Reviews: 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 couple of months, both The King Of No-Fi album, and a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics, and in the last week released an album of Bordello live material.

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.

Singles/Videos/Tracks.

Storm the Palace ‘Dream House’

The new single from Storm the Palace is a beautiful thing, a six-minute song of hope redemption, steeped in a beautiful pathos and wonder, angelically sang as always and although not a Christmas song as such certainly sounds like one with mentions of Christmas trees and snow and a little boy chatting about his dreams running throughout a song to cherish. Indeed, psych folk at its most beautiful and bewitching best.

See also…

Storm The Palace ‘Clive’ Premiere  (HERE)

Storm The Palace ‘Delicious Monster’  (HERE)

Up Against Down  ‘People That Come And Go’

This is the first single from the debut album by Up Against Down, and pretty good it is as well: nice melody, a lovely early 80s post punk feel, the kind of track that may have been released by one of the major labels back in the day trying to attract the hipper underground audience, all polished sheen and alternative pop finish. The album could well be worth a listen.

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 ‘Red Bird’

Because I am on the whole a grumpy old twat people assume I hate Christmas, but in fact I love it, and so was overjoyed to be sent a lovely little Christmas ditty filled with melody charm and Christmas jingle jangle. This is a lovely piece of charming pop fluff that will melt the coldest of “oh humbug hearts”. Yes, Lisa Mychols & Super 8 once again supply the goods with an ode to the jolliest time of the year. And anyone stuck for an idea for a present for their difficult to buy for friend, relative, could do worse than buying their excellent Lisa Mychols & Super 8 album: The perfect Christmas gift.

See also…

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 ‘ST’  (HERE)

bigflower ‘OK’

bigflower along with The Salem Trials are probably the two bands I have featured most this year in my writings, and for a very good reason. For both have consistently released music with soul and invention, and once again bigflower serve up another single of sublime beauty; a guitar drenched work of loneliness and despair. All the tracks released this year by bigflower should be gathered up by some foresighted label and released as one beautiful album. And what a beautiful album that would be. One of the bands of 2020 with bells on.

See also…

bigflower ‘The Other Place’  (HERE)

bigflower   ‘Sound Of Silence’  (HERE)

Albums..

Rita Braga  ‘Time Warp Blues’

Rita Braga is a Portuguese experimental songwriter and this is her 3rd album, and those with a memory of such things may remember I reviewed her ‘Tremble Like A ghost’ single last year, which is also included on this album. It was a song that sounded like Betty Boop being possessed by the spirit of Betty Boo, or visa versa even. Anyway, it was a fine pop single which had a original wit and joy which I enjoyed greatly and I’m pleased to report the joy and wit continues throughout this fine pop album.

Strange songs that take in influences from the 1920s sometimes played on the uke but with tick tock drum machine and sometimes Silver Apples like synth backing, the songs are beautifully written and performed with Rita’s unique style and panache taking in many varied musical influences and moulding them into her own beautiful eccentric shapes. 

See also…

Rita Braga ‘Tremble Like A Ghost’  (HERE)

Zen Baseball Bat ‘Rations’
(Stahl 42)

This is an album of sublime discourse songs that move and shake with an avalanche of influences, from The Talking Heads like opener ‘Whipping The Lash’ through to the Ska like underbelly of ‘Masochistic Motown’ – the sound of The Beat covering The Sleaford Mods with jelly baby delight. Rations is the sound of a northern band sticking two fingers up at the England of today with the attitude of a cartoon Clash; a band not scared to infuse the melodies of their youth into the feelings of today hiding the darkness under a weighty blanket of humour, dance and good time bonhomie. Northern soul, folk and punk spirits all unite and ignite to form an album of pure undiluted delight.  Rations is due for release on the 1st of January 2021 and is a fine way to start the new year, off with a smile on your face and adding a shimmy to your hips. If pre-ordered you can get the CD in a rather fetching tin which will ship out on the 12th of December, so will get to you in plenty of time to get your Aunt Agnes up and skanking at your Christmas party or any or every party after that.

I Do Karate You Do Karate ‘One Last Job In Mexico’
(Half A Cow Records)

Always pleased to hear new music from Australian guitar bands – although these are not actually from Australia, but the label is Australian so close enough – as guitar music from those parts never seems to let me down, and this album is no different. Melody charm and jangle are the order of the day; at times reminding me both of the Frank and Walters and Fountains of Wayne, which I admit is strange as they sound nothing like each other. Maybe it is because I Do You Do Karate have the same qualities of knowing their way around writing cracking guitar pop songs and sound like they are having the time of their life, which is a quality that cannot be manufactured in the studio as you really cannot fake enthusiasm and get away with it without sounding trite. And this album is anything but trite. It is a joyous exploration in the fun one can have listening to guitars, melody, and a band having the time of their life.

Simon Waldram ‘Into The Blue’
12th December 2020

Simon Waldram is a fine songwriter and one who really deserves to be better known, and this EP is a three-track beauty of a release. The lead off track ‘Into the Blue’ is a slightly jazzy dive into psychedelic waters. Swimming side by side with the Monkees ‘Porpoise Song’ it has the same otherworldly warmth and magical wonder; a song to wrap your thoughts in a blanket of undiagnosed splendour. The second track ‘Aoligahara’ is taken from last year’s excellent Into The Blue album, and is a rather lovely psych-tinged folk song worthy of inclusion on any of the three Nick Drake LPs [yes Simon really is that good]. The third song is a reprise of the first but in instrumental form, but with added sublime atmospherics. A fine EP from an artist worth discovering if you have not already done so.

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





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.

With all live gigs and events more or less quashed for the foreseeable future, buying music (whether it’s physical or through digital platforms such as Bandcamp) has never been more important for the survival of the bands/artists/collectives that create it. We urge you all to keeping supporting; to keep listening.


Loose Fit   ‘Loose Fit EP’
(FatCat Records) EP/3rd April 2020

I do like a bit of bass heavy post punk and Loose Fit do it better than most. This reminds more than a than a bit of Bow Wow Wow and then all of a sudden on ‘Reflux’ the memories of the wonderful X Ray Spex come surging back, which is no bad thing: a lot worse could come surging back than memories of one of punk’s finest. There’s honking sax, which you do not hear often in bass heavy post punk unless you call the Coasters bass heavy post punk, whom of course you can’t unless you have never heard the Coasters – and then you can think anything. Isn’t imagination a wonderful thing.




Ploom ‘Ploom EP’
EP/6th March 2020




What we have here my dears is the debut EP from Denver Psych band Ploom, or that is how they describe themselves in the press release. And that will do for me, as they do have a slight psych feel about them. Going off at various tangents throughout their songs at times, they recall a sunny Mothers of Invention or psychedelic Strokes: in fact you could call them Sun Strokes! (Please no groaning at the back). No really this is a rather excellent listen; a band to listen to whilst riding in a open top car to on a summers day and can imagine them doing really well on the festival circuit: a band to wave giant inflatable too.






Occult Character   ‘Steve Albini’s Kundalini ‘
(Metal Postcard) LP/9th March 2020




A brand new LP from the wonderful Occult Character, and as ever, dark funny lyrical portraits of life in the USA today is the order of the day, but this time taking on a more musically commercial slant. Synth led beats smoother production, and if not for the many curse words, you could imagine gracing daytime radio. This could almost be a pop album it certainly deserves to reach a larger audience. Who else but Occult Character would write a song about a homophobic microwave and other such oddities? It is indeed a crazy world and maybe this is the album to soundtrack it.




Various   ‘Mark Barton’s Sunday Experience Album’
(Bearsuit Records)  LP/27th March 2020




This LP breaks my heart a little as it is a tribute to someone I considered a friend; somebody who I talked via the internet to for over 15 years, and had a great drunken night out with together watching my sons band Vukovar: the first of many nights, or so we thought. But sadly he discovered he had cancer not long after and through various reasons we never got to meet up again.

Mark was a lovely great man who also happened to be a great writer and a great supporter of underground music, and the underground community thought a great deal of Mark, as this CD proves. This could have easily been a 100-track box set, for all the artists giving up tracks to this fine tribute to a fine man. This CD shows what a wide and varied taste Mark had, and he had a beautiful poetic way of praising the music he loved with his writing: one I won’t even try to match.

The music on this album is as I have already said varied, but what it has in common is that it is all excellent, all unique in their own ways; from the dark sweeping guitar sounds of bigflower to the psych tinged rock n roll of the Moon Duo and Schizo Fun Addict, to the wayward lo-fi shambolic of my own Bordellos – a song we wrote a few years ago in tribute the great man and his fine blog.

There are washes with the experimental: the excellent Harold Nono and the Polypores, BBC 6Music faves The Lovely Eggs, and JD Meatyard, even the legendary noise gods Godflesh make an appearance. So many great reasons to purchase this CD.

Mark would be more than a little embarrassed but also deeply touched by this compilation; I just wish he was still around for to enjoy this fine tribute.

All money raised goes to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.




Rita Braga ‘Tremble Like A Ghost’
Single/21st March 2020


Rita Berga - monolith cocktail

What the world needs now more than anything else is an electro Betty Boop. It really does. And that is what we have here. Three and a half minutes of pop fun. The kind of song that could make you breakout into sporadic leg and hand movements that resembles a meeting of the Charleston you know and love committee. Yes a quirky little pop gem, one for us oldsters and you youngsters and those in-between.




Schizo Fun Addict  ‘The Last Wave’
(Flicknife Records)  LP/Now


Schizo Fun Addict a band that should be cherished and held close to one’s heart. They are one of the many bands that deserve to be better known and raved about, so with this the new album I’m going to do just that and rave about the beauty and joy one can have by losing themselves in Schizos own and original sounding laid back beauty. Sixties psych merges with smooth American FM late night 70’s sounds and British 80’s pop, one of the only bands of today I can hear the influence of Prefab Sprout creep through as well as their obvious love of the Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine.

The Schizos have so much going for them. Not just fine original musicians and great songwriters but they have one of the most beautiful female voices in modern pop with the candy covered angel whisper of Jayne Gabriel: a voice I could listen to all day and completely lose myself in.

So for anyone out there who hasn’t heard of the Schizo Fun Addict go and do yourselves a favour start with this album and then work your way back through the treasure of a back catalogue. And a treasure it surely is: a band to be treasured in fact.



The Hannah Barberas ‘Into The Wild’
LP/3rd April 2020




Ah C86 those were the days; when boys with floppy fringes wore their hearts on their sleeves, and their guitar songs of love gone wrong and love in waiting. And this enjoyable album by the Hannah Barberas takes us all back there. Over jangly guitars, occasional northern soul beats, and songs of love gone right and long, this LP almost had me wanting to put leather patches on the elbows of my Oxfam jackets and dig out a Davy Crockett hat and kneel and pray to an effigy of Saint Edwyn. This album is highly recommended for those who want to return to those fine days of the June Brides and Brilliant Corners.




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