British Columbia's Sunshine Coast is a tranquil neck-of-the-woods beside the Pacific Ocean that resonates with a woody timbre. This unique place conjured up a definitive sonic quartet called The Rakish Angles. Newgrass, Latin, gypsy-jazz, old-time music. None of these styles were born there, yet they have given inspiration to the vision of these musicians, who hail from various locations around Canada. There's gentle counterpoint to the band and maybe that's why their music and performances strike a chord - they simultaneously say sweet and mysterious, novel and ageless. The quiet complexity is honest and musical and natural.
Since forming in 2007, The Rakish Angles - composed of Ali Romanow (Violin, vocals), Simon Hocking (Mandolin, vocals), Boyd Norman (Bass, vocals), and Dan Richter (Guitar, vocals) - have been making their own unique sound. They have shared the stage with Tony Trischka, Doug Cox, Po'Girl, Celso Machado, The Red Clay Ramblers, Frazey Ford, Jesse Zubot, Tanya Tagaq & Joel Fafard. In the process, they've earned nominations for a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2009, Indie Acoustic Project Awards in 2009 and 2011 as well as Western Canadian Music Awards in 2010 and 2012.
As word of the band spreads, the emotional connection is the characteristic that comes through the loudest. They themselves will tell you their raison d'ètre isn't necessarily about unfolding the corners of musical innovation until the wheels come off, although they dabble in that regard. They are capable of finding new latitude, but it isn't that, their technical proficiency or their well-chosen lyrics - it's much more basic and raw than that. They bypass the intellectual filters and spark something in the emotional centre of the brain, and they're doing what they're supposed to do.
Listen to their second album, Cottonwood Moon (released 2011), created during that winter in a musty A-frame cabin over looking Georgia Strait and belonging to the album's engineer Montreal musician Courtney Wing. Listen to the title track. A simple, clean progression. Perfect and unpolished notes. Timeless, broken words such as "...time drains like wine." It does, doesn't it?
A word about the name. 'Rakish' is an adjective meaning, 'having or displaying a dashing, jaunty or slightly disreputable quality or appearance.' How this embodies the band, it can't quite be told exactly. Sure, you'll probably find them jaunty and jovial, but they ain't so disreputable. They're family people. They swim with no clothes on. They sing into one collective microphone. They themselves are warm, wooden-timbred, natural, mysterious folk - much like the place where they live.
Maybe time will tell just what exactly the word can mean and what it is meant to sound like. Until then, it's about playing music.