Belle and Sebastian
If you want to hear beautiful pop songs about traveling on buses, personal recollections made in natural surroundings, and depressive whimsy, look no further than Scottish seven-piece Belle and Sebastian. Led by Stuart Murdoch, the band are wonderfully literate and their music is strong enough to make them heroes in such non-English speaking countries as France. Their shimmering, multi-layered folk pop -- like that of the otherwise very different Lambchop -- only gets lighter with each additional instrument. An indie Horatio Alger story, B&S came out of nowhere in 1996, quickly selling all 1,000 copies of their critically acclaimed debut Tigermilk. Going from a university project to a professional outfit, the album If You're Feeling Sinister only built on their success, but The Boy With the Arab Strap (1998) refreshingly added songwriting and singing voices other than Murdoch's to the mix. Full of heartache, country lanes and dewy pastures, Belle and Sebastian's songs allow you to get away from your sorry life and examine it simultaneously.