Review: The Straw Bear Band - Vexed Soul EP (2010)


7″ cover

artist: The Straw Bear Band
release: Vexed Soul EP
format: 7″ + 3″ CD-R
year of release: 2010
label: Rif Moun­tain / Hobby Horse
dur­a­tion: 17:23

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com [1, 2]

This co-release from the Eng­lish label fam­ily linked to The Owl Ser­vice fea­tures a very nice and short selec­tion of tracks by The Straw Bear Band (Dominic Cooper). It con­sists of a 7″ vinyl single, sup­ple­men­ted with a few addi­tional tracks on a 3″ CD-R.

A Lyke Wake Dirge” and “Not­tamun Town” are both Brit­ish folk clas­sics, given an ori­ginal and pleas­ant inter­pret­a­tion. The first track hobbles on at a brisk pace, util­ising that unmis­tak­able horse­back rhythm in the per­cus­sion. At first it jarred me a little, such a driv­ing rhythm behind lyr­ics that are so con­tem­plat­ive, but music­ally, it works very well, mak­ing it quite the catchy track. A sim­ilar though calmer rhythmic power is behind “Not­tamun Town”, which has more of a swing to it.

3″ cover

The tracks on the 3″ are less per­cuss­ive in nature, focus­ing more on Jason Steel’s gui­tar and Dom Cooper’s voice. Both “Black Candy” and “Go Dig My Grave” are solid own com­pos­i­tions where the power of the min­imal folk setup shines forth quite well. The final track is par­tic­u­larly spe­cial though, as “Dead Souls” is a cover of the Joy Divi­sion track. How­ever, the mel­an­cholic rendi­tion we find here is a wholly dif­fer­ent take on the ori­ginal, and in my opin­ion at least as worthy as a song. Quite beau­ti­ful!

This EP in double format is short but rich in con­tent, and cer­tainly a recom­men­ded title if you are already famil­iar with the music com­ing from this group of labels and artists, but also if you are inter­ested in altern­at­ive Brit­ish folk gen­er­ally.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. A Lyke Wake Dirge (4:29)

2. Not­tamun Town (4:31)

3. Black Candy (3:12)
4. Go Dig My Grave (1:45)
5. Dead Souls (3:26)