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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Rawcliffe Top 10 Part 2 - Songs

Here is my Top 10 list of the best tracks I have heard so far. I did try to avoid simply picking a song from all of my Top 10 artists but sadly that is just how it worked out!

10.  Llama Riding/ Dr Faustu's Tumblers - The Gloworms

9. Rumplestiltskin - Flaming June

8. Ly Ly Ladyboy - Seas of Mirth

7. Superfly Set - The Treacherous Orchestra

6. Stop Your Crying Son - Ange Hardy

5. Kitty Jay - Seth Lakeman

4. Temperely Hornpipe/ Oxford University Voluntary Quickstep  - Faustus

3. Captain Ward - Spiers and Boden

2. Hole in the Wall - Hannah James and Sam Sweeney

and now, drum roll please....

1. Lillibulero - Bellowhead

I think I will do these every three or four months as I felt a year was too long but a month was not long enough. Join me tomorrow for the final Top 10, this time featuring album choices!

Please follow me on twitter @PaulRawcliffe


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Rawcliffe Top 10 - Acts

Okay so here is the first of my Top 10, we'll start with my Top 10 Acts, now this is for everything I have listened and reviewed since I first started listening to Folk music about 3 or 4 years ago.

10. Whapweasel

A recent discovery although I had heard of them during my initial spread into Folk. From listening to Faustus I discovered Saul Rose, who is now the melodeon player for Whapweasel. So far I have only listened to one album 'Burn' which is before Saul joinned.

I found the album really fun and very very bouncy, typical folk dance music really, which is my favourite branch and probably why it has secured a place in my initial top 10! I have also included them because they have struck an interest, making me want to explore them more, you know music is good when it has this affect on you.

I have Whapweasel down as one of three folk groups I would introduce a new folkie too to try and give them a best of snapshot and encourage them to listen to more.

9. Flaming June

Flaming June had to have a place on my list. The music is catchy even though it is not my usual dance type favourite style. This music is slower, lyric based and I think it is the lyrics that really do it for me. The lead singer, Louise, is very motivated in protecting vulnerable women, a cause which is greatly respectable and (sadly) much needed.

Her passion is very apparent in the music with the song 'Rumplestiltskin' being a very symbolic tale related to these issues.

I think really the fact that Flaming June have been in the Cambridge Charts for the entire duration allowed by the rules is quite an achievement and is certainly a sign of their affect on people.

8.  Seas of Mirth

Just hilarious, from twitter and e-mail correspondence to general website you can see these guys don't take themselves seriously in the slightest, and it totally works as a thing! Their pirate theme is taken to ridiculous proportions but it sells and it entertains!

I was horrified to find that a 'hilarious' pun I put at the start of my review of them on Bright Young Folk was later stolen by someone else. This either meant that my review was read or it wasn't as clever as I thought and was actually entirely predictable. We all know which is more likely.

Anyway, their songs are the perfect balance of catchy and funny!

7. Faustus

I first heard of these guys when listening to the Bellowhead collection 'Umbrellowhead' which gathered the other works of many Bellowhead members. They only had one album under their belt at the time (well as 'Faustus' they had two more as a previous incarnation 'Dr Faustus') and it looked pretty ordinary and bog standard with regards to the simple title (Faustus) and basic cover with just the three band members on (on a lovely green background actually, simple but one of my favourite album covers). Inside though was a great delight of tunes with a nice mix of exciting dance tracks such as 'Next Stop: Grimsby/ The Three Rascals/ Aunt Crisps' and 'Temperly Hornpipe/ Oxford University Voluntary Quickstep' and good sung tunes such as 'Ballina Whalers' and 'Acre of Land'. This album even ribbons it all off with a good mix of the two in 'The Green Willow Tree'.

I am also impressed by Faustus when I saw them live at Shrewsbury last year (which I am very sad to not be at this year :'( ). They had a great relationship with the crowd and had a very funny stage presence, not to mention encouraging singing along to Ballina Whalers.

6. Dervish

A proper Irish band here. It must be difficult in many ways for Irish groups that do traditional Irish music, simply because most of the music is not protected by any copyright laws with them being traditional, and so many bands are doing them.

Dervish though do it so well and are extremely popular as a result and I think this is thanks to two aspects, the first is the talented musicians that play the music and the second is the voice of Cathy Jordan. I saw them at Shrewsbury and I couldn't help but notice how warm her accent is, it was very inviting and soothing and this comes through strongly in the music.

They also have good song choices, I think a lot of thought is put into the tunes they decide to play rather than simply throwing out any old tunes randomly.

5. Fleadh

Another Irish band with the same good points as Dervish, but in a way different too (does that make sense?).

I found Fleadh less relaxing than Dervish, but that's because I found them more exciting. There was much more 'Umph!' in their tunes and were much more catchy in some respects with 'The Ballad of John B Whistl'in' being up there at the top.

Good, powerful vocals and a nice varied instrument set up makes this band a must listen.

4. The Treacherous Orcestra

I missed these guys at Shrewsbury due to a tent change and a limited schedule but boy do I regret it. They are a prime example, along with Bellowhead, that you can create some powerful music when you have a huge mix of instruments.

This eleven piece Scottish band used electric guitars and a whole host of folkie instruments to create chaotic tunes such as 'Superfly' and 'Sausages' (These are shorted titles, see them for full tune names). You could see these are the remixers of Folk, merging lots of tunes together to create masterpeices.

3. Ange Hardy

Really been impressed with this one. Ange produced a lovely album called 'Bare Foot Folk' that is frankly beautiful. Her voice, the dynamics, the lyrics, all of them spot on for me. I think with Ange my favourite quality is how sweet she comes across in her music. You defiantly get a strong feeling of her motherly side and it really perks you up!

2. Blackbeard's Tea Party

Another really fun band who don't take themselves too seriously (although they take themselves a little more seriously than Seas of Mirth). They have produced three brilliant albums so far which merge folk and rock really well. They also happen to be an excellent live act.

The variety in this band is a good strong point doing concert style music and Ceilidh style music too (when I get married I SO want these guys to play at the reception)

1. Bellowhead

This just had to be my top. Bellowhead have been a huge influence on me over the past couple of years as they were the first English Folk band I heard and are probably the reason I am here now (in a career sense not life itself sense). Writing this blog, presenting radio shows (well not at the moment) and reviewing for two magazines has all stemmed from how blown away I was from listening to these guys.

Another eleven piece band who use a variety of instruments to make amazing adaptations of tunes. They are considered the best live act according to Chris Moyles and just to make sure this is true I went to see them four times in a year! (well part of this was winning a free ticket and then them finally coming to Liverpool).

One day I was bored and wanted something new and refreshing to listen to. At the time I was experimenting with Irish music (god that makes it sound like a drug), and then a friend sent me 'New York Girls' and that was in then, after listening to the rest of that album and then their previous two I then had to get their individual work compilation and from there my love for Folk music exploded like a virus exploring many different bands!

I'm now even trying to teach myself the melodeon after failing at the fiddle when I was a child and then the banjo more recently. All of this comes from listening to Bellowhead!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A change of direction

I have decided, after much thought, that I will only use this blog for career purposes now.

By this I mean folk music related things such as reviews, news and updates. I will not post any more political rants and such things, I want to use this blog more as a tool to get where I want rather than just a voice, after all that is what drunk Facebook posts are for!

Now that I have a stable(ish) income it is the best time for me to focus on making contacts and getting into the exact career path I want so promoting my reviews and trying to find another Radio Slot are my top priorities.

I will still review non-folk music on here if and when it comes up, as you should never fully close other doors, but folk will be my focus!

To start this off I'm going to start a new thing of Rawcliffe's Top 10 where every month, year? (To be decided) I will do a Top 10 of Acts, Albums and individual songs.

I will start tomorrow with my Top 10 Acts but for the first one it will be so far, in my 3 or so years of experience with Folk. On Thursday I will post my Top 10 Songs so far (again of my experience so far) and finally on Friday my top Albums and from then I'll do only the recent ones.

I would ask people help me promote this, especially if you are in Folk music circles, I need all the help I can get!

- Paul


Monday, 12 August 2013

Snowden and Messiah (not linked)

Lets start with all this with Edward Snowden.

Hero or traitor? Clearly neither, possibly both.
This has rapidly become a propaganda war sadly. The US Government are branding him a 'traitor' for two reasons. The first is because depending on how you define it then he probably is, but also because they don't want people to like him and encourage such actions again.

Snowden has brought forward very serious secrets and the US Government doesn't like it (obviously). They want to nip this kind of behavior in the bud so are using a very powerful word 'traitor' to smear him and turn the general public against him. Well as much as the public as they can anyway.

It has clearly worked in the case of Dog the Bounty hunter who apparently is going to try and track Snowden down: (amongst other sources).

So apart from the mere label is he actually a traitor?

Well it depends what side he was on in the first place. He is a traitor to the American government because he has spread their secrets and as he worked directly involved in these programs he is a traitor. He may however take the opinion that his chief loyalty has always been to freedom and to the public, in which case he is not a traitor.

I think the public needed to know about the extent of the spying. Although I, personally, agree that that level of security is needed, it would just be nice for it to be in the open. I believe in high security because I am happy to sacrifice some personal freedoms in order to feel safe, and as someone who does not intend any criminal activity, the thought of being spied on does not make me feel like my freedom is risked.

Take a teacher to a young child. The young child is playing and the teacher is watching and will only interfere if the child is going to hurt itself or cause harm to others. I like to see it like that. Having said that this is the most optimistic take, most people will probably think more sinister activities in play.

Now for this story:

Uh. This is a difficult one. I can't believe the judge has gotten away with changing the name on grounds that are clearly her personal religious beliefs. That is wrong. It is akin to her saying all Muslims or jews must take Christian names. A judge should be unbiased and this strikes me as not very unbiased at all.

I do however agree with her on two points, one majorly and well less so.

The first is the potential for abuse if in a highly christian area. Christians are unlikely to take the name lightly and may well insult or attack. However, this is a lot of 'ifs' and 'buts' and 'maybes'. Plus the name Jesus is commonly used in America (along with Messiah) and I can find little evidence this has happened before.

So if the move really is to protect the child from the harm of a name he did not choose then that is an understandable decision. But there is nothing to suggest harm is likely.

The second point was the idea that the word 'messiah' is a title. Like Doctor or Judge, or even 'Officer'. Well you don;t see many children called Doctor do you? (put aside any Doctor Who bias or references :p ). BUT is messiah a legally protected term? Doctor is, which is why you probably can't use it. On the other hand even with that, do legally protected titles apply when used as a name?

I'd have to look closer!