Various Artists - Late Night Tales: Belle and Sebastian Volume 2
Belle and Sebastian are in a very different place now than they were when they compiled their first Late Night Tales compilation back in 2006. They were undoubtedly established back then, but today they are superstars - back in those days, they were the darlings of music fanatics. Particularly in movie soundtracks, where they've become a sort of go-to band for a solid indie track - I can name 500 Days of Summer, Juno and Forgetting Sarah Marshall off the top of my head. Their first mix was a master class in obscurity, blending together a range of seemingly incompatible genres from rock to afropop and from jazz to reggae. Question is, have the band's tastes changed as much as their fame in the past six years?
The good news is, their tastes are still as eclectic as ever. Ethio-jazz courtesy of Mulatu Astatke is followed immediately by the acoustic stylings of Brazilian duo Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges. ‘Still Sound' by Toro Y Moi (one of the breakthrough acts of last few years) leads on from the laidback 60's groove of ‘L.S.D Partie' by Roland Vincent. In short, Belle and Sebastian's multitudinous influences are as varied as ever.
Whereas this makes for thoroughly interesting listening, it's difficult to say whether or not this works as a whole. Obviously, given the standard established by previous Late Night Tales mixes, this music made for the dark- the kind of CD you'd put on when you're lying awake late at night. The kind of music that would pique your interest whilst still being conducive to sleep. Some of the songs fit the bill perfectly- I myself have been lulled to sleep by Broadcast many times, and Belle and Sebastian's cover of 'Crash' is suitably delicate and laidback. Ce'cile's 'Rude Bwoy Thug Life', whilst being a great track in itself (I personally love the use of a sample by The Cure) seems kind of jarring when following on immediately from Toro Y Moi. Whilst it's great to dance to, if you were listening to this music whilst chilling out in the middle of the night, this is definitely a track that would stir you from a state of semi-consciousness. Whilst I would say at points that this mix seems to be suffering from an identity crisis, most of the tracks that are on it are carefully-picked and wholly enjoyable, if perhaps a slightly strange blend. If you're a rabid Belle and Sebastian fan such as myself I would advise picking this one up- if not for the great tracks, then simply to glimpse the music tastes of one of the most-loved bands of our generation.
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Ken Grand-Pierre spent some time with Belle and Sebastian at Radio City Music Hall, New York. [read more]
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