Sunday, 29 April 2012

McRae Weaves His Marvellous Musical Magic: Revisited


Okay, some of the below has already been included in the blog post I wrote in January but there's lots more below. Writing an article for a website I kind of went into a sort of profile of Tom. Below includes some extra bits too. 

Critical Acclaim


Having released five critically acclaimed albums in just over a decade, Tom McRae easily sits near the top end of a list of the most respected singer songwriters on the world music scene today. Following its release, his self-titled debut album was nominated for the Mercury Prize (2001), a Q magazine award and also a Brit. Even with a breakthrough attracting such nominations it’s true he has been unable to garner much in the way since. I’d say this has a lot to do with the sad decline of the music industry as it continues to spiral towards a baseless culture of heavily saturated tatty pop. This often constitutes little more than lazy repeats of the same old drones or the fifteen minutes of fame types with one or two hit (three or four if they’re lucky) wonders on the back of a reality TV juggernaut. As tired and boring as this format is I fail to see the juggernaut causing any kind of significant pile up just yet.

Thankfully Tom has never been in the business for either acceptance from industry bigwigs or for the recognition winning awards brings. He is an accomplished musician with a dedication to making amazing music which turns out to be an exceptionally raw form of artistic expression for his thoughtful yet tortured soul.

With his deeply melancholic yet brutally honest approach it’s easy to understand why Tom is not amongst the more conventional popular artists who manage to get lengthy record deals and plenty of radio play. As far as I’m concerned the radio and record labels can keep those artists, even the good ones. I’d rather spend my hard earned cash on this gifted independent thinker who doesn’t hide behind music or use it to divert attention. Instead, and to me one of the most important qualities, is his ability to hold my attention with his inimitable version of truth and honesty.

On the Outside Looking In

He certainly wears his heart on his sleeve with first album Tom McRae (2000) biting hard into your soul and anchoring itself so deeply it will never leave you. With its echoes of a world and society gone very wrong, it ranges from grimness to yet more grimness. And yet Tom pulls you fully out of this lonely world to sit with him on the outside while he plays you these songs about the calamitous carnage down below. In fact that sums up 2nd Law, third track on the album, quite nicely, ‘..Cause I’m living up here where the air is thin. And where gravity don’t bring you down. Yeah I’m living up here…watching your universe cooling down.’ Sounds like the perfect escape to me. Appreciating the absolute passion with which he delivers his message via this debut somehow manages to lift the grimness so that instead one is left mesmerised and curious for more rather than wanting to dig a hole in which to bury oneself alive. This is, of course, a good thing.
 
Second album Just Like Blood (2003) was equally well received, particularly in the US where Tom began gathering an extended loyal following. Maintaining the same overall melancholic theme, this record featured a large mix of various other instruments all marrying superbly with Tom’s delicate vocals and adroit guitar. As with its predecessor’s One More Mile, Untitled and I Ain’t Scared of Lightning Tom produced songs with an exquisite delicacy in the form of You Only Disappear, Overthrown and Walking to Hawaii whose calibre managed to surpass those earlier numbers.

Room at the Hotel Café

Moving to LA in 2004 to record third album All Maps Welcome Tom began playing regular slots at The Hotel Cafe where he met a string of other likeminded musicians. It was from here the Hotel Café tour (thanks to Cary Brothers) was born, ‘a travelling revue show featuring dozens of artists’. Touring coast to coast across the US and bought over to the UK and Europe by Tom twice it involves acts interplaying with each other as well as showcasing their own material. Attending a show on the 2008 UK segment I came away with loads more great music to enjoy and follow including Catherine Feeny, Cary Brothers and Brian Wright.

I actually paid the Hotel Café a visit one Saturday night in 2010 while holidaying in LA and it certainly proved to be a big highlight of the stay. I would happily fly back there just to return to this paradise for live music fans. On this night I was entertained by UK act Athlete, US indie-folk collective Or, The Whale who reminded me in many ways of The Band, as well as US indie band, Graydon from San Francisco, who were fulfilling a residency at the venue. All with individual styles to offer up to the audience I’m glad the temperature inside wasn’t as chilled out as the atmosphere because there’d have been frostbite for sure, it was so cool. While there are venues around London with a similar set up we need more of them in other towns and cities throughout the UK. As a champion of good live music there just aren’t enough opportunities for unsigned bands and artists to make much of an impression outside of London.

All Maps Lead to the King


With the traditional heady blend of melancholia All Maps Welcome (2005) was more refined than what came before showing Tom’s development as a highly talented musical artist adding fresh arrangements compared with its predecessor. It proved this was a guy who was going to keep on coming back for more (and thankfully he still is). In addition to what have become his trademarks, Tom offers progression with each successive album by moving in slightly different directions, rather than sticking to the same rigid formula like many artists tend to do. This keeps the output so sharp that if not careful you may rip yourself to shreds and bleed to death. Please mop up the blood as you go. Or as Tom sings in Karaoke Soul, ‘…We’re bleeding into a cup when we’ve got enough, we’ll just paint the walls…’ There you go, you can use your blood to give your lounge a nice makeover saving the pennies on paint during these austere financial times.

He doesn’t just step outside of his comfort zone but rather leaps out following a springy bounce in the style of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. For example, fourth album King of Cards (2007) had so much more of an upbeat sound if it hadn’t been for his distinct vocals piercing through Bright Lights and Sound of the City you’d be completely forgiven for thinking it was someone different entirely.


Of course Tom’s love for delicacy hadn’t been expunged entirely with Deliver Me, Lord How Long and the astounding, goosebump inducing The Ballad of Amelia Earhart ticking all the right boxes. Hanging on to the latter could make you float away up high on an invisible aeroplane to join the lost female pilot.    

Overall, the album may have been a little less well received than those that came before and it is ironic the reasons for this are rumoured to be due to its more upbeat sound. Tom can’t win it seems but my world would’ve been a darker place without it.
           
Blown Away in an Alphabet of Hurricanes

One Mississippi is a song I wasn’t overly struck on at first, like I tend to be with most of his songs. However, when hearing it live at a show in 2007 I was completely blown away. I mean this quite literally because as Tom sang out the words the serenity of his vocals were swirling round and round me generating a ten ton wind which lifted me over the Atlantic to Mississippi like, as the song goes, the world had spun on its axis. It’s now one of (many, it is almost impossible to pick out just a few favourites as I end up listing most of the songs anyway) my particular favourites.

The last album, Alphabet of Hurricanes (2010) was something new yet again. Largely written while on an extensive tour, Tom and the musicians he collaborated with in its recording adopted some strikingly different sounds which were added to the usual mix of piano/keyboards and strings. This meant while Tom’s true literary soul remains, the album felt very fresh and new. It was something different from a true master of his craft.

Summer of John Wayne, Out of the Walls and Fifteen Miles Down River tick the all important delicacy box and in my opinion, these three tracks showcase some of Tom’s best work to date. Although reverting back to writing more melancholic lyrics, the inclusion of banjo on Won’t Lie together with the overall arrangements of both this song and Please give them a much needed buoyancy that, subject matter aside does get your shoulders moving, even if only a little.

Now Back to the Depressing Songs

While having a propensity for writing the depressing songs, it is a mixture of such eloquently beautiful written words, the unique sound of his voice combined with an immaculate strumming of guitar which makes every show a distinctive and pleasant experience. So, even when singing about the air slipping from his lungs in Walking to Hawaii I can’t help but hang on to every note. If this were to result in me losing all the air in my own lungs and my subsequent death, so be it!

He sings with such gusto there’s something really infectious about it. It’s like the aural art being played before you and subtly fed through your ears is merely the beginning. The vibrations of this journey their way down the auditory canals on their barges of expression to resonate within the brain where they attach themselves to the relevant parts of the mind the lyrics have meaning for. It becomes something deeply personal. A strong connection is established.


Cue the Four String Quartet


The small size of the Junction in Cambridge only served to add to the charming intimacy of my sixth Tom McRae experience. At the end of the night Tom even joked about it being his first and only ever sold out Cambridge show. ‘A room that holds about 75 people,’ he jested.

Instead of playing alongside the two Ollys (on piano/keyboard and cello) or the full band as on the 2010 tour promoting the last album, this was an extra special event with a Four String Quartet who added a wonderfully graceful elegance to the night.  Sublime, perfection, wondrous and heavenly are just four words I’d use to describe such a magical musical mix. Tom’s songs and style lend themselves to this kind of arrangement incredibly well and I feel blessed to have had the experience of hearing and seeing this limited edition show. He commented himself during one of his many asides, about this being how the songs sound in his own head but he can only make it sound like it externally with the aid of such a group of instrumentalists.

I beg to differ because every time I listen to one of his albums I hear it in precisely this way. Perhaps these elaborately layered strings aren’t present but there is something in the way the music speaks to me allowing me to hear them nonetheless. And no, these are not auditory hallucinations.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Opening the show with For the Restless they went on to perform Karaoke Soul, a song about losing all faith and hope and giving into a fear that’s ever-rising, Walking to Hawaii and a number of others from Tom’s back catalogue.

The rendition of Vampire Heart was so perfect I’m surprised there was a dry eye left in the place. The heavenly strings from the quartet blended in so effortlessly with Tom’s guitar playing and the haunting yet beautiful timbre of his vocals as he sang this sorrowful song about fear of and losing love.

Although as delicately soft as a fluffy lamb washed in Lenor conditioner, these songs have the power to grip on to you with a wolf’s bite sucking you right in to the heart of their evolution. The performance of which never fails to offer a kaleidoscopic explosion of pure heartfelt emotion.

One Man Interlude

The quartet then took a break while Tom sat himself down near the front of the stage to entertain us with an acoustic interlude. He kicked off with Human Remains leading straight into Alphabet of Hurricanes. The former laments on how love on its own just isn’t enough and people are always looking to what’s next without being able to examine what’s left behind. The latter encapsulates how Tom’s extensive touring schedule left him feeling like not even winds in excess of gale force twelve could blow him home as he continued to drift from place/gig to place/gig. Although it’s the title of the album the song didn’t actually feature on it, which is a shame given its quality.
 
We were also treated to a truly acoustic number when shortly after beginning Bloodless he pulled out the amp lead continuing to play and sing as he walked around the room without even a microphone. Being about how wrong the machinery of the world is and how those in control believe they know precisely what everyone feels and wants, this song resonates strongly with fans of independent music such as this. Tom really gets inside your head and although he’s singing his own words to a song we all know so well by now (this being from his first album) it really feels like they’re your own thoughts. The irony of this given the concept of the track isn’t lost on me. A looping vocal version of Draw Down the Stars followed, further demonstrating his ability to hold the audience all on his lonesome by offering something old dressed up in very interesting new attire.

A Joke On Us

Upon their return Tom introduced what he promised would be a traditional Eastern European folk song he’d picked up on his travels. The anticipation of the crowd was deafening but after an elaborately grand intro from the strings it turned out to be a cover of Duran Duran’s, Hungry Like the Wolf. The audience were in stitches realising we’d all been sucked in and were victims, to Tom’s ever present sense of humour. Yes in spite of the overall dark mood of his writing the guy has a really good one of those.

They finished the show off with ever the crowd pleaser The Boy With the Bubblegun, and finally Language of Fools with strings that pierced my heart. Tom seems to be most happy just getting out on tour and playing to his loyal following backing it up with making new records to then go out and tour with. It’s a cycle that’s kept him coming back again and again. Although this was my sixth show covering many various arrangements and with many of the same songs, each time is so different and personal I leave with a near unquenchable thirst for more. Now, please Tom! Currently recording his sixth album in the surroundings of Snowdonia, he’s due to tour later this year. Needless to say I am already there.

Visit www.tommcrae.com for more information on Tom and his music.


To follow very shortly (a day or two) will be Band of Badgers Presents #2 featuring music from:

I Divide
Sky Burns Red
The Dead Famous
Page 44
First Things First
The Dreaming Spires
Dan Donnelly
Rainy Boy Sleep
Winter Mountain
Howard James Kenny
One Cure For Man
Under a Banner


Monday, 16 April 2012

Tales from the Barrel House to the Ballroom


Seth Lakeman at The Assembly – Leamington Spa 24/03: A Review

What an awesome way to top off what had been more like a summer’s day than early spring. The venue for this gig was an old ballroom complete with intricately designed motifs on the surrounding walls and a large space in the centre of the ceiling where a huge glittering disco ball would have hung. Cue a cavalcade of colourfully vivid time travel flashbacks to the 70’s featuring images of funky divas in full swing demonstrating their dazzlingly daring disco skills. Unlike some excuses for musical performance however, Seth’s entrance was not about to be marked by him being lowered down on a gigantic disco ball.


Music from the Mountains


I usually make an effort to research support acts and check out what kind of music they have to offer but being as busy as I have lately the first thing I learned about folk harmony duo Winter Mountain, was the name of their act when I caught a glimpse at a promo poster earlier that afternoon. Although this was a short set (being a support act) their phenomenal performance is worthy of a full review because the pleasant surprise their delicate acoustic sound offered completely blew me away. It was so sublime I opened my eyes to find my feet were no longer on the ground.

I will admit when I saw the beards I thought the pair were from Seattle a la Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses or Death Cab For Cutie. However, while Martin is from Donegal in Ireland and Joe from St Austell in Cornwall their sound certainly demonstrates the Seattle type influence of the aforementioned bands. The overall package offers even more, reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel but with considerably more gusto. 

Memphis Bound


The duo met while backpacking their way across the US, Martin from west coast to east and Joe from east coast to west. Fate lent its guiding hand as they stepped on to the same train while both in Chicago heading down to Memphis. The rest as they say is history and judging by this performance an incredibly bright future lies ahead for them too.
  
Their sound is perhaps experimental but nowhere does it lack even a little in quality as a result of this. If anything it provides an impetus for real heartfelt performance and such incredibly tranquil sounding melodies I wasn’t surprised when the rest of the audience joined me for a float fest in the air as the pair sang out a song called Sarah. It wasn’t all the same style throughout either as they mixed it up a bit with each tune. Sometimes singing almost an entire song together in flawless harmony, others where each had their own parts but came in interlacing the other like their vocals were emulating the perfection of a proper love-struck relationship. As testament to their talent they have recently signed a record deal with Cara Dillon’s Charcoal Records so I look forward to what comes from this magical pairing. 
video


Leamington Laps Up Lakeman


I first heard about Seth Lakeman through fellow Levellers fans but having foolishly missed his set at the Beautiful Days festival in 2010 (I have since learned one must obtain a programme as soon as one arrives at these events) I felt it was imperative I get to one of his gigs as soon as possible. Thus as soon as tickets were released for his early 2011 dates I made sure I snapped one up immediately as part of my mission to get to at least one live gig every month. I desperately wanted but was unable to get to a date on his second 2011 tour promoting the limited release of his latest album last December but lucky for me he soon announced a string of dates for this year.
With success that has been building gradually since he went solo in 2002 it is easy to see why Seth has become somewhat the poster boy for contemporary folk music. The former Mercury award nominee (2005) helps introduce the diversity this genre can, at times, offer to music fans. While traditional folk elements are never far from evident in his music, he manages to marry these with sounds somewhat more palatable for a mainstream audience. The crowd at this particular show demonstrated his appeal to this wider range of music fan covering many different sub-genres in addition to those who belong to his almost cult-like loyal following.

The versatility he demonstrates together with an ability to captivate and hold on to this widening fan base only serves to promote folk music to people who would otherwise have run a mile in the opposite direction if they so much as heard even the slightest dinkle dankle of a banjo. Whenever I mention a folk artist to most people their facial expression moulds into something that quite clearly asks why haven’t I been institutionalised yet?  If artists like Seth can help persuade others that we who appreciate a little bit of folk amongst our tunes are quite safe to be out amongst the public, then this is no bad thing.

I’ve read some articles reporting how when he first started out some from various corners of the traditional folk scene often derided Seth attempting to downplay his music and style which I can only imagine was down to jealousy. Perhaps he does sometimes break off into less folk heavy and towards a more alternative sound but as an evolving artist this only showcases his many talents.

Tales from the Barrel House to the Ballroom


This was the final date on the second leg promoting sixth album, Tales From The Barrel House, whose initial limited edition release sold out almost as fast as Seth can fiddle to Kitty Jay (i.e. very). A general release has since been recorded with a couple of extra tracks and a DVD. It really does show this is his first independent album following the departure from his previous record label because it sounds so individual and fresh compared to the previous two (as much as I enjoy them in their own right). Solidifying his folk roots he recorded first track More Than Money down a copper mine and the rest of the album in the cooperage (The Barrel House of its title) playing every instrument featured, producing and mixing it all to boot.

From the lament of Blacksmith’s Prayer to the seafaring story of Salt From Our Veins and the timeless tale of The Watchmaker’s Rhyme, the subject matter he focussed on also relies heavily on these traditional folk roots covering mostly the forgotten trades of yesteryear. Closing with the gentler Apple of His Eye and the beautifully perceptive The Artisan Seth most clearly demonstrates his exceptional skills as a songwriter.

He is the Music Man


Beginning the set with More Than Money for which he played the banjo, Seth quickly picked up the mandolin while the band played straight into Blacksmith’s Prayer. He went on to exhibit his expert and flawless musicianship by following up with songs where he played his trademark fiddle, tenor guitar and even playing the violin pizzicato (plucking it like a guitar for those unsure). Added to his distinct emotional vocals and the support from the band, a truly electric atmosphere was the result.

Getting Jiggy With It


Seth’s music carries with it the same infectious quality epitomised by folk punk legends The Levellers. It encourages, slowly at first (think snake charmer), one’s legs to spontaneously start jigging about like they’ve been directly fed an electric current (think slightly tamer version of River Dance). Before I knew it while he began pouring out words via his pulsating heart to accompany his gradual build up to fiddling for England, a third or more of the crowd, myself included, were all jumping about like loons. Happy loons appreciating great live music though and hey no one was looking at us oddly here so it was all okay. No doctors in white coats watching from the bar, thankfully.

You could really feel the raw beauty of the elements within the hall. I’d even go as far as to say we were somehow transported to the ghostly Morwellham mining port on the bank of the River Tamar where stands the Barrel House the album was recorded at (there’s magic in folk, right?), such was the atmosphere they created as a collective up on stage.

Fiddler Freedom 


A newfound freedom was clearly audible with the return to older material seeing the jigging loons double in size now making us a sizeable majority as The Colliers, Setting of the Sun and John Lomas were played out in all their magnificent glory. The very haunting sounds of Preacher’s Ghost also featured as did a sensational rendition of Lady of the Sea which I’m sure was sped up so fast by invisible futuristic machines to get moving those few stragglers who hadn’t yet started looning (yes I made up that word).


The band took a break leaving Seth and his bass player to perform The Artisan, the bass requiring more of a melody than the typical bass chords. This song tells the story of a woodworker who, as he plies his carpentry trade, relives his life with each chip of the chisel and every stroke of the saw. I once passed out after chiselling a finger during a woodwork class at school (true story). The way this song really gets up close and personal I fully believe Seth could do as much justice to my chiselled finger turning it into a beautiful yet sad tale like he does here with The Artisan.

Fiddle Off Championship 2012


There was also the highly popular fan pleaser Kitty Jay, a song that builds up to such intensity before erupting in a near orgasmic explosion. With nothing more than his vocals, fiddle and a stomping right foot it is compelling and blockbusting rolled into one. You cannot help but remain transfixed as Seth fiddles like the continued existence of the universe depends on it.

video


The hard work and effort it takes to be this faultless while playing at such speed shows but through expressions demonstrating how much he thoroughly enjoys what this classic song has evolved into. I’m pretty sure with each tour and indeed each night’s performance he cranks it up a notch further in an attempt to out-fiddle himself. With this being the final night of the current run he didn’t disappoint although I am surprised he didn’t pass out immediately after or that there wasn’t a mass of smoke billowing from the fiddle or his hands. It gives me goose bumps just recalling it.

Life on the Road


Seth belongs to that subset of artists who seem to tour constantly and I’d have to agree with some who’d say his live performances far outstrip what the studio albums are able to offer given their limitations. They do have their own important place but with him touring so often as well as being a mainstay on the annual summer festival circuit fans can have the best of both worlds. This gig was my second Seth experience in less than twelve months and it most certainly won’t be the last with an October tour already announced. I do have just one question I’d like to ask. Where’s the full live album, please Seth?


Music of the Moment:


There's actually far too much for me to be able to squeeze it all in here like I did before. I used to listen to a lot of music as it was just going about more or less anything. This has increased loads since I've started putting together the podcast as I check out new music, new material from old bands and artists and lots else besides.

I know they're a band who have featured a lot previously as well as both opening and closing my first podcast but they truly deserve to be mentioned as often as possible. One Cure For Man have just released another new EP entitled The Lost contains three beautiful acoustic tracks and also features the sounds of a violin. It is a real treat.

Gathered is the latest album from Nick Burbridge of the McDermott's 2 Hours versus The Levellers fame, this time teamed up with Tim Cotterell.

T J Courtney has debut EP Into the Sky out now which sounds fantastic.

Finally for the moment, The Dreaming Spires are soon to release a new album (June) and have kindly sent me the radio edit for their new single Not Every Song From The Sixties Is A Classic.

Books:

I finished reading Joe Vampire by Steven Luna and it was superb all the way to the end leaving me wanting so much more from this newly turned vampire dude. It's just so fresh for a vampire tale considering it is a genre that has been (pardon the pun) done to death.

My next read is going to be Leiyatel's Embrace by Clive S. Johnson who also has sequel Of Weft and Weave due out very soon. I'm really looking forward to this first one.


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Band of Badgers Presents...#1 The Pilot


CLICK TO DOWNLOAD EPISODE 1 TO YOUR COMPUTER.

   EPISODE 1: THE PILOT


Well. After much ado and not even a little bit of nothing my first podcast episode is now published and available on the interweb. It is actually scary. What if it's crap? What if no one checks it out or listens? By crap I mean my own bits and bobs, certainly not the amazing musical talent it is showcasing!

Ah, well it was a lot of fun to do and as I've mentioned previously all the support and encouragement I've received from the bands and artists on the playlist has been fantastic. I only hope I can repay this and gather up a decent sized audience for it whereby people who may not have come across their music in any other way will do so thanks to Band of Badgers Presents. I tend to go out there looking for new music but am always grateful when people suggest new bands or artists to me or if I suddenly start being followed by them on Twitter. I hope this podcast will serve for those who may look for such content with a playlist they can listen to for sampling and then take something (if not everything) from it. 

Given individual preferences this may not happen for all artists featured on the playlist but then that's not the aim, just to put a good selection of music crossing genres (particularly but by no means exclusively, rock, alternative, soft rock, folk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter, nu-folk) out there for people to sample and enjoy. Although I will tend to focus on the genres above, these are not in any way exclusively what I'll be sticking to. If I come across something I really do like and it does not fit into these then it will still likely find itself on a future playlist.

For me, it is about my own preferences but these are often so varied (as you will no doubt be able to gather from this first episode) I will never exclude anything that perhaps doesn't fit into any specific category. In fact I only use categories and tags for searching and clarification purposes. I've read many an interview from artists I respect who often despair at being pigeon-holed into such categories. Nevertheless categories is kind of how it rolls, I guess so I'm afraid I can't escape them on that level.

You can listen to this episode by streaming via the above player or by visiting the podOmatic page at http://bandofbadgerspresents.podomatic.com. There's a description and introduction on there too so I'll refrain from including it all here as I've been rambling on for a little too long already.

I will however include the tracklist so you can click on website links if you'd like to and check out other fantastic tunes from these great bands and artists:
  1. Alone in Berlin by One Cure For Man
  2. Inseparable by Under a Banner
  3. Reaction by Whitestar
  4. Love is a Burning by The Survival Code
  5. Infidelity by Mutineers
  6. Open the Door by Andrew Page
  7. Break Me by The Walla Recovery
  8. Can We Keep This by Angel Kelly
  9. White Lies by Luke Jackson
  10. C.C.T.V by The Last Republic
  11. But Without Light by One Cure For Man

Thanks to Mark Blasco at http://www.podcastthemes.com/ for the theme tune. Please check out the website and also make sure you check out Mark's own site for his own music. 

It should also soon be available via iTunes and on Soundcloud but I will add these links once this is sorted.

To the Future


In future episodes I'll hopefully be able to include interviews and rare samples of new tunes, perhaps even demos that artists may wish to try out. This all depends on potential playlists of course but in putting together one for episode 2 I've received the same kind of amazing support from bands and artists as I did for this one. 

I will also be including more songs from the artists featured above. There'll likely be at least one from above featuring in episode 2 but others will return as and when.

Hopefully I'll be sorting out a better microphone for recording them now I'm intending to do this on a semi-regular basis. It's the intention to record a new episode once every two weeks but this may be more or less often depending on other commitments. I will maintain a regular momentum though.

With the 2012 festival season fast approaching I'm considering doing a festival special although I'm not quite sure what this will entail just yet. Keep your eyes peeled (such a macabre saying) or rather your ears open! Maybe I can get hold of some live recordings to play for a start?

Coming up in Episode 2 so far will be:



Thanks for listening.

Contact: bandofbadgers@hotmail.co.uk

Books:


I recently finished That Bear Ate My Pants by Tony James Slater. What are you waiting for? Buy it, click for it like your life depends on it because you'll regret missing out on a fantastic read if you don't. It's so genuinely laugh out loud the situations Tony wound up in as a volunteer at an animal rescue centre (well it was an outdoor centre up a mountain actually) in Ecuador. Chasing a bear up a tree is just one of very many of these. I'll be writing a review ASAP but until then just take my word for it and buy it! 

I then started reading Joe Vampire by Steven Luna while waiting for my first train back from a few days away. There I was sitting in Brighton train station glued to my Kindle. There I was sitting on the train from Brighton to London Victoria still glued to my Kindle. Then again sitting around at London Euston I resisted what is usually a very strong urge to people watch (although I had loaded myself up on this particular activity while sitting in a Costa Coffee shop for the majority of the previous afternoon) by remaining glued to my Kindle. For the final leg of the journey home from London to Northampton you guessed it, I was again glued to my Kindle. I do so love having this time available to read in this way. For the most part it's uninterrupted bliss. This is always a complete and utter joy when the book turns out to be such a fantastic read. 

I know I've not yet finished it but Joe Vampire is a refreshing tale of an ordinary dude who is reluctantly turned into a vampire. Steven demonstrates a masterful skill in making this such an interesting unputdownable (this really should be a word by now) story considering vampires feature so heavily in the current market. I believe this is very much one that breaks the mould and treats the subject in such a way that instantly connects the reader so much more closely to main character Joe. It's great news the author has recently been generating ideas for a follow up. Already, I can't wait to see what surprises lie in store for Joe and Co. 

A link to the blog can be found by clicking here.

I've been truly blessed with the last few books I've read all being online e-book purchases for my new Kindle from authors who work hard to help promote their hard work via Twitter and Facebook. I've been blessed even further (so many blessings I'm now an honorary blesser of sorts (I don't know what this means in the slightest, stay with me, it sounded funny in my head....please note my use of the word soundED)) by being able to interact and chat with these authors while hopefully helping to promote them a little myself as well. Their thanks for my support is humbling but I thank them for writing such interestingly, different books that have kept me fully entertained.

I've written very well deserved Five Star reviews for The Squirrel That Dream of Madness and Life Knocks both by Craig Stone and as mentioned above I'll be writing a review of Tony's book, That Bear Ate My Pants over the next few days. It goes without saying (and I'm not saying, I'm typing) that once finished I'll also write one for Steven's Joe Vampire.

Come on folks. Get reading!


Movies:


I went to see The Hunger Games on Monday and found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable film. I'll only review it if I get chance which given my current commitments is not likely to be any time soon. I'd certainly recommend it as being worth a watch though! 

Preliminary score: 3/5