Reviews Galore/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

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 include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last couple of months, 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.

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 Singles/Tracks/Videos Section

Kipper Gillespie ‘No Sunshine’
(Big Richards Records) 12th February 2021

‘No Sunshine’, well actually this is a sunny delight, a rip-roaring voyage back to the days of the 4th Velvet Underground album Loaded: and this is loaded with wide-eyed loose-limbed slack jawed pleasure. It’s like Jade Fair after having too much fizzy pop and made to jump up and down in a sexy way. It’s a nostalgic romp to the golden age of alternative radio. Yes this is very good indeed. I think Kipper Gillespie is one to watch. All together now, were all having a good time together…

The Albums/EPs Section

Wedding Present  ‘Locked Down And Stripped Back’
(Scopitones) February 26th 2021

What we have here is the Wedding Present beating off the boredom and frustrations of lockdown by revisiting tracks from the back catalogue and recording them in a stripped back way; recorded live via the magic of Zoom or whatever bewitchery the modern life throws at us. These live performances can be seen on the Wedding Present YouTube channel by the way, and these newly recorded versions are actually all very good indeed, offering a lightness to the darkness of the original versions and pushing to the fore David Gedge‘s knack of writing beautiful melodies and lyrical tales of relationships’ ups and downs like a one man middle aged Shangri-La’s, and I’m sure Shadow Morton would have been pleased to offer his girls any of these gems: the thought of the Shangri-Las doing a version of ‘My Favourite Dress’ is making my head spin – can you imagine Mary Weiss half singing half talking the line “Jealousy is an essential part of love”, how heavenly would that be!

This album would in fact make an ideal starting point for someone wanting to discover the magic of the Wedding Present; a gentle entry into their world of loves’ rights and wrongs, an entry into the pinpoint lyrical outpourings of heartache of indie rocks silver fox. A fine album.

Fat Francis ‘Breakfasts For Losers’
January 22nd 2021

Fat Francis is a shit name. If I was him I’d change it, as it does the chap no favours. You expect jokey punk rock, the ‘I’ve been reading Viz type character type of music’, but what we get instead is a marvelous album of very well written and performed DIY slacker folk tinged indie lo fi-ness, with melodies and lyrical treats galore.  At times reminding me of Skip Spence’s OAR album, other times a slightly with-it Pete Perritt without his Only Ones, or, Big Stars’ Sister Lovers, or on ‘Blankets’, a young Marc Bolan. This is really quite wonderful stuff indeed. And one of my fave things I’ve heard this year. I know it is only January, but I have heard a lot of music already and it makes it worthwhile when you come across something as good as this. Very recommended.

The Legless Crabs ‘Onions’
(Metal Postcard Records) 1st February 2021

This is the Legless Crabs third album in less than 12 months but their first this year, and what an album it is. Pure undiluted rock n roll: nothing more, nothing less. If only the Mary Chain was still as good as this.

As I mentioned when reviewing their last album I declared that The Legless Crabs were the best rock n roll band in America and this album just nails the point: distorted guitars, distorted vocals and songs that scream protest at the way the modern world is spinning out of control. Onions is so perfectly named as it’s an album of many layers and the more you peel the more you want to cry at just how special the Crabs are. They take their love of rock n roll and the hatred of current American life and mould into an album of rock n roll humour disgust and delight.

Orphelia Bruuce ‘Psychodelia Volume 1’
(Carmelite Records)  10th January 2021

If blissful psychedelia is your thing then you could do worse than checking out this marvelous album of sun dizzying heights by Orphelia Bruuce; an album that will convince you that we’re not stuck in the middle of a pandemic but in fact on a magical ride of adventure sun and love. Throbbing bass lines, backwards guitars, whispered vocals and psychedelic chants take you back to the time when Nirvana were chasing rainbows; when the Hole in Your Shoe was indeed letting in water. For Psychodelia Vol 1 is an album that, if not knowing better, I’d have thought was one of those lost classic psychedelic albums from the late 60s; the sort that Cherry Red and Sundazed Records like to release at annoying regularity. Yes, Orphelia Bruuce have indeed mastered this psychedelic lark and do it so much better than most bands past and present, and as I write you can download the complete Carmelite Records back catalogue for a bargain £4.50 that is 90% off I think Christmas 2021 has come early.

Last Victorian Death Squad ‘LVDS’
(Shore Dive Records)

This is how major label alt rock used to sound like in the 80s, big and shiny and gleaming with razor sharp melodies normally sang by lead vocalists with razor sharp jaw lines and loud and chiming guitars, and it always had an air of beautiful big stadium escapism about it. This fine EP brings it all flooding back. Last Victorian Death Squad have the strange sound of early My Bloody Valentine with the commercial edge of Simple Minds before they decided they were Irish and the one hit wonderism’s of Then Jericho: but we will not hold that against them. An enjoyable EP and a band we could be hearing more from I predict.

Dolph Chaney ‘This Is Dolph Chaney’
(Big Stir Records) 20th February 2021

This is Dolph Chaney, the sound of power pop (yes that again). I have been hearing quite a lot power pop lately; I think the appeal of the chime and the crunch of guitars maybe on the rise once again. Maybe the old art of song writing is again popping (or power-popping) its head from the undergrowth, and that can only be a good thing when the songs are as enjoyable as they are on this album.

I can hear an early 90’s alt rock influence waft through these tracks, especially on ‘Now I Am A Man’, which had me wondering where I put my copy of Sugars Copper Blue album, as well as the usual 60s/70s influences, which believe me is not a bad thing: If you are going to be influenced by pop music there are no better decades. But Dolph has much more to offer than rehashes of decades past; he takes his influences and weaves songs of great beauty. ‘Sideless World’ is a lump in the throat, tear in the eye gem and ‘Pleasant Under Glass’ has all the fun charm of McCartney when he is being both fun and charming – it also happens also to be my fave track on the album.

Yes, This is Dolph Chaney is another pop diamond of an album to add to the crown that is Big Stir Records.

Luke Russell ‘Upbeat Downbeat’
(Half A Cow Records) 5th February 2021

Another release from the excellent Sydney based Half A Cow Records label and another album filled with fine melodies and lyrical wit. This being a compilation of the best tracks from Luke Russell‘s previous five albums, it’s an album of songs that jangle and chime with the best of them. C86 lovers will love this, and at times it reminded me of the Brilliant Corners (remember them?), but also at times it has a goodtime folk influence (‘Up Beat Down Beat’), or a country soul feel (‘I’m Giving You One More Chance Boy’, ‘New Dress New Lover’ and especially ‘I’m Never At My Best’, which is a beautiful ballad, a song worthy to have dripped from the pen of the mighty Elvis Costello). These are all well written songs and any fans of well written mature guitar pop could do worse than check out Luke Russell and his tales of love found and love lost.

The Crushing Violets  ‘A Dream Without Color’ January 8th 2021

This is a very warm sounding album. It must be said, a very well produced one, which I feel very appealing, and looking at the album credits I notice it was mastered at Abbey Road which makes complete sense as The Crushing Violets worship at the altar of late sixties psychedelic tinged rock, and so I’m sure would have jumped at the chance to tread in the footsteps of the fab four.

They have managed to capture some of the naive spirit of the late 60s, successfully bringing the warmth and yearning of peace and free love to these Covid-19 ridden times. This seven-track album is one I’m sure lots of the retro brigade will no doubt find a very rewarding listen, and will be cursing that it is not available on vinyl. But it is an album I would certainly recommend to all those wishing for a time machine journey to breath in the aura of 1967; it even has a cover of ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ on it: what more can one want, free love beads and a Kaftan.

Ocelot ‘Unelmoi’
(Soliti Music/Playground Music Oy) 12th February 2021

Ocelot are from Finland and have a very interesting way about them: now, what a way to start a review! No they are and they have a lovely warm coolness about them. They sway and groove like polite motherfuckers, the kind to have a sly lick of your lolly when you are not looking, but feel guilty about it afterwards. For they are cheeky more than dangerous and that comes out in their music: polite experimental pop songs with more going on in them than your normal run of the mill indie waxing.

They have a late night lying on your bed feeling the summer breeze gently caressing your radio dial type of vibe about them. They have this pop malarkey well sussed no doubt about it; soulful melodious and beautiful.

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