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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!

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