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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If You're Feeling Sinister

Praised for their wistful lyrics and catchy tunes, chamber pop darlings Belle and Sebastian have been called the greatest Scottish band ever. They are often compared to influential indie bands such as The Smiths, as well as classic rock acts such as Love, Bob Dylan and Nick Drake. The name Belle & Sebastian is inspired by Belle et Sébastien, a children's book by French writer Cécile Aubry. Belle & Sebastian were formed in Glasgow in 1996 by Stuart Murdoch and Stuart David. Lauded by critics, Belle & Sebastian's "wistful pop" has nevertheless enjoyed only limited commercial success. Bottom/ The Boy with the Arab Strap (Jeepster, 1998) is the third album from Belle & Sebastian, and has been called their best album. The inspiration for the album's name came from the band Arab Strap, who are also from Scotland and briefly toured with Belle & Sebastian. An Arab strap is a sexual device for retaining an erection. The album features several lead vocals by members of the band other than Stuart Murdoch. Stevie Jackson sings lead on both "Seymour Stein" and "Chickfactor", Stuart David gives a spoken word performance on "A Space Boy Dream" and Isobel Campbell sings lead on "Is It Wicked Not to Care?". Outstanding albums by Stuart Murdoch's band include Tigermilk (1996), If You're Feeling Sinister (1996), widely considered to be an indie pop classic, and Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003), produced by Trevor Horn. In 2008 the band released The BBC Sessions, which features songs from the period of 1996-2001 (including the last recordings featuring cellist/vocalist Isobel Campbell before she left the band). On 6 July 2006, the band played a historic show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. The opening act at the 18,000 seat sell-out concert was The Shins. Belle & Sebastian is currently on hiatus, and a new studio album has been planned for 2010. Top/ Storytelling (Jeepster, 2002) is a soundtrack album for Storytelling by Todd Solondz, a movie which the New York Times has called one of the best 1,000 movies ever made.

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