Tag Archives: Straw Bear

Listen: Straw Bear – “The Land Witch”

31 Oct

Straw Bear The Land Witch

It’s Halloween, which means that across this fair isle and beyond people will be dressing up as slutty pumpkins and preparing for the walk of shame tomorrow morning, having no doubt got down and dirty to some day-appropriate tracks like this one and this one (other novelty songs are available).

While Straw Bear’s latest track is not Halloween specific, nor a novelty song, it does have ‘witch’ in the title and they are named after a pagan festival, so it feels appropriate to post it today. In fact, rather than make us think of trick or treating or getting drunk while wearing a sheet over our heads (wooo-ooooh), “The Land Witch” randomly made us think of Steeleye Span and the ‘ugliest witch in the north country’ (we blame Alphabet Bands Sr for introducing us to that one when we were too young to know any better) despite not sounding that much like it at all (it’s less overtly folky for a start)

It’s not based on an old ballad either, rather a misheard remark from lyricist Ian Ray’s nan when he was a kid. God knows what she actually said but Ray was convinced she heard her tell his Dad there was a Land Witch living in the woods. It didn’t take long for this child’s fertile imagination to create a horrific nightmare about a ‘cannibalistic old hag’ waiting patiently to steal any poor child who dared venture into the woods. Now, as an adult, and no longer afraid of the mythical land Witch (though we bet he is a little – we’re still scarred by Alphabet Bands Sr scaring the bejeezus out of us as a little’un with a tale of abducting witches, a bamboo stick and a bedroom window) he has taken those imaginings and turned them into a delightfully evocative folk-rock song.

Like a collection of wandering minstrels, the Straw Bear gents set about telling the tale of the terrible witch and her evil doings in a track that is alive and crackling like fire. It spits out embers of beats and strings and calls to you to pause and take in its wild natural beauty. Hypnotic flames twist and lick the night sky, no doubt as the Land Witch herself stalks ever nearer to your distracted body, waiting to make her move…

Happy Halloween everyone!

Straw Bear’s debut album, ‘Black Bank’ is out now and available to buy here.

Stalk Straw Bear: Website

Listen: Straw Bear – “Snobbery”

6 Jun

Straw Bear

At this rate the old saying about bears will need to be revised; no longer will defecating amongst trees be the most common thing they do for they are now all about being in band names instead. The latest in a long and increasing line of acts to embrace the ursine world are Straw Bear, though apparently this time it comes from a Pagan Fenland festival.

In their latest single, “Snobbery”, the Cambridgeshire five-piece give us just that via a cheeky peek over the fence and a turning up of one’s nose. At least that’s how it appears, as principal songwriter Ian Ray has explained; “If you take the song at face value, it’s just an amusing lyric about a horrible snob whose girlfriend’s family is a little rough around the edges.” He goes on to explain though that it is actually more about meeting the in-law’s for the first time and the act of trying to integrate yourself into a new family.

We are simple folk though and like to take things at face value, we’re also not entirely sure how singing about wanting to take a jet-wash to your sister in law because she is so mucky can be seen as wanting to fit in though. Like we said, we’re simple folk. What we do know is that the track itself is a lovely piece of folk-pop, with strings that sweep the dry-witted and croonsome vocals along, around the estate and back to the big country mansion our protagonist presumably resides within.

Don’t listen to the lyrics and you are left with a delightful piece of folky-pop that glides and soothes; listen to the lyrics and you have a whimsical tale full of dry humour and playful arrogance. A modern fairy tale of a damsel, presumed to be in distress due to her low birth and who surely dreams of a better life with a Prince. Lucky then, as the ersatz Prince sings, “that I want you”. Of course, as it always is with a tale told from one perspective, we don’t know for certain that she wants to be saved…

Regardless of narrative constructs, meanings hidden within and between the lines, “Snobbery” is a bloody lovely listen from a band who are rightly beginning to gather some momentum. Their debut album, Black Bank came out last year and based on the strength of this latest single and its predecessor, “Kitty”, it is well worth going back and checking it out.

“Snobbery” will be released on 29 July; the ‘Black Bank’ album is out now and available to buy here.

Stalk Straw Bear: Website