REVIEWS ROUNDUP FROM GRAHAM DOMAIN
A run-through of recent and new releases.

SINGLES/EPs

ENTER LAUGHING  ‘Met Me When I Landed’
(Permanent Creeps Records) 

A frantic slice of noise-funk psychedelia! A fade-in synth gives way to a funky bass and military drums before the frantic vocals come in with a mad noodling organ! “Just say when it’s over” shouts the singer, his paranoia bordering on hysteria, as the corpse of a relationship drags itself around town! The chorus breaks like sunlight through cloud with cryptic psychedelic lyrics “I’m witnessing the birth of the sun” reminiscent of a stoned Julian Cope! A great debut single from this North London Indie band – one to watch!

KROOKED TONGUE  ‘Lupines’
(Spotify, Apple Music)

Sailing in on a wave of feedback and underlying menace with thunderous bass notes and heavy chords of distortion before erupting into a chorus of chiming metal guitar and bluesy vocal melody – cue the stage diving! It could be about some nice flowering plants, a song that Alan Titchmarsh could rock out to – or it could be about wolves howling at the moon! Hopefully the former! Catchy – like covid in a cough filled club!

UNWAVERING  ‘Ley lines in the Forth’ (four track EP)
(Bandcamp)

  1. ‘Last Known Sighting’

Birdsong. The sea heard in a shell. Effect laden chiming guitar rings out – disturbed notes of discord building to a heartbeat of confusion and remorse! It could be the soundtrack to some Art House short-film! Picture the wind blowing washing on a line, someone slowly waking in unfamiliar surroundings… the jigsaw pieces of a drugged mind no longer fitting into place…

  • Dreamswell’

A figure emerges from a water-filled pothole, into a cold underground cavern. A strange, ancient folk song echoes in the darkness… a voice in the ether… “I slept through someone else’s apocalypse”… as a droning bat scream reverberates from a deep chamber below…

  • ‘A Clearing 1983’

A revolving tape-loop of bird cries and wind turbulence! The stone-tape of a terrible event recorded and played back in a triggered time-loop. Soon a strange discordant folk song emerges built in reverberating shadows of the soul. The cries of the lost heard at the cliff top edge of a rain-soaked nightmare!

  • ‘Lighthouse Portal’

The wind and the sea. A time delayed gong rings out its ominously call. Just as you think it’s stopped… holding your breath… the noise… the fear… continues to rise… death stands in the shadows, dark emotionless eyes, watching… as terror twists the insides into a silent scream!

YOUNG RITUAL  ‘Ages’
(Soundcloud)

Indie US alt-rock from Young Ritual a singer based in Nashville who sounds not unlike Greg Alexander! Big shiny guitars and effect laden chiming chords underpinned by a solid floor-tom rolling rhythm. ‘Ages’ is a song that sticks in your head with its melodic expressive vocals sitting somewhere between New Radicals and Cherry Ghost!

ALBUMS

OTHER LANDS  ‘Archipelagos’
(Athens of the North Records)

This is a pleasant Ambient / Easy Listening instrumental album. ‘So Long So Far’ sounds like Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), while ‘Ambergris’ reminds me of the keyboard sounds Japan conjured on ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’. ‘Cave Code’ meanwhile pits reverbed acoustic guitar against keyboard brass and piano making for a nice ‘Test Card’ piece of Music. ‘Selkie Road’ uses Roxy Music drum machine, funky bass and keyboards to create a nice tune, which would definitely annoy anyone holding on a phone. ‘Landmasses’ is much better with its soft bass drone and clunky guitar chords over a nice samba drum machine and 1970’s string machine. ‘Braidbit’ is perhaps the most chilled track coming over as laid-back Mediterranean jazz pop that could easily soundtrack a holiday programme.

If this album had been released in 1971 and stocked by Woolworths it would now be considered a lost classic! So, why not buy it now while you can, and own a ‘future’ classic – set to increase in rarity and value!

LET SPIN  ‘Thick As Thieves’
(Efpi Records)

Formed a decade ago, Let Spin release their fourth album this month, Thick As Thieves. The four-piece experimental jazz group comprises of Chris Williams sax, Moss Freed guitar, Ruth Goller bass and Finley Panter drums.

Across the 10 tracks we get an album of great energy, imagination, free expression, the musical interplay creating an electrifying synergy – the music both exuberant and melancholic, combining elements of free jazz, post-rock, experimental, punk, orchestral and ambient!

The standout tracks include the melancholy ambience of ‘Ether’, the expressive ‘Mixed Messages’, the propulsive prog of ‘Waveform Guru’ and the strange ‘Theremin Gong Bath’. The album ending with the spiritual cosmic echoes of ‘Liminality’.

A tsunami of an album, great crashing (sound) waves re-shaping the (musical) landscape.

SLIM WRIST  ‘Closer For Comforting’
(Bandcamp, Soundcloud)

Slim Wrist are Brian Pokura and Fern Morris from Edinburgh – a duo who write calming electronic pop using an old drum machine and programmed synths. The resulting songs are interesting in their simplicity and naïve charm. Fern reminds me of early Tracey Thorn in her phrasing rather than vocal tone. Vocally she sounds close to Julia Holter. While there is nothing groundbreaking here, the album stands up to repeat listening and has shades of early Human League in songs like ‘Milk Teeth’ and ‘Threads’. Closing song ‘Half Light’ is perhaps the best on the album with its warm sounds and engaging vocal. A good debut – one to watch!

OCELOT  ‘Auringon Puutarha’
(Soliti)

The debut album from Finnish experimental Pop outfit Ocelot is a thing of summery beauty! Songs such as ‘Fire Season’ sound like a band that could have come out of Liverpool in 1979 – think Pink Military Stand Alone crossed with early Teardrop Explodes organ driven pop! However, what makes Ocelot sound original is the unique strange voice of singer Emilia Pennanen! She sings some songs in English and some in Finnish but the language barrier doesn’t matter when the melodies are as catchy as this! ‘Ikkunat Auki’ sounds like a slowed down Specials tune, while ‘Sydanystava’ has a 1970’s pop vibe that reminds me of the sort of songs Drugdealer did when I saw them live with Weyes Blood singing! ‘Daisy’ meanwhile sounds like a West Coast Hot Chocolate fronted by Lena Lovich! Altogether an enjoyable album. If they sang more of their songs in English they could be Big!

VENN  ‘Identity Crisis’
(Bandcamp – CD and Download)

Named after the Venn Diagram, Venn are a band who hail from Thailand and produce a sound they loosely label experimental folk! The album begins with the excellent ‘Idonno’ an exciting Arcade Fire type acoustic-electric anthemic indie song. While this is easily the best song on the album, they do show their fine musicianship throughout, on songs such as the laid-back laurel canyon folk of ‘Howling’ – part CSN with nods to Fleet Foxes and Midlake! However, the band fail to establish a firm sound of their own by diversifying too much, to produce – string quartet instrumental music (Flughaffen), oriental disco-folk sang by a robot (Steam Engine), Bon-Iver-style-folk (Infinite Fields) and Thai-language-xylophone-folk (track 8). While the album may not be cohesive, the band does show promise and if they worked on solving their ‘Identity Crisis’ by deciding which direction to take, deciding what works best for them, then they may have a chance of reaching ears outside Thailand!

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REVIEWS ROUNDUP
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 send him a deluge of new releases and await to see what sticks.

Lark ‘Blink’
(Wormhole Records) 16th August 2019


An LP of darkness; an LP that emerges from the post-punk sound of the early 80s. Discordant guitars and twisted bass back beautiful songs of lyrical wordy beauty – it is a delight to hear songs with wonderful lyrics instead of them being treated as an afterthought.

At times this reminds me of the recent work of Babybird, a man who ploughs his own path through the music industry and also writes songs with melody darkness and humour. It also brings to mind the Southern Death Cult and Nick Cave, and early New Order.

Originally released in 2014 now available on very ltd cd from the wonderful Wormhole World label, I would snap one up while you still can as this is an album to soundtrack the oncoming Autumn and Winter of our discontent.





Asbestos Lead Asbestos ‘Nature Of Feline’
26th July 2019



When an LP starts with a flurry of “fuck yous” and goes into indie pop strum along, and then goes into more “fuck yous”, I know I’m going to enjoy it. A clamour of glamour and toss pot glitter shillyshally into the mists of swollen lo fi beauty, it reawakens memories of dreaming of the girl you can only dream about whilst listening to Bongwater: the band not water from a bong.

If I wrote for the music blog Get Into This, I might describe this LP as being “boss scran for thought”, as it jumps from chaos to chaotic hipster speak to dirty yearning for the fucked and fuckable. Acoustic guitars drift through electronic distortion to unveil yet another great album for 2019, and when that same album has a song called ‘Motherfucker Won’t You Pass The Marimba’, how can it not be worth investigation.





bigflower ‘The Look Of Love’
4th August 2019 



If a sparkling dark beautiful rendition of one of the most perfect love songs ever written is what you are after then look no further as bigflower, the musical gift that keeps giving, has supplied us yet again with another guitar gem: this time not a self composed number but a rather wonderful version of the Bacharach and David classic, ‘The Look Of Love’. And what a sensual dark version of the original it is too; a track that is crying out to be used in the next Hollywood blockbuster.

Record labels are you deaf or just retarded?!! Another gem.





The Cigarettes ‘You Were So Young’
(Optic Nerve Recordings) 20th September 2019



There nothing quite like the sound of young rebellion. If you are in agreement then this new comp of the classic underrated band from Lincoln, The Cigarettes, is just what you need. It includes their wonderful singles compilation tracks, their legendary John Peel session, plus previously unreleased tracks.

For all lovers of golden age punk this is a must have; The Cigarettes showing that they matched the Buzzcocks and the wonderful Subway Sect on the melody front. In fact, it is a bit of a mystery how they weren’t become better known and received, all the boxes ticked, songs of teenage troubles, life slashing buzz saw guitars, catchy choruses, one string guitar solos, all in all, perfect pop.

Maybe with the release You Were So Young they will finally get their full due and the recognition they deserve as one of the great lost bands of the punk/post-punk era.





Unwavering ‘Freeze,Thaw, Chorus’
16th August 2019



Do you ever challenge yourself to do something you don’t like? It could be opening your eyes in the morning and breathing; it could be cleaning out the cat litter tray or, in this case, listening to an LP that has been sent to you to review that has described itself as shoegaze. For shoegaze is one of those genres that cry out, “I am really uninteresting. I have all the pedals but no songwriting talent. I have ambition and ego but not the talent to match.” So a word to the wise, unless you are one of those unfortunates don’t describe your music as such as you are doing yourself a great disservice especially when your music is a wandering lo fi folk that happens to use the electric guitar a little like a more wayward Red House Painters.

Unwavering dispatch a fine dark melancholy, awash with many layers of guitars with distant slightly reverb vocals at times that remind me what a Stone Roses LP may have sounded like if they had left Mani and Reni at home and where more down for it than up. This is a quite beautiful album; melodies melancholy and a bewitching scenic beauty weave a hypnotic spell. A band/artist I think one should keep an eye out for in the future.






Repo-Man ‘I Can Live With It If You Can, Son’
(Stolen Body Records) 6th September 2019



This is real free form rock n roll. It reminds me of the wonderful Wigan-based band The Volunteers from the late 80s, who brought out a classic mini LP called Bladder Of Life. A wonderful LP by a wonderful band, and like I said, this reminds me a lot of them. Captain Beefheart like madness connects with their inner Fall to unveil a magical projection of psychedelic whimsical John Cooper Clarke poetry. It is indeed a treat to hear a band that attempts to go their own way in their twisted art flow instead of following the old melody of verse/chorus/verse/ chorus/guitar solo/middle 8, have a smoke of trendy class arsehole drugs and point their chins in the right way so the camera can capture the unnatural good looks of yesterday’s poster boys.

I really like Repo-Man, they are fun, they have the quality that they are probably hated by other bands from the same town because they dare to be different and probably could clear a room of punters from any pub they play: like all great bands can at will.

So I would say I Can Live With It I You Can Son is a must have album; an LP of sonic aural dyslexia. A true gem.





Occult Character ‘National Razor’
4th August 2019



Another new song from maybe the finest songwriter in the USA today, the wonderfully eccentric Occult Character; a man who takes both hip-hop and lo fi folk to new extremes; a man who writes beautifully about the madness engulfing America under the Trumpster and the common everyday problems like never being able to find what you want in a full fridge: a true musical maverick.

This new free to download track is Occult wearing his hip-hop hat, a two and a half minute swagger of humor and strangeness and a forerunner to his forthcoming LP on the smarter than the average label Metal Postcard. It’s free, so get downloading.





Rose McDowall & Shawn Pinchbeck ‘Gem’
20th September 2019



The sound of Autumn is upon us. Gem is the stolen sway of a shimmering distant light, a parchment of lost memories kissing the hem of the garment of your long lost loves’ smile. Gem is a beauty of a single recalling the dark sultry eloquence of Paul Giovanni and Magnet’s Wicker Man soundtrack; a truly beautiful and haunting piece of musical wonderment. One of the songs of the year no doubt.





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