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

NEW MUSIC ROUNDUP/Dominic Valvona





The Perusal is a great chance to catch up, taking a quick shifty at the mounting pile of singles, EPs, mini-LPs, tracks, videos and oddities that threaten to overload the Monolith Cocktail’s inboxes each month. Chosen by Dominic Valvona, this week’s roundup includes Clovvder, Escupemetralla, John Johanna, Twisted Ankle and Vukovar.

John Johanna   ‘The Eastern Harmony and Gospel Demonstrator: Outtakes and Demos 2015​-​17’
EP/Available Now





No stranger to this blog over the last couple of years, having made our albums of the year features for two years in a row, first with 2018’s afflatus gospel rock mini-album I’ll Be Ready When The Great Day Comes, and then in 2019 with the Book Of Enoch imbued gospel-raga-blues and Radio Clash cosmology Seven Metal Mountains LP, the Norfolk anointed artist John Johanna has made a name for himself crafting a brand of infectious musical gospels and hymns, sourced from a myriad of Biblical and worldly religious tracts: The good book according to Johanna you could say.

During the interim of a new album, and just when we could do with some spiritual levity, Johanna has just put out a collection of ‘outtakes’ and ‘demos’ made during the years prior to the already mentioned debut I’ll Be Ready When The Great Day Comes. Though straying from the North American and African American liturgy on his two more recent albums, these earlier trails and tribulations often sound like meditations on Southern American gospel and soul. For example, the rustic lo fi backbeat echo take of the Jordon vision, ‘Deep River’, has traces of the Deep South’s own reverent bluesmen but also an air of The Everly Brothers. You’d be hard pressed without prior knowledge to pick out the covers from originals, but Johanna produces hymnal takes on Thomas A. Dorsey‘s pre-war standard ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ – lending the stalwart standard a touch of Canned Heat at their most holy – and E. M. Bartlett‘s 1921 ‘Just a Little While’ – giving it a kind of early spiritual rock ’n’ roll feel.

An apostle at the crossroads, much of the material on this compilation woos, shakes, stamps to a country-blues-psychedelic accompaniment, led by a cosmic cowboy.

It’s quite refreshing in these cynical and hysterical times to champion a man of Eastern Orthodox Christian faith – the ‘God’ word and Christianity in general has become an anathema in polite society; looked on with suspicion or extreme prejudice in these apparent libertarian and virtuous times. Wishing to commune and share his beliefs on record, Johanna navigates both the happy-clappy conversion and pulpit to record atavistic sentiments and longing in a modern fusion of hypnotic sounds. The Eastern Harmony and Gospel Demonstrator : Outtakes and Demos 2015​-​17 is a great collection of a burgeoning artist on a pilgrimage of communion.


Related posts from the Archives:

I’ll Be Ready When The Great Day Comes LP Albums Of 2018

Seven Metal Mountains LP Review



Vukovar  ‘Cement & Cerement’
Video/Track/Available Now





Today’s airing is taken from the recently, without fanfare, dropped EXHUMATION: THE FIRST DEATH OF VUKOVAR (2014 – 2019); the first of three self-congratulatory ‘best ofs’ and collections of newish musics from one of the most criminally ignored British bands of recent years, Vukovar. If you’ve been a keen follower of the Monolith Cocktail and kept abreast of the many trials and tribulations of the Chthonian apostles of industrial, Gothic and post-punk, then you will know that this ever-evolving trio (at least in foundation) have imploded and broken up on countless times during their brief existence – though that is up for debate, as in theory the Vukovar are not dead and buried yet; continuing to exist as they do in one incarnation or another. During that short span of five years they’ve released seven totem albums of quality hardcore divine comedy and paradise lost, and plenty of despondent augurs. Sitting on enough material to fill another trio of albums, they’ve hit a snag of late, splitting up but also losing one of their chief inspirations and creative foils, the late tragic Ceramic Hobs instigator Simon Morris. Morris, one of many collaborators of the ‘underground’ and mischievous scenes to work with the band, joined them on their swansong LP Cremator – a curtain call at least for the original lineup. Vukovar’s seventh album proper and so far last just happened to also be one of the bands best and most accomplished efforts to date.

And so whilst awaiting that future vision of the band and stream of future albums the group now takes stock – the first time that they have in that five-year period -, releasing a triumvirate of highlights, and lowlights over the next month or so.

From that first compilation in the triptych series (as they call it), and framed as the first broadcast of what would have been the unholy Simon Morris communion extolled NeuPopAct, the last song the fated genius recorded with members of Vukovar, the Alan Vega/Charlie Megira in Brutalism romance ‘Cement & Cerement’, seems both a tribute and sad resigned glimpse at what could have been if he hadn’t committed suicide late last year. Watch this space, as they say, for more on those albums over the coming weeks.


Related posts from the Archives:

Vukovar ‘Cremator’ Review

Vukovar ‘Puritan’ Review

Vukovar ‘Infinitum’ Premiere

Vukovar/Michael Cashmore ‘Monument’ Review

Dan Shea on Simon Morris A Tribute



Clovvder   ‘My Mother Was The Moon’
Available Now





Emerging once more from the ether, the Gothic duo from the Uruguayan port of Montevideo has chosen to return with a cover of the morose King Dude ‘My Mother Was The Moon’ hymn. Equal in atmospheric veiled vaporous invocations, Clovvder’s siren wafts gossamer style, weaving a new black magik interpretation of the original’s fateful lyrics. Magic realism poetry and despondent esoteric romanticism combine to evoke a most haunting requiem, from a duo that seems to create veiled invocations in the gap between never worlds. Truly atmospheric and mysterious.


Related posts from the Archives:

Clovvder ‘Traits’ Review



Twisted Ankle  ‘Landlord Laughs’
(Breakfast Records)  Single/17th April 2020





A macabre contortion of sinewy no wave and crushing post punk the leading polemic single from the future self-titled Twisted Ankle debut LP is a tumult of unkempt rage threatening to boil over. A broadside at those sneering all the way to the bank with the profits of their rentals, ‘Landlord Laughs’ twists the ongoing housing crisis into a sort of neo-feudalist nursery-rhyme: a kind of updated Ring a Ring o’ Roses if you like, which the band, only half-mockingly, envisage ‘little primary children will skip around the merry tree chanting ‘where did you put it?’ and asking ‘Mummy, what’s a house?’ in future days. Though written before the current lockdown, this reference to the children’s sing-along playground game is prescient; inspired, though many have argued its not, by the great plague, it resonates with the end times epidemic currently throttling the life out of society.

In effect, the Bristol experimentalists ‘mirror the decaying social order of quarantine Britain’. The increasingly tormented track uses samples of the noises Boris Johnson makes in between words, set to a brash and burnished

Known for their bizarre theatrical live shows, Twisted Ankle has emerged over the last few years as one of the most unique acts in the South-West. A strange mix of post-punk, dissonant jazz and macabre humour, they’ve long been a prominent fixture on the live circuit, supporting Mclusky, JOHN and Fraud’s across the last year. Yet their recorded output has been unusually slim: until now. If The Fall in an unholy union with James Chance, The Lounge Lizards and Half Japanese grabs you, than fill your boots.



Escupemetralla  ‘Remotitud (2020)’
Video/Track/Available Now





Sharing their dark visions and nightmares during lockdown the mysterious Escupemetralla (which were informed means “spitsshrapnel” in Spanish) has been dropping the most haunting, unsettling tracks alongside blog postings and related video art every week. An organism, an organization, a fiendish underground hub of the disturbing avant-garde and experimental the anonymous makers of these soundbites and broadcasts from the damned have offered up this esoterically atmospheric ‘remoteness’ score.

Still in the dark, Escupemetralla offer up this transmission statement: ‘the result of a series of retro-transmissions to be carried out in the mid-twenty first century at the “Thorne’s Cone Light Reversion Laboratory for Children”, Los Alamos, Texas (Federal States of Mexico and Puerto Rico). In a certain way, Escupemetralla are just virtual entities that will actually exist in several years’ time.’

Whatever is happening, it proves a frightening vision that chimes with the ongoing crisis of Covid-19 lockdown. Prepare to be spooked.


Related posts from the Archives:

Escupemetralla ‘Fe, Esperanza Y Caridad’ Review



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.

%d bloggers like this: