BandsOnBands is a brand new weekly feature that we are incredibly excited to be debutting today with The Early November on the heels of their release for In Currents. The feature is meant for your favorite bands to clue you in on some of their largest influences that don’t necessarily bleed through into their music. For example, you would imagine from The Early November’s earliest releases that they were greatly affected by mid-90’s emo, but would you necessarily assume Belle & Sebastian has had a lasting effect on their musical journey? Probably not, and this is what BandsOnBands is all about: A great way to expose you to some of your favorite band’s “hidden” influences. That being said, read up on Joseph Marro of The Early November feature on Belle & Sebastian below while listening to a Spotify Playlist he made on the band here and make sure to download The Early November’s In Currents as well!
From Joseph Marro of The Early November:
In 1999, I was your typical emo kid. 17 years old, Cuffed jeans, Sauconys, carabiner, black frame glasses & thrift store little league shirt from a town I’ve never been to. Musically, I was (and still am) very into The Promise Ring, Jets To Brazil, The Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day, Lifetime, etc. A lot of “classic” albums were being released & nowhere was as exciting to be growing up & going to shows than New Jersey at that time. I was working at a Hot Topic where the staff was made up of subcultural archetypes: emo (myself), the punk (my friend Christian), the goth (Lillian), the nu-metal dude (?), the electronic/industrial guy (George) & a hard to classify indie-pop girl (Kathryn). She wore cardigans with homemade buttons of bands I’ve only ever heard the names of and every time it was her turn to choose the music the store would be filled with lo-fi, jangley, gentle, infectiously catchy pop songs with singers who always sounded tired. Then, you’d call her “twee”, now, maybe a “hipster”. Who knows.
I had a gift certificate to Sam Goody (I’m old) & knew they didn’t carry much I liked so I asked Kathryn to suggest something. She said Belle & Sebastian which I assumed was a two person duo like Simon & Garfunkel or Milli Vanilli. I asked her what kind of music it was & she said “pop” so then I assumed it sounded like The Promise Ring. I purchased what was their newest record at the time, Fold Your Hand’s Child, You Walk Like A Peasant. Everything about this record said “You won’t get this” to me. The album title, strange cover art, the plain typography, the record label I’ve never heard of…all of it. I popped it in the CD player on the drive home and sure enough, I didn’t. Why is this singer whispering? Skip. Is that a harpsichord?! Next. Is this drummer using brushes? Lame. There are more violins than guitar! Dumb. FLUTES?! Take it out. I hated it immediately. It was placed on the last page of the Case Logic CD binder (remember those?). For weeks it went ignored until one night, where for some reason I wanted to listen to it. Not because I desired to hear the songs but to instead to observe why someone would write music like that in this day & age. Almost as if I was mad at the record because I didn’t get it. Upon that play through, I started to listen to the words & the stories unfold. Brilliant stories. Each song read like a completely different novel. As the tone changed, a melancholy cello or trumpet would come in to highlight the mood. Everything had a place & no one was playing just to play. It was all carefully orchestrated to paint these pictures perfectly. Somehow it sounded like the 1960’s but still modern. Completely timeless. A eureka moment.
From that point on, I collected & learned everything I could about Belle & Sebastian. They were not a duo, but a seven piece from Glasgow. Their three previous records we’re just as beautiful & brilliant. They rarely gave interviews & lead signer/songwriter, Stuart Murdoch, was in fact tired due to chronic fatigue syndrome. They’ve released five records since that firs one I’ve heard and have been named dropped & featured in movies like High Fidelity, 500 Days Of Summer & Juno.
In 2010 I finally got to see them live (twice in one week!) and was as happy as a schoolchild on the first day of summer break. If you’re unfamiliar with the music I recommend starting with the record Dear Catastrophe Waitress. If you’re into more mellow folk stuff, give their 1996 classic If You’re Feeling Sinister a shot. Or hit me up on twitter and I’ll make a Spotify playlist. You really can’t go wrong with any of it but come to them with an open mind and a little patience - most great music requires it.
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