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.


Reviews Roundup: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

Wand ‘Laughing Matter’
(Drag City) 19th April 2019

A wave of the Wand and the magic commences. An album of sublime modern life psychedelia, ‘Scarecrow’ kicks it all off with the sound of Radiohead melting in a honey tangle web of sunshine sadness. I cannot believe this band are not fans of the wonder that is Clinic; ‘XoXo’ could easily fit in amongst the Liverpool band’s finest. The repetitive synth and drum beat of that track descends into a mass wave of wonky a plonkyness.

This really is a fun listen, fun but with a dark undertow of sadness – a serial killer with a painted on smile on someone else’s face, or should that be someone else’s farce.

There is a balance to the madness that emits from this Laughing Matter, the more it goes on the more I lose myself in their crazy world of sullen sunshine; it’s a real pick you up in these days of uncertainty and sadness whether it be the Stone Roses meet Jed Clampett like instrumental ‘Hare’ or the fuzz bass monster of a wonder track, which is actually called ‘Wonder’, and is one of the finest pop moments on the whole album: which is actually full of them. ‘Airplane’ for instance is a nine-minute flight of beauty a true marvel of a track, air-pure vocals float over a reflective shadow of instrumental solitude only to explode in a mass of singular eclectic guitar frenzy. Track thirteen, ‘Lucky’s Sight’ is a modern space rock masterpiece; ‘Wonder (II)’ lives up to its name, and the final song, ‘Jennifer’s Gone’, is worthy of the mighty Lou Reed in his early 70s pomp.

Laughing Matter really is a fantastic album, and it reminds us that such makes delightfully heartbreakingly beautiful and adventurous music such as this is still being made and released.

Charly Bliss ‘Young Enough’
10th May 2019

To be honest I nearly dismissed this LP, but I’m glad I didn’t. As I don’t really think I’m the target audience Charly Bliss are going for – I probably have older guitars than this bunch of pesky kids.

I can though imagine my 20-year-old daughter loving this record; it is power pop, punk pop, or is it pop punk? Anyway, whatever it is they do it very well but pop music is pop music whatever your age, whether you are making it or listening to it and if you cannot enjoy well written catchy songs, if you cannot remember what is like to be young and falling in love for the first time or remember the yearning for the girl/guy you will never get or the girl/guy you did get but could not keep, if you cannot remember I recommend you give Young Enough a listen and all those wonderful happy sad memories will come flooding back.

It has the wonderful melancholy magic all great pop is blessed with, and Charly Bliss are blessed with a fine pop singer in Eva Hendricks who writes fine catchy pop punk songs with darker than normal lyrics: “Eyes like a funeral mouth like a bruise” she declares in the beautiful ballad ‘Hurt Me’.

So the next time one of my middle-aged friends says to me “they just do not know how to make music these days” I will think of this album and tell them to FUCK OFF!

Shit Creek ‘Prozac Rainbow’
(Wormhole World) 15th March 2019

I have been told many times that I’m going insane, and if so, this could be the LP to soundtrack my descent into that madness. This is not music as such, well actually it is, it has melodies it has an obscure soul to it that I find quite heartwarming.

It is not something you will hear if you tune into BBC 6 music during the daytime or night time, come to think of it, maybe the Freakzone if you are lucky.

Prozac Rainbow is a magic concoction of found sounds manipulated into a series of experimental sound bites; a wavitude of spellbinding oddities that verge not just on the psychedelic: The ‘Ice Cream Van Glimmering In the Nascent Sun’ track is a modern piece of psychedelic wonder though – Imagine the Clangers winding up a giant clock whilst kicking Roger Waters up the arse. Marvelous stuff indeed.

Once again that marvelous new record label Wormhole has unearthed another experimental gem, still available at the time of writing on very ltd cd. Get in there quick my beauties.

She Keeps Bees ‘Kinship’
(BB* Island) 10th May 2019

I am tense. I am uninspired. I am in need of an escape, something to take my mind off the general shallowness of modern life: mobile smart phones, ipads on buses, people losing themselves in the latest stream of facebook, twitter posts of mediocre mass produced mainstream music cluttering up my once invaluable, once best friend, the radio. I am in need of this LP by She Keeps Bees.

I need this call for the beauty hymn to nature. I need this maybe a modern equivalent to Gene Clark No Other album, all brushed drums haunting organ/keyboards strummed and plucked acoustic guitars that at times remind me of Nirvana’s finest moment [their Unplugged LP].

This LP is indeed a lifesaver; an LP to lose yourself in as the world turns from mad to insane. But there is power, there is magic in this life and that magic is music. And She Keeps Bee’s cast such wonderful spells.

I could give you many reasons why you should buy this LP, but I won’t. I will just say you need this album more than you will ever know.

Outside The Glitch ‘ST’
(Wormhole World) 22nd March 2019

What is the word I’m looking for? Ambiance. That is the word to describe this mini LP/EP; a work that Eno would no doubt put on his slippers to whilst lighting his pipe after a night out with Bryan Ferry, everybody’s favourite lounge lizard.

These five tracks you can imagine turning up in a late night thriller; one can smell the tension in the air; one could throw down ones towel and whisper quietly to your old time neighbour called Cecil and wish him a fond goodnight. Like good old canary sex it is both unexpected and highly unlikely. What on earth am I reading?! That’s probably what you are thinking to yourself as you read this review. Well that is my point, ambient music means different things to different people everybody has a different way of viewing things, one man’s goose is another man’s gander. Music like this sets people’s imagination floating in different directions.

This a fine release with a quintet of very mellow tracks that set one’s imagination into flight. From the sublime to the sublime, Wormhole Records should be congratulated on yet another unusual and different release: You really should check out their catalogue.

Julinko ‘Néktar’
(Toten Schwan/ Stoned To Death Records) 15th April 2019

Looking at the song titles I realised that this wasn’t going to be an album of happy disco stompers, and I was right. The intro, called ‘The Flowing Stream Plunge Me Deep’, is a beautiful short instrumental piece that sets the mood for the whole LP; an LP that has the decadent shimmer of an Autumn day spent with your dead memories, a slowed down purge of emotion of grief for a former lover who is not dead but still alive and living in the same town, the same house, you have to pass every day on the way to work, so you can afford to carry on with your mundane existence.

Néktar brings to the surface the same emotions you feel when listening the magic weaved by the Cocteau Twins. At times it reminds me of listening to PJ Harvey in slow motion; not the LP to play whilst doing the housework unless you live in 16th century castle surrounded by cobwebs with a hunchback dwarf sat on a wooden stool in the corner begging you to put away your broom and to pay him some attention.

This is indeed a dark beauty that is not only to be cherished but also indulged. A fine album indeed.

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