Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Idiosyncratic Reviews 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 last album Atlantic Crossing, a long overdue released collaboration with 20th Century Tokyo Princess’s Ted Clark, was released last year. A new album entitled Cardboard Box Beatle will be released in February by Metal Postcard Records.

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

SINGLES/TRACKS.

Super Hit ‘Believe’
(Metal Postcard Records) 18th January 2022

I have no idea why this reminds me of Christmas but it does. Not that it matters what it reminds me of but all that matters is that this is a wonderfully whooshed beautiful version of the Cher classic. I really like it. Could be what Mercury Rev might sound like if they were down and outs and had too much cheap sherry and slept in a launderette with only memories of old top 40 hits for company. This really is quite a beautiful little number; I’m now excited at the thought of an album. 

Mermaid Avenue ‘Prisoner’

I like this single. It reminds me of the Rolling Stones when they wanted to be Gram Parsons; it has all the reaching for the sky trying to shake hands with God quality: The kind of song Primal Scream have attempted many times but not quite got there. It’s not as good as Cliff Richard’s version of Jesus but to be fair not much is. Yes indeed, a rather lovely scraping the stars from the sky track.

Tony Valentino ‘Barracuda’
(Big Stir Records) 4th February 2022

Tony Valentino from the 60s garage band legends The Standells has rerecorded the bands’ famous ‘Barracuda’ and issued it as a single on Big Stir Records. And a fine single it is as well. As you expect, it’s full of 60s garage rock goodness with psychedelic guitars, 60s garage rock organ, and is a total blast of fun and freedom that puts younger artists to shame: reminding us that music can indeed be fun and ‘cambunkishush’, a word I have just made up. But why the hell not? It is the perfect word to describe this fun filled action packed piece of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ghosts Of Torrez ‘The Wailing/ The Legend of Billy The Whale’
11th February 2022

This is rather beautiful; it is like floating on a cloud made up of memories from a time when you wanted nothing but a kiss from the girl/boy you once loved’s lips; a slow-moving nostalgic stroll down the riverbank of dreams. Yes, indeed this is a rather lovely candy floss track of a single and should be swooned over now.

ALBUMS/EPs…

Armstrong ‘Happy Graffiti’
(Country Mile)

The long-awaited album by Julian Pitt aka Armstrong is upon us, and as you expect from a man who has melody oozing, yes, oozing from his pores, it is a tuneful delight. As I have mentioned many times in past reviews, Julian is one of the finest songwriters in the United Kingdom at the moment and has been for many years: one of music’s best kept secrets in fact.

Happy Graffiti is his third album proper not counting comps and reissues, and anyone with the good taste to have his other two excellent albums will not be disappointed. Songs of love, hope and heartbreak are dispatched with some aplomb; Bacharach and David, Jim Webb, Roddy Frame, David Gates eat your breaking hearts out! These are songs that should be drifting from radio 2: ‘Eyes Wide Open’ a song of pure heart-breaking beauty, and ‘In A Memory’ a piano ballad that has me thinking of the sweetness of the Zombies mighty opus Odyssey And Oracle.

These are songs that are wrapped in a comfort blanket of familiarity, even if you’ve never heard them before; ‘This One’ being stuck in my head even after just one listen, and Happy Graffiti is full of these tuneful blighters: ‘Rock Star Rock Star’ and even the piano instrumental ‘Days turn Into Months’ is melody ridden. 

So, Happy Graffiti is an album of melodious delight, an album to soundtrack the days and months as winter turns to Spring and hope and loss merge into beautiful memories.

Sky Diving Penguins ‘S-T’

The Sky Diving Penguins album is one joyous pop thrill; an album that takes its Beatles, Nirvana, Zombies influences and makes an album that could have been released anytime over the last 50 years. Timeless is the word I’m looking for. Melodies float and quiver, at times reminding me of the Rentals or Fountains Of Wayne.

Sure, this is not the most original and ground-breaking albums that will be released this year and there will be hundreds if not thousands released that tread the same ground that wander the same Weary path, but I doubt I will hear as many as good and enjoyable as this. So, recommended to all you power poppers and lovers of sixties influenced pop, and anyone who’s god is George Harrison, should indeed investigate.

The Conspiracy ‘Sword Of Damocles’
(Metal Postcard Records) 14th January 2022

Do you remember the days when guitar music was the be all and end all in your life? I do, but then I’m of that age when all parts of your body start to lose its appeal, but your memories stand firm and wrap themselves in a mist of melodies coveted by nostalgia, which one dips and makes themselves open to the grace of growing old. And this five track EP has the same magical effect: Guitar songs that are well written and played and wrap themselves in a time when guitar songs could change your world or even just make it a more enjoyable place to exist or even live sometimes. An EP to cherish and hold close to your aching old heart.

Pulco ‘Crustacean Theory’
14th February 2022

If experimental art pop is your thing, you could do a hell of a lot worse than treating yourself to the new Pulco album; an album where poetry, discordant synth, occasional Fall like guitar and bass riffs collide with The Shaggs brilliance to upturn an already upturned apple cart, to set fire to an already burning building. This is the sound of a man stretching his art to new and extreme levels of bewitchery; a man arguing with himself knowing both sides of the argument being right: knowing that this album is an off-the-cuff work of pop poetry that will not break through the stagnant stench of so called alternative music scene.

For Pulco is a one off and people really do not appreciate one offs: they scare people you see. This is an album of real life, of dreams of nightmares of walking through a picturesque country landscape to see trees full of hanging Swans  dripping with a deathly decaying beauty, which again is a perfect metaphor for this wonderful eccentric work of aural art.

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