REVIEWS/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 releases include The Bordellos beautifully despondent pains-of-the-heart and mockery of clique “hipsters” ode to Liverpool, and, under the guises of the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped down classic 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.

With all live gigs and events more or less quashed for the foreseeable future, buying music (whether it’s physical or through digital platforms such as Bandcamp) has never been more important for the survival of the bands/artists/collectives that create it. We urge you all to keeping supporting; to keep listening.

Princess Thailand  ‘And We Shine’
(À Tant Rêver du Roi and Luik Records)  Album/Available Now


If the swooning sound of post punk is the thing that swings your swinger then this fine album by Princess Thailand is the thing for you. Siouxsie and The Banshees attitude and early Cure like darkness melts over the proceedings like a black-hearted vamp of loneliness offering you one last grasp of togetherness. Guitars and sultry vocals merge with the feeling and memories of 80s post punk and, dare I say it, Goth to bring together an enjoyable flange filled half hour or so of dark sparkle angst.






Sir Robert Orange Peel  ‘Are You Mod Enough’
(Metal Postcard Records)  Single/Available Now




Welcome to another musical history lesson from Sir Robert Orange Peel; this time teaching us all about the mod culture fashions from the 60s: myself being too young to remember such a thing, but old enough to remember the late 70s revival. The joys of being a rockabilly in the early 80s, leather jacket winklepicker boots and huge Stray Cats like quiff surrounded by the be-parkered ones at a early 80s Kinks gig: and what a gig it was.

This is a joyful hipster swing of a track; one you could imagine Michael Cain sipping on a whisky and coke to, wearing horn rimmed glasses whilst watching the mini skirted beauties shaking their tail feather and there long lank hair swaying to this organ led beat happening at the London groovy discotheque.







Sir Bobby Jukebox  ‘Friendship Gift’
(Already Dead Records)  Album/22nd May 2020




Is there anyone out there old enough to remember the early 90’s and the wonderful joyful happy sounds of the Frank And Walters, who mastered in releasing catchy indie pop with melodies that caressed all the parts you wanted caressing by joyful indie music whilst hiding the dark underbelly of sadness.

Well if you do, this could well be for you. It has the same magical qualities but with the added spice of diy everything but kitchen sink woozy psychedelia, the injection of a “nah nah” chorus rush frenzies, and the Postcard era jangle of guitars – especially on ‘the has Edwyn entered the room’ ‘You Only Dance’. A joyful sugar rush of an album.






Bigflower  ‘Hold You In Place’
Single/Available Now




Another day in lockdown and another slice of dark wonderful distorted searing guitar from the equally wonderful bigflower, an artist that should be celebrated not ignored: if this was the 90s when people still gave a shit about new music bigflower would be all over late night radio and in the serious music press. As this is Monolith Cocktail, and one of the only remaining serious music blogs still standing [no clickbait 10 songs about making tea from us] it is our duty to review and to publicize such a serious talent.

If dark beautiful guitar music that you can dive into and totally submerge yourself in is your thing, bigflower is certainly the man/artist/band for you. Get downloading: it’s free. And tell your guitar loving friends to do the same.







Palavas  ‘Centerpiece’
(Wormhole World) Album/Available Now




Discordant noise merges with electro soundscapes that paint a sweeping aural picture of dark beauty, sometimes verging on the slightly psychedelic industrial sound that Throbbing Gristle used to thrive in producing; and I would advise any fans of Throbbing Gristle to give this festival of noise [noise in the best way] a go as I think they could well enjoy and be intrigued by this sound wash of danger. Once again Wormhole World Records produce the goods.






Salvatore Baglio ‘Sonic Doom: A Lo- Fi Home Companion’
Album/Available Now




Lo-fi is what I do best musically, so when I’m introduced to a 25-track album of such lo-fi beauties I’m indeed like a pig in muck. Recorded in various places on various recording equipment over the last 20 years by Salvatore Baglio, and compiled into this gem of a release.

Songs that makes one think of XTC, Guided By Voices, Cleaners From Venus, Clinic, and The Beach Boys at their crazy best amongst many other, what these songs have are invention, melody and tongue in cheek humour, and a great amount of songwriting talent.

There is the wonderful warmth that one gets from using cassette tapes to record that this album and these songs benefit greatly from; the warmth most of these songs, if not all of these songs, couldn’t be improved upon by using a state of the art 64 track studio, for what people do not quite grasp is that to succeed in making truly great lo-fi music you have to be a hugely talented songwriter with a inventive mind as you cannot hide behind 32 tracks of synths or millions of overdubs and get some producer to cover up some of your weaker tracks with studio trickery, and this album really does not have any weak tracks.

From the experimental instrumentals to stunning guitar pop all are polished gems. Some achievement that over the 25 tracks one does not find their minds wandering or wanting to skip songs. This really is a album all music lovers need to dive into and lose themselves in; a truly wonderful album and a masterclass in songwriting.







Nightingales  ‘Four Against Fate’
(Ting Global Productions)  LP/22nd May 2020




The Robert Lloyd warble is a thing of punk and post punk beauty, and here we are still in 2020 still enjoying the lyrical dexterity and humour of the great man: and long may it continue. As always songs of post punk verve leap from the speakers drenching you in memories of late night glories of listening to the much-missed John Peel; it really is like the last 35 years have not happened.

This album is simply timeless guitars jangling and twisting and distorting – as all great post punk guitars should do. Melodies reach out and throttle you while gently pulling on your heart strings reminding you no matter how bad things seem to be getting their are wonderful bands and characters like the Nightingales making enjoyable discordant pop songs full of wit adventure and wonder.





Xqui  ‘Microchasm’
(Wormhole World)  LP/15th May 2020




Found sounds or found zounds if you want to be funky, and I’m in a funky mood, the kind of mood where I feel like listening to cut up sounds welded together to make music with or without melody, the kind of thing you may find attractive whilst cutting a garden hedge or two. You can imagine Fred Astaire walking down a staircase whilst surrounded by beauties in fine gowns in black and white photos, whilst some guy is annoyingly recording the clip clop of his feet and making a strange trance like dance track from the aftertaste of the be-swathed one.

Found Zounds as I am now fond of calling them are something to be admired and beholden in a fashion not known by man, or men depending how many there are, or women even – let’s not be sexist about this. If you want to start and experiment into making found zounds you could not do worse than giving this a listen and losing yourself in the found zound wizardry of Xqui.






Simon Klein ‘Cat’
(Gare Du Nord) Single/Video/15th May 2020




Ah at last I was just beginning to despair of finding something I liked enough to be kind to in a review when this bountiful in bounce beauty came into my email box; a song that flounces with a fine subtle rockabilly beat, the kind of song that one twists to in their kitchen whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. And did you notice I wrote song and not track for it has lyrics and melody and everything. It is a song you can both dance to and stroke your chin to: hurrah!







Reviews: Brian ‘Bordellos’ Shea




Every other week we ask Brian ‘Bordellos’ Shea, of the legendary St. Helens lo fi cult that is The Bordellos, to accelerate through a mixed bag of new releases for the Monolith Cocktail, offering opine, vitriol and words of wisdom. This week he runs through a trio of oddities and madcap releases from the Guerssen hub, has chemical induced fun with a Toxic Chicken, and finds the Gang Of Four’s latest a drag and disappointment.

Susana Estrada ‘Amor y Libertad’
(Espacial Discos) 18th April 2019


This LP was originally released in 1981, and is a fine early 80’s Italo disco/funk album that really couldn’t of come from any other time.

The opening track, setting you in the mind to get down and boogie, is all Chic guitar riffs and ‘Good Time’ bass, the rapping of Susana Estrada recalling a girl who left her heart on the dancefloor of San Francisco, orgasm yelps and the faint popping of cheap champagne corks: a wonderful way to start any album.

The sign of a good disco or dance LP from the late 70’s/early 80s is that it should not just make you smile, but should also have the effect of a tidal wave of memories that wash you away, taking you back to those long summer nights of bad small town discos, you trying not to look too stupid with your slightly out of time drunk dance moves, trying to catch the eye of the pretty girl dressed in white with her not as attractive friend trying her best not to spill her drink whilst tossing her hair and wondering what time the chippy stays open till.

Amor y Libertad is not just a fine disco album but also succeeds in being a fine pop album of melodies abound, which is not always the case with disco LPs from this time – quite often just a couple of singles surrounded by extended dance filler. But this really is a well-written, well-performed, well-played, disco funk pop album; worthy of investigation by anyone with an interest in Italo Disco.






Mcphee ‘ST’
(Sommor) 18th April 2019




Mcphee were a psych rock band from Australia, this album being originally released in 1971 and described as one of the rarest albums from that country, which is maybe why I have never heard of it before – as I do have a love for psych rock.

This is a fine LP of the genre, riff heavy, wailing Hammond organ and Jefferson Airplay like vocals and with all the great Psych rock nonsensical lyrics, “Sunday Shuffle of the freedom kind”, but when have lyrics really ever mattered in Psych rock, they are feel good preaching peace kind of songs.

The group’s limited songwriting ability may explain the inclusion of some covers; the version of Neil Youngs ‘Southern Man’ is indeed a fine version and gives the chance for the guitarist to show off his no doubted ability. There is also a cover of Spooky Tooth and a strange ill advised slowed down almost stoner rock rendition of ‘I Am The Walrus’ which needs to be heard to be believed. And also, they do a more than good version of the Leon Russell/ Carpenters ‘Superstar’; in fact it is rather beautiful, even the sax solo does not destroy the moment.

The real highlight of the album is the 10 minute plus final track, ‘Out To Lunch’, a song that takes you on a trip that starts off all fab lounge music then leads you into the blues and then the Jazz rock of the Mothers of Invention: But I’ve always been a sucker for a heavy wah-wah workout. All in all a very enjoyable album and another great reissue of a lost out there classic.





Thomas Hamilton ‘Pieces For Kohn’
(Mental Experience) 18th April 2019




I find writing about music sometimes as hard as writing about sex. Not that I actually write about Sex; I’m no Jackie Collins, but to try and capture the passion music evokes is sometimes very difficult without sounding clichéd.

Pieces For Kohn is a case in point, an LP that was originally released in 1976 by Thomas Hamilton on his own label Somnath records, based around a series of electronic noises and spaced out beeps. And so, not the sort of music you can sing along to in the bath or something you would play whilst getting ready to hit the town in a wild night out unless you are R2 D2. Not something to turn the lights down and get ready for love, it isn’t exactly Barry White, it is as I said a series of spaced out beeps and electronic noises after all. Saying that, I find these four long instrumental pieces very enjoyable, they have a certain treasure in their strangeness; I could quite happily sit alone to this record and lose myself in my thoughts whilst sipping on a glass of red.

Not an LP to everyone’s taste I’m sure [but what is], but anyone who enjoys the workings and experiments of such doyens as Delia Derbyshire could well find this a rewarding listening experience.





Toxic Chicken ‘Fun’
6th April 2019




There is a genius in this LP that can really only be described by listening to it. Generic indie bands should be injected with this album, it may spark some sense of wild abandon and make them realise that there is more to life than dreaming about playing Glastonbury and getting a badly written review in a clickbait blog by someone who thinks Oasis are the be all and end all of rock n roll.

Fun is a emotional breakdown of a album; there is just so much happiness going on it is like a psychedelic children’s party, there are jelly riffs with fondant icing, a game of musical chairs when all the competitors are on speed, or their fizzy pop shaken to the extent of a eruption of volcanic LSD proportions.

Please do yourself a favour and give this album a listen, even if it’s just the once: you might be only able to listen once as the happiness might rot your brain. I do love eccentrics; there are just not enough of them. Toxic Chicken should be cherished.





Xqui ‘Settlers EP’
(Wormhole)




I am currently a little obsessed with the record label Wormhole, and I make no apologies for it, for they currently release some of the strangest, more out there, music available and it needs some praise and people writing about it or otherwise how are people going to hear about it and want to investigate the total mind expanding hipness. After all if the Monolith Cocktail don’t feature it there are not many other blogs brave enough to.

This latest release is a 5 track, more mini LP than, EP, as it lasts over 25 minutes and it is by Xqui, the Beatles of found and manipulated sounds if you like. He manages to find sounds and expand their strange and wonderfulness to new and strange heights, taking a low drone and turning it into a Bittersweet symphony. On ‘Biff’ he starts off with just a low hum and over the 11 minutes takes you on a slow relaxing trip towards heaven.

‘Suppose’ is a backward walk through snow; an aural delight of ignoring the scream of a MJ wannabe; starting something from a found sound dance of monks, a striptease nun licking the blood off the cross, on, what is, the shortest track on this entire EP. Settlers finishes with ‘Eye’, a Philip Glass like silent explosion of experimental pop. One might hope to hear the title track itself on the radio, if music like this got played on the radio: are you reading Stuart Maconie?! Get it on the Freak Zone.





Gang Of Four ‘Happy Now’
(Townsend Music) 19th April 2019




It must be hard being punk/post punk legends as obviously you have a history to live up to, but Gang of Four make it sound oh so easy with Happy Now. Maybe it’s because Andy Gill the legendary guitarist is the only remaining original member, but there’s a freshness that I wasn’t expecting to be honest.

It sounds like a new modern BBC 6 Music friendly band, making commercial easy on the ear guitar indie rock/pop with an occasional nod to dance. You can hear influences of bands that Gang Of Four themselves influenced: Nine Inch Nails in their poppier moments, Franz Ferdinand, even LCD Soundsystem.

Not everything is perfect; the lyrics are sometimes, shall we say, on the poor side but are covered up well with the ultra smooth production.

Happy Now is a well-produced modern sounding radio friendly album that would make an ideal soundtrack to your drive to work or to drop your kids off to school. There is a place for an album like this; an easy on the ear undemanding steering wheel tapper.





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