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 newest release, a beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, is out today via Metal Postcard Records (here).

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.


Martin Månsson Sjöstrand Trio  ‘Universum Faller’
LP/ 15th January 2020




Martin Månsson Sjöstrand was the leader of the excellent Dog Paper Submarine who’s final LP I think is due for release on Small Bear Records in the coming years. This album by his new trio takes over from where the Dog Paper Submarine left off but this time concentrating on the joys of instrumental music. Space rock wrestles with surf rock in this fine melee of fretboard wizardry.

If Joe Meek had survived to see the 70s and prog rock this could be the kind of music he would be releasing; a succulent blend of ear enlightening Frisbee throwing joy: all out frugging joy.

Of interest from the Archives:

Martin Mânsson Sjöstrand  ‘Wonderland Wins’


Bruce Hendrickson And The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies  ‘New Jerusalem’
Album/24th January 2020




A few weeks ago those with memories not riddled with middleageness might remember that I reviewed the fine debut single from Bruce Hendrickson And The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies (how I wish they had a shorter name), calling it ‘quite magical’. Well here is their EP/mini album and again I will describe it as magical.

Kicking off with ‘After The Apocalypse’, a stunning space aged Bowie like Scary Monsters era rocker, all whirring synths and screaming guitars, a track that sets one thinking that maybe the apocalypse won’t be so bad after all. That is followed by the album version of their debut single. And without going over already covered ground, is quite beautiful and my fave track of the year so far: quite stunning in fact. Track three ‘Pale Horse’ once again has the dark but beautiful vibe that the wonderful and much missed Sparklehorse used to emit quite naturally. The final track is the title song ‘New Jerusalem’, which has one’s mind scurrying to the rare occasion when Mark E smith would leave his heart open for all to see, when he would bare his soul and give us a ballad ala ‘Bill Is Dead’. ‘New Jerusalem’ is a fine way to finish a fine album.




Of interest from the Archives:

Bruce Hendrickson and The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies  ‘Any Sunny Day’


The Saxophones  ‘Eternity Bay’
(Full Time Hobby) LP/6th March 2020




This is the sound of a romantic early evening stroll across a beach with the love of your life; a soft shuffle across a dance floor with one of those late 50s jazz tinged ballads soundtracking the innuendo dance of life. For this LP supplies a beautiful escape to the everyday hustle. At times reminding me of Lambchop at their seductive best, the subtle strum or pluck of jazz guitar and the soft soul ecstasy of the horns backing the tuneful crooning of Alexi Erenkov.

An ideal and relaxing way to soundtrack a evening-in, Eternity Bay is a fine and crafted album with beautifully written and performed songs whose subtle elegance washes over you.





C.S.E Art Project  ‘The Truths On The Telly’
(Metal Postcard Records)  Single/19th January 2020



Out of the ashes of the New Art School, a band that released a number of storm driven post punk singles last year, arises C.S.E. Art Project, a band that continues where New Art School left off with another three-minute blast of art beat poetry. An aural equivalent of reading an old copy of the Sniffing Glue fanzine C.S.E Art Project could well of stepped out the pages from that legendary old rag: Guitars that should make today’s youth throw away their smart phones and do something more revolutionary instead, like listen to this fine single and be inspired.




Of interest from the Archives:

The New Art School ‘Mod Kid’ Single Review


November Bees ‘Claw an’ Feather’
LP/17th January 2020




I will be honest, I wasn’t expecting to like this LP as they describe themselves as psychedelic and most bands nowadays think psychedelic is have-many-foot- peddles-will-travel (to as far as the closest psychfest normally). You know, those fests where bands have to check in their inner melodies at the door.

But I’m pleased to report that the November Bees are indeed a true psychedelic experience were song craft is crafted with humor, heart and invention, and melodies are things to be cherished not scoffed at. At times this fine album brings to mind the wonderful Edwyn Collins at his sardonic best whilst sharing the same drugs as The Coral and the Super Furries. This is the kind of album the wonderful Stolen Body Records release. In fact, Stolen Body Records why on earth have you not released this? Are you slipping? A fine album indeed.





Picniclunch ‘Yor Boy’
LP/Out Now




I like Picniclunch. I like The Fall. I like the way they both go around their post punk riffery. This is the kind of album John Peel would have adored and played constantly and the kind of album BBC 6 music ignores because of the strangeness and out of world joy that mid 80s post punk influence emits. It just is not bland and generic enough for them.

I am so glad and happy that bands like Picniclunch exist and still feel the need to share their outsider discordant take on their musical art and at times this album reminds me of the another American musical maverick, the fine Occult Character. Not in sound but in feel and ideals. I’d also recommend this album to anyone who loves the sound of early Pavement and the aforementioned Fall. Well worth investigating.





Anytime Cowboy ‘S/T’
(Third Coming Records) LP/28th February 2020




Anybody out there who knows me and my band of underground cults The Bordellos, will know of my love for the great Syd Barrett who’s music I adore. And so I’m ever so pleased to report that this, the Anytime Cowboy debut album, is filled with the joy and spirit of that great man. The Television Personalities may have known where Syd Barrett lives but Anytime Cowboy doesn’t just know the address but the colour of his walls and his inside leg measurement as well.

The songs do not just shilly but shally in equal measure. Wonderful discordant jangle guitars drip from the speakers with the all-consuming glory of the early Pastels. Underground guitar lines collide with the melodious offbeat beauty of a man in the know that pop music is the greatest and most moving of art forms. This debut LP is well worthy of any music lovers attention and I shall be investigating further the releases from Third Coming Records, the home of this excellent release.






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

Reviews
Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea





Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent project, Roi (with John McCarthy and Dan Shea, of Beauty Stab and Vukovar infamy) debuted at the end of 2019 through Metal Postcard Records with the paean to local record shop single, ‘Dormouse Records’. They’ve also released their seasonal dirge, ‘Christmas Morn‘.

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


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

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

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




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

 

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




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

 

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




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

 

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

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




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

 

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




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

 

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




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

 

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


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