THE PLAYLIST
Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver/Brian Bordello Shea

All the choice tracks from the last month, plus a few missed ones we’ve corralled from last month, the Monolith Cocktail team’s playlist revue is both a catch-up and showcase of the blog’s eclectic and mind bending tastes. Sitting in on this month’s selection panel is Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver and Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

TRACK LIST IN FULL IS:

Junior Disprol Ft. Krash Slaughta  ‘Rotund Shogun’
Deca  ‘Tuning’
Exterior  ‘Orthodox Dreams’
FAST DE  ‘Miss Trutti Finally Found Her Gem’
Pussy Riot Ft. Slayyter  ‘HATEFUCK’
Masai Bey  ‘Stanza X’
BITHAMMER!  ‘Make You Mine’
Flat Worms  ‘Into The Iris (Live)’
Salem Trials  ‘Vegaville’
Walker Brigade  ‘Disease’
Team Play  ‘Sunrise’
James Howard  ‘Baloo’ Adam Walton  ‘Mary Sees U.F.O.S.’
Joviale  ‘UW4GM’
Shabaka  ‘Black Meditation’
Kritters  ‘New York’
Ralph Of London  ‘Lys’
Ethan Woods  ‘Utopia Limited (Cuddly Tie-In)’
Staples Jr. Singers  ‘I’m looking For A Man’
Ramson Badbonez  ‘Rap Bio’
Mr. SOS & Maxamill  ‘War Criminal’
The Difference Machine  ‘Old Men’
Omega Sapien  ‘Jenny’
Mr. SOS  ‘Peace & Prosperity’
Jermiside & The Expert Ft. Tanya Morgan  ‘Crime Rule The City’
Quelle Chris  ‘DEATHFAME’
Wish Master & Billy Whizz  ‘THOUGHTS OF THOUGHTS’
Guillotine Crowns  ‘Killer’ Orryx  ‘Eldritch’
Celestial North  ‘When The Gods Dance’
Henna Emilia Hietamäki  ‘Protesti’
Lucrecia Dalt  ‘No One Around’
STANLAEY  ‘Fluorescent Fossils’
Your Old Droog  ‘Go To Sleep’
Tommaso Moretti Ft. Ben LaMar Gay  ‘A Call For Awareness’
Black Mango Ft. Samba Touré  ‘Are U Satisfied’
Avalanche Kaito  ‘Flany Konare’
Tomo-Nakaguchi  ‘Halation’
Private Agenda  ‘Splendour’
Sebastian Reynolds  ‘Four-Minute Mile’
Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers  ‘Agwetaroyo’
Misha Sultan  ‘Nyepi’
The Master Musicians Of Jajouka  ‘Khamsa Khamsin’
Gustavo Yashimura  ‘Las Prendas del Corazon’
Stephanie Santiago  ‘Activa Tu Cuerpo’
Gabrielle Ornate  ‘Free Falling’
Black Monitor  ‘Xexagon77’
Borban Dallas & His Filipino Cupids  ‘Too Convenient’
Martha And The Muffins  ‘Save It For Later’
Super Hit  ‘Blink 182’
Reverend Baron  ‘Let The Radio Play’
Alas The Sun  ‘Distant Drone’
Jelly Crystal  ‘I Tryyy’
LINN  ‘Happiness Is Real’
Lenka Lichtenberg  ‘That Monster, Custom’
Brigitte Beraha  ‘Blink’
Vera Di Lecce  ‘Altar Of Love’
Francesco Lurgo  ‘I Am Already Far Away’



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.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Roundup
(Unless stated otherwise, all releases are currently out there)

Pussy Riot And Slayyyter ‘Hate Fuck’
(Neon Gold Records)

This is quite wonderful. A fine blast of smart phone pop that is dark, dirty, sleazy and dangerous. Why can’t all modern pop be this rewarding. I know, because of the title it is not going to be played on daytime radio, which is indeed a shame as that is where it deserves to be as all great pop music deserves.

Boycalledcrow ‘Wizards Castle’
(Waxing Crescent Records) 6th May

I nearly didn’t bother reviewing this because I always spell Wizard wrong, and it really annoys me. But I’m glad I did, and overcame my laziness of fixing my bad grammar, for this album is an enjoyable foray into a land where squelchy synths and atmospheric gentle frenzy collide to supply us with a magical sea of splendour.

This darn rooting touting adventure of an album set me thinking where on earth is my copy of Joe Meeks I Hear A New World album. And in fact did I own a copy, or was the copy my son’s, Dan, who now has left home and taken Joe’s Jewel of 60s sci-fi magic with him. Anyway, I digress: see how an album of total instrumental brilliance can set one’s mind racing and heart a pounding, as boycalledcrow really has managed to succeed in capturing the same magic Joe Meek captured with his masterpiece. 

This album is a thought rewarding jewel that glistens and dips and swoons taking in electronica and experimental instrumental pop and ambient, and leading it into a direction that few can as the Wizards Castle is a magical spell-inducing treat.

Amoeba Teen ‘S-T’ Out Now
The Walker Brigade ‘If Only’ 27th May 2022
(Big Stir Records)

Big Star (the first two albums), The Beatles, Jelly Fish, Squeeze, Wings, Fountains Of Wayne, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, The Cars, Sweet, The Raspberries and Blondie. If you like these bands there is more than a good chance you will enjoy this.

Another album of tuneful songs about love lost and found, with melody and crunchy guitars and guitar solos and “ba ba ba” backing vocals in all the right places. Yes, everything is in the right place and if you enjoy albums of everything being in the right place and well written and tuneful, then this album is for you.

The sun is in the sky so maybe it is the right time to be listening to an album of summery sounding LA guitar pop rock, new wave, songs that evoke memories of X and for some reason a punk-y Fleetwood Mac: which is surely not a bad thing, is it. For music is a stunning thing, a mystery of intense contradictions. One can lose themselves in the heartbreak of an overly aggressive guitar chord played with the ferocity of a diced ferret whilst reading about the face of a phoney cavalier.

Yes music can cause ones mind to go into overdrive as the melody kicks about with your few remaining brain cells. And this album does just that: one minute you are sat in your hometown, a dying slum of a place filled with fond memories and streets now patrolled by ferule youths on bikes way too small for their wiry ill-informed bodies, and the next you are taken away to a smoke-filled room full of heaving bodies all jumping together in unison to a band willing to sell its soul for the elusive hit single. The Walker Brigade is that band; a band that takes the riffs of the Stooges and covers them in a sunny delight and the hopscotch beat of a willing slave to the rhythm. This is a band that makes you want to venture out and taste the live action of rock ‘n’ roll again. A band that will never reinvent the wheel, but the wheel does not need reinventing, and neither does the Walker Brigade for they are fine as they are.

Bithammer ‘Minimum Style, Maximum Effort!’
(That’s Entertainment/Apollon Record)

Lo-fi garage rock when done well is so life affirming. And that describes this wonderful album: life affirming.

Recorded on a smart phone with a cheap drum machine, distorted garage rock guitar riffs explode and swirl like a long-lost treasure chest of forgotten garage psych gems. The version of The Seeds ‘Pushing too Hard’ is one such gem; a song that has been covered many times but has it ever been covered with such vigour, throwing in “you really got me” riffs and Crystal Ship organ tomfoolery.

Minimum Style, Maximum Effort! is an album of lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll abandon, and we all need a bit of that in our lives. An enjoyable blast.

Ralph Of London ‘Yellow Sky Highway’

Ralph Of London’s debut EP is an enjoyable 5 track of pop alternative guitar pop, if you like, with melodies and everything else you would expect to hear on an EP of pop. But it does have some rather attractive 80s sounding keyboards on the second track ‘White Bred Blues’, which are fairly nifty – which is probably an underused descriptive word in music reviews, one that would not probably be used in The Wire or another respected stroked chin of a mag/blog. I’m not saying that the Monolith Cocktail is not for the well educated; for we are jack-of-all-trades and masters of most. But once again I go off track.  

Ralph Of London’s EP is a very entertaining one, at times reminding me of both the Charlatans and The Bluetones, but without at all reminding me of either. Maybe it is the inoffensiveness of the music that makes me think that, but pop should not offend it should put its arm around you and befriend, which this lovely EP certainly does.

Cryptic Commands ‘Long Distance Call’
(Numavi Records)

With 90s alt/indie rock sound currently the flavour of the day, with the over hyped Wet Leg, I can see Cryptic Commands doing very well with their catchy take. Are they the new Breeders, the new Beatles I wonder?

Long Distance Call is a 10-track album of well written and performed indie rock; no more or no less at times reminding me of the aforementioned Breeders, even reminding me of Placebo on ‘Devil’ and ‘Elemental’. But I won’t hold that against them, as on the whole this album is an enjoyable listen and ‘Eyes Like Teeth’, apart from being a great title, is a long summery breeze of a track all “Old Friends” guitar chords and bewitchery.

Salem Trials ‘Love Joan Jett’ & ‘Vegaland’
(Former Self-Released, the latter, Metal Postcard Records)

Another week another album from Salam Trials, this time only available on a pay what you want basis from their Bandcamp. And do you know what, this is supreme rock ‘n’ roll. Its as dark and dirty as anything you will hear this year: maybe as both members where suffering from the effects of Covid when it was being recorded.

As ever channelling the spirit of the Fall Gang Of Four and your local down and out after drinking 4 litres of white lightning cider straight from the plastic bottle, they have the knack of knocking out off-kilter melodies that only true rock ‘n’ roll lovers can, and weaving them into an accident in progress. There are so many moments of pure magic and madness on this album, ‘Skin In The Game’ being a favourite, coming across like Southern Death Cult with stomach-aches. As I have said an album of magic and madness from one of the five most important bands in the underground at the moment, leaving all the other bands with not having a Wet Leg to stand on. Pure guitar genius.

The second album in a week from the Salem Trials, this one not self-released but on the best record label of last year, Metal Postcard Records: and the way it is going, the best record label of this one as well. The second album in a week: just how much madness can this man take in a week! Well, actually, I can take as much as the wonderful Salem Trials can offer. I could live in the crazy musical world of Russ and Andy. They never disappoint.

It’s a world where Captain Beefheart is the minister of culture, and breakfast adverts show Mark e Smith eating Tom Waits for breakfast. Yes, this is the crazy world of the Salem Trials; this is where Keith Richard joins the Fall for a jam and the streets of New York circa 1979 are rained on by the poetry of a psychedelicized Bob Dylan after watching reruns of the Banana Splits.

Yes, this is the strange angular sounding world of the Salem Trials; a world in years to come BBC4 will have a documentary about, on which John Robb will appear claiming to have discovered them inside his towel whilst washing his hair in Blackpool.

Adam Walton ‘Afal’
(The Immediate)

I recently reviewed Adams Cloudburst EP and said any fans of Elliot Smith or Paul McCartney circa acoustic White Album days should give it a listen. Well, after hearing the album that still stands.

A full album of beautifully melancholy acoustic musings is a fine way to spend 40 minutes or so. This is a gentle refined album, an aural equivalent of picking flowers on a summer’s day and slowly watching them slowly die. As this album has an underlying layer of sad melancholy and an underlying layer of anti swagger. Afal is one of those albums that captures the magic of those great forgotten about psych folk albums from the late 60s early 70s that ooze peace and love. An album that captures images of faded lost innocence a snapshot of the beauty in sadness.

Sophie Sleigh-Johnson  ‘Nuncio Ref!’
(Crow Verses Crow)  6th May 2022

The sound of being a naughty child in the 70s, sent to bed in the early evening after receiving a spanking from your angry dad for shooting piss from your water pistol at passing neighbours and strangers. And as you lie there with moist eyes and a throbbing backside you lose yourself in the collective sound of life in a terrace street in Northern England.

The sound of your neighbours chatting over the back yard walls. The passing cars with the sounds of summer blaring from the radio. Your dad sipping tea whilst channel hopping on TV: of the three available channels. Your mum baking with the radio on, half listening to the Radio 4 play, half listening to your younger sister chat about her day at school, all the time whilst telling your dad he is not a bad lad just a little misguided. The football beats out a rhythm on the wall out front, and how you wish you where adding to that beat instead of listening to the soundtrack of your pre teen years acted out in living black and white. The crackle of radio Luxembourg turned low under the covers. The discovery of life, love and family. The etched heartache and the memories this beautiful work of art emits, and what you would give to return to those days for just an hour. Memories of a  real kitchen sink drama unfolding on a D90 tape.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and his cult dysfunctional family band The Bordellos currently have a ramshackle bets of compilation out on Metal Postcard Records: I Hate Pink Floyd Without Syd Barrett.

PLAYLIST REVUE/Picked By Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’ and Graham Domain

The inaugural “revue” playlist of 2022 from the Monolith Cocktail team picks up on a few stragglers from the end of last year plus a load of eclectic treasures from the last month. The Monthly is a sort of summary; an encapsulation of the music we’ve loved, reviewed and picked up on during January.

That track list in full::

Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee ‘Kurunba’
Avalanche Kaito ‘Dabalomuni’
Melt Yourself Down ‘Balance’
Detective Larsson ‘Magic Show’
Trupa Trupa  ‘Uniforms’
Thyla ‘Amber Waits’
Claptrap  ‘Out Of’
Spaceface  ‘Long Time’
Kristine Leschper  ‘Picture Window’
RULES  ‘Ghost’
Labelle  ‘élude’
Nyokabi Kariuki  ‘Equator Song’
Pleasure Craft  ‘Dead Weight’
Lion’s Drum  ‘Kami Shintai’
Selci  ‘Ghost’
The Jazz Butcher  ‘Running On Fumes’
Tom Shotton  ‘Here, Always’
Wesley Gonzalez  ‘Greater Expectations’
FNKPMPN  ‘The Typical Boob’
Sylph  ‘Ancient Hole’
Rob Burger  ‘Hotel For Saints’
Letters From Mouse  ‘Elizabeth’
Sarah Vaughan  ‘Inner City Blues’
Kojey Radical Ft. Knucks  ‘Payback’
Jam Baxter  ‘Go On’
Cephas Teom  ‘Primordial Forms’
Buck & Gase And Rahrah Gabor  ‘Pass Impasse’
Andrew Heath, Phonsonic & Simon McCorry  ‘The Passage Of Time (Live)’
King Kashmere, Cupp Cave, Herrmutt Lobby & Booda French  ‘Donuts’
The Doppelgangaz  ‘Concord Grapes’
Nelson Dialect & Mr Slipz  ‘Only Just Begun’
Binker And Moses  ‘Accelerometer Overdose (Edit)’
Ashinoa  ‘Disguised In Orbit’
Bollards  ‘Plate Up’
Salem Trials  ‘Funkytown’
Chris Church  ‘We’re Going Downtown’
Michael Rother & vittoria Maccabruni  ‘Exp 1’
Laurie Anderson – The Arca Remix ‘Big Science’
Kate Havnevik  ‘Dream Her To Life’
Bagaski  ‘Campan’
Roedelius & Tim Story  ‘Crisscrossing’
EXEK  ‘Unseasonable Warmth’
Deserta  ‘Where Did You Go’
Silverbacks  ‘Archive Material’

REVIEWS ROUNDUP/Dominic Valvona

Singles.

Japan Review ‘Kvetch Sound’

I like this single. It is tuneful with an undercurrent of melancholy and soft noise, which is always a winner; the sort of song you would play to soundtrack yourself watching your lover knowing that as beautiful as they are it is all going to come to an end soon and you will be awash with guilt heartbreak and only half your record collection. A lovely song.

Aliens ‘Liberation Road’
(Metal Postcard Records)  1st October 2021

The debut single from Aliens and they have the good taste to release it on Metal Postcard Records, a label that has currently three of the five best bands on the planet on its roster: The Bordellos, Salem Trials and The Legless Crabs. It only needs The Santa Sprees and Schizo Fun Addict and it would have a clean sweep. The Aliens single is a fine well-crafted guitar pop song; the kind of thing a major record label would release in the 80s when it was pretending to be an indie label. This song could do very well radio wise as it is very radio friendly, and even has a “na na na” refrain: so how could it fail. I look forward to the album.

They Might Be Giants  ‘Part Of You Want To Believe Me’

They Might Be Giants are back with a fine catchy song that is both annoying and equally sublime in a way They Might Be Giants singles normally are; part a day trip out to the local Pre-School trampoline championship, part lets go to the asylum but let’s call for some ice cream and chocolate fingers first. There is only one They Might be Giants and for that we should be eternally grateful for both good and bad reasons.

bigflower  ‘It Won’t Be Alright’
16th October 2021

Ivor Perry is back under the guise of his bigflower with another three minutes of mighty guitar shenanigans, once again proving why the man is a guitar legend with a Tom Verlane slice of pop wizardry. I have said many times life would be much more bearable if I tuned into BBC 6 music and heard this emitting from the speakers instead of some Generic Johnny and his indie guitar [normally a Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster], fine guitars but not when placed into the hands of placid wallpaper people, singling songs about how they are broken-hearted over some girl/boy. Why not just have a wank and get over them? Probably too clean cut. Anyway, off track again…all I can say bigflower is a national treasure and deserve’s a statue in the centre of Manchester or a least a gold plaque on a park bench where people can go and sit and think about the days when guitar music meant something.

Albums/EPs..

Good Morning  ‘Barn Yard’
(Polyvinyl)  22nd October 2021

Sometimes music can sooth you, can make you turn off and let life’s worries slowly drift away from you and leave you in a state of pure blissful melancholy. That is the effect Good Morning have on me. Barnyard is an album of sweetly written songs that pull and pluck at your heartstrings; melodies dip and swoon skywriting sweet nothings to everyone and nobody in particular. It’s an album of country indie and pure slacker jawed brilliance. Any fans of Wilco and Pavement should go and snap up a copy of this album as Wilco have not made an album as good as this in years.

The Swansea Sound ‘Live At The Rum Puncheon’
19th November 2021

I love the Swansea Sound. I love that they sing about music. They’re obviously in love with the power of rock ‘n’ roll and all the complexities that this love has on one’s life and life in the present when music doesn’t have the same effect on people that it once did, but long to revisit the past and the sadness of never quite getting the acclaim they deserved.

The band by the way is made up of members of The Pooh Sticks (one of my fave indie bands), Heavenly and Death In Vegas, so obviously know a bit about this subject. All three bands deserved much better.

There are songs that both remember the effect of falling in love with music, and this album in itself is an album that could toss a salad and set fire to a flaming tomato without a blink of an eye. Yes this is the kind of album John Peel and Dandelion Radio play would play incessantly as it’s indie guitar pop that is all three of those things; it’s indie in heart and in spirit; guitar in the lovingly jangled fuzzed and away-with-the-Fairies way; and pop in its purest nature, full of sublime hooks and melodies.  A lovingly made album reminding us old folks just how joyous music can be; an album that could open a tin of sardines through pure melody alone.

This Heel ‘Invisible Space’ EP

The Kings of lo-fi sci-fi space surf rock are back with a splendid six track of guitar adventures. Yes, six tracks of mischievous indie rockdom that will have people from a certain age nodding their heads nostalgically to the days when guitar bands mattered; those days when Nirvana and the Pixies through to the Dandy Warhols were all visiting the charts on a regular basis and people still cared what the NME had to say.

This Heel brings those days flooding back better and with more style and verve than most; even evoking the magic of Elliot Smith on my favourite track of the EP, the beautiful ‘Gutted Angel’. Yes a six tracker that is certainly recommended; and its nice to hear a guitar EP not spoilt by generic indie production. This one has soul and space to breath and dance.

Various ‘V4Velindre’ Compilation
1st October 2021

What we have here is a 50 song download compilation with all the proceeds going to help the much-unfunded NHS. A worthy cause I’m sure all would agree, and also a very fine compilation album, there being 50 tracks and all. I have not the writing space to mention all 50 but it includes tracks by the likes of the Wedding Present, who offer a stripped-down version of their indie classic ‘Brassneck’, and a new track by one of Britain’s finest pop songwriters Armstrong, with a song that is worthy of the Lovin’ Spoonful and well worth the £7 pound download price in itself: ‘Yesterdays Over’, you just do not hear pop excellence like this everyday. Also there’s Simon Love and his simply charming sweet ‘Broken Love’, and a track by the legendary Nightingales. So what more could you ask for. Dig deep and help out the NHS and get hour’s worth of fine music in return.

Bunny & The Invalid Singers ‘Flight Of The Certainty Kids’
(Bearsuit Records)  15th October 2021

More musical tomfoolery from the genius that is the Bearsuit Record label; the place that electronica and 60s spy movie soundtracks collide; a place where rock ‘n’ roll seeks sci-fi wizardry, where glitter band drumbeats generate memories of the greatest hits and misses of Dr Who – which the track entitled ‘A Snipers Heart’ achieves.

Once again Bearsuit Records with this Bunny &The Invalid Singers album skips through the mystical years of rock ‘n’ roll pop culture’s past to supply us with what the musical future could hold, snatching pieces of Nirvana like grunge to the burning turning wheels of the tragic death glow of Marc Bolan, not in sound but in otherworldly saintly hood. Yes this is the bar that Barberella would slowly pole dance for a shaken but not stirred James Bond. When people yearn for the lost art of cool seduction they should just check into the sexual art of Bearsuit Records, sit back, close their eyes and imagine life is as exciting and interesting as this Bunny & The Invalid Singers album.

Legless Crabs/Salem Trials ‘Legless Trials EP’
(Metal Postcard Records) 16th October 2021

Members of the Legless Crabs and The Salem Trials have joined forces to record this fine five track EP, and it actually sounds like what you would imagine an EP would sound like if the two aforementioned bands got together to record. Chiming, squalling post-punk guitars that jive and dive in New York late 80s no-wave funk, slightly distorted vocals, part Lou Reed/part Rocky Erickson, and lyrics that swarm over, that both amuse and abuse the sensibilities of the art nouveau that lies hidden in all of us.

This fiver tracker is a must have and shows just how special and important the two bands are to the current musical underground: splendid stuff indeed.

REVIEWS ROUNDUP/Brian Bordello

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.

Singles/EPs.

Iron Maiden  ‘Stratego’

There is something quite comforting in that Iron Maiden are still releasing music, and that there is still a market for old fashioned Metal as you very rarely see metal fans wandering around the towns in their leather jackets and ripped denim with the name of their favourite band lovingly scrawled somewhere on the jacket, or the latest single by Wasp or Twisted Sister hogging the video jukebox in your local boozer. Yes, this single brings those days of myself and my indie loving friends cursing that The Smiths did not make videos, so would sit pint of cider in hand, our teenage years being soundtracked by ‘Bring Your daughter To The Slaughter’. This single brings all those wonderful days spinning back, so I would class this song a huge success; a song that will appeal to the old and maybe young metalheads out there.

Santa Sprees  ‘Run Wild When I’m Gone’

I love the Santa Sprees. I think they are one of the handful of bands I consider to be equal to my own band The Bordellos (as being one of the best bands currently making music today). A little like how Brian Wilson was influenced by the music of the Beatles pushing him on to greater heights, I feel the same way about the music of the Santa Sprees and the genius songwriter that is Anthony Dolphin. This, the opening single from the forthcoming new album, is a track of pure beauty and is quite simply one of the finest tracks I have heard this year. There is a lump in the throat tear in the eye sadness about ‘Run Wild When I’m Gone’ that is really quite bewitching. It is a rare thing, a song that carries a somber grace that both Nick Cave and Tom Waits would sell their soul to have written.

Ex Norwegian  ‘Thot Patrol’
13th August 2021

I love this single. The new release by the wonderful Ex Norwegian has an unusual air of darkness and fine elegance and eloquence and cleverness that most bands can only dream about. It has a quality that gets under your skin after a few listens and makes it its home; a song for the late summer months and one that promises great things for the album.

Birthday Cake ‘Methods Of Madness’
6th August 2021

On the whole I’m getting a little bored with straight ahead guitar music. It might be my age, in my mid 50s, and heard it all before, but I like this. It has melody and fine lyrics and is well written, and there is nothing not to like, with echoes of The Smiths and even Orange Juice, and the second track has a wonderful woozy feel to it, which is nice. In fact the whole EP has a lovely warm comfort to it which one can wrap around themselves and soak in the pure indie guitar magic Birthday Cake perform so well.

Albums…

Flowertown  ‘Time Trials’
(Paisley Shirt Records)  20th August 2021

If I’m not mistaken I’ve reviewed Flowertown before, saying how much I enjoyed the lo-finess and the boy/girl vocal interaction. And once again, I will repeat, I enjoy Flowertown’s lo-finess and the male/female vocal interaction. I also mentioned that Flowertown are almost bloody perfect and this album is not going to change my opinion as Flowertown have this softly strummed Velvets/JAMC/Mazzy Star lark down to a fine tee, and Time Trials is a fine album filled with songs that lovers of the three aforementioned bands will indeed cherish and hold close to their beautiful lo-fi filled hearts.

The Legless Crabs  ‘Reno’
(Metal Postcard Records)  23rd August 2021

The slabbed-out farce of human existence is hauled over the coals of a tortured soul. Indie guitar mutterings caught on the hop by the sound of a band with vision and cunning, vile style and cut out feedback drones, haunts the summer breeze that flows through the empty unblocked narrow escape of an ex-lover’s phony, pleased to make your acquaintance, smile. The Legless Crabs are back with their own brand of guitar menace. Reno is an album of sublime alternative guitar originality: the Mary Chain and Sonic Youth dipped in the Shaggs vagina juice. This album dips and swerves with sex, humour, and originality. Reno is an album of lo-fi like musical love; it is an album that pinpoints genius. It’s a sleeveless shirt in a shop full of winter coats. It is the coolest thing. It has the most Fall like instrumental ever recorded not by the Fall, and that is called ‘Trinidad weed Boom’, and the track is even better than the title. So how cool is that.

This is an album hipsters wished existed and now does. So if there is any justice in the world Reno will be toping the indie world top ten. This album is worth listening to whilst looking lovingly at your Beach Boys box set or wanking over the thought of the forthcoming Let It Be 5 disc set, for Reno is far more important, as it is new music and contains all the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of Adventure that both aforementioned bands had in spades.

Speed Of Sound  ‘Museum Of Tomorrow’
(Big Stir Records)  17th September 2021

A new album released by Big Stir Records is always a welcome thing, as this always guarantee melodies fine guitars riffs and well-written songs. And this album from Manchester’s The Speed Of Sound is no different; apart from the usual power pop goodness has been replaced by a more chaotic post punk psych-tinged folk cauldron calamity of la la choruses and pure pop. Pure pop that has been bottled shaken and opened with great gusto at an all-night party covering the party poppers in a thick sweetly tasting potion of seduction, melancholy and want. Museum Of Tomorrow to my mind alongside the excellent Armoires album is my favourite release on Big Stir Records, and saying every month I am praising a release or two from Big Stir records shows how enjoyable this album is. Lovers of Kirsty MacColl and John Peel favourites Melys, and the touched by the hand of genius, The World Of Twist, will adore this album as much as I do. Is this I wonder the sound of Big Stir moving to the next level? An excellent release; an excellent album.

Salem Trials  ‘Something Beginning With’
(Metal Postcard Records)  30th August 2021

The twisted sound of the Salem Trials has never quite sounded so twisted and beautiful, and bloody sexy and life affirming. If there is any justice in the world this will be the one to break the Salem Trials, the one to move them to the radio playlists of BBC 6 Music. ‘U’ is a radio hit if I ever heard one, the sound of a young scantily clad Poison Ivy twisting at an all-night bar.

This is the sound of a fine band at the top of their game; an album full of strangely commercial and commercially strange songs that bring the golden days of alternative music to the present day. The Salem Trials once again mining their vast array of musical influences but sounding like no one but the Salem Trials.

There is a wonderful New York No Wave feel to a number of the tracks; the outstanding ‘1979 Part 2’ and ‘Climb A Tree’ benefiting from a stray discordant sax: the sound John Coltrane having belligerent sweet nothings hissed into his ear by the one-off vocal styling’s of vocalist Russ.

Something Beginning With is an album that once again proves that the Salem Trials are indeed the finest guitar band currently operating in the UK (as I have said many times). And I apologise to any members of other alternative guitar bands in the UK, but I’m afraid you are just going to have to up your game to reach these heights.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Roundup

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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’ and ‘Be My Maybe/David Bowie’). He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped-down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

Tracks/Singles…

Paragon Cause ‘Disconnected’
18th June 2021 (Taken from the duo’s upcoming album Autopilot, released 13th August 2021)

I like this track it has an aura of pop songs from the past like Jane Weilden’s ‘Rush Hour’, or one of those other fine breezy pop songs. It has the wind in its sails and floats like a bobcat with the ear of the bank manager’s fond final digressionary wish ringing in its typecast high school jinx way. Trust me it is a lovely joyful pop song and I for one cannot get enough of those. And my dear readers I have the feeling that you cannot either. And if you can get enough, you are reading the wrong blog…go and stroke your chin to the Quietus and lose yourself in a nose flute extravaganza box set.

Salem Trials ‘Head Full Of Stinging Bees’
Available right now

A slice of alternative guitar magic from Britain’s greatest current guitar band. Yes indeed, the Salem Trials are back with a scratchy almost Goth like vignette with Scary Monster era Bowie guitars and Russ ranting as only Russ can. Just over two minutes in length and it sounds like no one but the Salem Trials. ‘Head Full Of Stinging Bees’ can be downloaded for free from their Bandcamp page, which I urge you to do or you will be ever known as a twat who likes to preen yourself in front of a Shane Richie poster circa his days in the Grease Stage show.

Mega Bog ‘Weight Of The Earth, On Paper’
(Paradise Of Bachelors) Out there right now

I like this; it has an air of a post punk hippy commune getting together to make an enjoyable romp through the pages of a musical that should have been written but for some strange reason never was. It could have been Hair for the balding generation. I can imagine this band drinking green tea and driving badly due to their minds being somewhere else…yes, I enjoyed this.

Eamon The Destroyer ‘My Drive /Silver Cloud’
(Bearsuit Records)  Available Right Now

I am a huge fan of Liverpool based guitar wonder extremist bigflower and ‘My Drive’ and ‘Silver Shadow’ have the same appeal. Both of the songs have the same melancholy, the same scorched by the sun lost in a desert atmosphere a place where the neglected go to dream bittersweet dreams of a past memory not knowing if it truly happened or not. These two tracks are lost in a world of their own and will certainly appeal to lovers of Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips as they plough the same furrow. I’m looking forward to their forthcoming album, which should be a rewarding and interesting listen going off the excellence of this debut single.

Albums/EPs..

Synthetic Villains ‘Obstacle Navigation’
Available right now

Obstacle Navigation is actually a very good listen; ten tracks of mostly synth instrumentals that use old Analogue drum machines and synths with electric and acoustic guitars processed via violin bows, ebows and various effect pedals.

The tracks take in moody synth pop but have more than a tinge of psychedelia: ‘Sunbeam Flyer’ could easily slot onto Primal Scream’s Screamadelica without much fuss, even borrowing the ‘Loaded’ bass line, which of course the Scream themselves borrowed, and ‘Wander Off Wondering’ reminding me of the early Shaman before they struck it rich with ‘Ebenezer Good’.

This is an inventive and very relaxing album, and as with all good instrumental albums does not have one waiting for the vocals to arrive. It will take you on a soothing and rewarding journey to the centre of your own psyche.

Foreign Age ‘Understanding Animals’
Available Right Now

The three B’s, The Beatles, Blur and Barrett seem to be the order of the day with Foreign Age. Pure pop for nostalgic people, all descending Beatle guitar chords and vocal harmonies, the sort of album The Bees used to release with little commercial success in the early noughties and I expect this album to achieve the same fate. I’m not saying that this is a bad album, for it is not, it is a very enjoyable album, but the days of “ba ba ba” choruses are no longer the order of the day sadly. But Foreign Age does the artier side of Brit pop very well. And the album is well worth investigation.  

The Early Mornings ‘Unnecessary Creation EP’
Available right now

Jerky rhythms and slandered guitars are always a joy to behold with one’s ears and The Early Mornings are indeed a joy. It’s like the Slits if they were a cartoon band guesting on The Banana Splits. The Banana Slits in fact: what a perfect description. Yes, The Early Mornings are one of those wonderful post punk bands who have a talent of having melodies float from their scratchy guitars and performing well written songs of teenage lust and teenage problems even if the band themselves are not teenagers. The kind of band who makes one wish they were young again: and believe me that is always the sign of a good band.

Cathal Coughlan ‘Song Of Co-Aklan’
(Dimple Discs) Available Right Now

I always loved Fatima Mansions, one of my fave bands from the 90s, so was pleased to see this in my inbox as Cathal is a fine songwriter, a gifted lyricist, and has a voice like spiked honey, and as angry as a box of shaken Bees. And I’m pleased to say his new album has all the aforementioned in great quantities, and I’m not disappointed at all.

He always had a way with the written word Cathal; a little like his hero Scott Walker whose music and song writing is an obvious influence in they both dwell on the darker side and darker characters of life, and like Scott, Cathal knows his way around a melody and how to paint such beautifully dark and sometimes comedic images with his lyrics. And after listening to the track ‘Owl In The Parlour’, I ask why has Cathal never been asked to record a James Bond theme for he certain could give Matt Monroe a run for his money.

Song Of Co-Aklan is an album of dark adventure; an unfurling of one of Music’s great mavericks; a reminder of just how great a songwriter this often-ignored artist truly is.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Reviews Roundup

A stalwart contributor for years now, 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 releases include the King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and mostly recently the couplet of double-A side singles, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’ and ‘Daisy Master Race/Cultural Euthanasia‘. He’s 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.

SINGLES/TRACKS.

Dez Dare  ‘Conspiracy, O’ Conspiracy’
17th May 2021

I like this. I like the scuzzy electric guitar; it reminds me of Sebadoh running after a bus after having a head on collision with a giant wasp. It has that “yes I am here to entertain and liven up the next two minutes of your life with a blistering piece of alt punk rock, and after that you can fuck off and paint your face with the remnants of your mothers old colostomy bag…see if I care” vibe.

bigflower  ‘Wicked’
18th April 2021

‘Wicked’ is in fact a cover of the Chris Isaac classic ‘Wicked Game’, and the mighty bigflower covers the song with a sonic slowed atmospheric wall of audible blistering heat like a lone walk through a desert with only the midday sun and memories of the one you left behind. If I was mr bigflower I would be straight onto my music publisher and see if it can be pushed onto the soundtrack of some future moody Hollywood block buster directed by Wim Wenders: a song to be heard on the big screen. As wonderful as ever.

ALBUMS/EPS..

Holiday Ghosts  ‘North Street Air’
(FatCat Records)  21st May 2021

The Holiday Ghosts had me from the off after the first few strums of the acoustic guitar. It’s obvious to me that they to have their creative juices stirred by the influence of the marvelous Ray Davies, the opening track ‘Mr Hereandi’ is pure late 60’s early 70’s Kinks, and even more so on the track ‘Bathing Suit, which slightly borrows the melody of the Kinks classic ‘Victoria’.  And as the album plays on you begin to realise that the Holiday Ghosts have mastered this song writing lark and got it down to a fine art; they know that the only way to stand out from all the millions of guitar bands is to be better than the rest, and believe me the Holiday Ghosts are certainly better than most I get to hear.

You can hear and feel the influences they channel, their love of mid 60s to early 70s pop/rock, to produce music that matches those of their influences. ‘Makin a Fool’ will have John Sebastian yearning for the days when the Lovin’ Spoonful ruled the airwaves. And ‘Total Crisis’ is power poptastic, and ‘Told My Baby’ sunshine jangle gem. North Street Air is one of those wonderful albums that has the magic of the life affirming melody. Yes, this is the sound of a band on the top of their game; a truly joyful pop listen.

Salem Trials  ‘A Difference Of Living’
(Metal Postcard) 3rd May 2021

Another new album from the excellent Salem Trials is always a thing to be cherished, and A Difference Of Living starts off where the last ended: guitars arguing with themselves, bass evoking sordidty of the top-notch variety, and Russ spinning yarns from the playground inhabited by rock ‘n’ roll deviants.

The Salem Trials are a rare breed of band as they sound like no one else but themselves. Sure you can hear their influences, The Fall, Magazine, Television and a whole host of other punk, pre punk and post punk bands but the two of them have a certain magic together and all the alums sound like albums not a collection of songs lumped together. They weave a bewitching musical spell that manages to draw you in and leaves you in a total state of relaxed nonchalant could not give a fuckery.

Satch Kerans  ‘Snake Eyez’
Originally released 2016/reissued in 2021

Thank fuck for this album. I have been sitting here sifting my way through pure musical pap for the last hour or so sent by various PR companies, looking for something that might have some chance of moving me in some way, and then I remembered about this album that was sent to me for consideration over social media by Satch Kerans. And I’m so glad he did. This is an album originally released in 2016 but has been re-tweaked and reissued; Kerans hoping it may get the attention it didn’t the first time around.

It’s an album of well-written songs with melodies, heart, soul and humour recorded at home: blessed with that lovely lo-fi warmth. An album filled with simple drum machine, hand held percussion, twangy Fender guitar and song writing talent. At times it reminds me how a Wilco demo might sound and Satch’s voice does have the similar quality and timbre to that of Jeff Tweedy or especially Dennis Wilson on the Beach Boy’s like ‘Back Where We Started’.

Satch is blessed with a love of rock ‘n’ roll that radiates from this album, as he has soaked up his influences of Dylan, Springsteen, The Byrds, The Clash and an obvious love of 60s /70s pop melody. Hopefully Snake Eyez will get the attention it deserved the first time around.

Suzi Moon ‘Call The Shots’
(Pirates Press Records) 21st May 2021

What we have here is the debut EP from punk chanteuse Suzi Moon; three tracks of commercial punk rock ‘n’ roll pop, part Runaways, part Suzy Quattro songs that kick up a bit of a fuss about various things and then piss off again.

Guitars that go chugga chugga and such like; nothing original, nothing not hasn’t been heard millions times before, but that does not mean it is not enjoyable. I can imagine my daughter at the age of fifteen being quite taken with it and that is the point. I’m a man in his mid 50s and heard it all before, but there are plenty of kids out there who have not heard it before, and there are worse people to hear it for the first time from than Suzi Moon – especially on the opening track ‘I’m Not A Man’, which has a rather fetching nagging bass riff. A rather splendid three track commercial pop punk EP.

Draaier  ‘The Town That Was Murdered’
(Submarine Broadcasting Co.) 12th April 2021

The subconscious merge into the timeless flight of toothless fancy, the long-forgotten call to arms by distorted cold grey makeshift steel bottomed tap shoed vagabonds, The Town That Was Murdered by Draaier is a wonderful sound collage of the to be awakened streets of a dying Northern industrial town, where once factories pumped smoke into the sky the factory now lies dormant and the skies are blue and clear but what a price to pay as unemployment leads to the closure of many of the Highstreet stores and are now boarded up and only used by the homeless to keep their worldly possessions in the cold concrete doorways. The empty bus rattles the discarded street porn and reeks of weed and the old woman hallucinates memories of fonder times when her husband was still alive and her children needed her. A tall skinny teenager sits by the graffitied walls of a stinking subway on a bike he outgrew years ago, smart phone in hand waiting for his man to drop the tiny bag of nightly hope. Cavernous synths and yearning drones drag the screaming images of dying town life all so clearly to life. This is not an album to escape to but an album that reminds you that you really need to escape; you really need to fight the invisible clawing arms wanting to drag you into the colourless drabness of existence in a town that survives on memories of happier days.  The Town That Was Murdered is a decaying corpse of the streets and towns Lowry painted so lovingly and Draaier soundtracks their descent into hell.

Jude Cowan Montague and Bettina Schroeder ‘Versus’
(Wormhole World)  

As ever I will be totally honest and tell you some of this album really gets on my tits: it irritates the hell out of me. But, I find that a really refreshing thing: at least it’s not boring me.  And other parts of the album I find refreshing because it has humour, originality, and is wonderfully rewarding.

I suppose listening to this album is like being with the person you love; not in a romantic Hollywood kind of way but a real life in a long-term relationship way, in which you can love the person to bits but he/she does not half do your head in sometimes. And so goes this marvellous/irritating album of poetic artiness. There are times it brings a huge grin to your face and makes you warm inside, and other times you feel like saying, “just hush will you”. So I would love to thank Jude and Bettina for releasing this joyful/irritating album of real life with all its strange glorious foibles into my musical world.

tvfordogs  
‘I Only Wanted To Make You Cry’(Gare Du Nord) 14th May 2021

I will be honest with you, I was not expecting to like this for some reason, but actually I really enjoyed it. This is an album of very well written melodious pop rock songs, at times reminding me of Todd Rundgren at his early 70s AOR best (especially on the title track ‘I Only Wanted To Make You Cry’), and is an album if marketed right could surf the wave in the rising love of Power Pop music that is ever so quietly becoming very popular (I could well imagine this being released via The Big Stir label).

Anyone with a love of Big Star and The Raspberries will be in seventh heaven with this on their CD player or anyone with Sugars Copper Blue in their collection could well be advised to get hold of this to keep it company. Yes, indeed this album is both rifftastic (‘Lead Boots’ especially) and has so many naggingly beautiful melodies that you could have sworn that you have heard before and even if you have, they are so damn catchy you do not mind hearing them again, especially when performed with such panache. I Only Wanted To Make You Cry is a fine listen.

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.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Special Review Roundup

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 King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and a double-A side single, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’. 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.

Singles/Tracks.

Occult Character  ‘The Song Remains The Stain’
11th April 2021

The first new track from Occult Character in four months, which I think is the longest he has gone without releasing anything, and what a gem it is. To break his silence a song that lasts just over one and a half minutes and a song that asks the question what is the best lyric you have ever heard, and in the one and half minutes all the magic and genius of The Occult Character is put on show; the devil be damned nonchalance of tossed away brilliance that has not been witnessed sing Errol Flynn wore a feather in his cap and rocked a pair of green tights: pure swashbuckling excellence.

Albums/EPs..

BMX Bandits ‘Star Wars (30th Anniversary Edition)
30th April/ Vinyl 4th May 2021

Is it really 30 years since this lovely album first entered into the musical planet? This being the 30th year Anniversary edition I assume it must be. I have always liked this album; it takes me back 30 years to 1991 the year I met my long-suffering wife. So this album has all the magic of the first kiss, the first time you held hands got drunk together and much more first times, but this being a family musical publication I will not proceed any further. But this LP has the advantage of the magic of nostalgia on its side. Not that it needs nostalgia to make this a magic album the opening track itself, ‘Come Clean’, more than enough covers that with the guitar jangle and the pure pop poetry lyrics, “What’s so wrong with loving your body when I love you so much inside”:true poetry.

There is a warmness and charm about this album that can only be described by listening to it, but if you need any encouragement to do so it has ‘Disguise’ on it, a song that demonstrates the hidden art of call and response on record, and not just has that it also has handclaps and has a rock n roll twin guitar solo on it that is not by Thin Lizzy and so not shit: how rare is that? It also has ‘Students of Life’, a song that Jonathan Richman should have written but somehow did not, and the pure pop splendor of ‘Do You Love Me’, and if it was a drink of pop it would be fizzy and make you giddy for drinking too much of it. Yes throwaway pop writing at its finest. And that is what so special about this album the true magic of throwaway pop. It is an art form that many try and many fail to do, but the BMX Bandits had it mastered and down to a fine art and if you want further encouragement the title track would have not been out of place on The Beach Boys finest album The Beach Boys Love You.

Salem Trials ‘Refuse To Die’
2nd April 2021

When an album kicks off with a ‘Kool Thing’ like guitar riff you know you are going to have an enjoyable half an hour or so of enjoyable alt rock hip swaying ahead of you. And when that album is by the masters of alt rock guitar weirdness the Salem Trials, you defiantly know what is ahead: angular riffs and angular singing. Russ the singer really is the missing link between Mark E Smith and a head full of stinging bees, the man is truly a one off and is part of what makes the Salem Trials so special, the other part is the incredible musicality of Andy, a man who can combine the influence of his huge record collection into six strings of wonder.

This album of course is there lord knows how manyath album of the last 18 months: a band that makes Guided By Voices look like lazy bastards. And like Guided By Voices they manage to keep it interesting by making every album bloody good, the only difference being that Salem Trials are much better.

Refuse To Die is available to download from the Salem Trials Bandcamp and can be downloaded for free so why not do it and then investigate their many other albums: be warned they have another one on the way released through Metal Postcard Records so get this. You will not be disappointed at all.

Toxic Chicken ‘Gamelan[d] 2’
7th April 2021

Gamelan[d]2 is an ice cream van ride of magical adventure taking in psychedelia, whimsy, electronica and experimental wonder. A fairground amusement arcade of beats and pure nostalgia flood the heart and beats down the door to your inner senses, which reveals nothing but the crazy workings of a tender soul. Toxic Chicken is back, and back with vengeance; a true musical maverick in a musical world full of weight watcher Beatles and second hand Goths betraying the tick it sentimental darkness of a rehashed Coil box set. If the Aphex Twin was as good as people say he might sound like this.

Toxic Chicken never lets me down; he takes me to a world I truly wish existed. And for that I will be forever grateful.

Various ‘Big Stir Singles: The Ninth Wave’
(Big Stir Records) 10th April 2021

This album is a comp of all the A and B sides from the Big Stir Records download single series, released from the end of August to the beginning of October 2020, and as you can imagine the comp is full of all the power poptastic joy that Big Stir are renowned for releasing. From the opening track by Dolph Chaney, ‘Be My Old Fart’, which I’m pleased to say is a fragrant smelling piece of guitar poppery, to the final track by Athanor, ‘Approximately Eternity’, which is a Smithereens like voyage to the planet 60’s influenced psych pop, you are treated by melodies galore. In between you will find finely crafted songs of skill, style and panache from the likes of Rosie Abbot, with the La laid back 70’s seduction of ‘Hold on’, to a rather splendid cover of Gilbert O Sullivan‘s ‘Alone Again Naturally’, which may be one of the most heartbreakingly true to life brilliant songs ever written, and covered with some style by Nick Frater.

This is a comp that is so listenable; one of the few that you are tempted not to skip tracks on. It’s like a bag of audible Jelly Babies all being different colours of sweet tasty chewing goodness that once you have started you have to finish, but unlike a bag of jelly babies you will not feel violently sick after consuming them all. In fact you want to put the album on again, and how many times can you say you have come across a compilation CD that is better than a bag of Jelly Babies? I will tell you…not often.

The Forty Nineteens  ‘The New Roaring Twenties’
(Big Stir) 24th April 2021

If a quiet night in with some gentle music, fine wine and a book were what you after then I would give this LP of fun garage rock a miss. But if you are in the mood to party and dance the marimba with the partner of your choice, then this is could be the album for you.

Songs with clashing guitars and “na na na” choruses really never grow old; songs about radio’s, fast cars and fast women abound. There is even a slightly camp Elvis Presley impression on ‘We-re Going To Vegas’ that Freddie Starr would have been proud of. This is not an album that the Quietus would write about: in fact this album is an anti-Quietus record. An album highbrow serious scholar might dismiss as throwaway frivolous rock ‘n’ roll fun, not quite grasping that rock ‘n’ roll should be frivolous throwaway fun and that in dismissing this album of great rock ‘n’ roll they’ve missed one of the best old time pop songs I have heard this year, ‘Time Marches On’, which is all Motown bass riffs and Partridge Family melodies and chiming guitars.

The New Roaring Twenties is an album of very well written garage rock/pop with a touch of the early Elvis Costello’s about it, and is another album that should be clutched to the bosom of rock ‘n’ rollers of all ages everywhere.

Special Interest ‘Trust No Wave’
(Disciples) 14th May 2021

This is a reissue of Special Interest‘s 2016 demo tape, and very good it is as well. The sound of sifting through the charred remains of the after taste of punk rock, screeching guitars feedback drenched noise ridden ramblings of the forbidden poet, the sound of shoegazers wearing pit boots, sonic monologues bathed in bathos pathos apathy and the bewitched meanderings of the furloughed pitchfork killer. Yes, it is all here all, everything one can ask for from short slabs of heart-breaking agro. A ripped party dress of an album and on ‘Ill Never Do Ketamine Again’ you know they are lying.

Mark E Moon ‘Old Blood’
2nd April 2021

If camp bombastic Goth is your thing I could well be writing about your new favourite album. Sisters like guitar merge with synths not heard since Ultravox was singing about Rigsby’s cat, but this album by Mark E Moon has so much more going for it. It has a rather wonderful euro disco beat running throughout tracks like ‘Animals’ and is worthy of Dead or Alive “at their “Youthquake” best, and ‘I Robot’ is a track that easily could slip onto BBC 6 MUSIC playlists – all Robert Smith guitar lines and the early noughties American alt rock that Interpol so excelled at.

Obviously, any Goth music at some point has to betray a slight influence of Sisters of Mercy and Mark E Moon does not disappoint with the entirely enjoyable ‘The Falling’ and the title track ‘Old Blood’, which has a drum machine that sounds like it is nailing a solidified nail of vitriol into the remains of your once caring soul.

Old Blood is one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve heard this year. It’s an album that beautifully merges pop alt rock and Goth into a wonderful collection of radio friendly alt pop.

Lark ‘The Last Woman’
(Wormhole World) 30th April 2021

The drunken drawl of a velvet voiced lounge lizard immediately drew me to this album; distorted fuzzy guitars and the sound of a man’s heart breaking into many pieces always manages to somehow draw me in.

Lark have that wonderful ‘I have lived what I am singing about’ atmosphere to their tracks, whether it is the wonderful Fall like ‘John Berger’s Wild Shirt’, with lyrics being spat out with wild abandon (“the gift horse has no mouth” line is pure Mark E Smith), or the slow down gothic trawl of ‘Night Club’, which paints images of dark nights in the sordid part of town (all neon lights and tomorrow’s hangover), or my personal favourite track, the honey voiced almost Orange Juice like ballad ‘Nothing’. This is an album that will appeal to many and is available as a very ltd cd release, so alternative music fans who like their music in a solid format you will have to get a move on if you want this album of tossed away down at heel sleazy glamour.

Flowertown ‘Flowertown’
23rd April 2021

This is a beautiful album; it has all that is good about recording on a 4-track tape recorder: the tape hiss, the warmth, the soul and believe that recording on tape provides; it has no fakery all that glitters is gold. And this is indeed gold; a treasure trove of Mazzy Star like seduction and Mary Chain ballad tenderness. Slightly distorted guitars and the rattle of the tambourine have never sounded so sweet: this is true lo-fi.

There is just something so romantically perfect about this album. I admit I’m a sucker for male/female duets, especially when they are so charmingly and shyly performed and on ‘RCP’ they have the great taste to rip off ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ by The Seeds, which is one of the greatest songs ever written. But Flowertown can get away with it, as they are just so bloody perfect. This really is a lovely album of lo-fi perfection, the sound of two lost hearts finding a soul mate.

You Can Support The Monolith Cocktail Through The Micro-Donation Site Ko-Fi:

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 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



Salem Trials ‘Do Something Dangerous’
(Metal Postcard Records) Album/5th July 2020


This is the label debut LP from one of the bands of 2020 – a fact I’ve previously mentioned in reviewing their first two singles, both of which are featured on this wonderful album; the Captain Beefheart meets the Buzzcocks ‘Head On Rong’ and whip frenzy Wire like pop gem ‘Pictures Of Skin’. The rest of the tracks are no slouches either; mining their influences from late 70s early 80s post punk but without just being a post punk photo fit band, the influences are there but they add their own unique twist adding a beautiful wash of pop melody and some simply stunning guitar playing – especially on the beautifully dark but life enhancing ‘No Light Escapes’.

Andy Goz is one of the most inspiring guitarists I’ve heard in a very long time and is obviously not just an extremely talented musician but must also have a great knowledge and understanding of what makes great rock n roll as the pre punk spirit of the Stooges, MC5 and The Pink Fairies are not just captured but hoisted on flag stands and waived as a taunting warning to all the other many less inspired guitar bands that there are new kids on the block and this simply fine album is the benchmark that they probably have not a hope in hell of reaching. A simply stunning debut.

 






Japanese Television ‘Bee Cage’
(Tip Top Recordings) Single ahead of a new EP, released 4th September 2020




I like this, it’s a short blast of wonky keyboard organ led heavy bass Sci-fi surf frenzy: Just what one wants to pickle an egg. Dick Dale goes for a moonwalk with Joe Meek whilst wondering what goodness lies beneath the waves of yesterday. Summer sweet sensation, a joyride for the bequiffed buffoon that lies deep within all men of a certain age. A Deeley Bopper of a single.






Various ‘A Picture Of Good Health Compilations’
(Wormhole World) Albums/Volumes 3.1 & 3.2 14th July 2020




What we have here is the latest comps from the experimental Wormhole World Records; two albums full of experimental genre hopping music with something for everyone; from the beautiful almost David Lynch soundtrack like Goodparley to the experimental mellow dance sounds of Gnaarf and DXII, to the crazy mad world of Toxic Chicken, to the poetic Crumpsall Riddle, and any fans collectors of 80s synth pop will be interested to find a new track by Blancmange – the beautiful synth instrumental ‘This Is The Moment I Have Been Waiting For’.

In all, this is a massive musical project and all tracks believe me are worthy of investigation: a great way to soundtrack a Sunday afternoon as I’ve discovered to my great pleasure.

There are in all thirty-nine tracks spread over two limited edition CDs 3.1 and 3.2 or two downloads from the Wormhole Bandcamp and is well worth a explore; and if you buy both CDs at the same time you save yourself a £1, so go and treat yourself.






Twisted Ankle ‘A Bag of Pasta’
(Breakfast Records) Single/19th June 2020




A bag of fall and Captain Beefheart discordance shaken up and let lose to breed and corrupt the inner workings of a Daily Mail readers fan club convention; a disconcerting eyelash flutter at the conventional tale of Siegfried and his lust for finding the ideal companion for apple bobbin. Yes a loose cannon of a single.






The Top Boost ‘Tell Me That Your Mine’
(You Are The Cosmos Records) Single/22nd June 2020




The sound of the Byrds going through their country phase is brought to mind with this fine blast of summer jangle. At the moment there seems to be a lot of jangle about and that cannot be a bad thing when it is performed with such style and panache. Two more tracks of 60s influenced guitar pop for you dear readers to soundtrack you sunning yourselves with.






Renaissance Grrl ‘Happy When I’m Sad’
Single/5th June 2020




This is a lovely sad well-performed song of melancholy by the 18-year-old Alannah Jackson. Alone with her guitar, nothing more nothing less, just a simple moment of purity, which should be cherished and held close; proving once again that keeping it simple is sometimes best especially when you are blessed with such a fine voice and songwriting talent.






The Icebergs ‘Add Vice’
(Imaginator Records) Album/17th July 2020




Beautifully strange is the only way to describe this marvelous album of pure poetic bliss. What grabs me from the off are the wonderful lyrics (an art form much ignored in the music biz today). Lyrical streams of them flowing weaving beautiful, frightening heart-breaking images throughout, bringing the early works of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey in a mellow mood to mind and musically reminding me of Nick Cave’s band of merry men the Bad Seeds rockabilly, folk, the Velvet’s guitar pop and the sounds of late Seventies no-wave, all merging to form a canvas for the poet Jane LeCroy to paint beautifully vivid pictures with her wonderful prose and wonderful voice.






bigflower ‘hunneh’
Single/27th June 2020




The Monolith Cocktail continue in their quest of promoting the under-the-radar beguiling guitar power of bigflower, who once again releases a beautiful sublime slab of free to download aural magic with this wondrous instrumental. When oh when will a record label get their act together and compile an album of the wonders bigflower is releasing on a monthly basis?






Spam Javelin ‘Fuck You/Cogged Off’
Single/20th June 2020




This is a double jab in the eye of pure punk rock old style; two tracks that both last around the 1 min 30 mark and come charging into your life, rattles a few of your remaining brain cells and then pisses off again: which all good punk rock songs should do. Both have rather marvelous guitar riffs especially ‘Cogged Off ‘, which has a wonderful Fall like guitar riff running throughout.






Beaulieu Porch ‘Vivit Sumus’
(Carmite Records) Album/7th June 2020




The lonely world of home-recorded psych can be a beautiful cathartic thing. It can be a thing filled with beauty, magic and soul, and the music of Beaulieu Porch has all three of those ingredients. Mid 70s Lennon and the wayward beauty of the Flaming Lips and the lost music of late 60s early 70s psych folk and Baroque pop collide in a thrilling mismatch of wanton musical adventure. Beaulieu Porch make such beautiful music it deserves to be heard by all instead of by the lucky few in the know; yes once again a musical underground musical maverick who deserves more is becoming quite a feature in these review round ups nowadays, so if you have not heard the music of Beaulieu Porch before do yourself a huge favour and give this fine album a listen; and if you have heard them no doubt this cd will already be in your collection. One of the undergrounds finest.






The Vapour Trails ‘Golden Sunshine’
(Futureman Records) Album/19th June 2020




Sometimes a bit of 60s inspired guitar jangle is what one needs in their life. And if you need that dose of sunshine in your life currently, one could do a lot worse than give this album a listen.

Hailing from Scotland The Vapour Trails are yet another band who wear their love of all things guitar very much on their sleeves: although I’m very sure The Teenage Fanclub influence is there it’s not as prominent as a lot of bands I have been sent music to review over the last 18 months. The opening track ‘Golden Sunshine’ had me thinking of the excellent and much underrated Spirea X [remember them] and a few tracks on this album have the early 90s guitar band feel of The La’s [especially on ‘Different Girl’] and the Cotton Mather; but that comes with them in turn having the same 60s influences (Beatles Byrds and such), and I’m sure the Shack’s masterpiece Waterpistol had more than a few airings in The Vapour Trails rehearsal space.

This is a fine album full of melody catchy guitar lines and is steeped in an obvious love and understanding of what makes great 60s inspired guitar music and what makes 60s inspired guitar music great.






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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’. 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

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