Reviews: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, the diatribe ‘Boris Johnson Massacre’ and just in the last couple of months, both The King Of No-Fi album, and a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart. He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics, and in the last week released an album of Bordello live material.

Each week we send a mountain of new releases to the self-depreciating maverick to see what sticks. In his own idiosyncratic style and turn-of-phrase, pontificating aloud and reviewing with scrutiny an eclectic deluge of releases, here Brian’s latest batch of recommendations.


Storm the Palace ‘Dream House’

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

See also…

Storm The Palace ‘Clive’ Premiere  (HERE)

Storm The Palace ‘Delicious Monster’  (HERE)

Up Against Down  ‘People That Come And Go’

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

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 ‘Red Bird’

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

See also…

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 ‘ST’  (HERE)

bigflower ‘OK’

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

See also…

bigflower ‘The Other Place’  (HERE)

bigflower   ‘Sound Of Silence’  (HERE)


Rita Braga  ‘Time Warp Blues’

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

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

See also…

Rita Braga ‘Tremble Like A Ghost’  (HERE)

Zen Baseball Bat ‘Rations’
(Stahl 42)

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

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

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

Simon Waldram ‘Into The Blue’
12th December 2020

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

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog 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 to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.


Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

A couple of weeks ago we at Monolith gave the Storm the Palace Delicious Monster LP a well deserved rave review as the album is both beautiful, cheeky and a little dirty. So I am pleased that they have sent us their latest video-single, ‘Clive’, as an exclusive treat, a video that is entertaining, beautiful, cheeky and a little dirty. In fact a video that introduces potted plant porn to the world.

The Edinburgh indie Baroque folk outfit have this to say about their pot plant swingers’ new video:

The video follows the story of the song’s protagonist – a morally bankrupt cheese plant named Clive. We were inspired by 1970s films of excess, pretension and indulgence, such as La Grande Bouffe, Abigail’s Party and the soft-porn classic, Emmanuelle.


So ladies and gentlemen please feast your eyes your ears and your loins to the beautiful sights and sounds of Storm The Palace and ‘Clive’, a song taken from their forthcoming Delicious Monster album (released on the 4th October 2019). A must own LP of 2019 I might add.

Words: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea joined the Monolith Cocktail team in January 2019. The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The Bordellos, has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent project, Roi (with John McCarthy and Dan Shea, of Beauty Stab and Vukovar infamy) debuted this week through Metal Postcard Records.

Each week or so 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.

Redd Kross ‘Beyond The Door’
(Merge Records) 23rd August 2019

I used to work with a lovely gent, in my working in record store days, many years ago who was a huge Redd Kross fan, his name was Chris. I wonder what happened to him? You meet, you form friendships, life happens, and you lose touch and you move on, things change your tastes change and sometimes you hate the things you used to adore.

I wonder what Chris thinks of Redd Kross today? I used to like them in fact. I have a few of their LPs, and this one may be my favorite. Beyond The Door is an LP full of catchy short pop rock songs. In fact, dare I call it power pop, for it has power and it is pop. It has melodies galore. In fact, to quote the title of track five, it is indeed like ‘Ice Cream’ [strange and pleasing]: apart from the strange part it is just pleasing, it certainly is cool and refreshing. I am sure it’s cool enough for Chris to still like. I can imagine if he was stood here today he would, swaying his long blonde locks whilst singing along under his breath and giving it a big thumbs up whilst grinning like the Cheshire cat and that is good enough for me. Wonderfully sweet fun pop music for a wonderfully sweet pop guy.

Darren Hayman – Songs Of High Altitude
(Gare du Nord) 6th September 2019

Darren Hayman is responsible (with his old band Hefner) in recording one of my most listened to LPs, with The Fidelity Wars album: an LP filled with wonderfully written songs, and I was especially fond of his lyrics. This one, Songs Of High Altitude, is actually an LP of beautifully written atmospheric instrumentals, apart from ‘Plea For A Little Railway’, which is a beautifully written song. On the subject of railways this album would make a ideal soundtrack to a long journey; it’s a rest your head and stare out of the window and watch strangers’ lives unfurl in front of your very eyes and admire the passing countryside and townscapes kind of album. The kind of LP everyone needs in there collection. I’ve quickly become fond of this very British sounding instrumental oddity.

‘Trashelizer EP’
5th September 2019

I like the bizarre, as is well known by people who know m, so this is right up my street. This EP reminds me what it may have been like if Syd Barrett had a yearning for amateur dramatics; you could well imagine Andrew Lloyd Webber deciding that it would be a good idea to drop some acid and write some songs for the Velvet Underground. Trashelizer has a certain freshness, and the sort of fun and humour you don’t come across everyday in this reviewing lark.

There is a talent for melody and intelligence I can only sit back and applaud. It is like a young British Magnetic Fields. Lets hope Lascivious Wyrm decides to do his own 69 love songs; I for one would be all ears.

Storm The Palace ‘Delicious Monster’
4th October 2019

Storm The Palace are a 5-piece indie folk baroque band from Edinburgh and this is their second LP. And a mighty fine LP it is to; at times reminding me of Belle and Sebastian other times the beautiful much missed Kirsty MacColl – especially on the beautifully melodic ‘Ancient Goldfish’. But they are much more than that.

They have a sweet melodic dark melancholy beauty wrapped in the hazy shape of reflective oddness that is all of their own. They are blessed with a vocalist with a voice of pure honey simplicity with the ability to wrap you in a cloak of melodic lyrical delightful melodies that caress your lips while the lyrics slyly slap your arse.

An LP with darkness light humour and sadness in equal measure, and an album I think I will be listening to a lot in the coming weeks. Another gem for 2019.

Bathtub Gin Band ‘From The Old Navy Club’
10th August 2019

The Bathtub Gin Band are a duo from my hometown St Helens, and this there debut LP. A mini LP in fact, recorded live in a local studio, just acoustic guitar and drums and fine songwriting; the sound of two talented musicians enjoying themselves; an LP that recalls the sound of the Liverpool bandwagon club of the early noughties; quickly strummed guitar ragtime blues telling tales of drunken nights out and failed romantic adventures, an album to listen to as you are getting ready for a wild night out or after you have staggered in after one.

Beautifully written and crafted with well arranged songs performed with verve and vigor, From The Old Navy Club is another little gem for 2019 and can be downloaded for free from their bandcamp page… so what you waiting for.

Seaside Witch Coven ‘Splutter’
31st August 2019

It’s great to see that Wales are still producing noisy guitar bands with enough pop suss to drench the thing in melody. This is the debut single by the wonderfully named Seaside Witch Coven, a song and a band that has me under their spell, this track sends me spinning back to memories of my youth and enjoying the delights of the Family Cat and bands of that ilk. A stunning little number and a fine debut.

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