Reviews Galore/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.

Marshall Holland ‘Paper Airplane’
Album, 21st September 2020

Oh, fuck me let’s get it over with and call it power pop shall we. Yes why the hell not. It has all the right boxes ticked: fine melodies, 60’s, early to late 70’s, early 80’s pop guitar music influences. I have been inundated with requests over the last few days with bands pushing their latest waxings in the power pop variety some of it good some of it not so good and some of it bloody exceptional. I’m pleased to say that this falls into the exceptional category. I’m doing it a slight disservice, tagging this album in any genre, for this has much more to offer. Marshall himself has such a wonderful pop voice and is also a fine songwriter and a very good lyricist. He has a wonderful quirky way with words and imagery: one you do not really get to come across very often. He even has guitar solo’s that does not have me shouting get the fuck on with it which is very rare thing, which no doubt pleases my wife no end as I suppose it can be a bit off-putting having some aging old chap clad in pajamas and head phones shouting get the fuck on with it while you are trying to watch TV. But you do not want to hear about my quirks, this album is very fine indeed with not a bad track just joyous pop performed with energy originality soul and style: the key word being soul.

Another beauty for 2020.

Rob Clarke And The Wooltones ‘Putting The L In Wooltones’
Album

Nostalgia on the whole is something I avoid normally musically. I don’t mind listening to things influenced by the past but rammed on pastiche is something I normally find irritating to the extreme but as they say there is always an exception to the rule and this Rob Clark and the Wooltones album is one of those exceptions, as let’s be honest, Rob has set his cap on the power and joyous beat of the sixties, taking in Beat groups, psychedelia and pop. And he manages to capture the joy and fun in full Technicolor Glory with tongue in cheek humour and love, from what I think is a kazoo, on the ode to Liverpool beat poet ‘Adrian Henry’ – who was also was a subject of a song by the wonderful Liverpool songwriter Jimmy Campbell, which also featured a kazoo -, to the Shakin’ All Over guitar riff on ‘Statue at The Pier Head’. So, Rob certainly knows his rock n roll cult history. He also knows his way around a melody and is a fine guitarist. This album also has a warmth to the production that is very appealing and without looking at the credits is no doubt down to the production skills of Fran Ashcroft, if it is not I apologize to whoever it is but they have done a fine job on what is a very enjoyable album.

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 ‘ST’
Album

If you start off your album with Beatles like harmonies and ‘Come And Get It’ piano you are always going to get my attention. It is the holding my attention that is the difficult part, but this album does indeed do more than hold my attention. In fact it has me smiling and nodding my head, which in itself is a worrying state of affairs and something I’m not prone to normally do: my wife thought I must be having a stroke and I had to throw myself across the room to stop her dialing 999. For this is indeed a pure album of pop splendour from the Beatles through to the gorgeously gorgeous Carpenters like ‘You & Me Me & You’, which is one of the finest slices of pure pop I have heard in many a year. The very silly but clever ‘Monkee Song’ follows; again a lesson in how pop music can and should be both engrossing and throwaway at the same time. This a beautiful album that has one thinking of the Sunshine pop of the late 60’s early 70’s with the odd sprinkling of bubble-gum pop and West Coast mellow rock; the Partridge Family meet Carol King ‘Peaceful’ being one of the many highlights. And this beautiful album has quickly become one of my albums of the year; an album of lovingly written and performed pure pop magic, and one I cannot recommend enough.

Goodparley ‘Delay Cycle: Becoming’
(Recordiau Prin) Album/18th September 2020

There is no place like drone, especially guitar drone. For when it’s done well it’s the aural equivalent of swimming with dolphins or losing yourself in the blissful awash of yesterday’s memories, or taking a long bus ride to a place you have never been before, an expectant pause of the tulip symphony.

That is what we have here five longish tracks to lose yourself and let the sound wash over you, close your eyes and let your mind run and roam free. For that is the beauty of guitar dronery, it gives you the chance to relax and exercise your mind. Some mate call’s it “soundscapes”, I call it “soundescapes”. With most people not being able to take a holiday this year why not give yourself a Winter break without leaving your home; just place this fine album on your listening device close your eyes and let the music take you to places you have never been before.

Prize Pig ‘Out In The Street’
Single, 7th October 2020

Prize Pig is back with his second helping of home-produced bedroom diy pop and indeed it is another gem, one that has one’s mind racing to the halcyon days of when XTC ruled the roost in the intelligently produced pop stakes but with this I sense a touch of Devo like wizardry slipping in with this slice of perfect pop Fuzz guitars, catchy keyboards and for god’s sake even the drum machine is catchy. I await the album with baited breath.

Masayuki Sasano  ‘Fighter Plane Moon Jelly’
(Dry Flowers Records) Single

There is a certain beautiful eloquent grace about this track you normally do not hear too much in the Alternative Rock of today. Normally it is the same old same old, but this has a musicality about it that is certainly refreshing; so many different melodies at one time colliding and causing an explosion of pure joy: one that wants you to investigate the music of Masayuki Sasano further. A quite beautiful alternative guitar pop song.

Goat Girl  ‘Sad Cowboy’
(Rough Trade Records) Single

What I really like, not the track but near the beginning of the video, is that one of the blokes who is dressed like a animal is whittling a piece of wood and it really looks like he is having a wank. Yes, call me childish. Call me immature. Maybe it’s myself growing up with a diet of Carry On films…but “oooooooomatron” he really is scuttling his wicket. Well worth watching it for that piece of immature fun alone. The track itself is pleasant enough; all the guitars and keyboards are in the right places. A decent piece of modern indie rock/pop, one that will garner plenty of airplay from the BBCs sinking flagship 6music…but just watch the vid.

Salem Trials ‘The Lockdown Trilogy: Waiting To Surface /Stay At Home/Light IT Up’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/6th October 2020

The best guitar band of 2020 no doubt is the Salem Trials, so what we have here is what they are calling the lockdown trilogy: the three albums they recorded on lockdown and have decided to release on the same day through Metal Postcard Records. And what a mighty trio of albums: Waiting To Surface, Stay At Home and Light It Up.

All three are filled with rock n roll splendor, as is the other three albums they have already released this year, which are all worth checking out. What I adore about this band is their obvious love of music and knowledge of the rock n roll past; the way they combine the best of the post punk north (The Fall, Magazine, Joy Division). You can hear all their influences in there but you can also hear how they have a love of sixties psych and 70’s prog and glam and punk and how they feed those influences into the music and come up with their own unique sound. I love how the vocals float just underneath the music and not above it; how both members of the band sometimes sound like they are having completely different breakdowns but in the same room. There is a quite staggering beautiful underlay of darkness and humour in their music.

It is difficult to pick a favourite album out of the three but if forced at gun point I would venture that Light It Up is probably my fave as it is the most melodious and wrapped in such wonderful Velvet like riffs, especially on the opening number ‘4 Views’, and the post punk guitar delight that is ‘Ice Cream Soda’, which sounds like the myth of Postcard Records being eaten whole by Don Van Vilet. But all three albums have tracks that are currently head and shoulders above the current crop of guitar pretenders: take for instance the wayward guitar sleaze of ‘Conversation No 2’ from Stay At Home, or the cracked guitar turmoil of ‘Ugly Puppets’ from Waiting To Surface, or the following track of lyrical mastery that is ‘Suit Of Shadows’, maybe my favourite track from the three albums – but that is like choosing a favourite Beatle. Like I’ve said so many times before The Salem Trials are a rare and beautiful thing; a treasure that has been buried for too long and needs discovering and admired and enjoyed by one and all, not just us lucky few.

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




Aua ‘I Don’t Want It Darker’
(Crazysane) Album/4th September 2020

I love this album. Should I just stop there and tell you to get your wallets out and buy it?! Or, should I give you reasons to do so?

Well if you have a penchant for Blur (when they are not being annoying and in an experimental frame of mind), or a love for the amazing Silver Apples this could well be the album to soundtrack these oncoming months of strangeness and wonder. There are even hints of Jean Michel Jarre, and I hate that cunt; but imagine if Jean Michel Jarre was good and wrote music with verve spirit and guile and been injected in the arse by whatever makes Can and Neu! so special, and if you can’t imagine that you need to buy this album anyway. And if that’s not reason enough it has a dark splendor I can imagine David Lynch standing and applauding. Another fine album to add to the list for the end of the year best.





Warped Freqs ‘Shifting Initiation’
(Wormhole) Album/24th April 2020


 

The sound of laid back wonky psychedelic rock has always been something I have enjoyed to varying degrees over the years and this ltd edition cd is a bit of a peach of a release; a psychedelic peach at that, the kind of peach Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine might have enjoyed; the kind of peach Stuart Maconie would suck on whilst hosting the Freak Zone in-between records dripping the juice down his Wigan rugby jersey giving it a hurrah of the 1967s. It also has a nice spaced out Saturday night at the movies feel about it that is as if the movie was featuring crimson pantalooned beauties who swung their hair as they slowly danced in the underground discotheque to the mellow becoming sounds of the Warped Freqs. You could have a wail of a time in a crochet hammock gently rocking to this, losing yourself in the looseness of the soft kisses this enigmatic little beauty supplies. There is a very ltd edition cd available so space cadets get one while you can.





Prize Pig ‘The Line’
Single/24th July 2020




The debut release from a new DIY bedroom pop prince in town, the wonderfully named Prize Pig; and what a lovely pop song it is to stomping drum machine a reverb guitar and a melody Andy Partridge would be proud of, and would fit on nicely on one of his Fuzzy Warbles albums. Yes it is that good, bathed in old English Pasture pop charm; certainly one to watch.





Tiger Mimic ‘Where The Fire Used to Be’
Single/14th August 2020




 

Tiger Mimic describe themselves as a band to watch and who on earth am I to disagree with such a statement. There is nothing wrong with being confident in your own music or otherwise what would be the point of making it. And I quite like this as it slightly has a strange amateur dramatics vocal quality about it, which you don’t normally hear in guitar indie rock. It also stops and breaks off into a “Be My baby” drum beat midway through, which is always an egg in my basket. I expect this to get lots of plays on radio x (but don’t let that put you off).


Nicky William ‘I Fell In Love With Her’
Single/Now




This is heartbreakingly beautiful, a song steeped in the romance and hurt that love inspires, a song that brings to mind the many fine moments of Smog and Lee Hazlewood, one that inspires a dark melancholy to fill the room, one that swirls with the mists of regret stumbling through the corridors of yearning and solitude and the loneliness of being in love with the prettiest girl you have ever seen but knowing every other fool also wants her, and all that captured in the magic of a three minute song: the true magic of music.





Shishi ‘Mafitishei’
Album/30th June 2020




If all girl post punk from Lithuania is your thing and by the sounds of it, it is indeed my thing, this could be for you; harmonious off kilter pop with angular surf guitar, the aroma of The Pixies in 45rpm splendor and early Fuzzbox surrounds the whole delightful surroundings. It also has the pop suss to have a song, ‘Nebesikalbam’, that sounds like the 60s beat classic ‘Fortune Teller’ and not everyone has the nous or spirit not only to blatantly do such a thing but have the panache to carry it off: the slight fuzz bass brings tears of joy to this old fools eyes; quite a wonderful track. And this LP has plenty of those. A quite poptastic album in a Lithuanian post punk pop kind of way.





Abel Cain and the Scrubs ‘Scrub This’
(Pigeon Cove Records) Album/28th July 2020




There is a touch of the Bob Dylan’s about this album that I very much approve of, but in a late 70s garage Stiff records kind of way, and at the same time it has a lovely 60s garage feel about it – I know, I will call it rock n roll and be done it with.

This is simple undiluted stripped-down basic rock n roll with all the magic it entails; fine melodies, decent lyrics played live in a cheap studio, the sound of blue-collar working-class poetry at its finest. I hear the glorious history of rock n roll laid out in these seven tracks, from Hank Williams via Dylan the beat bands of the 60s through to Springsteen, Tom Petty and the Clash, and right up to Green Day. It’s punk rock with a country bar band feel. It is simply a very wonderful timeless album, one I advise everyone should give a listen to.





Reardon Love  ‘Locked In The Panopticon’
Single/Now




It’s really lovely to see that there are young exciting bands taking the influences of 80s synth pop with all its glamour and sleaze and moulding it into modern fine pop songs. Alongside the wonderful Beauty Stab I can see Readon Love leading the charge and grabbing the ears and hearts of radio programmers and blog editors with their grasp of the glamour melodies and songwriting talent. Maybe in these dark times music may once again add the sparkle and escape we desperately need.





Keys ‘This Side Of Luv’
(Libertino) Single/17th August 2020




Let’s transport back in time to the golden days of 70’s pop, where the Bay City Rollers meets ELO in a mellow sunshine romp of Saturday summer days gone past. Very unusual and quite refreshing to hear actually, the lovely warmth the Keys emit, especially over the soulless dross I have just put my ears through, sometimes drawing on nostalgia for inspiration is a good thing indeed as this record so lovingly proves.



ROLES ‘Rinpoche’
Single/7th August 2020




This is sexy funky and unusual and I like it. This may have been what Transvision Vamp would have sounded like if they had got Brian Eno in to produce. It’s all glam guitar and wonky synths with a scientific edge about it; a pop song with an experimental undercurrent or an experimental track overcome with pop sexuality; either way a damn fine single.



SLONK ‘Postman’
(Breakfast Records) Single/7th August 2020




A song to capture the hearts and minds of all those who remember the off-kilter guitar pop of A House from the late 80s early 90s; a song that has everything one wants from a diy pop single, catchy chorus refrain, nice melodies and lyrics that are both heartfelt and heart-warming. Who did indeed not want to be a postman at some point in their life. I actually failed my interview; I don’t think they thought my love of the Cramps and inability to either drive or lack of bike riding panache made me an ideal candidate. But I’m going off the point, the point being that this is a fine three-minute pop single worthy of your attention; so much so I’m quite interested in hearing the forthcoming album.





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