Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Review Roundup

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases in the last 18 months include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and both The King Of No-Fi album, and a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics. And he is still (yes, still) trying to get a label release for his fabled Bordello And Clark album.

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.

Wedding Present ft. Louise Wener  ‘We Should Be Together’
(Scopitones)  Out Now

Now then, I’m a bit of a Wedding Present fan and in fact they’re probably the band I have seen the most live: in fact, I think Dave Gedge is one of the finest lyricists to come from Britain in…well, to emerge from Britain. ‘My Favourite Dress’, ‘Cat Girl Tights’, ‘Dalliance’ are just three examples of that great pop lyricism, and there is also a track called ‘Gedge’ on my not yet released Bordello and Clark album (I’m sure there is a record label somewhere out there in the great divide for it) in tribute to Mr Gedge. So it will be no surprise that yes I do like the new single and in fact I think it actually sounds more like his other band Cinerama than the Wedding Present. Maybe that has something to do with the added extra of Lousie Wener featuring on vocals. Is there anything in fact more poptastic than a male female duet? I have been hooked on them since the days of my childhood years and hearing Terry Wogan play ‘Hey Paul Hey Paula’ by Paul and Paula: now there is an idea for David and Louise, an album of cover versions of great duets from the past. But I digress. This single is a fine jangly summery pop song of radio tingling seduction and in an ideal world would be blasting out as one tucks into their cornflakes in the morning; the kind of song that will make your Special K very special indeed.

Falcon Jane ‘Heaven (Romshii Remix)’

This is a rather fluffy cloud of a single; a cloud that carries a pop like charm that if exploded could outshine the sun with its certain naive charm: a charm that all the best future pop stars songs somehow possess. It’s like seeing Paul Daniels naked: not terrifying but somehow strangely rewarding. It’s a song that will tinker away in your brain when you are trying to think only serious thoughts. Yes, this is a nice and polite way to start a New Year.

bigflower ‘Medicine’
2nd January 2021

A new year and a new track by bigflower, maybe the artist I wrote most about last year, and with good cause, for two reasons: one being that he/they release so much stuff, and two, and most importantly, it is always of the highest quality. Let’s be honest, Ivor Perry the man hiding behind the moniker of bigflower is no slouch on the guitar, Easterhouse being one of the great Manchester bands of the 80’s. Morrissey thought he was the man to replace Johnny Marr in the Smiths, and do you know what? For once Morrissey was right. But for whatever reasons it never came to be and Morrissey went on to make a career of releasing some good albums and much twaddle as well. Ivor on the other hand went on to make some great music – anyone out there remember The Cradle and Parchman?

He must have also made some enemies in the biz, as that can be the only reason bigflower are not being raved about by the music press, and Ivor not being spoken of as being one of the most gifted guitarists of the last 40 years. And this latest track, the beautiful and beguiling ‘Medicine’, is a thing of drop-dead gorgeousness, featuring the vocals of his daughter adding a touch of fragility to this undeniable gem of a track. And once again can be downloaded for free.

Black Twigs  ‘Devils Please Be Gone’ (Soliti)  15th January 2021

This is a lovely warm sounding single: catchy great guitar riff, well-sung, good lyrics and a fine melody. What more can I say apart from give it a listen. Unless of course you do not like any of those points, and in that case, fuck off you dumb cunt.

Cromwell  ‘My Darkest Hour’
(Jezus Factory) 18th January 2021

Sultry is the word. Yes, sultry. My dear friends this is a fine single; it reminds me of something that fine underrated band from the early 90s The World of Twist might have delivered; it has the same layered quality of not just being sultry -have I mentioned that this track is sultry?!-, but is also dark and mysterious. It has some marvellous whooshing synth or swishing even – yes, swishing like a young D’Artagnan with a want-away look in his eye – and also has a rather delightful use of handclaps. I like this track so much so that I’m going to give it another listen. A wonderful debut from Cromwell.

The Stan Laurels  ‘There is No Light Without The Dark’
(Big Stir Records) 23rd January 2021

The melodies flow and float like a bullet from a popgun. Remember them popguns? The toys I mean, not the c86 band. Well this is exactly the same but instead of firing a cork on a string it shoots beams of songs filled with melody and grace and harmony. Yes, The Stan Laurels are loaded up to the back teeth with the blighters; they are in fact the Magnificent 7 of well-written slices of guitar pop, power pop, or jangle pop or whatever you want to call it. I will call it blissful, for that is what it is.

The Stan Laurels might not be the most revolutionary of bands and they wear their influences on their sleeves, like a lot of the music the excellent Big Stir Records release the songs /albums might not change the world but they have that pop magic to make you feel differently about it for the spell inducing minutes the music plays and for those minutes the world is a magical place full of love, peace and pure harmony, and I really do not think one can ask for more.

Vapour Trails ‘Underneath Tomorrow’
(Futureman Records)  15th January 2021

Those who are all there with their cough drops might remember I reviewed The Vapour Trails second album Golden Sunshine last year describing it as an album full of melody and catchy guitar lines and a love and understanding of what makes great 60s inspired music so inspiring, and this 7-track mini album is no different; containing all the qualities Golden Sunshine possessed in spades and in fact maybe even more 60s inspired. The Byrds, The Leaves and Buffalo Springfield all spring to mind, casting shadows of the halcyon days of love beads and miniskirts, and on my favourite track ‘Can You See What I Mean’ might give clues of what the Hollies might have sounded like if Graham Nash had not left and Stephan Stills and David Crosby had joined the Hollies instead: it is a psychedelically tinged gem of a track.

Underneath Tomorrow is a complete triumph of skilled crafted pop songs with chiming guitars and beautifully performed harmonies, there are many 60s influenced guitar bands out there [too many in my opinion] but the Vapour Trails are one of the rare breed who are very well worth investigating and no doubt could have held their own on a bill with The Byrds and Love. An album of pure enjoyment.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog 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 to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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