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New Music Friday: The Legal Immigrants - "Fork in the Road"

There's something I've never done before; I've never compared a band favourably to The Doors. In my mind, The Doors were just too unique, too singular to bear comparison of any kind. Yet less than 30 seconds into The Legal Immigrants track "Fork in the Road" I find myself doing exactly that. The track is huge, an attention grabber from the very first chords and suddenly I am listening.

"Fork in the Road" is the first single from the band's debut album Drugs to Roses which is due out on July 3, 2015. I had an exclusive listen of the full album and I predict a bright future for The Legal Immigrants.

The Legal Immigrants - photo Anthony Norkus

About

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Legal Immigrants are singer/guitarist Joe Bockheim, drummer Tony Lubenow, lead guitarist Trevor Reidsma and bassist Kevin Kitsch. The band formed the day after Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, a fact which isn’t entirely relevant to their sound. Citing Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and The White Stripes as their inspiration, The Legal Immigrants stand at the liminal space between the blissed out sounds of late 60s and 70s rock and the edgier, reverb-driven sounds of modern indie rock. Definitely give the single a listen and watch this space for more news on The Legal Immigrants.

Listen

Download

You can download direct from the Soundcloud widget above or using this link: "Fork in the Road" (mp3*)

Links

Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Website | Instagram

Photo credit: Anthony Norkus


* This is a legal download provided by the artist to post and share. If there is any question of an infringement of copyright, please contact me at TheMediaAddict at gmail dot com and I will remove links immediately.

Music Review: This Way To The Egress - Great Balancing Act

This Way To The Egress 

I have a challenge for you but it's going to take a little bit of playing along, so bear with me. Go out, have a pretty crap day and come home feeling tired, frustrated and grumpy. Are you there? Now put on Great Balancing Act, the latest album by gypsy jazz troupe This Way To The Egress.  I predict you'll be bouncing along to the opening track "Let's Not Pretend" and singing along by "Tarantella". There, don't you feel better now?

Hailing from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania  This Way To The Egress are "Tyrant" Taylor Galassi on accordion and vocals; "Saddle" Sarah Shown on piano, fiddle and vocals; "Krispy" Zach Martin on drums and glockenspiel; John "Toobie Doo" Wentz on tuba and vocals; Jaclyn “The Kidd” on electric guitar and six-string banjo; Joe "Bone" Lynch on trombone and backing vocals; and “Easy” Chet Sullivan on trumpet and backing vocals.

The band list Primus, Tom Waits, The Flaming Lips, Gogol Bordello, Madonna, Django Reinhardt, Queen, and Die Antwoord as their influences. Any band that lists South Africa’s most prominent lunatics amongst their influences is okay in my book.  If I had to define it, I’d say that This Way To The Egress sound like a burst of carnivalesque mayhem in an otherwise drab world whereas their debut single “We Won’t Go” was described as an "exuberant drinking song that sounds like a room full of inebriated Russian Gypsies".

This Way To The Egress - Great Balancing Act album coverGreat Balancing Act is the third album from This Way To The Egress and is out on 19 May 2015. The band is fully independent and crowdfunded the album through a successful Kickstarter campaign.  Recorded in 2014, the album was produced by Brooklyn-based producer Roger Greenawalt and all album art was done by the band's own Saddle Sarah.

Great Balancing Act opens with “Let’s Not Pretend”, a foot-stomping, accordion-swinging tale of irreconcilable differences that features a fantastic mid-track polka. The tempo drops a notch with “So It Goes” where Saddle Sarah channels her inner PJ Harvey and promises that “I would sell our souls to the city that had the most. We could meet downtown and I will watch you drown more than your memories into your sauce”.

Picking up the tempo again with “Earworm” and the dramatic vaudevillian “What Do Ya Want”, the album tumbles into my favourite track, “Tarantella”. Like I said in the introduction, if you’re not singing along by this track then I’ve somehow failed in my mission.

Throughout the following tracks “You Never Know” and “This Side of Jordan”, it occurs to me that This Way To The Egress is perfect for the Gogol Bordello fan who has been seeking a little more cynicism in their gypsy jazz tunes. This is only confirmed with “Devil’s Breath”, a tale of stolen souls and card-playing devils where “children stomp and play on your remains, your head is on a pike within their games”.

After “Rogue Trip”, Saddle Sarah takes up lead vocals again in the mournful yet brilliant “Not Around”. Next up is the mutinous first single “We Won’t Go” and I’ve definitely getting the inebriated gypsies analogy.

Great Balancing Act polishes off 49 minutes of chaos with "Lucy, a story about your mother", a track that has all the dramatics and moralising of a musical finale on Broadway. It’s a pretty fitting end to the album.

For sheer originality, upliftment and cynicism, I give Great Balancing Act an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans of gypsy jazz and indie folk.

4 Stars

The album is available to purchase at Bandcamp, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Keep up with This Way To The Egress on Facebook | Twitter | Website | Soundcloud.


An advance, electronic copy of this album was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Celebrate the Best of British Literature, Film and Music

I know, it doesn't feel like it today with plunging temperatures and driving rain but somewhere deep inside I just know we're going to have a Great British Summer. We just might need to spend the next week or so hidden under a duvet cover first.

The silver lining is that Sainsbury's are showcasing their digital entertainment platform with a celebration of British film, music and literature. Starting today and running until the 28th of May, the 'Best of British' promotion will feature huge savings on over 350 ebooks, films and album downloads.

Film. Available to rent or buy, the Sainsbury's Entertainment site features the best of British film including iconic titles like The King's Speech and this year's darling of the Academy Awards The Theory of Everything.

Music. The Sainsbury's Entertainment site features over six decades of incredible British music from just £4.99 from Electric Light Orchestra and The Kinks, to Kate Bush, The Specials and Paloma Faith.

eBooks. The eBooks by Sainbury's features a collection of 60 of the best of British titles for just £1.99. Titles includes One Day by David Nicholls and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.

Audiobook Review: Amok by Sebastian Fitzek

Amok

Have you ever considered what it would take to make a renowned psychologist fly off the handle and run amok, endangering both his own life and that of others? Early one morning, Jan May storms into a Berlin radio station with a bag full of guns and body bags. He takes several people hostage including the station’s most popular presenter and several members of the station’s fan club. Jan has but one demand that he broadcasts to millions of riveted listeners, that somebody bring his fiancée to the station to see him. There is just one problem: May’s fiancée died in a terrible accident several months ago.

Faced with an already impossible situation, Jan May ups the stakes and decides to play a twisted version of the station’s popular contest Cash Call. Under May’s rules, he will shoot a hostage unless listeners answer the phone with the slogan “I listen to 101.5FM, now set a hostage free”.

The Berlin SEK (the special response unit) call in renowned criminal psychologist and negotiator Ira Samin to deal with May. Normally that would be a good idea as Ira is the best in her field but Ira has been in an alcohol-induced state of despair since the suicide of her daughter several months back.

As the day progresses and the situation spirals out of control, it becomes ever more apparent that a massive conspiracy is at play. With the fate of the hostages at stake and millions of Berliners listening in, can Ira save the day?

Amok CoverAmok is a novel by German author Sebastian Fitzek and the second of his novels to be dramatised for the English-speaking market by Audible. Like The Child, which I reviewed last year, Amok is expertly narrated by Robert Glenister (Spooks, Hustle).

Amok stars Adrian Lester as Jan May, Natasha McElhone as Ira Samin, Rafe Spall as Oliver Götz and Brendan Coyle as the evil crime boss Schuwalow.

The production of Amok is superb and listening to the audio dramatisation is as nail-biting as watching a television show. Together with the actors’ lines we hear background noise and a dramatic musical score. The suspense is non-stop and it is difficult to stop listening.

Adrian Lester is Jan May

I want to say something like "Adrian Lester is superb as Jan May" but let’s be honest, is there anything Adrian Lester does that isn’t excellent? He is absolutely menacing in his role as Jan May and there were scenes in the story that simply made my blood run cold.

Likewise, Natasha McElhone and Rafe Spall were excellent as Ira and Oliver and you could feel the rapport between them. The star of the cast would be Brendan Coyle in his role as the key antagonist Schuwalow (at least that’s how I think it is spelled). Brendan has a great voice for audio and I must admit to playing his scenes back more than once just to hear his voice again. If Adrian Lester is convincing as the maniacal but desperate May, Coyle is even better as the morally bereft criminal mastermind.

Natasha McElhone is Ira SaminRafe Spall is Oliver Götz

Spoiled as we were by the production of The Child, I had high expectations for Amok and even these were exceeded. Sebastian Fitzek has an outstanding ability to weave together complex tales of betrayal, depravity and greed. Amok is simply brilliant and I would recommend that everybody rush out and listen to it.

5 Stars

You can buy Amok on Audible. Remember that if you are a new customer, you will receive one free book when you sign up to Audible for a free trial.

Book Review: Summoner: The Novice (Book 1) by Taran Matharu

The Novice - Taran Matharu

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher is gifted with an ancient book containing a magical spell, he summons a demon from another world which should be impossible for someone of his class. His achievement sets in motion a series of events where Fletcher is falsely accused of a crime and must flee the town of his birth and go on the run. When his abilities are subsequently discovered, Fletcher is recruited into Vocans Military Academy, an elite school where battlemages are trained for war on the frontlines against the Orc foe.

Constantly on the lookout for his pursuers, Fletcher must soon learn who his allies are among the fellow battlemages in the academy. With days filled with lessons and free time with visits to the local town Corcillum, the days leading up to the end of term tournament fly by with plenty of sabotage, misdirection and subterfuge. Will Fletcher discover the power within him in time to outwit those that scheme against him?

Summoner - The Novice - Taran MatharuThe Novice is the first book in the Summoner series and the debut novel by London-based writer Taran Matharu. Matharu wrote the book on writing platform Wattpad and amassed 5.5 million reads before the trilogy was sold in auctions around the world. Out this month, the trilogy is set to be translated into 11 languages.

Fans of the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and His Dark Materials series will feel very comfortable in the world of Taran Matharu’s Hominum Empire.  Beings such as orcs, dwarves and elves require little description or introduction because we’re already familiar with them and spells and wand work are already an expected part of the school curriculum. It was Lyra’s world of the His Dark Materials universe that The Novice seemed to draw on most significantly. Demons, the permeable veil between worlds and even a form of the Magisterium find a way into the book.

Despite the premises not being entirely original, Matharu does tell a good story which gets ever more exciting as the book progresses. There are themes of prejudice, exploitation and class inequality and the author is certainly not above taking a jab or two at the hypocrisy of the ruling classes. Fletcher’s friendship with Othello is authentic and I enjoyed the chance he takes to prove himself to the dwarves. The book reaches its pinnacle in the end of year tournament which was both riveting and extremely well-written.

I give Summoner: The Novice (Book 1) an excellent four out of five stars and will certainly be reading the next books in the series. To date, Matharu has written two prequels to The Novice. Summoner: Origins (Book 0) is available as a free download on Amazon and Summoner: Rory (Book 0.5) will be available shortly.

4 Stars

Summoner: The Novice (Book 1) is available to purchase on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Be sure to follow Taran Matharu on Wattpad or Twitter @taranmatharu1


An advance, electronic copy of this book was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

Chopstix Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Letter From Beyond the Grave

Chopstix_cover

Wendy Wu is just like any ordinary teenager. She comes from a great home, helps out in her parents’ Chinese restaurant and tries to avoid the bullies at college. One day out of the blue, tragedy strikes and Wendy’s world is torn apart. In the weeks that follow, Wendy begins to notice that she has certain abilities. Will this unlikely heroine save the day?

A tale of adventure, betrayal and revenge, A.T. Raydan’s Chopstix is aimed at the young adult market and was released by Unique Inspiration on 30 April 2015. To celebrate the release, we’re taking part in the Chopstix blog tour.

Chopstix official blogtour banner

Over the course of 8 days, Unique Inspiration have released exclusive Chopstix features including a Q&A with author A.T.Raydan, a guest post by Chopstix herself and an encounter with the book’s bad guys, the House of Chi.

Today, I have something special – a letter from beyond the grave a an exclusive chance to win one of five signed copies of Chopstix. Check out the letter below and be sure to sign up at the bottom of the post for the giveaway.

Letter from ‘beyond the grave’ to Wendy Wu (a.k.a Chopstix) from her mother

by A.T. Raydan

To Wendy, my beloved princess.

If you are reading this, then it means that I am no longer with you and our time together has been cut short.

You were and always will be my pride and joy. The day I married your father was the proudest day of my life. And then you came along and surpassed that.

I cherished the first moment you smiled, the first moment you cried, the first moment you laughed, the first moment you spoke…and before I knew it, you had grown up into a beautiful girl, full of life. You were my daughter but also my best friend.

Chopstix_coverPlease forgive me for what I am about to tell you. I tried to protect you in every way that I could and give you the best upbringing that a mother could. The reason for me not being beside you may be attributed to the protection of your destiny.

You are special in more ways than one. You have a destiny which one day you must fulfil. I hoped that I could tell you of this in person but in the event that was not able to, I left you this letter.

Your father and I often shared words of wisdom with you, you will know now that this was because we had to embed within you principles and values that will be essential for you to fulfil your destiny.

If I can give you once piece of advice now, you must believe in yourself in every aspect and to never doubt yourself. You have to beware of the hidden dangers around you in this world. Those who are close to us may not always have our best intentions at heart. They may not be who they claim to be.

But most of all always trust your instincts. The City of Jade is in your protection now child and I know you will honour this with all your heart.

Your beloved mother

Chopstix by A.T Raydan is published by Unique Inspiration (paperback, £6.99). Available online from Waterstones here.

YESTERDAY’S STOP: Read about the fire that changed everything for Chopstix on Teen Librarian

Chopstix Giveaway

Millennium Mills: Past, Present and Future

Mills at present

On the outskirts of East London lies the iconic Millennium Mills, abandoned granary mills known for their inclusion in films such as Full Metal Jacket and TV shows like Ashes to Ashes and Silent Witness. The Smiths even featured the Mills in their music video for “Ask” (1986).

Lovers of the alternative and derelict side of London have long wanted to gain access to the closed-off site (and many of them do) but recently a group of Digital Film Production and Broadcast students from nearby Ravensbourne College were given exclusive access to film there.

I won’t lie – I’d probably sell my Younger Brother to get access to such a prime urban exploration site and the film that the Ravensbourne students produced certainly sparked my interest even more. Their brief was to capture the place as it stands today and imagine what it could mean for the future.

Millennium Mills: Past

Pontoon dock 1938

West Silvertown lies on the south side of Royal Victoria Dock which was once of huge importance to the flour milling trade. Vernon & Sons built Millennium Mills in 1905 and the structure was named after their most popular brand of Millennium Flour. The Mills were partially destroyed in 1917 by an explosion at a nearby munitions factory and were rebuilt in 1933 in the Art Deco style.

Five baby elephants arrive in the King George V Dock in October 1947. They were part of a consignment of 20 that had come from Ceylon aboard the SS Arbratus. They later appeared in Arnold's Christmas Circus on Harringay. 

Millennium Mills: Present

When I first read about Millennium Mills, they piqued my interest because of how they look today, derelict and atmospheric.

Mill at present 2

A closer look will show graffiti and street art, an area humming with subculture. There are broken windows and whispers of times gone by. You can almost hear the ghosts of industry. I love that it attracts artists, film makers and musicians and I love how defiant it is.

Amplify your voice

Millennium Mills: Future

Millennium Mills projected interior

So what does the future hold for Millennium Mills? I’d love to see more films done here and could imagine film studios or a cultural centre. Last week Newham Council granted outline planning permission for Silvertown so maybe it will go the way of Battersea Power Station and be converted into swanky apartments?

Millennium Mills projected exterior

I’d certainly like to see the area retain some of its charm and if you know East London, then that is certainly possible. Rising from the ashes of the Fire of London and the Blitz, and seeing waves of immigrants from Huguenots to Jews to the Bangladeshi community, this is an area of indomitable spirit and resilience.It would be a shame to lose that character completely.

Silvertown future at night

You can follow the Silvertown development at Twitter @SilvertownLDN or Instagram @SilvertownLDN.

New Music Friday: Manchester's Radio City

Radio City EP

About

Radio City are a brand new Indie Rock band hailing from Manchester. The band was originally put together as part of a music production project but it didn’t end there. What began as a tangle of guitars and synths has been polished up and the band is ready to release their first EP.

Radio City are Mike Miller (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Sam Woodall (Lead Guitar), Jack Caldwell (Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals) and Tom Wood (Drums). Mike, Sam and Tom went to high school together and have been in a band before but they describe bassist Jack as their “latest and greatest addition”. So it was that they decided to make a go of the band after the project was finished.

The Radio City EP

The Radio City EP was recorded over five sessions at Leeds Beckett University. Drummer Tom engineered and produced all of it, with the rest of the band chipping in with ideas for songs and lyrics. Tom describes the sessions as relaxed, essentially just four best mates playing music together.

The bands takes inspiration from Red Hot Chili Peppers, of whom they are all great fans. Other than that, they don’t really focus on any one band, opting instead to let their sound evolve as they work together.

Track Listing

1. Wake Me Up
2. Tell Me
3. Instrumental Interlude
4. Time Stops

You can definitely hear the RHCP influence in the catchy, funky basslines but I’d say the EP is a low key punk rock offering that reminds me of Joe Jackson’s earlier work or The Jam. I’m definitely looking forward to what Radio City come up with next.

Listen

Download

The lovely lads from Radio City are offering a free download of the Radio City EP from Mediafire. This is a free and legal download so be sure to share it with your friends!

Links

Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Email

The band don’t have any gigs lined up at the moment but you can contact them using the links above for any bookings.

Book review: Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book I: Yasamin by J. Matthew Saunders

Yasamin

Throughout Europe's bloody and troubled past, there were rumours of nefarious and supernatural forces at play, forces that changed the course of history and brought power and riches to those foolish enough to side with darkness. From the Ottoman wars in medieval Wallachia, Transylvania and Buda to modern Budapest, Banja Luka and Berlin, J. Matthew Saunders’s Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book 1: Yasamin takes us on a breakneck ride through a millennia of wars, pacts and atrocities and the legend of a creature that remained in the shadows yet influenced every step of the way.

Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin is a young orphan from Thessaloniki who is promised to Murad, the son of a powerful leader in the Ottoman Empire. She comes to live at the Haremlik in Buda where she is thrown into a life of politics, gossip and intrigue. There are several attempts on her life and Yasamin must learn who she can trust and who her true enemies are.

Berlin, Germany, 1999: Adam Mire is an American professor and historian. When his friend Mihai Iliescu leaves him some documents shortly before his mysterious death, Adam begins to follow the clues he discovers therein despite great danger to himself. At the heart of his investigations is the legendary medallion of Dracula and the clues lead from Budapest to Novi Sad, Banja Luka, Dubrovnik, Thessaloniki and finally Berlin where Adam catches up with the enigmatic Yasamin Ashrafi.

Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book 1- Yasamin - coverAnd so Yasamin and Adam engage in a terse tête-à-tête in which they each offer their stories in exchange for the other’s information. Adam tells of his hair-raising attempts to stay one ahead of assassins as he tracked down the medallion and Yasamin in turn tells her story of intrigue, betrayal and murder.

Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book 1: Yasamin is a truly magnificent novel rich in colour, atmosphere and culture. I loved reading about life in the Haremlik, could almost feel the steam rising in the bathhouses and shared in the excitement of the Ottoman wedding rituals. Having travelled in the Balkans myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey down to Dubrovnik (although I’d have loved to spend more time in Novi Sad). Mostly, I enjoyed the supernatural element of the novel which I’ve only touched on lightly for fear of giving the story away.

I would highly recommend Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book 1: Yasamin. The author J. Matthew Saunders expertly weaves a tale that combines elements of historical, supernatural and 20th century modern fiction. With the teenage protagonist, this book will delight young adult and mature audiences alike and I am certainly looking forward to the next books in the series.

I give Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book 1: Yasamin by J. Matthew Saunders a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend the book to fans of young adult, historical or supernatural fiction alike.

5 Stars

Be sure to follow J. Matthew Saunders on Twitter @jmattsaunders or his blog Write Wrote Written.

You can buy Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book 1: Yasamin at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.


An advance, electronic copy of this book was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

How to Get Signed by a Record Label

Boyd Tinsley - Grand Central Station

Making it in the music business can be a very difficult thing to do. The odds of succeeding are small. However, the only way to become a success is to give it a try. The ultimate goal of every musician is to get signed to a major record label. This enables a musician to have their music distributed to a massive audience. However, getting a major record label to sign you is much easier said than done. It goes without saying that it is a very competitive business to get into. So how do you go about setting yourself apart from the other musicians out there? Here is how to get signed by a record label.

1. Write great songs


This may seem like overly simplistic advice, but at the end of the day, your songs and your ability to perform them are what is going to determine if you get signed or not. Without great songs, you are pretty much dead in the water. Therefore, before you seriously try to get signed, spend as much time as you can writing music that is catchy and will appeal to the general public. The more mainstream and radio friendly your music is, the more of a chance there is of a record label talent scout being interested in it.

2. Practice your instrument


Without lots of practice, Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band would have never developed into the musician he eventually became. Tinsley dedicated himself to his craft and it paid off for him. If you are going to impress the people who work for a major record label, you will need to have superior musical ability. You need to make yourself stand out from all the other musicians who are trying to get signed. Therefore, practice as much as possible.

3. Record a demo tape


A demo tape is a selection of your songs that you will give to record companies in an attempt to get them interested in signing you. You must take great care when you are putting your demo tape together. Only put your best songs on the tape. Make it sound as professional as possible. Booking studio time to record your demo tape may be expensive, but consider it an investment in your future. If you end up getting signed by a major record label, the money you spend on the studio will have been worth it.

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