Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Book Review - Kingdom - Robyn Young

Kingdom is the last in Robyn's Insurection trilogy.  This series of books has been charting the life of Robert the Bruce.

By the time this book kicks off Robert The Bruce has murdered John Comyn (Edward I's puppet Scottish Vassel) at the monastry in Dumfries.  Bruce quickly claims the Scottish throne and begins to wage a war against the invading English.  Edward I, not known for is leniency against such uprisings throws his weight behind the war.

The book fictionalises the events from that point up to the Battle of Bannockburn (with a short couple of epilogues).  It is pretty good, a reasonable page turner keeping you interested although we all know the outcome of course which is true of any historical novel.  There is some tinkering with historical details, some due to lack of knowledge.  Early on in the campaign Bruce goes on the run and the author turns this into him building support in the Western Isles but there is no real solid evidence of this.  Some people's relationships are tweaked - an affair between Bruce's captured wife and her protector during her incarceration is purely fictional and some people and places are changed more for simplicity than anything else.  The whole Lancaster vs Edward II and the issue of Piers Gaveston is to a degree embellished - the author here assumes that they were gay lovers and the complexity of the barons revolt and subsequent murder of Gaveston is played down but... this is due to really the clock ticking the narration to get Edward II to Bannockburn with a disorderly bunch of knights distrustful of each other and tired and ill prepared.

All in all a good read but read the other two first to get you up to speed on the characters, I don't think it'll work in isolation.

 Overall a one thumbs up on the  FTUBRS*

* Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - 
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down, 
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal, 
one thumb up, 
two thumbs up 
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded

Friday, 16 January 2015

New Music

2015 has started with a few terrific new discoveries.

Firstly a duo from middle England who are just terrific - if you loved The Civil Wars then listen here....

The first edition of Acoustic Magazine to drop through my door this year had a freebie CD collection of new music, a bit all over the place as a collection but a couple of jems from it. First we have Jamie Beau and The Mill - love his backing singers by the way, my kind of guys ;-)

Next up we have Jess and The Bandits - I found this live one of them... excellent

Lastly my pre-release copy of False Lights CD dropped through the drop yesterday. Again I'm loving this album it really is the best thing in Folk Rock at the moment. This is the stunning album closer - Crossing the Bar lyrics courtesy of Lord Tennyson.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

CD reviews

Round up of my Christmas gift CDs

Øysrein Greni Forty Days 

Øysrein is the main man in Norwegian band Bigbang. This is a 9 song collection of material previously pit of under the band moniker over the years. My son saw him doing a solo support of Rodrigo Y Gabrielle some weeks ago and thought I'd like it. I do!  Think Crosby, Stiles and Nash with Tom Petty and Red Hot Chilli Peppers thrown in at times. So stuff that reminds you constantly of other stuff but in a good way. Spotify has most of the tracks off the original albums. Try it out 

Ben Howard I Forget Where We Were

Every Kingdom was a terrific début.  On his second full album (ignoring the Burgh Island EP) he seems to have leapt forward.  Simply this is a stunning album, hypnotherapeutic is one word I'd use to try and capture it.  He layers delay and effect laden guitar lines with sparse additional instrumentation and then the vocal delivery reminds me a lot of John Martyn.  Cracking album!

Counting Crows - Somewhere Under Wonderland.

Like many people I was hooked when I heard Counting Crows début August and Everything After.  I like some of the other releases but I felt they never recaptured the magic of that initial disc.  Until now... Somewhere Under Wonderland is their best release in my opinion since August and Everything.  Ever willing to push the boundaries the first track is an over 8 minute masterpiece almost a rock jazz anthem with superb poetry being read over the top!  Counting Crows picked this as the lead single... nothing if not boundary pushers since there is a lost more obvious single material on the album but Palisades Park is without doubt the magnum opus on the album.  But for Earthquake Driver and Elvis Went to Hollywood are where I love to hear the Crows.  Terrific album for anyone who has ever heard them and liked them.  I hope too it might win new fans too.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Vox Lil Looper

I got a Vox Lil Looper for Christmas - thank to Mrs F as ever. I've only had one session with it but great fun so far. I like that it has effects on the unit and that you can therefore get a bass sound from a guitar as it has an octaver type effect. I've built up some chords and bass with which I can then solo over the top of. Great fun.

Not sure I'll incorporate it ever into live performances but will be using it at home definitely.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Joe Cocker - RIP

Sad news indeed.  A legend - such an incredible voice...

What else could I pick but one of the greatest covers ever ...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Review of the year...

It's been a bit traditional on the blog here to post a review of the year over the years I've been talking to myself you good folks on here.

So 2014?

Gig of the year.  Not done that many these days as I'm more cash strapped than I used to be and with my son living away from home I don't go with him to gigs like I used to.  Anyway from those I did see it would have to be Show Of Hands at Tunbridge Wells.  Super stuff, great playing and singing and the sound was excellent throughout.  Close second were Bellowhead.

CD of the year.  Now here was a year with a few big names releasing... but sadly I thought Elbow, Coldplay and esp U2 all missed the mark a degree (Elbow) or several (Coldplay) or totally (U2).  But there were so many great things out.  Blair Dunlop, Bellowhead, Uriah Heep... etc.

Hmm... So I'm going to award three this year.

1. Rock - Uriah Heep The Outsider.  Just a thunderously brilliant album as though losing Trevor Bolder seemed to inspire them to greater things as a tribute to him.

2. Mainstream - David Gray - The Mutineers.  David Gray's best album since White Ladder quiet simply brilliant.

3. Folk - Hmm... still torn with this category.  I'll cheat the CD release by False Lights is Feb and I think that'll win them next years award.   So... Bellowhead for Revival - probably their best to date.

Read of the year... The Farm by Tom Rob Smith - not a pleasant read in some respects the subject matter throughout is challenging but well written and with great twists.  Thoroughly recommended

Thursday, 11 December 2014

False Lights Salvor

Anyone who has a long memory will know that I've waxed lyrically about the great Sam Carter on this here blog from time to time in the past.

Now ... he has teamed up with Jim Moray to form a new folk rock band called False Lights.   Their first release is Salvor which is just flipping brilliant.  And you can listen to it all now (plugin compatibility allowing etc.) on Soundcloud...  just click and love it!