Apricot’
3 South & Banana ‘Magdalen Eye’
With Hidden Noise ‘The Other Korea’
Beauty Stab ‘O Eden’
Coldharbourstores ‘Something You Do Not Know’
Katie doherty & The Navigators ‘I’ll Go Out’
Mekons ‘How Many Stars?’
Graham Domain ‘Farewell Song’



Reviews: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea



Swazi Gold ‘Jehovah’s Witness’
8th March 2019

Swazi Gold is a new three-piece band from Melbourne, Australia. As I’m a huge Go Betweens/Triffids fan I was hoping for sweeping guitar melodies to melt my heart and to bring tears to my eyes. And to be honest I wasn’t disappointed.

Songs float and purr not just recalling the halcyon days of Postcard records but also bringing to mind Can in a poppier frame of mind, indie tin pot disco sleaze programmed Casio beats, surf guitar and with the nod and wink of Bourgie Bourgie the band that should have been stars but were not even a afterthought.

There are so many layers to the simplicity of this LP that it really is quite a beautiful thing. This six track mini album is way too short and I look forward to hearing a full album worth of songs that manage to make me think of the Doors, Beat Happening and the Moles in the space of a eight and a half minute final triumph, which the band do on ‘Reflections’: a track which pulls off the rare feat of feeling like its only three minutes long.

A band to watch out for in 2019 and beyond.





Louis Jucker ‘Kråkeslottet (The Crow’s Castle)’
(Hummus Records) 1st March 2019


This LP is wonderful. I could stop there and write no more, but I’m not going to.

This is the sound of the Velvet Underground, the Cure, an acoustic Can, Mercury Rev, Grandaddy and Arab Strap having a get together to show each other how they write and record, moving pieces of aural magic.

It has a darkness a moodiness, a passion in its lo-finess, and we all know how much I adore lo-finess. ‘A Modest Feast’ makes me feel uncomfortable, ‘Storage Tricks’ is moving enough to have been recorded by the Microscopes, and ‘Tale Of A Teacher’s Son’ could have been recorded by Ed Sheeran if he had a personality and made art instead of product.

This is a strange LP; it jumps from pop to abstract piano tone music to moving spoken pieces over beautifully simple acoustic backing. An album anyone who likes the unusual should check out; like I said in the opening line, this LP is wonderful.





The Venus Fly Trap ‘Morphine EP’
7th February 2019


This describes itself as Post -Goth, which is a very good description but I would have just stuck with Goth myself. The Venus Fly Trap are a three piece from Northampton and by the sounds of it have soaked up all the influences from Bauhaus and Rose Of Avalanche and such ilk and mixed it with a bit of Gothabilly ala Demented are go and early Alien Sex Fiend, before they discovered Dance music, and to my mind became a bit disappointing.

This however, is not at all disappointing. It would in fact go down very well with Goths of all ages it has the mechanical drum beat, the throbbing Goth bass and the metal like guitars all good Goth music should have. It has the strained early Bowie as Ziggy reflections in the vocals, not unlike the other Bowie acolyte Pete Murphy (or is he still calling himself Peter Murphy). Anyway this may not be the most original sounding EP you will hear this year but that does not mean it is not worth hearing, as it is anyone who likes their rock with a touch of the dark side should give it a listen.





Tempertwig ‘FAKE NOSTALGIA: An Anthology of Broken Stuff’
(Audio Antihero/Randy Sadage) 29th March 2019


I was pleased to see in my email box the new release from the excellent Audio Antihero label, a label I have been known to splash out and occasionally buy their releases. Also a label that once had my band The Bordellos Ronco Revival Sound LP in their favourite albums of the year list in 2013 [i think], so a label with great taste.

One of the CDs I bought from Audio Antihero was the Superman Revenge Squad album. Why do I mention this? Well it’s because members of that band were also in Tempertwig, this being a anthology of Tempertwigs recordings.

What do Tempertwig sound like I hear you ask? Well, beautiful bus queue Heartache; the overheard one sided phone conversation of a bleeding heart soundtracked by the sort of angular guitar riffs that John Robb is so fond of mentioning; a London boy lost in the underground clubs of New York hoping to catch the sideways glances of the pretty and cool. Skinny fit Sonic Youth t-shirts and early Pavement vinyl jostle with the Wedding Present at their darkest best.

I would recommend this LP for anyone out there currently suffering from a broken heart, as this really is the way it feels, and there is nothing quite like a wallow in somebody else’s misery. It is also a very little known fact that Guitar noise is a much-underrated cure for heartache, as is drinking vast amounts of whiskey, but this album won’t have you throwing up in the sink.





Graham Domain ‘Cold Moon Harmonics’
(Metal Postcard) 21st February 2019


This is a twisted sun of a LP, an album that highlights the dark underbelly of pop, a magical carpet ride of record store dust. Melodrama and melody fuse together songs that bring to mind a vision of Scott Walker and David Sylvian sat quietly watching the sun fade through the memories of a glittering past; soundtracked by the slow thud of your neighbours feet as they trumble past your flat, and the constant drip of a tap.

This is an LP that should be cherished and held close to your heart as you try to ignore your mundane existence and think of what should have been; how you once held her tight and now can only cling to the photograph; you held her face between her hands and softly kissed in the snow and now all you have left is this the beautiful sound of could ‘have beens’ or ‘should have beens’: The beautiful sound of Cold Moon Harmonics.





Quiet Marauder & Mathias Kom ‘The Crack And What it Meant’
(Bubblewrap Collective) 26th April 2019


A 30-song concept LP is normally a foolhardy thing, after all this is not the 1970s when Yes and Genesis were kings and people would put up with such extravagance. It is normally either a misguided act or a sign in overconfidence in one’s songwriting ability; even the Great Ray Davies came a cropper when he stopped writing sublime three minute songs of great beauty and started to release cack-handed concept albums, in that very same decade.

I’m pleased to say that The Crack And What It Meant is neither of those things. It’s certainly not misguided – how can an album about the current madness going on the world be misguided? After all, music should also not be scared to document what is happening in the world at the time of release. If it’s done well it shouldn’t date: The Specials ‘Ghost Town’ a fine example of a song that is as relevant today as when it was released.

The subject of overconfidence in songwriting also does not come into play in this case as the songs are indeed finely written, sweeping and swaying with the ease and beauty of a kite on a windy day, genre hopping like a musicologist discovering Spotify for the first time. Sometimes Mother Of Invention, sometimes the Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band, other times the great Julian Cope and even Richard Stillgo fronting The Coral. Synthpop, folk, cabaret show tunes are all attempted, and on the whole very successfully.

The narration by Mathias Kom works very well and holds the whole thing together a little like Richard Burton’s narration on Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds album did for that rock oddity. Also like the War Of the Worlds some of the songs are strong enough to stand alone without the concept: The tracks ‘The New Believers’ and ‘We Came In Droves’ are worthy of the Silver Jews after overdosing on a boxset of the Goodies finest moments.

On the whole this album is a huge success and is not foolhardy or misguided at all; an album full of dark humour, fine melodies, invention and pop nouse, and also with the song ‘I Came To Cure My Baldness’, one of the finest lyrics you will hear this year. It gets my thumbs up.





Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

Interview: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Beauty Stab are Dan Shea and Buddy Preston, two former members of the, highly tipped at one time, Goth rock industrial folk band Vukovar, who left to share their love of post punk, disco and 60s/70s/80s pop to the world. Their current three track EP has been one of this year’s musical highlights a stunning release bringing back the much missed and much needed glamour, heartbreak and bedsit seediness to the pop world.


Why did you leave Vukovar? 

Buddy: For the love of music and art, we needed a change of scenery. For a while, I fell out of love with producing music and was finding myself feeling so emotionally detached from it. Upon leaving Vukovar, I initially didn’t want to do music anymore and concentrated instead on other artistic ventures for a while. But music is where the heart is.

Dan: I’ve no desire to dwell on that or air dirty laundry. All that needs to be said is that I did.

 

What made you form Beauty Stab? 

B: The need to carry on pursuing making art and music with a close friend. I know that anything Dan writes is genius and I hope he thinks that my contributions do them some justice. Whilst in Vukovar, I wanted to record Dan’s rejected songs because I always saw something in them in a way I knew I could make them work.

D: The current landscape musically is devoid of sex and danger. Our society is moving backwards at a frightening rate. Even though we are at present operating on a very small scale, I really want to one day be to some confused queer kid living in the middle of nowhere what Marc Almond or David Bowie was in years past (or John Balance from Coil was to me). I am queer in both senses – I am gay but more crucially I am fucking Weird. Our homos should not be homogenised. We are not milk, although Harvey was. Queer is not just about sexuality – I’ve been lucky enough to know straight people with very queer sensibilities and cursed enough to know gay people who are cripplingly pedestrian. There are others doing this at the moment – SOPHIE would be one that’d spring to mind, she made my favourite singles of 2018 (It’s ‘Okay to Cry’ which is a beautiful song and ‘Ponyboy’ which is just sheer filth).

But no one is doing it in the field we operate in. It’s full of hopelessly glamour-less people with beards who make the right noises and have the right political opinions but they’re making sexless facsimiles of records made by people who, shock horror, listened to stuff by people who didn’t look and sound exactly like them. Or maybe they are but I’m not meeting them. If you’re out there please get in touch with me through the obligatory Beauty Stab social media because lord knows I need a friend. If you’re not already doing it, put some makeup on however badly, wear some nice patterns and poke at a synth ineptly and I would love to share a bill with you. I’m into the idea that left-wing politics doesn’t have to be austere and devoid of joy. Bronski Beat strike a chord with me far more than some dullard with an acoustic guitar telling me what I already know in a way I don’t want to hear.

I know it’s also an ABC reference but Beauty Stab is a powerful combination of words. A shard of luxury you don’t actually have to be able to afford because we’re there, you’re here, it’s now and this is the only time we have. In my current crop headed state, Buddy’s the Beauty and I’m the Stab. Bad news from a pretty mouth.

 

 

What are your influences?

B: Life experiences, tales of old, people we appreciate. Musically, whatever we’re listening to at that moment. We’re creating mixtape style playlists for various streaming media to let people know what we love right now, and maybe we can enlighten some people.

 

Dan: Quote Clothes – “girl group hymns and jackboot disco”.

Different movements really. Musically, all the people listed in England’s Hidden Reverse with Coil being the best. We like lots of Italo disco and Chicago house and Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Prince, etc. Those people were emulating. We’re also massive, massive fans of Rowland S Howard and pretty much anything he touched. Then there’s all the obvious Bowie, Iggy, Roxy, Lou Reed. Then there’s girl group records and by default anyone who has the sense to plagiarise them.

Then we’re also influenced by how shit everything is, and also the ethos that riot grrrl bands and people like Crass had even if the artwork and the ideas are invariably more interesting than the music which is a bit sonically conservative and paint by numbers.

 

 

You worked with many established artists with Vukovar, have you any plans to collaborate with any with Beauty Stab? Or are going to rely on your own talent?

B: We’ve played with some people that have really inspired us as artists; so to call those friends now is incredible. I wouldn’t want to rely on those with an already established fan base, we wouldn’t say no to the right people, of course.

D: That’s a bit of a pointed question isn’t it? We’ll see what happens. There are people I’d love to work with but whether it was as Beauty Stab or part of their project or something else entirely is another consideration. We’ve both got a very definite vision and aesthetic for what we’re doing and that may morph over time but anyone who we did work with would have to fulfil two criteria.

 

  1. If we can do it, we do it. If we can’t then we’ll bring them in.

 

  1. This ship has no passengers. I only want to work with people who have ideas of their own and can contribute to the creative process: not a glorified plug in we’re scripting or trading on the value of the name of. An example of someone I’d love to work with would be Karl Blake. I keep asking him. He’s not released a record in decades. Mick Harvey plays on about half of my record collection but that’s never going to happen. We’re obviously going to collaborate with the Mekano Set because they’re our friends.

 

 

Are you going to stay as a two-piece or have you any plans to expand the line up?

B: We plan on having quite an interchangeable line up depending on what type of gigs we’re attending. For now, we’re using all sorts of machines, synths and tapes to help us get the live sound we want. But in the future, we would love to play our songs with a full band.

D: I’m open to ideas.

 

 Any gigs planned? Plans for the near future?

D: Our live setup is mostly composed of broken equipment, also utilising drums and sequenced bass tracks played off a tape recorder a la OMD. As such there are no dates to announce – we are in talks with several different venues and I’m looking forward to making everyone of any gender in the audience pregnant solely through the means of my voice and dancing. If that doesn’t work Buddy is categorically the best looking man in the world so there’s always that. I can only imagine that even blind and deaf people could develop a crush on him.





The recently released Beauty Stab EP, O Eden, can be downloaded from all usual outlets or from Metal Postcard Records bandcamp.


Words: Brian Shea


Single Review: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Beauty Stab ‘O Eden’
(Metal Postcard Records) 8th March 2019

 

So this is the debut single from the new pop duo Beauty Stab; a duo that has the talent to bring some excitement, sleaze and glamour into what the staid machine of the music industry has become. Words cannot do justice to just how good this single and two B- sides are, well actually I will call it triple A-sides as the two extras are equally as special as the triumph that is the lead off track, ‘O Eden’.

So I will start with ‘O Eden’ a song that is the closest we will get to the Walker Brothers this year or any other year. Dan Shea is probably the finest pop singer in pop today, he has the melodrama the heart and bedsit seediness that has not been heard in pop since the golden days of Soft Cell, he has the same qualities as the early 70s Bowie: The “I am a pop master you are just pretenders; sit back and see how it really should be done”.

‘O Eden’ is plainly just a beautifully written pop swoon of a ballad, if when the chorus sweeps in, if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat you should get someone to check your pulse to see if you are still in the land of the living. Majestic is the word.

The second track ‘Need You Around’, sang by another member of Beauty Stab, the pop pinup in waiting Buddy Miller, is a song again blessed with a otherworldly beauty that you just do not sadly, very often, hear in pop today; part Blur’s ‘To The End’ sang by a young Morrissey in his Smiths days, bathed in echo, it is a drop dead beaut of a song, and when a new duo has two such fine singers, haunting is the word.

The third track ‘Clothes’ shows the other side to the mighty Beauty Stab, the sleazy sordid side. This is all Bowie Scary Monsters guitars Walker Brothers Nite Flights darkness: “Your girlfriends clothes looks better on me, your skin looks better on my skin”. A song with so much cut dead gutter sex it is dangerous. Raunchy in a word.

So the words majestic, haunting, and raunchy have all been used in describing this three-track single perfectly. I would also like to add, Major record labels get your cheque books out, I think there might be a bit of a bidding war on.





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