The Straw Bear Band

Vexed Soul

Image of The Straw Bear Band - Vexed Soul
Record Label
The Hobby Horse Recording Company

About this item

The Straw Bear Band is the main focus of attention for Dominic Cooper - member of the Owl Service collective and inhouse graphic designer for the Rif Mountain label (of which he is also a co-founder). The Straw Bear Band play a kind of 'garage-folk'; stripped down, raw, earthy, and concerned with the darker, more grim aspects of our aural heritage. During a break from recording their second album (a mammoth 26-track concept album which is an A-Z of songs about British eccentrics), the band cut these 2 sides in the studio of producer/multi-instrumentalist Gerry Diver (best known for his work with Lisa Knapp). The songs are both traditional re-workings, and both are elevated to new levels from any previous recorded versions. A Lyke Wake Dirge is performed as a driving, chorus-led stomp-fest, while Nottamun Town is presented in a stark, angular arrangement which suits the dream-like lyric perfectly - the portentous percussion and Diver's wild, bewitching violin used to stunning effect.

The band are named after a folk festival which takes place in the town of Whittlesey where Dominic Cooper grew up. Each year since at least the mid-19th century, a man dressed as a straw bear visits all the ale-houses in the town to entertain the patrons before being torched in a breathtaking finale (sadly, this event has lost much of it's charm since the intervention of health and safety executives).

For fans of Alasdair Roberts, The Owl Service, Cath & Phil Tyler.

Back to top