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

REVIEWS
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. Each month we pile a deluge of new releases on his virtual desk to see what sticks.

Duncan Lloyd ‘Outside Notion’
(Afternoon In Bed Records) 7th June 2019


Duncan Lloyd is of course from Maximo Park, a band I really paid little attention to although my son was rather fond of them in his early teenage years. And so this came as a bit of a surprise as I wasn’t expecting the melancholy shifting breeze of the opening track ‘Historic Elements’, or the dark soft mellowness and beauty of the tracks that followed – bringing both Beck in his Sea Change days and the Beta Band to mind and even Chris Rea on ‘Planetarium’ -, but this shows that the LP is no cut and thrust of indie rock but a more mature and sedate affair; an album of well crafted songs filled with love and tenderness that comes with the passing of summers. There is also a wonderful Nick Drake like instrumental that would not have sounded out of place on Bryter Layter in the track ‘Journey B’.

Duncan is not quite ready for the retirement home yet, though the Neil Young come Dinosaur Jr guitar merriment that explodes on the excellent ‘Young Dreams’, and the lovely male/female duet ‘Outside Notion’ are the two poppiest and most commercial songs on the LP.

Outside Notion is a delight of an album, and one that will hopefully get the attention this well written collection of songs deserves.





The Martial Arts ‘I Used To Be The Martial Arts EP’
(Last Night From Glasgow) 5th July 2019


An EP of pop splendor, four songs of enriched sunshine to melt your ice cream and to ruffle your tail feather, songs that bring back memories of the halcyon days of 70s pop and the indie sounds of the early 80s, songs that would not look or sound out of place on Shang-a-Lang or one of those other beautiful works of TV pop art from the 70s.

What is quite strange about this EP is that the weakest track, ‘New Performance’, is actually the first. I’m not saying that the track is weak – it’s actually a very good pop romp – but that it just shows the strength of the other three tracks, especially the glam of track two, ‘I Used To Be’, which is a wave your tartan scarf in the air wonder.

A must have EP for all lovers of that crazy magical thing called pop.





Palavas ‘Played’
(Wormhole) 5th July 2019


Another fine release from the excellently weird Wormhole Records, a LP they describe as dream folk and a might fine description it is as songs melt and purr and drift through a sea of tranquility, whispered vocals, softly strummed guitars and synth strings evoke images of a better place, a place where God exists, a place where there is not only beauty but a place of sadness, for sadness is not sadness at all without the image of beauty to watch over and to wipe the tears away.

This is a LP to load up onto your listening device and go for a long walk through the countryside, or, along a desolate beach holding hands with the ghost from your yesterdays and finding solace in the dying embers of the sun. This LP is simply heartbreakingly beautiful.





The Top Boost ‘Dreaming EP’
(You Are Cosmos) 24th June 2019


Chiming guitars and harmonies flow into this summer strum of a three-track single that recalls the beauty of the Byrds, Big Star and Teenage Fanclub. If you like your pop with ba ba ba’s this EP is almost certainly for you.

The A side, ‘Dreaming’, has me thinking what it might have sounded like if a young David Cassidy had replaced Gene Clark in the Byrds; a joy filled three minutes of a pop song: a Dream indeed. I can almost feel the sand between my toes and the annoying kid with a Frisbee getting on my tits. But this single is worth it; only a melted ice cream away from being pop perfection.






Armstrong ‘Under Blue Skies’
(Country Mile Records) 12th July 2019

Julian Pitt, aka Armstrong, is one of the finest songwriters to emerge from Wales in recent years; a man who has been blessed with the gift of melody that can be comparable to McCartney, Wilson and Jimmy Webb. Yes, he really is that good.

This is an expanded reissue of his first LP, which was originally released as a limited edition cdr, one that I played constantly. Thankfully it’s getting a much-deserved official re-release from The Beautiful Music label.

Julian has the gift to write melodies that should be gracing the nations radio, songs that explode the myth that pop music is dead. ‘Crazy World’ and ‘Baby You Just Don’t Care’ for example are both upbeat and summery, in a Aztec Camera kind of way, but he comes into his own with a ballad, ‘Sorry About Lately’, a drop dead beaut. The real killer on the LP though is the wonderful ‘The Things That Pass You By’, one of those rare songs that can bring both goosebumps and tears to your eyes, a song most songwriters would sell their soul to have the talent to write, and the thing is this album is filled with them.

I am so happy this great lost LP has finally got the release it deserves; it is no longer lost just simply Great, one of the finest pastoral pop LPs you will ever hear.


Quimper ‘I Am An Italian Souvenir’
27th June 2019


Wonky pop and the flow of a sea dive melody erupt beautifully from this four track instrumental dream of an EP. The kind of thing 4AD might have released in the days when the label meant something, and not just Beggars Banquet in an artier form.

Batman bass beats and 60’s sci fi imagery weave like a speed injected butterfly soundtracking Kraftwerk getting their ends away; a baroque stab at sexual solvency, a master class on how to make music interesting original and fun to listen to. A pay what you want to download, I would advise you download and let it be a part of your summer.





Paper Hats ‘Tearing’
(No Funeral) 21st June 2019


I love small indie labels the are the lifeblood of the music industry, without them the industry would be one big rotting corpse of mediocre wannabees all perfectly in tune and smelling like roses, but beneath the sheen, be boring as hell, and who wants to be in a industry like that? So thank the lord for labels like No Funeral for releasing such fine music as this. Music they describe as math rock but myself being English I have no idea what math rock is. If it is this wonderful angular experimental pop art that The Fall thrived at, I want to spend my middle-aged years submerged in the glorious off kilter whimsy.

This five-track gem of an EP by the Paper Hats is all that I wanted it to be. It is fun, it has discordant guitars, it has mumbley vocals alternating with shouts -anyone out there who remembers John Peel faves Mazey Fade will love this -; it brings up so many memories of my youth when venues let such wonderful disarray perform their outpourings to the kids who soaked up every wonderful discordant note.

This is available on a limited edition cassette. I would advise you to check it out and snap one up as it is a fine release indeed.





Babybird ‘Photosynthesis’
19th July 2019


How pleased was I to see that I’d received the new LP by Stephen Jones, aka Babybird, to review: a man much after my own heart; a man who has been following the same path as myself and my merry band of Bordellos, though obviously with much more critical and commercial success than myself.

What I love about Stephen Jones, aka Babybird, apart from his wonderful songwriting talent and his dark humor and his obvious love of music and its many genres, is that he has so much soul. He has so much love for music in fact that he makes music not just because he may make a decent living from it but because he has no choice, he has to make it like he has to breath to stay alive. He has to create music, create art, he has to experiment with the magic of melody and write such beautiful songs, and Photosynthesis is an LP full of dark beauty and such bloody good songs.

Drum machine beats and synth strings cradle the twisted musings of the anti escapism of real life songs that make you want to get up in the morning just to remind you how shit life is, and this soundtracks it so, so, beautifully: heartbreakingly beautifully.

A small dark masterpiece, a masterclass in songwriting.





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