Monday, 10 December 2012


Welcome good listeners to a somewhat different type of playlist from Band of Badgers Presents. This will be the first of very many, I hope. It is my way of being able to share those more established bands and artists spanning genres and stretching as far back as the 1960s. There will be some epic anthems, some cool classics and I dare say many a guilty pleasure besides.

It is thanks to the genius of Mixcloud I am able to do this at all because their website and whole business allows people like myself to share their mixes of whatever music without breaching any copyright. These shows won't be downloadable like the podcast is, nor will they be available via iTunes but fear not - I am continuing with the regular podcast too.

These cloudcasts will run alongside the podcasts, being released on an alternate kind of pattern. The ideas for these just keep flowing so I have many themed episodes in production (that always sounds so technical and like this is all so my job - I wish!). There's a TV themed one where I'll be playing songs and music featured in many of my favourite TV shows across the years. Some of these shows, US ones in particular, have featured (and some continue to do so) such a great mix of quality music. I'm thinking more along the lines of the indie rock in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Smallville and Charmed, but that is just for starters. There's also a PR/Review one on the cards where I'd love to play some songs from many of the albums and EPs I've been sent to review. All the fantastic and totally FREE music I've been exposed to via Noisetrade as well is worthy of multiple episodes in itself. So, you can see I have a lot of work to get on with. All this in addition to the podcast of more independent new stuff (as well as some older stuff there too). I feel like I could do with a holiday before I start.

I anticipate the blogcasts for these cloudcasts will be on the shorter side but then this is me and I already seem to have kicked it off in true Rob style by waffling on and on. So without further ado let's crack on with that all important playlist shall we?

The Playlist:
Blind Guardian
I've mentioned this German power metal band and their phenomenal concept album Nightfall In Middle Earth a few times already as well as my waffle on the show itself. I'll therefore spare you some time and not repeat myself. Get to their website, check out the many videos and tunes on YouTube and get purchasing some albums. They don't come much more epic or anthemic than this! As well as Tolkien's works they have composed and produced tunes based on stories by Stephen King, Robert Jordan, Michael Moorcock and George R R Martin amongst others.

David Bowie
This is Bowie to Bowie, can you hear me out there man? Legend! He's always been there as I recall. Right back to the first time I heard Life On Mars and couldn't stop laughing with my cousin at the line, 'Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow,' to Space Oddity having a very prominent and profound meaning for reasons I really shouldn't divulge but wish I could.


Bob Dylan
I've been on the lookout for a copy of Bob's self-penned memoirs for some time now. I was reminded I still hadn't got a copy and was yet to read them when I stumbled upon an article on The Guardian website about how writing that first volume took a lot longer than he thought it would. This was due to him really enjoying the process and getting into it so much. Before the second volume is published I now finally have a copy of the first which I plan to devour as soon as I'm done with Sea of Trees by Robert James Russell (the novella I'm presently reading) and then A Storm of Swords Part 2 by George R R Martin (which I would have started already if the queue at the central post office hadn't been so ridiculously long).

Christy Moore
Looking up the video of the performance of Ride On I believe I saw on Later With Jools Holland in November 2007 I discovered it was actually in 2006. Crazy how quick time flies but yes it was a whole year earlier. Watching it back now takes me right back to then. Kind of like that old woman in Titanic who can smell the sheets from 84 years previous or something. See for yourselves.


The Cranberries
I'd already heard the mighty Zombie thanks to owning the double cassette album of Now 29. OMG! Did I just admit that? I owned a Now album! In my defense, it was at a time when there were some pretty decent tunes on it. Not at all like today's drivel of an excuse of 'popular' pop tunes. Anyway, I'd already heard Zombie on there. Taken from the band's second album released in 1994, it wasn't until 1995 I got my own copy of the album. On CD this time too, not cassette. Jeez, cassettes. Can you imagine still having to suffer them these days? Pen and pencils at the ready to wind the escaped tape back in hoping (most often in vain) that the sound quality wouldn't be all garbled. I'm digressing, apologies.

The Cranberries have been with me a long long time. More so No Need To Argue, one of the albums I should have included on my desert island discs type selection when I did that interview for Steven Luna's Joe Vampire Blog. I did mention I'd need a huge TARDIS style trunk full of music though. I could put this particular album on and lap it up from beginning to end. I'll even admit to singing in a very strong Irish accent to many of the songs. I also recall from my student days singing out words that Mrs Doyle from Father Ted may sing to the tune of Empty. 'Cup of teeeeeeheeeee, teeeeeeheeeeee, teeeeeheeee, would you like a cup of tea, father.' Silly I know, but I was a stoodent after all. Very funny though, at the time. What was also ironic is that one summer's day we'd got the back door of our student house open wide and heard someone in a house opposite playing the album at decibels so high, Health and Safety laws of the universe were most certainly being broken. Whoever it was, they were signing along as loudly and as accented as we used to. It kind of made us feel a little less odd, perhaps. Unless it was an auditory hallucination of course.

Death Cab For Cutie
I know I say it about many a song but then there are so many bloody fantastic songs out there worthy of saying it about. I Will Follow You Into The Dark, however is particularly special. I don't think it's just the fact that it is a song I think I can sing and actually sound not too bad in doing so either. It just resonates deep within me. Kind of how The Levellers' (or more particularly Simon Friend's) Believers and Elation both do. 

I only started listening to Death Cab thanks to a suggestion from a fellow student in 2008 (yes I was a student for a very long time!). Getting to see them at a gig in Birmingham just over a year ago was a chance I was not going to miss for anything. I had no doubt they would play this song and the stripped back acoustic from lead Ben Gibbard was simply stunning. That was a cracking show which also bought UK band Butcher The Bar to my attention. If you don't know Death Cab's stuff don't be pigeon-holing them based on this one song either. They have a whole host of bigger, much louder and rockier songs to offer.

Matchbox Twenty
Like The Cranberries, this US band, and the album from which this song is taken in particular, has been with me for many years. I never tire of hearing it from beginning to end and in doing so it brings back so many great and fond memories. That's one of the powerful things about music. Like smells, I guess. For some people. I'd rather have the music. There's a beautiful acoustic piano version of the song which you simply have to hear. I can't say I've been hugely enthused by the most recent album North but I wasn't expecting anything from it anyway. For me, there has been no better Matchbox Twenty album since this masterpiece. Not even Mad Season, which is a good album but just doesn't beat what came before. Yourself Or Someone Like You is a true classic in my opinion.

Every song on that album is awesome, even the very melancholic Hang. The talented Andrew Page has recently recorded his own acoustic cover of this song which is just breathtaking. See and hear for yourselves above.

Mumford and Sons
I was uber-excited about the release of Babel, as were most Mumford fans. I can't help feeling a tad disappointed with the end results however. The first listen was pretty good but for me, there is a repeated plays test. Babel, overall, just doesn't come anywhere close to passing that test. Sigh No More was phenomenal! Babel feels a little lackluster if I'm being totally honest. I hate being so critical. Even more so about a band I really like. Perhaps it will prove to be a grower and I'll end up loving it. If only I had the time to let that be the case but these days it is difficult. My thoughts on this album aside, there are some noteworthy tracks and not least their wonderful cover of Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer. It actually shocked me as I wasn't expecting it on the album. I hadn't researched or read they were to include it. I bet it's cracking at a live show but that's a sore point of course. As the mainstream masses jump on every ticket the touts aren't able to get in bulk I'm left with the prospect of paying loads for a crap seat or missing out altogether at sold out gigs. 

I've decided to miss out as nothing will beat that free gig at the iTunes Festival in 2010. I need to be that close to the stage though and really feel the presence of them bleeding out. Even though I'm not exactly enjoying Babel at present I would still love to see them play again. I'm beginning to understand this just isn't going to happen unless they play at a smaller festival I'm likely to attend next summer.

Dry The River
I've made it quite clear how incredibly amazing I think these guys are. This year they have been building up a huge fanbase over in the States. This is amazing of course but I don't want them to do less shows over here as a result of it. Still, bands have to go and play where their fans are so I know they'll be back here again. It is my own sad sorry fault for having to miss out on their gig I'd bought tickets to months and months in advance of. I will not be making such a stupid error in future I can tell you.

Dry The River have had one amazing year and with an album as tremendous as Shallow Bed, their popularity is likely to go stratospheric in 2013! Very big things ahead for these guys.

Sigur Ros
What can I say about this Icelandic tour de force of ambient post rock folk? They are another band who have been with me for many a long year now. Over a decade so it's as though they are a part of me in some way. I've never seen them play a show before now but next March a dream will be fulfilled when I get to do just that! There are no words to express my excitement or the elation I will feel when I am standing there listening to them in the same room. I think the entire crowd will disappear though and there I'll stand taking it all in, in complete and utter awe. It is going to be special. The only thing that would make it better is being privileged enough to be one of those who were at one of the many shows they did in Iceland. The results of these shows are available on the DVD Heima which is magnificent to be quite honest. You get a really nice in-depth look at the band too as it is a documentary film rather than just of the shows on their own.

After a hiatus that left some wondering whether they would get back together to release new stuff, Sigur Ros did just that and released Valtari earlier this year. It is on the gentler side but with no less power than what they've done before. I am in love with it! It is certainly one of my albums of the year. I believe I read a few days ago that they are also working on new stuff they want to put out next year (or perhaps the year after). It is alleged to be something completely different but whatever it ends up being, it will be interesting and of the kind of quality they have become renowned for.


I have been a bit on the busy side recently, even with The Scholars gig I sadly missed. I am still beating myself up about that one. The guys have just filmed their next video and will be releasing snippets, I believe so keep your eyes open for those. This will be for their next single release Love The Thunder. I will reserve any words of review until nearer the release date but I will say it is a damn good tune to follow the awesome Wired. I'm well aware I've shared Wired with you on several occasions already but you know what? Here it is again because there are some of you who have not yet downloaded your FREE tracks. That's right! They are totally 100% completely and utterly FREE. So, what are you waiting for? Get Wired up NOW.

Tom McRae Solo Tour 2012
He admitted he went out on the road on his lonesome because he wanted to see if he could do it. How could he have doubted himself, I'd say. The man is a musical maestro of the highest caliber. He entertains, he involves his audience and most importantly he connects to them on a really personal and emotional level. He had us bop barring, whistling, clapping and all manner of things to back him up while he used many a trick to increase the presence of his lonesome self on the stage. He even sang a little tribute to Paul Simon's Graceland while singing One Mississippi. There were songs aplenty from his now extensive and ever-growing back catalogue. I would have like a few more songs from the latest album From The Lowlands but in true grateful style Tom responded to a few requests called out to him. This is certainly not a criticism as it was awesome to hear those older tunes as well, of course. And nice that he listens and gives his fans what they want from his show. It was a spectacular evening but I honestly never expected anything less.

Support came from Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou who have been very busy this year preparing and releasing their album La Ferme de Fontenaille. Their harmonies and delivery were flawless in spite of them suffering from this lingering cold that has been going around. You wouldn't have thought this at all from the perfect performances that ensued. I remember seeing Tom back in Birmingham in 2007 when he had a cold and once again you would not have known other than when he spoke in between songs or told us. Trevor & Hannah Lou have since stepped in to support Beth Orton on several dates of her recent UK tour. I saw Beth way back in 2000, or it could have been 1999. It was a long time ago however and I do need slapping for leaving it this long. The recent shows were sold out which doesn't surprise me. I'm happy Trevor and Hannah Lou got to share their delightful harmonic music with more and more people because they really deserve all the success that comes their way. Far from resting after their non-stop busy year they are currently on their very own Up The Club tour of social clubs. They are most certainly worthy of catching, believe me.

The Dreaming Spires Oxford Homecoming Show
I wrote a sort of mini review of this show on the last blogcast so I refer you to that >>here<<, rather than repeat myself here. It was a cracking show and one I'd like to experience again soon! Sadly, I was unable to film any videos myself. It is more so down to where I was standing because I didn't want to obstruct people's view. Too nice perhaps but you know, I can understand why people get annoyed and frustrated when their view is obstructed by someone in front of them holding up a camera for a whole song. I'd have loved to have got some of course but I thoroughly enjoyed just taking in the whole performance. Luckily, the whole gig was being filmed professionally anyway so check out one such video below.


Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
I wrote a full review of the gig I went to in Leicester at the beginning of the year (>>here<<). This was another night of just perfect live music. From the traditional folk songs full of death or sex to the more upbeat reworkings of other classics, it was just perfect. Having seen this duo three times now since catching them at Beautiful Days 2011 they just get better and better. Although to be fair, Kathryn's voice is always note perfect and imbued with such a passionate depth, I'm always left wanting so much more. For this latest tour supporting their latest album Hidden People (released in the summer and reviewed by yours truly >>here<<), there was an addition to the line-up making it more of a trio, I suppose. A very welcome string section sprung up in the right corner (left from stage view) of the stage in the form of Patsy Reid. The extra layers of music courtesy of fiddle, cello and backing vocals built up the atmosphere so that my goosebumps even had goosebumps on their goosebumps. 

Huldra is a very powerful Norwegian folk tale and the female creatures it sings about wrap themselves tightly around you no matter what form or version is played. From the simple yet hypnotic solo I saw at The Musician in February to the multi-layered a cappella  version on the album featuring a number of female folk guests. To the latest, with Patsy adding her vocals and harmonies marrying up beautifully with Kathryn's. As is customary there was plenty of amusing banter between married couple Kathryn and Sean as well as the concluding part to the Flute saga. All songs, old and new were welcomed by an audience at The Stables in Milton Keynes who were mesmerized and transfixed by such star quality live music. This is what it is about folks. All the very best to Kathryn & Sean as they have been nominated for Best Duo at the next BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Also, Kathryn has bagged herself a nomination for Best Original Song with The Ballad of Andy Jacobs. Admittedly, it is a touch category (aren't they all) but this heartfelt song will have the tears pouring out of folk there'll be a need for urgent flood warnings. As sad as it is, it captures a period of our history so spot on it is like having a bit of a time travel adventure, albeit a very gentle one. Award-winning it certainly is.


Simon Friend's Seismic Survey
I will write up a little more about this gig on a future post. I knew it was going to be a special one but quite how special I wasn't prepared for. What a night!! I've mentioned before that although I am a really huge fan of The Levellers as a whole, I have always felt a certain draw to all of the songs Simon contributes, in particular. He just speaks to my soul so directly, I think. This was my third time at The Musician this year (Willy Mason was the second in May) and it was the first night of the Seismic Survey's current UK tour. It was a privilege to be in attendance and boy, did they deliver the goods.

It was difficult to balance what to film on the camera because I wanted to capture the lot of it. As they opened up the set I heard the tune begin and almost passed out. Believers is one of my favourite songs of all time. It has such a depth and is poetic to the core. I was so excited and hadn't expected it to be the opener so out came the camera and I managed to only miss the very start and first few words. Beautiful. As were all the rest, including the songs from other band members. More on these and the rest of the evening, soon then. To keep you going, check out the videos below.


And, well, that's it for the time being I'm afraid folks. As with the regular blogcast for the podcasts there is oh so much more I want to add, write about and share but, well you need to get yourselves to bed before 2am don't you? I'm currently already working on podcast #12 and Something Else #2 as well as writing up that review from the Gilmore & Roberts (themselves up for best duo at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards too) gig from the end of October. I haven't forgotten about that don't you worry. How could I, it was so damn good!! Just the same old excuse of lack of time. I needn't even bother saying as much in future had I? You know the drill by now. I'm also working on a kind of end of year post that will feature a few of my picks from the past 12 or so months. Top albums, best gigs and so forth. There may also be a Christmas song on there but we shall have to see about that. Anywho, I hope you have enjoyed something different to the norm and want me to do it all again. Until next time, peace to y'all!

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