So who are Straw Bear? Straw Bear are singer and lyricist Ian Ray, guitarist Chris Gray, bassist Tom Shipp, Pas Struthers (drums) and guitarist Catie Wicks. Singer/songwriter Ian Ray and guitarist Chris Gray met at school in a “dull market town in Cambridgeshire”. Over time, Tom Shipp, Pas Struthers and Catie Wicks joined the fold and they are now spread out all over the south-east. The band took their name from a pagan Fenland festival.
Straw Bear’s album Black Bank is an intriguing collection of oddball folk, alt-country vistas and poppier delights like Snobbery. Produced by Chris Taylor of The Bays at his studio in the eerie Fens, it has attracted breathless praise from the music press and bloggers, notably earning five-star reviews from respected magazine Rock’n’Reel and audio bible Sound on Sound. It has been released by Cambridgeshire-based label Oilbug Music.
If you’re a fan of Belle & Sebastian, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki and Stornaway then you’ll probably like Straw Bear – they’re a band for people with an interest in psychedelia, alt-country and leftfield pop. Their influences come from a predictable range of some of the usual suspects (Talking Heads, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Squeeze) and more recently Grizzly Bear, The Shins, Tame Impala and Other Lives.
Straw Bear are set to release their debut single Snobbery on Monday 29 July. BBC radio DJs have been falling over each other to play Straw Bear’s delicious new single with recent spins from Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson, Jen Long & Ally McCrae, the legendary ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, Gideon Coe, Chris Hawkins and Gary Crowley.
The song recently wowed a packed room at BBC Introducing’s Great Escape showcase in May after Straw Bear were handpicked by Tom Robinson to perform on the back of a terrific BBC 6 Music session.
Snobbery showcases all that Straw Bear’s acolytes have come to expect: wry storytelling, gorgeous vocals and sparkling tunes – this time telling the tale of love across the class divide from a snob’s perspective.
There’s also a brilliantly chic video for Snobbery, shot in the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, that shows the band play while they watch a slapstick comedy echoing the song’s lyrics. The video was produced by Flying Guillotine and can be viewed below.
Straw Bears are touring the UK with the Kate Rogers Band in July. All tour dates are below:
Thursday July 25th: MANCHESTER – Night & Day
Friday July 26th: LIVERPOOL – Zanzibar
Sunday July 28th: LONDON – The Dublin Castle