Reviews/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 month, The King Of No-Fi album. 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.



Ludwig Dreistern ‘Linda/New Oddity’
(Ikarus Records) Single/Out there now


The debut single by Ludwig Dreistern does have a touch of Granddaddy about it and that can only be a good thing surely. It has the same hushed whispered vocal style and the off kilter like psych synth lines they used with a sparing relish that for a short time in the late 90’s was the rigour: it was the thing to flourish at alternative parties by those who loved to dress in black and say such things as “Mercury Rev are to die for” and such…honest I kid thee not. So relive those days of student splendour and working in a record shop at Christmas with this two-track bevy of Granddaddy like remembrance: you will not be sorry.






Loverground & BB Sway ‘About You’
Single/Out There Now




There is something quite Prince-like about this lovely piece of pop fluff. The kind of fluff that sticks to your cardigan and no matter how many times you think you have flicked the litter blighter away you look again and there it is still attached and growing until it reaches a badge like status that you eventually wear with pride; it is always there, always there as a reminder of something so small that means so much to you and makes you smile to yourself: a piece of fluff you never ever want to live without.




Hiroki Tanaka ‘Inori’
Single/Out there now




This track is a fine slice of musical beauty wrapped in a sweet chocolate like covering of yearning sadness. A song to serenade your dark side into a soft becoming ball of slush with a Radiohead-becoming-The Beatles like melody that sucks you in, and, doesn’t spit you out but just hugs you with a gentle rocking slumber of your most darling hopes wishes and dreams. I bet the forthcoming album is going to be a gem.






Lou Terry ‘If I’m Me Who Are The Other One’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/Out there now




A shallow bathe in the lost beauty of misery and of love lost and found, the power of gentle melodies and the light touch of the lyrical twist really cannot be underestimated, and the master of all those things is Lou Terry whose new album is brimming with songs full of those qualities.

Recorded over the lockdown, like so much of the new music I’m listening to, it is graced – well with the grace and understanding and sublime loss that normally can be found in the outpourings of 80s Go Betweens and the obscure 70s home recordings of John Lennon. When Lou Terry’s voice cracks it is thing of true beauty as it does on ‘Sickly Peach’. You wonder how on earth he is not better-known; it has the same effect as spying a long-lost lover across the street and her shyly smiling the smile that breaks the passing of the years and in an instant you are eighteen and beholden, you are completely lost and once again under the power of her magical spell. And the beauty of this album achieves all this. It almost wants you to feel broken and betrayed lost and bewildered. If I’m Me Who Are The Other Three is the album to soundtrack the oncoming melancholy of Autumn nights; a thing of great beauty.






James PM Philips ‘Manikhana’
Single/Out there now




This is a rather wonderful beast of a track, a lo-fi adventure of pure undiluted home recorded psych; one that brings to mind the off-kilter joy of Skip Spence’s masterpiece Oar, or the magical musical workings of Craig Smith/Maitreya Kali. A song to chant to your own personal god, be it a badly buttered slice of toast or the mythical goddess of pop Deborah; a true work of off the cuff musical madness, one that should be both lauded and applauded. Great musical outpourings indeed.






Lo Tom ‘LP2’
(Self-Released) Album/11th September 2020




Polished Mary Chain-like guitars played by Bryan Adams kick off this self-released [a round of applause for Lo Tom] album of alt rock, and although it attempts nothing new or revolutionary this album it is no worse and a lot better than a lot of the Alt Guitar rock music I’m sent to ponder over. It has a certain bombastic melodious appeal that the Icicle Works sometimes achieved and the emotionally charged exuberance a lot of people will find rewarding. Although not the kind of album I’d normally choose to listen to I can think of a lot of people who will really enjoy this album of well worked alt guitar rock. So if bombastic alt guitar is the kind of thing that rocks you Daddy-O I would advise you to give it a listen.



The Green Child ‘Low Desk: High Shelf’
(Upset The Rhythm) Single/Out There Now




This lovely piece of synth poppery is a fine example of how pop music is still alive and kicking in 2020: A song built on such a floating-on-the-air synth riff it could have kept the Titanic afloat. Beautiful melodies, whispery soft as silk fragile vocals combine to give three and a half minutes of perfect pop.






Feral Wheel ‘The Dolphin Way’
Track/Out There Now




The second track from the rather marvelous newish Liverpool band Feral Wheel takes us drifting back to the late sixties, when the lazy guitar sounds of Arthur lee and his merry band of Love ruled the roost. There is something quite magical about great Liverpool guitar bands and trust me the Feral Wheel show all the signs of being a great Liverpool guitar band. They have the air of woozy stoned- out summer afternoons, of an 1980s stroll down button street after spending far too long deciding which volume of Pebbles the Garage rock comp you were going to buy from the old Probe records store; the sun was always shining the girl you was with was always beautiful, your friends full of wit and a shared excitement for the future, and there was always the music, music like the Feral Wheel to soundtrack the passing of those late summer days, quite sublime sounding like the Feral Wheel.






Agent blå  ‘Frustrated’
(Kanine Records) Single/Out there now




A Gothic like pop subculture melts into Wayne Hussey’s out-stretched arms in a riff ridden glory ride of a skinny dipped PJ Harvey. Pink hi ho silver away tear dropped shaped memory of a gurning John Peel dressed in spurs and a cowboy hatted joker of dead eyes and frippery. Yes those were the days nobody ever mentions anymore. A fine single none the less…and yes, if you put it close to your ear I am sure you will hear the ocean.




Floodlights ‘From A View’
(woo me!/spunk) Album/28th August 2020




Americana from Australia – shall we call it Australiana -, which is the sound of Billy Bragg playing the near hits and misses of the Go Betweens or vice versa if you like, either way what we have here are ten very well written songs of heartache and its many varieties. Guitars that jangle and solos like an escaped riff from Primal Screams Velocity Girl whilst twirling with gay abandon with the dark wistfulness of the well composed lyrics. I also love the boy girl vocal interaction on the album; they do it very well, it fits together with a charm like a forced in piece of a jigsaw puzzle that does not mean to go there but looks better anyhow and gives it a unique look of its own. Oh I do like this album it reminds me of a down at heel Triffids and one cannot pay a higher compliment than that believe me.





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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