Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Roundup

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The BordellosBrian ‘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 King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and a series of double-A side singles (released so far, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’, ‘Daisy Master Race/Cultural Euthanasia’‘Be My Maybe/David Bowie’ and All Psychiatrists Are Bastards / Will I Ever Be A Man). He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped-down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

Each month we supply him with a mixed bag of new and upcoming releases to see what sticks.

The Single.

Dead Rituals & Francis Moon  ‘Tangled Up’
10th September 2021

This is actually quite a beautifully written pop song, and actually overcomes the awful bland production a lot of these indie pop songs have nowadays, the kind of production you hear on a song being played on an episode of Catfish when the person being catfished discovers that the hunk they thought they were talking to is in fact their best friends 80-year uncle who had a penchant for dressing like Touché Turtle and thrusting his pork sword at any passing stranger. This is a lovely well-written ditty and one if it came on the radio I would not turn off.

The Albums..

Hits ‘Cielo Nublado’
(Paisley Shirt Records)  17th September 2021

Why am I listening to so much indie pop this week?! Not that I’m complaining when it’s made with so much charm, melody and melancholia as this album by Hits; an album that brings back the golden days of K Records and the charm and beauty of a Sarah Records release back into my life, but with an added spice of sex and darkness which I am very taken with, especially on the slightly discordant ‘Flat Horizon’, which I have been listening to on a loop for far too long now for one’s own good and mental sanity.

But this is an album I think could well soundtrack the soon to be with us autumn evenings and bus rides to and from work. It has a certain feel like an old friend you have not seen in a long time giving you a hug and in that instant all those memories of what you shared between yourselves come flooding back, which you momentarily bathe and lose yourself in. Guitar jangle has not sounded so Revolutionary in such a long time, and not moved me so much in such a long time. Just guitar, bass and drums: Buddy Holly did not die in vain. This is an album to buy and cherish. And C+, it has a musical tribute to Alan Vega, which is short charming and catchy: as all indie pop should be.

ONETWOTHREE ‘ST’
(Kill Rock Stars)  15th October 2021

ONETWOTHREE are a three-piece post punk trio made up of three lady bassists from Switzerland, and the album is indeed a groovy post-punk delight. Obviously bass heavy with dashes of synth, guitar and a freshness that is welcome in this day of thawed out pre-frozen indie nonentities.

Instead of heart stopping originality and pop sass we are having music forced on us by those incapacitated with a grapefruit ear, but I’m happy to report that ONETWOTHREE have both a subtle originality and sprightly pop sass that has one sassing everywhere with indie pant shenanigans. They have tunes, melodies and a vocal charm that asks one the question, ‘why are we not hearing this on the radio more often?’ We need music with subtlety, charm and simple naive sexiness to soundtrack our daily life; the sort that ONETWOTHREE offer us.

Equinox x Xqui ‘External Combustion Tension’
5th November 2021

Music is an art form and this album by Equinox and Xqui is a work of art. It’s an album that takes poetry, spoken word and atmospherics into an almost sci-fi territory. Ambiance abounds, if ambiance can do such a frivolity. Imagine John Cooper Clark gusting gushing and guesting on an album by a stoned tired Add N To X.

This is an album to wipe away your afternoon contemplating life and losing yourself in the beauty and intelligence and humour, sadness and anger. This well written and produced original album offers you all this. It offers you so much, and it’s quite refreshing to listen to something not influenced by Chuck Berry and his duck walk, and something that is not scared to stick out its well stroked chin and make an album that screams out: “art is nothing not be afraid of”. And to adventure your way into a new listening experience is indeed not a bad thing, like growing as a human being is not a bad thing: one can never learn too much.

This album could be an antidote to the mediocre music that lacks originality soul and art that so spoils our radio. Oasis fans should be locked in a room and force fed this record through large speakers and then see if they have grown as human beings or at least learned to walk like one.

Hanrath & Way  ‘Prismatic Illusions’
(Submarine Broadcasting Co.) 23rd August 2021

Another album of experimental atmospheric tomfoolery from the dyed in genius label that is Submarine Recordings; an album that is soaked in humour sex and repeated listening. Each listen is repaid with another view of life seen through an unwashed wine glass; experimental jazz-tinged vignettes of cinematic explosion rubbing shoulders with long journeys through the artic coldness of synth led melodrama: an album of illicit kisses of soiled and melted hearts drawn in the snow.

Junk culture and blindfolded Art viewing where the sunken ships are just the follies of the mediocre, this is an album of reawakening’s and unmissed opportunity, an album I recommend whole heartedly.

Sun Atoms  ‘Let There Be Light’
1st October 2021

Once again I mention Wonky Alice in a review as this is what this album reminds me of, which let me tell you is a compliment as Wonky Alice were one of the finest psych influenced bands doing the rounds in the late 80s early 90s, and this album screams of late 80s early 90s guitar-based psych. And as an early twenty something I would have loved this album. Even as a 54-year-old I’m still enjoying this album for all the same reasons I expect, but I suppose with the added attraction of nostalgia attached. Not that this is an album of nostalgia, but an album of well performed songs that hover around the Psych genre, but with a touch of Leonard Cohen drama and dry humour strangely emerging, popping its head above the pulpit waving a floppy hat casting peace signs to the embers of a dying sun. Yes, this is indeed an enjoyable well produced well thought out pop listening experience with dashes, dare I say, of its own togetherness and originality.

Will Feral ‘Hellweb’
(Metal Postcard Records) 4th September 2021

Hellweb is a rather marvellous instrumental album, one that would make one hell of a horror film soundtrack. Will Feral could be the natural successor to John Carpenter, and one could imagine this easily being the music to the next Halloween movie, but one stuck sometime in the future in a nightclub maybe.

It is also an album that draws on past horror classics like The Sphinx, reminding me in parts of The Omen soundtrack, and at times the music from the already mentioned Halloween movies. John Carpenter is defiantly an influence. But also so is Moroder as there are definite electro dance vibes going on in some of the tracks without ever venturing into rave territory.

Hellweb is an album I would recommend to film score aficionados even if it is not a movie soundtrack. All this fine album is missing is a movie to soundtrack itself. And if this album was released on vinyl would sell like hotcakes.

Single Review
Words: Dominic Valvona



Roi ‘Dormouse Records/Straight Outta Southport’
(Metal Postcard Records) 25th August 2019


Though it’s never stopped anyone else, and most music writers’ side hustles include making music and PR, it would still seem incredibly self-promotional for our maverick-in-residence Brian ‘Bordellos’ Shea to review and publicize his own record. So I’m going to do it for him instead.

Dropping singles, albums and miscellaneous detritus like the most candid, cynical of therapy sessions, Brian, as patriarchal cult leader of St. Helens’ most ramshackle miscreant underground heroes The Bordellos, wages a daily battle with the music industry and, well, society in general. He does all this of course shadowed by an extended cast of Shea family members and anyone stoned, deranged or bored enough to have happened across one of the impromptu legendary late night recording sessions. With a gift equally as spot-on and part of the cultural fabric of shitty Britain as Half Man Half Biscuit, Brian and his troupe have found profound wry humour in the darkest of subjects. True outsiders, they’ve forged a career out of misery with a lo fi ascetic that makes The Fall sound as if they’d been produced by Phil Spector.

Of on one of his many tangents, Brian teams up with long-suffering bandmate and offspring Dan (doing grand and promising things with Vukovar and the burgeoning Beauty Stab) and John McCarthy to create his newest project, Roi. The first single from this new turn salvages both a lost Bordellos plaint from the brilliant (one of our albums of the year) 2014 LP Will. I. Am, You’re Really Nothing, and hones a slurged dissonance to a mate’s record shop. The latter of those, ‘Dormouse Records’, is a deranged paean to the vinyl stockist of Brian’s dreams. Memories, inconsequential to some, and rites-of-passages are marked by a litany of favourite records as Brian wistfully rummages through the racks of a less cunty, less surly version of the High Fidelity record store vision. It often sounds like two completely separate tracks/ideas playing simultaneously; the intermittent synthesized rumbles and noise bleeding into the main jangly melodic rhythm of the main song.

Almost as a sort of grudge against Bordellos stalwart Ant, a new version of the 2014 kiss-me-quick, misty-eyed ballad to love in a Mersey seaside town, ‘Straight Outta Southport’ replaces Brian’s sibling’s original parts with those of McCarthy’s. Losing none of its lo fi heart rendering beauty in the process, there’s perhaps a slightly more distorted and forlorn edge on this recreation: Roi covering The Bordellos as it were; truly pop will eat itself.

Even though 6Music, The Guardian, uncut and their ilk talk and feature/pick-up on what the Monolith Cocktail was already raving about months ago, The Bordellos remain a cult, but very influential, missive waiting to happen. They’re too good for us anyway; we don’t deserve them. But some recognition wouldn’t go amiss in the wider press and industry (I make apologies to similar sized-ventures and radio shows that have been championing them like ourselves). Roi is just another example of that unassuming, unaided-thoughts aloud talent.




REVIEWS 
Words: Brian Bordello




Beef Gordon  ‘ABC’
Out Now


The first single taken from Beef Gordon’s upcoming debut LP is a whimsical ditty about the joys of S&M. Sounding not unlike a young Jarvis Cocker performing a song for children’s television, you can imagine Brian Cant doing a lovely off kilter little dance whilst being whipped by Floella Benjamin, whilst Big Ted and Humpty dry hump Jemima, and little Ted looks on in voyeuristic delight through the square window. There really is not enough sex in music these days.

This is a lovely Casio inspired pop romp which makes me look forward to hearing what delights Gordon will conjure up with his long player [ooh err missus!!].





Colossus ‘Ynys Môn’
(CEG Records) Out Now


The sun is out, it’s nearly summer, so what do we need? We need this! A wonderful romp of a summer pop song, the kind of song you used to hear blasting out of your transistor radio in those halcyon days of the radio 1 roadshow, the days when the DJs spoke nonsense but it meant so much more.

The 80s was a great decade for mainstream pop and Colossus has tapped into the whole era’s feel bringing the fun element back into pop: And this is pop; pop is not a dirty word, pop is something that when done well can remove the drudgery of your life for the length of the magical song. So lie back close your eyes and soak up the sunshine that emits from ‘Ynys Môn’.







Graham Domain  ‘Love And Sadness EP’
(Metal Postcard Records)  20th May 2019


So here we have the latest release from the wonderful singer songwriter from Manchester, Graham Domain. You may remember, or not, that I reviewed his full length LP earlier in the year, Cold Moon Harmonics. This new release is a six-track mini LP. Mini in size but not in quality, this carries on were Cold Moon Harmonics left off: beautifully written songs of heartache and betrayal the sadness that can be found in existence.

There is something strangely magical about the weirdness of the musical world Graham Domain lives; a throwback to the days of the 80s when Japan and Black skirted around the regions of the hit parade; a soothing charade of yesterdays bedsit clothes and art school glamour songs to lose yourself in; to bathe in the afterglow of a pure sadness; an LP to soundtrack falling in and out of love to and an LP to fall in love with.







Gisli  ‘The Skeleton Crew’
24th May 2019

I really like this LP. A fine pop LP in fact; any album that starts with the fizz pop explosion of the Super Furry Animals eating a sherbet dip, like they do on the opener ‘Tidal’, and then goes on to sing of love and romance and its many highs and lows in such a fun filled manner but with the wonderful undercurrent of darkness gets my vote.

At times reminding me of that other fine lyricist E from the Eels with a such a marvelous turn of phrase as “I would not say it is giving up, just a sweet surrender”, from the beautiful ‘Sweet Surrender’. It is rare that you hear such fine offbeat lyrics attached to beautiful melodies. It is becoming something of a dying art. Remember, natural strangeness is a virtue, not put on strangeness, as nobody likes a try hard or a fake but this has a natural pop charm with an eccentric tilt. And anybody who can combine handclaps and fuzz guitar as beautifully as Gisli does on track two, ‘Broken Arm’, should be cherished and treasured as this is a great LP filled with many pop gems.



Single Review: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Beauty Stab ‘O Eden’
(Metal Postcard Records) 8th March 2019

 

So this is the debut single from the new pop duo Beauty Stab; a duo that has the talent to bring some excitement, sleaze and glamour into what the staid machine of the music industry has become. Words cannot do justice to just how good this single and two B- sides are, well actually I will call it triple A-sides as the two extras are equally as special as the triumph that is the lead off track, ‘O Eden’.

So I will start with ‘O Eden’ a song that is the closest we will get to the Walker Brothers this year or any other year. Dan Shea is probably the finest pop singer in pop today, he has the melodrama the heart and bedsit seediness that has not been heard in pop since the golden days of Soft Cell, he has the same qualities as the early 70s Bowie: The “I am a pop master you are just pretenders; sit back and see how it really should be done”.

‘O Eden’ is plainly just a beautifully written pop swoon of a ballad, if when the chorus sweeps in, if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat you should get someone to check your pulse to see if you are still in the land of the living. Majestic is the word.

The second track ‘Need You Around’, sang by another member of Beauty Stab, the pop pinup in waiting Buddy Miller, is a song again blessed with a otherworldly beauty that you just do not sadly, very often, hear in pop today; part Blur’s ‘To The End’ sang by a young Morrissey in his Smiths days, bathed in echo, it is a drop dead beaut of a song, and when a new duo has two such fine singers, haunting is the word.

The third track ‘Clothes’ shows the other side to the mighty Beauty Stab, the sleazy sordid side. This is all Bowie Scary Monsters guitars Walker Brothers Nite Flights darkness: “Your girlfriends clothes looks better on me, your skin looks better on my skin”. A song with so much cut dead gutter sex it is dangerous. Raunchy in a word.

So the words majestic, haunting, and raunchy have all been used in describing this three-track single perfectly. I would also like to add, Major record labels get your cheque books out, I think there might be a bit of a bidding war on.





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