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.

Catholic Action  ‘Celebrated by Strangers’
(Modern Sky)  LP/27th March 2020






I like this album; it has a fine arrogant strut about it. It’s an LP that caresses a love of not just Wire, Gary Numan, XTC but Donna Summer as well: an album that bathes in the music of the past whilst casting a eye and ear to the present and future.

I also love the overly enthusiastic use of handclaps and the rebirth of the Thin Lizzy twin guitar sound on “Yr Old Dad”. Celebrated by Strangers is an album of well thought out and subtle homages to the obvious love of their musical influences. I can imagine the mighty Marc Bolan doing a fine version of the sultry semi ballad ‘And It Shows’, and ‘People Don’t Protest Enough’ is a song worthy of slipping off the pen of Difford and Tilbrook .

I can safely predict that come the Spring many of the tracks from this fine LP will become over familiar after BBC 6 MUSIC decide that it is the best thing since the last commercial hook laden, slightly alternative guitar LP was released. Shall we call it the Bandwagon-esqe for the year 2020? I think we shall.


Proper Ornaments  ‘Mission Bells’
(Tapete Records)  LP/28th February 2020




Guitar music really does not grow old does it? Not when it’s done right anyway; may it be by Buddy Holly or The Beatles, The Velvets, Big Star or The Smiths or Teenage Fanclub. I was going to say Oasis But they’re a leaden dull thud of a band and show how disposable and uninteresting guitar music can also be.

But the Proper Ornaments I’m pleased to say fall into the first category, a band that write songs with verve, soul and power, a band that make timeless guitar music that will stand the test of time, and this new LP, Mission Bells, takes off were last years Six Lenins left off, and is another example of how to write songs with lyrics and melodies that will pull at the heart stings and not just rehash old Slade riffs and sing of bowling balls [the last mention of Oasis I promise].

This is a fine and interesting album and should be played to all youngsters who want to take up the guitar as a example of how it should and can be done, and if I was giving it marks I would add extra, for once again it sounds like a album and not just a collection of songs. A very good album indeed.




Piney Gir  ‘Puppy Love’
Single/14th February 2020




Ah another song released on Valentine’s Day extolling the joys and virtues of love, and why not there is not nearly enough love in this world. This song is a fine power pop jangle that the The Fountains Of Wayne would be overjoyed to have written [little known fact the Fountains Of Wayne debut LP might be one of my most played LPs…now you weren’t expecting that were you] [and do you care, it will hardly come up as a question on the chase…or will it]. Anyway back to ‘Puppy Love’ [which I might add is not a cover of the Donny Osmond classic, classic being used in the loosest possible sense of the word] but a lovely way to spend two minutes 48 seconds of your life. Pop music is a wonderful thing, as this single proves.




bigflower  ‘My Love’
Single/15th February 2020




As the passing of Valentines Day slides away for another year the excellent bigflower release yet another free to download track of melodramatic dark sweeping beauty, soaked in a melting reverb, distorted to the extent of your own personal god grinding his teeth. Once again a track one should be hearing seeping from your radio, but as there is no justice in this world you will just have to check it out yourself via Bandcamp.





The Lounge Bar Orchestra  ‘Pilot Episode’
Album/30th March 2020




What we have here ladies and gentlemen is the coolest hip swing finger popping LP of the year; music that takes you from the dire depressing early months of 2020 to a time when the sun always shone, when there were only three TV channels and half the time they were showing a test card with some little girl [who actually looked a lot like my wife] playing noughts and crosses with some strange cuddly toy. And this LP could in fact be the music playing that you listened to as you lost yourself in that test card, staring waiting to see if the girl would blink passing the time as you waited for Bagpuss to start.

This ladies and gentlemen is the sound of a variety shows of the late sixties early seventies when you had to name that tune and that tune could well be something off this mighty fine album. This could be the music as Anthe twirled and Bruce felt something move in the trouser department. The music I would imagine Parker played as he drove Lady Penelope around the countryside in the pink six wheeled Fab 1. For god’s sake this LP is cool enough to be the soundtrack for “The Man In The Suitcase” and let’s be honest it does not get any cooler than that.




Harold Nono  ‘We’re Almost Home’
(Bearsuit Records)  LP/20th March 2020




What we have here the rattle tattle of experimental pop music, the sound of one’s mind losing itself in the magical world of sci-fi movies and 60s spy movie soundtracks; an LP to be played whilst reading Beat poetry. This could have been playing in the car when Dylan uttered the immortal line “give the anarchist a cigarette!” in “Don’t look Back”. It is a collision of Neu, John Barry, John Coltrane and My Bloody Valentine, which Joe Meek has collected up and put into one great melting pot. It’s genre non specific as all great experimental pop music should be and this album is great, it captures the many moods of life from the hip swinging happy to the crestfallen beauty of the sad.

Bearsuit Records have once again released an album of true original beauty and if there is any justice in the world should be finding themselves in the best LPs of the year lists come the end of the year, and be a constant fixture on BBC6’s saving grace the Freakzone radio show, in the coming months. Another gem.





Void Vortex  ‘Everything I Am (Is Built From You)’
(Wormhole World)  EP/28th February 2020




This EP is a thing of beautiful experimental wonder; the sound and beauty of the lone piano blissing out and getting down in technological escapades of noise, a instrumental soundtrack to a land of wilting dance beats and robotic poetry and available for all to download on a pay what you want basis, so no need to wait for payday.




Toxic Chicken  ‘Live at Scaledown’
Live Performance/29th February 2020




There is something quite stunningly beautiful in this 15-minute live performance from the Toxic Chicken, recorded at Scaledown – described as London’s finest hidden event. This is the sound of the experimental underground at its best; electronica psychedelia and subtle humor merge into a bewitching hypnotic instrumental mantra one can lose and then re-find oneself in. Part 1967 era Beatles, Syd’s Floyd and the Aphex Twin this is really gripping stuff. A joy to behold.





Related posts from the Archives:

Proper Ornaments ‘Six Lenins’

Toxic Chicken ‘Uncomfortable Music’

Lounge Bar Orchestra ‘Washing Line’

Idiot Blur Fanboy ‘Oasis Are The Enemy’


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Reviews Roundup
Words: 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 recently through Metal Postcard Records.

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 Monochrome Set  ‘Fabula Mandax’
(Tapete Records)  27th September 2019


The new LP by The Monochrome Set is a concept album about the female warrior Armande de Pange, a sidekick of Joan Of Arc. It takes all sorts I suppose; whatever floats your boat and other such benign sayings. It really doesn’t make any difference really as long as the songs/tracks are of an enjoyable quality and this LP, I’m pleased to say, is full of enjoyability. It is positively rammed with the stuff.

The usual twangy and hastily strummed guitars are all present and correct as you would expect from the mighty Monochrome Set; spaghetti western melodies float above the spinning strange story of Armande, bringing a party to ones headphones, and making it a most enjoyable listening experience.





The New Art School ‘Mod Kid (Single)’
(Metal Postcard Records) 27th August 2019



Well what a wonderful song; what a wonderful single. I don’t know what I was expecting; maybe sub Secret Affair or the Lambrettas, but no, what we get is a five minute foray into the edgy joy of ripped up teenage yearning with a guitar riff equivalent of a sneaky smoke at the back of the school bike sheds with a quick snifter of your mums stolen gin. A song that makes you wish you were fifteen again so you could show off to your mates about a great new band you have discovered; a track covered in magic normally only normally woven by the mighty Comet Gain. Another winner from Metal Postcard records.





The Pooh Sticks ‘Seven Inch Box’
(Optic Nerve Recordings) 22nd November 2019



The Pooh Sticks are one of the most perfect pop bands from the last 40 years; they released the “Great White Wonder” album for god sake, so how could they not be, and this, a box set of their first singles, captures them at their most immature fun best two minute-blasts of pure pop perfection. This is how The Shangri-Las would have sounded if they’d produced by Pete Shelley rather than Shadow Morton.

It’s the sound of teenage summer pop. It has a song called ‘Life’s A Gas’ and they’re, maybe, the only band that could get away with it – and not being disappointed that it’s not the Marc Bolan classic.

They even released a song that mentions Alan McGee without calling him an arse (which he is obviously).

They have such a pure outlook on pop life they should be sainted. They have ba ba ba choruses they do versions of ‘Knock Three Times’ that does not pale in comparison to the original. They are pure pop for forever people; the sound of buzz saw bubblegum you never ever want to pop. I do like the Pooh Sticks and so should you…if you don’t already.






Lounge Bar Orchestra ‘Washing Lines’
11th September 2019



A tremor of sixties England, the soundtrack of Joe Meek picnicking with the swinging hipsters of yesteryear; open top sport cars speed around the county lanes as the sun shines and the radio plays the latest Sandie Shaw hit wide eyed barefooted and pulling on the heartstrings of boys who should know better. This is the soundtrack to a land I would quite happily live in; a beautiful magical land of cord jackets and mini skirts; a land when shops closed on a Sunday; a land where Ray Davies resides. I could quite happily live inside this song.





The Cult Of Free Love And The Magic Seas ‘Split EP’
28th October 2019



What we have here is a split 12-inch single of excellence. Kicking off we have Welsh electro psych gothic cult The Cult Of Free Love offering up a rather stunning voyage of psychosis want with the sublime ‘Visions’, a song to haunt, flaunt, bewitch, caress the bejesus out of your record player; a modern day ‘Porpoise Song’, a track already a musical highlight in a year when there has been many a fine tune. Track 2 by The Cult Of Free Love is ‘Substance’, a 7 minute plus journey of trance like adventure sounding like the feeding of The Beatles ‘It’s All Too Much’ through a psychedelic trip hammer of dance inspired Acid House; a return to the misty fields of your deepest feelings, late 80s Manchester but without the guns just pure love and emotion: another stunner. Get ready for The Cult Of Free Love to be your new favourite band.

To the other side of the 12 inch we find The Magic Seas kicking off their side with ‘Count In Threes’, a song that once again takes you back to the golden days of guitar pop, a song with the wonderful gift of melody flowing throughout guitars shimmer and shine and lassoing the sun, pulling the warmth into the indie boy and girls hearts: a truly lovely song. The second track by The Magic Seas, ‘Long Winter’, is even better. A hypnotic 12 string dives straight in to gently rattle the insides of your doubts that you are listening to a very special band indeed. Oh if I were only eighteen again, The Magic Seas would be my new favourite band alongside The Cult Of Free Love: I would just have to alternate days. This EP is indeed something special.





Equinox ‘Correction’
(Wormhole) 30th August 2019



The new LP by Equinox carries on from were the last triumph of his debut left off, taking in the darker feelings of the psych. Poetic spoken word utterings of the lovelorn, crestfallen and heartbroken fourteen collaborations with fourteen underground artists that range from the electronica of ‘Driven’ with Reed Hayes to the almost Oasis like ‘Janine’ with the Razorrawks.

An album to wrap around the drunken late nights of the inward looking, the sound of a man who is past the end of his tether; someone who has found love in the second coming of remembrance the first view of the last rainbow of summer, the coiling of the fading leaf of Autumn, a current so deep one cannot do anything else but curl up into the epiphany of a mistake anyone can make but only the lucky few do. This is an album the shamelessly poetic will take to their heart and listen and cherish as there heartbreaks and their mind explodes. An album of pure beauty, to have, to hold and not let go.






Occult Character ‘Cult Of Ignorance’
(Metal Postcard Records) 5th September 2019



In this day and age you need people like Occult Character to tell the world how it is and what just is happening, and this mini LP is, as I have said before about OC, a modern day Woody Guthrie writing modern day electro folk songs describing life in the Trump led America: and this album proves it.

This could be one of the most important albums released this year. It is the sound of the underground raising two fingers to the “Me” generation. If OC were as well known as John Lennon the US government would be trying the damnedest to get him deported. This is the sound of a artist at the end of his tether writing short requiems to the death of the country he loves ‘Police State /Shit Sandwich’ could be the angriest songs you will hear all year. He pulls no punches; dark humour hides the sadness in these short songs the harshness of the beats only goes on to soundtrack the knife-edge world in which we live today. This is a must be heard album by the most important artist in the US underground today.





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