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.


Violent Vickie ‘Division’
Album/4th September 2020


Thank the lord for the splendid Violent Vickie and her love for waving darkly at both inanimate and moving objects, for what we have here is a dive head first into her musical synth art of an album: the place where synths whoosh and drum machines do the noise drum machines make, which on the whole is much preferable to the sounds a drummer makes and without less sweat, unless Prince Andrew was the drummer that is and if that was the case someone should warn young Victoria to watch her back and front and all her other areas for that Prince is a bad un.

But what we have here in fact is a royal treasure of an album; an alternative disco Goth delight of an album; one that builds and interjects with an atmospheric grace most dark wave releases [yes and I hear plenty of those; most I ignore] would love to achieve. What moves this album up a notch from 99 per cent of all the other alternative dark synth dark wave that comes my way is Violent Vickie’s grasp of melody and the catchy synth riff, ‘The Blame’ track being a prime example, a riff that weaves its merry way throughout the track without overstaying it’s welcome.

There is also a slightly “ok I am about to lose it feel” about the songs; the “yes I am teetering on the edge and I am not sure what way I am going to fall” feel; a feel I fully support, recognise and understand and which gives the music a touch of “this is my real life, my art, not me playing at being a pop princess” and I have no doubt pop princess is something Victoria could become if that was her want as she has the panache of a Peaches or Miss Kitten when the dark wave succumbs to the total disco glitterball of all the underlying influences this album possess; all but exploding on the sultry ‘Secret Wife’, a song that reeks of glorious seedy glamour.

This album is a wonderful rare thing not just a dark wave album I will want to listen to again but one I could also dance to, but that is a sight I would not force on anyone or anything living or dead: a dance I would name the Violent Vickie. And yes, this album Division is a true joy… [sorry could not resist].





See also…

Violent Vickie ‘The Blame’ Single Review



The Hannah Barberas ‘Fallow Days’
EP/13th August 2020




All the money made from this lovely jangly EP of sublime summer pop songs go to a food bank Lucy from the Hannah Barberas works at, which is reason enough to give it a spin. Four songs that are jangly and pop affirming: I would have said life affirming, but pop music is life to so many of us and this EP proves what a wonderful life pop life is with songs that have the spirit of C86 running through them. For all lovers of Orange Juice, June Brides even Belle And Sebastian and all those other bands we indie poppers love will in no doubt embrace this fine work of indie popdom.





See also…

The Hannah Barberas  ‘Into The Wild’ LP Review



Death By Unga Bunga ‘Trouble’
(Jansen Records) Single/Out Now





I like this, but then I do have a soft spot for songs with power, fun and melody, and this track has all of the aforementioned. A song that will send you spinning back to the days when power pop was briefly en vogue in the late seventies’, early eighties. Yes it almost has me wanting not to finish writing this short and sweet review and nipping onto Youtube and get misty eyed over the hits near hits and misses of The Motors. A lovely little nugget of the power pop variety.






Occult Character ‘Race To The Grave’
Track/Now





It is great to see that Occult Character is finally getting some recognition and radio play from WFMU-FM in America; a man who I’ve been writing and raving about for a couple of years now: although John Robb will probably claim to have discovered him at some point in the future when he actually gets round to hearing him.

So once again we have a under two-minute slam-dunk of a track spraying piss over the state of America and its current failings. Occult Character releases far too much material to actually stay up with him and is probably doing himself a disservice, so by the time this goes to press no doubt there will be another dozen or so tracks to marvel, laugh and cry over.





See also…

Occult Character  ‘Steve Albini’s Kundalini’ LP Review

‘Cult Of Ignorance’ Mini LP Review

‘Chittering Noises’  LPs of 2019


Various ‘Songs Of The City Of The Four Faces – Cambodian Music Of The 60s’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/19th August 2020





I admit I know nothing about Cambodian pop music from the 60s, so I jump into this album with a little trepidation. But I’m a great lover of 60s beat music and garage rock and 60s pop and spend many a hour delving into the vaults of time unearthing forgotten gems, so I have high hopes. And I’m not disappointed with what I find. What I discover is that this is a treasure trove of 60s hip swinging beat magic; a treasure trove of groovy basslines enthusiastic backing vocals; wonderful cheap sounding 60s guitars, the kind of guitar you would pay a fortune for today; and warm Hammond organ sounds, the kind Clint Boon no doubt has wet dreams about and in the case of the track ‘Kanha Roup Sros’ by my fave of the 5 artists Ros Seresysthes, a horn led little beauty Dexy’s would release 20 years later. In fact I’d say that but Pen Ron could well be my fave newly discovered artist; pure undiluted pop genius from strange psych to out there beat pop magic to melodramatic horn led soul. On the whole this album is one of pure joyful discovery and one I would recommend to anyone even with a passing interest in 60s pop /beat music.





See also 

The Cambodian Space Project ‘Whisky Cambodia’ LP Review (Ben P Scott)

Various Artists  ‘Khmer Rouge Survivors – They Will Kill You, If You Cry’ Albums of 2016 (Dominic Valvona)



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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic 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.

With all live gigs and events more or less quashed for the foreseeable future, buying music (whether it’s physical or through digital platforms such as Bandcamp) has never been more important for the survival of the bands/artists/collectives that create it. We urge you all to keeping supporting; to keep listening.


Loose Fit   ‘Loose Fit EP’
(FatCat Records) EP/3rd April 2020

I do like a bit of bass heavy post punk and Loose Fit do it better than most. This reminds more than a than a bit of Bow Wow Wow and then all of a sudden on ‘Reflux’ the memories of the wonderful X Ray Spex come surging back, which is no bad thing: a lot worse could come surging back than memories of one of punk’s finest. There’s honking sax, which you do not hear often in bass heavy post punk unless you call the Coasters bass heavy post punk, whom of course you can’t unless you have never heard the Coasters – and then you can think anything. Isn’t imagination a wonderful thing.




Ploom ‘Ploom EP’
EP/6th March 2020




What we have here my dears is the debut EP from Denver Psych band Ploom, or that is how they describe themselves in the press release. And that will do for me, as they do have a slight psych feel about them. Going off at various tangents throughout their songs at times, they recall a sunny Mothers of Invention or psychedelic Strokes: in fact you could call them Sun Strokes! (Please no groaning at the back). No really this is a rather excellent listen; a band to listen to whilst riding in a open top car to on a summers day and can imagine them doing really well on the festival circuit: a band to wave giant inflatable too.






Occult Character   ‘Steve Albini’s Kundalini ‘
(Metal Postcard) LP/9th March 2020




A brand new LP from the wonderful Occult Character, and as ever, dark funny lyrical portraits of life in the USA today is the order of the day, but this time taking on a more musically commercial slant. Synth led beats smoother production, and if not for the many curse words, you could imagine gracing daytime radio. This could almost be a pop album it certainly deserves to reach a larger audience. Who else but Occult Character would write a song about a homophobic microwave and other such oddities? It is indeed a crazy world and maybe this is the album to soundtrack it.




Various   ‘Mark Barton’s Sunday Experience Album’
(Bearsuit Records)  LP/27th March 2020




This LP breaks my heart a little as it is a tribute to someone I considered a friend; somebody who I talked via the internet to for over 15 years, and had a great drunken night out with together watching my sons band Vukovar: the first of many nights, or so we thought. But sadly he discovered he had cancer not long after and through various reasons we never got to meet up again.

Mark was a lovely great man who also happened to be a great writer and a great supporter of underground music, and the underground community thought a great deal of Mark, as this CD proves. This could have easily been a 100-track box set, for all the artists giving up tracks to this fine tribute to a fine man. This CD shows what a wide and varied taste Mark had, and he had a beautiful poetic way of praising the music he loved with his writing: one I won’t even try to match.

The music on this album is as I have already said varied, but what it has in common is that it is all excellent, all unique in their own ways; from the dark sweeping guitar sounds of bigflower to the psych tinged rock n roll of the Moon Duo and Schizo Fun Addict, to the wayward lo-fi shambolic of my own Bordellos – a song we wrote a few years ago in tribute the great man and his fine blog.

There are washes with the experimental: the excellent Harold Nono and the Polypores, BBC 6Music faves The Lovely Eggs, and JD Meatyard, even the legendary noise gods Godflesh make an appearance. So many great reasons to purchase this CD.

Mark would be more than a little embarrassed but also deeply touched by this compilation; I just wish he was still around for to enjoy this fine tribute.

All money raised goes to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.




Rita Braga ‘Tremble Like A Ghost’
Single/21st March 2020


Rita Berga - monolith cocktail

What the world needs now more than anything else is an electro Betty Boop. It really does. And that is what we have here. Three and a half minutes of pop fun. The kind of song that could make you breakout into sporadic leg and hand movements that resembles a meeting of the Charleston you know and love committee. Yes a quirky little pop gem, one for us oldsters and you youngsters and those in-between.




Schizo Fun Addict  ‘The Last Wave’
(Flicknife Records)  LP/Now


Schizo Fun Addict a band that should be cherished and held close to one’s heart. They are one of the many bands that deserve to be better known and raved about, so with this the new album I’m going to do just that and rave about the beauty and joy one can have by losing themselves in Schizos own and original sounding laid back beauty. Sixties psych merges with smooth American FM late night 70’s sounds and British 80’s pop, one of the only bands of today I can hear the influence of Prefab Sprout creep through as well as their obvious love of the Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine.

The Schizos have so much going for them. Not just fine original musicians and great songwriters but they have one of the most beautiful female voices in modern pop with the candy covered angel whisper of Jayne Gabriel: a voice I could listen to all day and completely lose myself in.

So for anyone out there who hasn’t heard of the Schizo Fun Addict go and do yourselves a favour start with this album and then work your way back through the treasure of a back catalogue. And a treasure it surely is: a band to be treasured in fact.



The Hannah Barberas ‘Into The Wild’
LP/3rd April 2020




Ah C86 those were the days; when boys with floppy fringes wore their hearts on their sleeves, and their guitar songs of love gone wrong and love in waiting. And this enjoyable album by the Hannah Barberas takes us all back there. Over jangly guitars, occasional northern soul beats, and songs of love gone right and long, this LP almost had me wanting to put leather patches on the elbows of my Oxfam jackets and dig out a Davy Crockett hat and kneel and pray to an effigy of Saint Edwyn. This album is highly recommended for those who want to return to those fine days of the June Brides and Brilliant Corners.




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