PLAYLIST
TEAM EFFORT/CURATED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

After avoiding Covid for nearly two and a half years (with periods of shielding) I’ve finally succumbed to the dreaded virus this week. And it’s hit me hard. But because I’m such a martyr to the cause of music sharing I’ve managed to compile this eclectic bonanza of choice music from the last month.

The Monolith Cocktail Monthly features tracks from the team’s reviews and mentions, but also includes those tunes we’ve just not had the room to feature. That team includes me (Dominic Valvona), Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

We’ve supplemented the original audio playlist with a video version on our Youtube channel. This will feature a slightly different lineup (the electronic music collective Violet Nox’s ‘Senzor’ primer for one).

 The full track list is as follows:

Dead Horses ‘Macabro’
Grave Goods ‘Source’
No Age ‘Compact Flashes’
Etceteral ‘Rome Burns’
Al-Qasar Ft. Jello Biafra ‘Ya Malak’
Clear Path Ensemble ‘Plazma Plaza’
Antonis Antoniou ‘Syntagi’
Ocelot ‘Vanha Hollywood’
The Beach Boys ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone – Live At Carnegie Hall’
Rezo ‘Soemtimes’
Blue Violet ‘Favorite Jeans’
Teo Russo ‘Novembre’
Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Guessing Game’
Micah P. Hinson ‘Ignore The Days’
Sonnyjim/The Purist Ft. MF DOOM & Jay Electronica ‘Barz Simpson’
Salem Trials ‘Just Give Up’
The Bordellos ‘Nurse The Screens!’
Legless Trials ‘Ray’s Kid Brother Is The Bomb’
S. Kalibre ‘Hip Hop World’
King Kashmere/Leatherette ‘G-Cell’
Depf/Linefizzy ‘Rain’
Isomonstrosity/645AR/John Lenox Ft. Danny Brown ‘Careful What You Wish For’
Tess Tyler ‘Try Harder’
Qrauer Ft. Anne Muller ‘Rund’
Sampa The Great Ft. W.I.T.C.H. ‘Can I Live?’
Rob Cave/Small Professor ‘Eastern Migration’
Salem Trials ‘Jc Cells’
Wish Master/Axel Holy Ft. Wundrop ‘FLIGHT MODE’
Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothing’s Ever Acquired’
Simon McCorry/Andrew Heath ‘Mist’
Andrei Rikichi ‘At Home I Hammer Ceramic Golfing Dogs’
OdNu ‘My Own Island’
Floorbrothers ‘In Touch’
Conformist X H O R S E S ‘Heddiw’
Slim Wrist ‘Milk Teeth’
Forest Robots ‘Everything Changes Color With The Rainfall’
Noah ‘Odette’
Yara Asmar ‘there is a science to days like these (but I am a slow learner)’
Tess Tyler/Spindle Ensemble ‘Origami Dogs (Graphic Score Interpretation)’
Christina Vantzou/Michael Harrsion/John Also Bennett ‘Piano On Tape’
Yemrot ‘Big Tree’







BRIAN ‘BORDELLO’ SHEA’S REVIEWS ROUNDUP

SINGLES/TRACKS

Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothings Ever Required’
(Timeless Music Records)

‘Nothings Ever Required’ is a gem of a aural discovery; a moody piece of John Carpenter-esque solitude over five minutes of pure instrumental poetry. The kind of mood piece to soundtrack the passing daylight by watching passing strangers walk past the old coffee house window trying to read the faces, read their thoughts, lost in your memories, and hopes slowly making the coffee last, cusping it in your warms to keep in the warmth, with Alexander Stordiau gently caressing the shifting time of loneliness.

It’s Karma It’s Cool ‘A Gentle Reminder’

‘Gentle Reminder’ is a in fact a gentle reminder that pop music is a wonderful thing, as this tuneful little ditty shows three and a half minuets of perfectly formed guitar pop rock, with a Peter Holsapple guesting on keyboards – that is in fact one of the highlights of the track  – giving this perfectly formed pop rock of a song a slight new wave sense of danger.

Anxiolytics ‘S​{​R​}​[​C​]​O​[​{​T​}​[​R​]​CHED EARTH’

Anxiolytics are an experimental synth duo from North Wales and have an evil but lovingly portrayed glint in their eye I bet, this single being a strange and haunting affair that takes me back to the post punk early 80s of the Passage and Soft Cell and offers something both original and different; a song that has a cold warmness that will smother and intoxicate you with a germ ridden freshness that has not been inhaled since the passing of the great David R Edwards and the wonder that was Datblygu. Once again I am left awaiting the debut album.

Floorbrothers ‘Drive’
(Ikarus Records)

Ahh Mr Floorbrothers,Fade Into You’ by Mazzy Star is one of my favourite tracks as well. So slowing it down and making it into a drug induced waltz, adding new lyrics and making it sound like Mott The Hoople needing a good night’s sleep is a pretty nifty idea and one I stand and applaud. A good single then.

Bigflower ‘Tried To Care’

The first new track from the mighty bigflower in a few months I think, and yes, they have once again supplied a dark piece of dense guitar magic; a track to help soundtrack these dark, dark frightening days and months that lie ahead in the UK; the kind of track we need to be blasted from car radios as we head to work knowing after a week of hard slog we will still not be able to afford to pay our bills and put food on the table. Although this is not an out and out political lambasting of our uncaring and failing government it is a song to capture the intensity and hopelessness of these worrying times.

EP

Rob Clarke And The Woolltones ‘Rubber Chicken B-Sides’
(Aldora Britain Records)

This is an enjoyable little forage into the dim and distant past. Four songs that take the hip swinging beatitude of the sixties, all beat chords and “What’d I Say” riffage songs your nan would have curled her hair to in her youth before going down the ballroom to watch the local beat band. Four songs that are all enjoyable and warm sounding and with the final track, ‘Love And Haught’, being especially splendid, a track worthy of the final days of the wonderful Escorts: close your eyes and you are back in 1966 heaven. A beautiful release and only 50p to download: that is 12 and a half pence a track. Yes this EP does take you back when half a pence was such a thing.

ALBUMS

The Pixies ‘Doggeral’
(BMG) 30th September 2022

I used to love The Pixies back in the day when they first appeared, and to be honest I’ve not really listened to them much since they got back together. I’ve not really listened to them since Indie Cindy, and I think I might have been missing out if this album is anything to go by; although they are obviously missing the divine Kim Deal. But that is all they seem to be missing. They still have quite a loud thing going on (‘Haunted House’), are still masters of distorted surf guitar (‘Vault Of Heaven’), and have not lost their knack for a catchy strange pop tune, (‘Get Stimulated’). The lovely charmingly charming pop beauty that is ‘The Lord Has Come Back Today’ might just be my favourite track on this rather fine enjoyable album. They even have a whistling solo on ‘Pagan Man’, which there is certainly not enough of in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. So, the eighth Pixies album is in fact quite a musical treat.

Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Bubblegum Boogie’
(Gare Du Nord) 23rd September 2022

What we have here my lukewarm fluffy bunny fetishists is an album of sophisticated polite pop – and we all need a little sophistication and politeness in our lives. Remember children always say please and thank you afterwards [ooeer missus]. And this album of melody rich pop could be your injection of sophistication for the day.

‘Trojan Pony’ kicks off the album with a fine Harry Nilsson like pop ditty that would not sound out of place on any of his early 70s pop masterpieces. Kieran Phelan is obviously a fan of the seventies laid-back pop as we find a tribute to the lovely gentleman and cult favourite John Howard with ‘Song For John Howard’, a lovely short piano ballad that not just recalls the music of the great man but also Brian Wilson as well, which indeed cannot be a bad thing.

The whole album is awash with gentle laid-back slightly quirky songs that have a layer of sadness and memories, and sometimes, sad memories are the most beautiful. And Bubblegum Boogie is indeed a beautiful little sophisticated bubble gum pop album.

Grave Goods ‘Tursday. Nothing Exists’
(Tulle)  9th September 2022

“Step softly into the new world of the underground” is the opening line from the opening track ‘Come’ from this rather fine post-punk album of clattering guitars and such malarkey. And it’s an invitation I would readily advise all fans of clattering guitars and such malarky to well accept. For they will be treated to seven tracks of aggressive alternative rock post-punk that takes some rather fine lyrics [which I am very taken with] and guitar riffs that put Grave Goods a step up from the usual gallop of the many many other post-punk bands. An album well worth investigation dear readers.

The Legless Crabs ‘And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’
(Metal Postcard Records)

Thank the fuck for the Legless Crabs. After spending over an hour going through my emails to see what delights I could pontificate about and tell you lovely readers all about, I was left bereft. I had listened to loads of power pop with shite lyrics; shoegaze which in itself stands alone as why I have not reviewed it: anything that describes itself as shoegaze is enough to put me off, we all know what shoegaze is, music that reaches for the stars but very rarely manages not to leave the ground. So thank fuck for the rock ‘n’ roll un pc digs at modern life the Legless Crabs on a regular basis release. And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is up to their normal high standard.

Guitars that fuzz and buzz and on this occasion form layers of pure confusion that take you back to the golden age of watching loud guitar bands in dingy clubs. ‘Piss Lake’, ‘Anti -Christian Scientists’ and every other track on this album are filled with an anger and disgust at the way modern life is shaping up.

This album is a much more serious and mature sounding album of rock ‘n’ roll. They no longer sound like the slap dash young noise merchants that overdosed on JAMC and the Cramps and Pussy Galore and now sound like they have had to grow up and get jobs. And that has just made them even angrier.

This is an album of darkness like their others, but the others came with a cheeky wink this with just a terrifying blank stare.

Salem Trials  ‘Postcards From The Other Side Of The Sun’
(Metal Postcard Records)

A triple album by the Salem Trials: well it would be a triple LP if it were released on vinyl. There are 29 tracks and each and everyone is filled with the whip snap guitar madness that the Salem Trials deal in.

Songs that echo the world we live in full of dark humour, nostalgia, darkness and T Rex riffs. ‘Black Flash’, which imagine instead of David Bowie guesting on the Marc Bolan Show you had Mark E Smith, and instead of it being in a TV studio it was on a small boat that was slowly sinking below the waves, slowly lapping around Marc and Mark E’s knees; a song of pure and beautiful magic and maybe my fave ever Salem Trials song. Pure brilliance. But there are so many. Andy and Russ are quite incapable of not doing anything that is not at least very good; they have their own sound; they have their own feel; they have their own magic.

The Salem Trials are one offs. They take their influences of post-punk, psych, seventies glam, no wave, indie pop and merge into what can only be described as a unique and rewarding listening experience.

Andrei Rikichi ‘Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness’
(Bearsuit Records)

Apart from Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness being a great album title it is also a fine album; an album that takes electronica, dance and cinematic sculptures to a new and experimental place, a place where white noise and James Bond soundtracks collide to great and unusual effect. ‘What Happened To Whitey Wallace’ sounds like monks playing on a old ZX 90 computer game and ‘Bag, Lyrics, New Prescription’ could be on a soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock movie set in a colourful but black and white jazz world.

Yes, indeed once again Bearsuit Records have released an album crammed with original thought-provoking music that is both experimental but also very listenable; an album to soundtrack the spin of a roulette wheel and the shadow-stained wet pavement of a neon signed littered night time street.

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.

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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.

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