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. His latest album Atlantic Crossing, a long overdue released collaboration with 20th Century Tokyo Princess’s Ted Clark, was released last month.

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


Placebo ‘Surrounded By Spies’

I have never been much of a Placebo fan to be honest with you, but I actually like this track as it reminds me a touch of the Pet Shop Boys, and also because it really is a little bit silly. The lyrics are quite laughably bad, which is always entertaining, and it takes itself so seriously: It is after all Placebo, so that can be expected. But apart from that it really is a jolly jape of a pop song so well worth getting a flag out for and donning a multicoloured frizzy wig and doing a fish dance to.

Magon  ‘Egyption Music’
(Groover Obsessions)

This Single is quite a nice jangly little thing. It reminds me of The Floaters Float On, it has that same lazy laid-back vibe. It’s one to listen to whilst softly floating on the river in a rowing boat or on a cloud of half-forgotten memories and dreams: a lovely little thing.

bigflower ‘Supersad’
(Self-Release)  19th November 2021

Another month, another dose of sonic six string wizardry from bigflower, and another reason to not quite give up on the power and pull of rock ‘n’ roll. Beatles like drums and psychedelic meanderings explode into a belter of a modern daydream of a track; a train journey to a much better place. All of his songs released this year should be gathered up by some label and released as an album, for it would be a gem of a release and certainly one of the albums of the year.

Pulco ‘Stirred Beyond Surrender’
(Self-Release) Taken From An As Yet Untitled Album In 2022

The sound of experimental pop is a wonderful thing especially when it is performed with such tuneful vigour, and this track is 2 minutes 16 seconds of pure pop magic. It has that air of tossed away brilliance that can only be performed when the artist is brilliant and they know it. ‘Stirred Beyond Surrender’ is indeed a joy. It’s lovely to have Pulco back.

Modesty Blaise ‘I’ll Be Home For Xmas’
(From Lo-Fi To Disco)

Ah the perfect time for a Christmas ditty. Yes it’s Christmas, so once again we are bombarded with aural tinsel, and with myself being a huge fan of both Christmas and Christmas ditties, I’m pleased to announce this is filled with all the things one would want from a Christmas song: jolly bells, sickly sweet sentiments and three minutes when one can escape real life and imagine we do really live in a winter wonderland. Modesty Blaise ‘I’ll Be Home For Xmas’ is a song to play whist ignoring the smells emerging from your aunt Nora after indulging in too many sprouts and one too many glasses of sherry; this is a song that gathers the memories to the golden days of Morecambe and Wise Christmas night specials and over winding your Evil Knievel bike sending it hurtling into your unsuspecting little sister’s leg…a fine single. 

Craig Fortnam ‘Lunar One – November 21’
19th November 2021

Craig Fortnam continues his Lunar Release single schedule with this fine double-sided slice of psych folk bliss. I could easily imagine ‘Hidden Away From The Heat’ being plucked from a comp of unheralded obscure 70s folk gems, the kind of thing Cherry Red records like to release, and the other side, the lovely ‘Her Room’, being the thing of great beauty that Badly Drawn Boy would sell his mother’s soul to have written.


The Hawks ‘Obviously 5 Believers’
(Seventeen Records)

I love Stephen Duffy, always have done. I love his songwriting. I adore his voice. And over the years he has made some of my favourite albums: in fact he is one of the only five people I would like to work musically with. So there is no way I am not going to love this album of songs he recorded with the Hawks, the band he fronted in the late 70s early 80s.
Recorded on four-track and eight-track recorders they capture the magic and the muse of those times of post-punk Britain in all its glory. These songs, that carry hopes/dreams of an escape from the Thatcher led years of days on the dole and of no hope, have been released for the very first time. You can actually feel the excitement and flush of realising that these songs are brilliant and is only a matter of time before they are launched into the realms of superstardom that the Hawks deserved, but sadly that did not happen. But what did happen was these wonderfully written and recorded songs, and that it’s happening over 40 years later and is one of my favourite albums of 2021… just how magic is music!

Goodparley X Ioan Morris ‘Surroundings’
(Subexotic Records)  26th November 2021

An album of aural sublimity the sound of The Four Seasons (not the Frankie Valli variety) erupting in your head, taking you on journeys to the centre of your mind; taking you back to the nature of one’s soul where dreams and hope ignite thoughts of the great battles that lay await in the journeys of your life travelling back through the memories that haunt and taunt, that uplift and deflate, the special and the ordinary moments you have experienced or have yet to experience. That is what is so great about the power of these five electronic Tone Poems: they can soundtrack the ever-changing thought that runs through your mind. One day they may help you express the grief and anger you are feeling, the next, a distraction to changing the cat litter tray. Music like this is bloody marvellous, as Tony Hancock would have said.

McCookerybook & Rotifer ‘Equal Parts 2’
22nd November 2021

There is something quite beautiful about this album, but then I am a complete sucker for male/female duets, for when it is done well there is nothing quite as musically romantic or sexual and this album with its six tracks of melodious folk tinged pop is a lovely treat; six songs filled with melancholy and love; six songs that pull on the heartstrings and leaves one with a look of love struck awe and slips in an occasional “ba ba ba” intro just to remind you just how magical life can be when listening to music. But all is not love and roses with the song ‘Step Into England’, for they aim a good kick up the bum of England and the laughing stock it has become since Brexit and Boris Johnson becoming prime minister. Equal Parts 2 is another splendid release following the equally excellent Equal Parts the first album if I am not mistaken I reviewed last year. I look forward to Equal parts three next year.

Legless Trials ‘Hotwire An Ambulance’
(Metal Postcard)  28th November 2021

So only a few weeks after the release of their excellent debut LP the Legless Trials are back with a four track EP that once again lays waste to guitar pretenders with four tracks of attitude dirt and danger. Kicking off with a one-minute blast of Cramps like frenzy ‘Hotwire Ambulance’ is followed by the dark and sexy sleaze of ‘Stalker Club Tub’. Yes this EP once again shows the Legless Trials will be a band to keep an eye out next year and that 2022 could be the year of the Trials. And if such a thing happens, it can only be good for the future of rock ‘n’ roll.

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 with the paean to local record shop single, ‘Dormouse Records’. They’ve also just 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.

Bloom De Wilde ‘Atlas Cassandra’
Single/ 29th November 2019

2019 has been a hell of a bad year, maybe the worst I can remember, but one of the only bright spots has been the wonderful new music I have been sent to review for Monolith Cocktail, and a highlight, a godsend in fact, has been the music of Bloom De Wilde. This is her third single of the year, and in fact her three singles are up there as being in the singles of the year; all three sprinkled in the strange life affirming pop magic that great music provides.

Kill Your Boyfriend ‘Elizabeth’
(Depths Records) Single/29th November 2019

This is metallic sounding; it has throbbing bass and screaming vocals, so what’s not to like. Imagine PIL in a bad mood covering Sigue Sigue Sputnik and you will get close to what it sounds like. If that appeals to you give it a listen if not still give it a listen as I could be completely wrong, it might sound like the Carpenters having a massage whilst having sexual thoughts about a buzz saw.

Ringfinger ‘Pressure’
(Other Voices Records) Mini LP/25th December 2019

If moody synth is your thing this could well be just what you are looking for: a mini LP of cold wave ambiance and 80s dark synth pop that will have you reaching for your debit card to order this very limited cassette [only 30 copies] from the extremely fine Other Voices Label.

Memories of Aha, Sisters Of Mercy, The Passage and The Wild Swans are brought to mind; dark sultry but with a pop aftertaste; the sort of songs you would occasionally be lucky to glimpse on Top Of The Pops all those years ago.

The release day for this is the 25th of December so I would advise you treat yourself or your 80s synth obsessed friends to a late Christmas gift and see the New Year in with some cold wave and maybe a glass of Babysham.

bigflower ‘The Other Place’

Dark metallic guitars sweep over you, taking you to a new and frightening place, a place where only the talented do not fear to tread. Yes another fine release from bigflower. Another gem that recalls the halcyon days of post punk and late 60s psychedelia; a track so powerful it could have easily replaced any number of tracks from Bowie’s Scary Monsters opus. Yes it is that good.

As wonderfully cool as ever, and even cooler because it can be downloaded for free.

Modesty Blaise ‘Natalie Vendredi’
(From Lo-Fi To Disco!) Single/ 22nd November 2019

A sublime sugar lump of a single; a song that captures what is great about charming English pop. Part c86 part 67 psych pop, a beautifully written slice of nostalgia that captures and brings to mind images of what England never was, apart from in Carry on Films and in the minds of Brexiteers: tea cakes and rainy days at the seaside quiver under the urge to rub shit into the gurning face of Nigel Farage. A splendid thing indeed – the single that is, not rubbing shit in the gurning face of Nigel Farage. Oh alright then that is also splendid.

The Kanz ‘Carpe Diem’
Single/6th December 2019

Ever thought of what a knees up thrown by Green Day and The Coral might be soundtracked by? Well here is your answer; a strange epiphany of punk rock and the skifflitus [no such word but you know what I mean]; a song to make the sleeping dog awaken have a smile a dance a chew on the old man’s memories of the organ solos of The Stranglers and how Madness could have been a decent band if Suggs was not such a cunt. Give it a listen they may well be onto something.

Cascade Lakes ‘For The Record’
(Affairs Of The Heart) Single/2nd December 2019

A sonic spoonful of dark sugar, fuzz guitar and songwriting savvy erupt in this single of Pavement/The Silver Jews like wonderment; the kind of song you used to hear in the evenings when Radio was not a joke: and what a unfunny one it has become. The good old days’ when songwriting was an art form that paid and was appreciated. Thank god there are still bands like Cascade Lakes creating their art.

Pocket Knife ‘The Archipelago EPs 3’
(Olive Grove Records) EP/29th November 2019

As the year draws to the end, the release of fine music is not slowing up. This EP by Pocketknife features five tracks of indie pop bliss humour, catchy basslines simple one finger organ riffs and off kilter lyrics that offer a delightful venture into a musical land where pretty much anything goes as long as it is off kilter and as joyfully catchy as a hell. A lovely place were musical petulance prettiness and pettiness is king. A fine EP.

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