Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian

Infobox musical artist
Name = Belle and Sebastian

Img_capt =
Landscape = yes
Background = group_or_band
Years_active = 1996 - present
Origin = Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Genre = Indie pop
Jangle pop
Baroque pop
Twee pop [cite book |last=Bigge |first=Ryan |authorlink= |title=A Very Lonely Planet: Love, Sex, and the Single Guy |publisher=Arsenal Pulp Press |date=2001 |pages=131 |isbn=1551521083]
Label = Rough Trade (UK, 2002–present)
Jeepster (UK, 1996–2002)
Matador (US)
Current_members = Stuart Murdoch
Stevie Jackson
Chris Geddes
Sarah Martin
Mick Cooke
Bobby Kildea
Richard Colburn
Past_members = Isobel Campbell
Stuart David
Associated_acts = Looper The Gentle Waves The Reindeer Section V-Twin
The Amphetameanies The Moondials Snow Patrol
URL = []

Belle and Sebastian are an indie pop band formed in Glasgow, Scotland in January 1996. They have been called the greatest Scottish band ever,cite book |last=Strong |first=Martin C. |title=The Essential Rock Discography |publisher=Open City Books |date=2006 |pages=80 |isbn=1841958603] and are one of the most celebrated groups of the 1990s.cite book |last=Pareles |first=John |title=The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll |publisher=Fireside Publishing |date=2001 |pages=66 |isbn=0743201205] Belle & Sebastian are often compared to influential indie bands such as The Smiths, [cite book |last=Cassidy |first=Jude |title=The Rough Guide to Rock |publisher=Rough Guides |date=1999 |pages=358 |isbn=1843531054] [Citation |last=Metcalf |first=Stephen |title= MUSIC; With the Auteur Passé, Rock Gets Impersonal |url= |publisher="New York Times" |date=2001-04-01 |accessdate=2007-11-04] as well as classic rock acts such as Love, Bob Dylan and Nick Drake.cite book |last=Taylor |first=Steve |authorlink=Steve Taylor |title=The A to X of Alternative Music |publisher=Continuum International Publishing Group |date=2004 |pages=30-31 |isbn=0826482171] cite book |last=Strong |first=Martin Charles |title=The Great Rock Discography: Complete Discographies Listing Every Track Recorded By More Than 1200 Artists |publisher=Canongate U.S. |date=2004 |pages=122 |isbn=1841956155] The name Belle & Sebastian is inspired by "Belle et Sébastien", a children's book by French writer Cécile Aubry. [cite book |last=Wilson |first=Dave |authorlink=Dave Wilson |title=Rock Formations: Categorical Answers to How Band Names Were Formed |publisher=Cidermill Books |date=2005 |pages=105 |isbn=0974848352] Lauded by critics, Belle & Sebastian's "wistful pop" [Citation |last=McBride |first=John |title=A light Israeli snack, served with a stale political pickle |url= |publisher="Globe and Mail" |date=2007-11-02 |accessdate=2007-11-04] has nevertheless enjoyed only limited commercial success. [cite book |last=Cloonan |first=Martin |title=Popular Music and the State in the UK: Culture, Trade Or Industry? |publisher=Ashgate Publishing |date=2007 |pages=120 |isbn=0754653730] [cite book |last=Gardiner |first=Michael |authorlink=Michael Gardiner (writer) |title=Modern Scottish Culture |publisher=Edinburgh University Press |date=2005 |pages=203 |isbn=0748620273]

After releasing a number of albums and EPs on Jeepster Records, they are now signed to Rough Trade Records in the United Kingdom and Matador Records in the United States.


Formation and early years (1996-1997)

Belle & Sebastian were formed in Glasgow in 1996 by Stuart Murdoch and Stuart David.Together they recorded some demos with Stow College music professor Pilar Duplack, which were picked up by the college's Music Business course that produces and releases one single each year on the college's label, Electric Honey. As the band had a number of songs already and the label were extremely impressed with the demos, Belle & Sebastian were allowed to record a full-length album, which was named "Tigermilk". Murdoch once described the band as a "product of botched capitalism".

"Tigermilk" was recorded in three days and originally only one thousand copies were pressed on vinyl. These original copies now sell for up to £400. [Citation |last=Shiel |first=George |title=Tigermilk |url= |publisher="Eclectic Honey" |date= |accessdate=2007-11-04] Citation |last= |first= |title=Belle and Sebastian 2nd Melbourne show! |url=!++ |publisher="PBS 106.7FM" |date= |accessdate=2007-11-04] The warm reception the album received inspired Murdoch and David to turn the band into a full-time project, recruiting Stevie Jackson (guitar and vocals), Isobel Campbell (cello/vocals), Chris Geddes (keys) and Richard Colburn (drums) to fill out the group.

After the success of the debut album, Belle & Sebastian were signed to Jeepster Records in August 1996 and "If You're Feeling Sinister", their second album, was released on 18 November. The album was named by "Spin" as one of the 100 greatest albums between 1985 and 2005, [Citation |last= |first= |title=100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005 |url= |publisher="Spin" |date=2005-06-20 |accessdate=2007-11-11] and is widely considered the band's masterpiece. Just before the recording of "Sinister", Sarah Martin (violin/vocals) joined the band. Following this a series of EPs were released in 1997. [Citation |last=Hornby |first=Nick |title=Lazy Line Painter Jane |url= |publisher="Salon" |date=1997-11-14 |accessdate=2007-11-05] The first of these was "Dog on Wheels", which contained four demo tracks recorded before the real formation of the band. In fact, the only long-term band members to play on the songs were Murdoch, David, and Mick Cooke, who played trumpet on the EP but would not officially join the band until a few years later. It charted at #59 in the UK singles chart.

The "Lazy Line Painter Jane" EP followed in July. The track was recorded in the church where Murdoch livedCitation |last=Lim |first=Dennis |title=Winter of Their Youth |url=,lim,3457,22.html |publisher="The Village Voice" |date=1998-09-15 |accessdate=2007-11-05] and features vocals from Monica Queen. The EP narrowly missed out of the UK top 40, peaking at #41. The last of the 1997 EPs was October's "3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light". The EP was made Single of the Week in both the NME and Melody Maker and reached #32 in the charts, thus becoming the band's first top 40 single.

"The Boy With the Arab Strap" and critical acclaim (1998-2002)

The band released their third LP, "The Boy with the Arab Strap" in 1998, and it reached #12 in the UK charts. [Citation |last=Best |first=Sophie |title=Ring the Belle |url= |publisher="The Age" |date=2004-07-23 |accessdate=2007-11-05] While often cited by critics as the band's best album, "Arab Strap" has nonetheless had its detractors. [cite book |last=Owings |first=Henry |title=The Overrated Book |publisher=Last Gasp |date=2006 |pages= |isbn=0867196572] "Pitchfork" gave the album a particularly poor review, calling it a "parody" of their earlier work. [Citation |last=Josephes |first=Jason |title=The Boy With the Arab Strap review |url= |publisher="Pitchfork Media" |date=1998-10-01 |accessdate=2007-11-11] In spite of this, the album garnered positive reviews from "Rolling Stone", [Citation |last=Ratliff |first=Ben |title=The Boy With the Arab Strap review |url= |publisher= "Rolling Stone|date=1998-08-25 |accessdate=2007-11-11] and the "Village Voice", among others. The name of the record also created a bit of tension between Belle & Sebastian and fellow Glasgow band Arab Strap. [Citation |last=Laurence |first=A. |title=Arab Strap interview |url= |publisher="Free Williamsburg" |date=2005-05 |accessdate=2007-11-06] During the recording of the album long time studio trumpet-player Mick Cooke was asked to join the band as a full member. The "This Is Just a Modern Rock Song" EP followed later that year. [Citation |last= |first= |title=MODERN LOVERS ROCK HARD |url= |publisher="NME" |date=1998-10-26 |accessdate=2007-11-05]

In 1999 the band were shockingly awarded with Best Newcomer (for their third album) at the BRIT Awards, upsetting the much better known acts Steps and 5ive. [Citation |last= |first= |title=Robbie rules over Brits |url= |publisher="BBC" |date=1999-02-17 |accessdate=2007-11-04] That same year, the band hosted their own festival, the Bowlie Weekender. "Tigermilk" was also given a full release by Jeepster before the band started work on their next LP. The result was "Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant", which became the band's first top 10 album in the UK. A stand-alone single, "Legal Man", reached #15 and gave them their first appearance on Top of the Pops. [Citation |last=Urban |first=Andy |title=Side Project Becomes Full-Length Let Down |url= |publisher="Dusted Magazine" |date=2002-06-18 |accessdate=2007-11-04]

As the band's popularity and recognition was growing worldwide, their music began appearing in films and on television. The 2000 film "High Fidelity" mentions the band and features a clip from the song "Seymour Stein" from "The Boy with the Arab Strap". [Citation |last=Zacharek |first=Stephanie |title="High Fidelity" |url= |publisher="Salon" |date=2000-03-31 |accessdate=2007-11-05] Also, the title track from "Arab Strap" was played over the end credits of the UK television series "Teachers". [Citation |last=Virtue |first=Graeme |title=Jingle Book Belles |url= |publisher="Sunday Herald" |date=2003-12-21 |accessdate=2007-11-04]

Stuart David soon left the band to concentrate on his side-project, Looper, and his book writing, which included his "The Idle Thoughts of a Daydreamer". [Citation |last=Heim |first=Joe |title=Sharps & Flats: Looper |url= |publisher="Salon" |date=2000-05-09 |accessdate=2007-11-05] He was replaced by Bobby Kildea of V-Twin. The "Jonathan David" single — sung by Stevie Jackson — was released in June 2001 and was followed by "I'm Waking Up to Us" in November. The latter appears to describe Murdoch's relationship and breakup with Campbell, but Murdoch denied this in the sleeve notes to 2006's "The Life Pursuit". "I'm Waking Up to Us" saw the band use an outside producer (Mike Hurst) for the first time.Citation |last=Sturges |first=Fiona |title=Pop: Scots of the arch antics |url= |publisher="The Independent" |date=2001-11-30 |accessdate=2007-11-05] Most of 2002 was spent touring and recording a soundtrack album, "Storytelling" (for "Storytelling" by Todd Solondz), a movie which the New York Times has called one of the best 1,000 movies ever made. [cite book |last=Nichols |first=Peter M. |title=The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made |publisher=St. Martin's Press |date=2004 |pages=955 |isbn=0312326114] Isobel left the band in spring of 2002, in the middle of the band's North American tour. [Citation |last=Hansen |first=Liane |title=Isobel Campbell: After Belle Comes 'Ballad' |url= |publisher="National Public Radio" |date=2006-03-19 |accessdate=2007-11-04] Citation |last=Erlewine |first=Stephen Thomas |title=Belle & Sebastian: Full Biography |url= |publisher="MTV" |date= |accessdate=2007-11-04]

Recent years (2003-present)

The band left Jeepster in 2002, signing a four album deal with Rough Trade Records.Citation |last=McGregor |first=Andrew |title=Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress |url= |publisher="BBC" |date=2001-06-21 |accessdate=2007-11-04] Their first album for Rough Trade, "Dear Catastrophe Waitress", was released in 2003, and was produced by Trevor Horn.Citation |last=McCracken |first=Edd |title=Secret seven win through |url= |publisher="Sunday Herald" |date=2003-10-05 |accessdate=2007-11-04] The album showed a markedly more 'produced' sound compared to their first four LPs,Citation |last=Grant |first=Kieran |title=Belle and Sebastian Q&A |url= |publisher="Eye Weekly" |date=2003-11-06 |accessdate=2007-11-05] as the band was making a concerted effort to produce more "radio-friendly" music. In spite of this, the album was warmly received, and is credited with returning the band's "indie cred". The album also marked the return of Murdoch as the group's primary songwriter following the poorly-received "Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant" and "Storytelling", both of which were more collaborative than the band's early work. [Citation |last=Raihala |first=Ross |title=Belle and Sebastian pouring out their souls — again |url= |publisher="Seattle Times" |date=2006-03-21 |accessdate=2007-11-06] A documentary DVD, "Fans Only", was released by Jeepster in October 2003, featuring promotional videos, live clips and unreleased footage. A single from the album, "Step into My Office, Baby" followed in November 2003 — it would be their first single taken from an album.

The Thin Lizzy-inspired "I'm a Cuckoo" was the second single from the album. [Citation |last=Devenish |first=Colin |title=Belle & Sebastian Back in Town |url= |publisher="Rolling Stone" |date=2003-10-27 |accessdate=2007-11-05] It achieved their highest chart position yet, reaching #14 in the UK. The "Books" EP followed, a double A-side single lead by "Wrapped Up in Books" from "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" and the new "Your Cover's Blown". This EP became the band's third top 20 UK release and the band went on to be nominated for both the Mercury Music Prize and an Ivor Novello Award. In January 2005, B&S was voted Scotland's greatest band in a poll by The List, beating Simple Minds, Idlewild, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, and The Proclaimers, among others.

In April 2005, members of the band visited Israel and the Palestinian territories with the UK charity War on Want; the group subsequently recorded a song inspired by the trip titled "The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House", which would later be released as a B-side on 2006's "Funny Little Frog" single. "Push Barman to Open Old Wounds", a compilation of the Jeepster singles and EPs, was released in May 2005 while the band were recording their seventh album in California. The result of the sessions was "The Life Pursuit", produced by Tony Hoffer. [Citation |last=Beaujon |first=Andrew |title=The Happiness Of 'Pursuit' |url= |publisher="Washington Post" |date=2006-02-08 |accessdate=2007-11-05] Citation |last=Petridis |first=Alexis |title=Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit |url=,,1700392,00.html |publisher="The Guardian" |date=2006-02-03 |accessdate=2007-11-05] The album, originally intended to be a double album, [Citation |last=McBay |first=Nadine |title=Belle & Sebastian:We managed to do things without pandering to the London machine |url= |publisher="Drowned In Sound" |date=2006-01-19 |accessdate=2007-11-04] became their band's highest charting release to date upon its release in February 2006, peaking at #8 in the UK and #65 on the US Billboard 200. [Citation |last=Harris |first=Chris |title=Jack Johnson Scores First Billboard #1 With 'Curious' Tunes |url= |publisher="MTV" |date=2006-02-15 |accessdate=2007-11-05] [Citation |last= |first= |title=Belle & Sebastian get the 'Blues' on new single |url= |publisher="NME" |date=2006-03-03 |accessdate=2007-11-05] "Funny Little Frog", which preceded it, also proved to be their highest charting single, debuting at #13.Citation |last=Sanneh |first=Kelefa |title=CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; A Quiet Band Worth Fighting Loudly About Makes Some More Noise |url= |publisher="New York Times" |date=2006-02-02 |accessdate=2007-11-05]

On July 6, 2006, the band played a historic show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. [Citation |last=Rosen |first=Steven |title=Belle & Sebastian with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra |url= |publisher="Harp Magazine" |date=2006-06-06 |accessdate=2007-11-04] The opening act at the 18,000 seat sell-out concert was The Shins. [Citation |last=Mancina |first=Kristin |title=Belle & Sebastian and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Featuring the Shins |url= |publisher="L.A. Splash Magazine" |date= |accessdate=2007-11-04] The members of the band see this as a landmark event, with Stevie Jackson saying, "This is the biggest thrill of my entire life". [Citation |last=Wener |first=Ben |title=Belle and Sebastian: Delightful in every way |url= |publisher="Orange County Register" |date=2006-07-07 |accessdate=2007-11-04] In October 2006, members of the band helped put together a CD collection of new songs for children titled "Colours Are Brighter", with the involvement of major bands such as Franz Ferdinand and The Flaming Lips. [Citation |last=Llewellyn |first=Katie |title=Belle & Sebastian-Curated Kids' Comp Details Revealed |url= |publisher="Pitchfork Media" |date=2006-07-18 |accessdate=2007-11-04]

On November 17 2008 the band will release a BBC Sessions album, which will feature songs from the period of 1996-2001 (including the last recordings featuring Isobel Campbell before she left the band), along with a second disc featuring a recording of a live performance from Christmas 2001. The band is currently on a temporary hiatus with no immediate plans to record a new studio album.


The current members are:

*Stuart Murdoch: 1996–present (vocals, guitar and keyboards)
*Stevie Jackson: 1996–present (vocals and guitar)
*Chris Geddes: 1996–present (keyboards)
*Richard Colburn: 1996–present (drums)
*Sarah Martin: 1997–present (violin, keyboards, guitar, and vocals)
*Mick Cooke: 1998–present (trumpet and bass)
*Bobby Kildea: 2001–present (guitar and bass)

Past members:

*Isobel Campbell: 1996–2002 (vocals and cello)
*Stuart David: 1996–2000 (bass)



*"Tigermilk" (1996)
*"If You're Feeling Sinister" (1996)
*"The Boy with the Arab Strap" (1998)
*"Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant" (2000)
*"Storytelling" (2002)
*"Dear Catastrophe Waitress" (2003)
*"The Life Pursuit" (2006)

Live albums

*"" (2005)


*"Lazy Line Painter Jane (boxset)" (2000)
*"Push Barman to Open Old Wounds" (2005)
*"" (2006)
*"Juno (soundtrack)" (2007)
*"The BBC Sessions" (2008)

ingles and EPs

*"Dog on Wheels" (1997)
*"Lazy Line Painter Jane" (1997)
*"3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light" (1997)
*"This Is Just a Modern Rock Song" (1998)
*"Legal Man" (2000)
*"Jonathan David" (2001)
*"I'm Waking Up to Us" (2001)
*"Step into My Office, Baby" (2003)
*"I'm a Cuckoo" (2004)
*"Books" (2004)
*"Casaco Marron" (2006)
*"Funny Little Frog" (2006)
*"The Blues Are Still Blue" (2006)
*"White Collar Boy" (2006)
*"Introducing... Belle & Sebastian" (2008)

Miscellaneous songs

* "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (trad. cover) on the Xfm charity compilation "It's A Cool, Cool Christmas", released 20 November 2000 on Jeepster Records
* "Final Day" (Young Marble Giants cover) on the Rough Trade 25th-anniversary compilation "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before", released 23 September 2003 on Rough Trade Records
* "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" (live Serge Gainsbourg cover) on the "Fans Only" DVD, released 20 October 2003 on Jeepster Records
* "The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House" on the War Child charity album "", released 9 September 2005 on Independiente Records
* "Cassaco Marron" (Trio Esperança cover) on the Belle & Sebastian-compiled album , released on 27 February 2006 on Azuli Records, and as a limited-edition 7-inch vinyl single (b/w David Shrigley's spoken-word piece "When I Was a Little Girl") released 13 February 2006, also on Azuli
* "The Monkeys Are Breaking Out the Zoo," a children's song on the Save the Children charity album "Colours Are Brighter", released 16 October 2006 on Rough Trade Records
* "Are You Coming Over For Christmas?", released December, 2007 on Belle and Sebastian's official website and Myspace profile.


*"Fans Only" (2003)


* " " by Paul Whitelaw (biography of band featuring contributions from all members, past and present, with a cover designed by Stuart Murdoch), 2005
* "Put the Book Back on the Shelf: A Belle and Sebastian Anthology" (compilation of comics based on individual B&S songs), 2006
* "If You're Feeling Sinister" by Scott Plagenhoef (part of the 33 1/3 series of books)

ee also

*List of bands from Glasgow


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Belle and Sebastian on Matador Records]
*MySpace|thebandbelleandsebastian|Belle & Sebastian (official Myspace page)

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