This has been a very good year for Scottish music, a vintage one in fact. Which made it very hard to narrow it down to ten top contenders. So I didn’t – my inability to choose means it’s a twenty, though a couple are cheats but hey, it’s my blog and I make my own rules.
Before we commence proceedings, a wee heads up: look out for a couple of guest “top ten” blogposts from randomly selected friends who share a love of all things musical. The burd will also be doing her top ten tracks of the year, just as soon as I’ve sifted and surfed, hummed and hawed, and chopped and changed my mind umpteen times. (But it really does beat work/cleaning/TV/wrapping presents). If you have a top ten you are bursting to share, post a comment and we’ll load it up!
The difficulty with lists, of course, is no sooner have you compiled them, but a different day, a shift in mood and you would change the order, drop some and add more. And there is always, always the risk that you have overlooked a beauty or worse, it passed you by.
Purchase the albums from any of the usual stockists, including on emusic, for anyone with an account. But also check out blogs like Aye Tunes, Peenko, Song, by Toad who all reviewed most of these at some point in the year and may still have some tracks available free to download.
Enough prevarication…. drum roll please…. here they are. In absolutely no particular order, or else I’d still be sorting…..
Bottle of Evil – Bottle of Evil. I’m amazed this hasn’t featured in more top tens. A wonderful, innovative, shape shifting, mood altering album. Delivered from deepest, darkest Lanarkshire from whence they dare not venture out and into gigs it would seem. Stand out tracks include Seize the Day and Holding up the Bar
Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers – Home and the Wildhunt. I missed them at Wickerman but caught them in the autumn on a double bill with the Phantom Band. And was very glad I did. The album is assured, playful and serious all at the same time. Twisted Mile and Hang the Noose (the link is to a video version of this track) are particular faves.
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Hawk. The first of the cheats because Mr Lanegan ain’t Scottish. But this is a great album and it just works so well on so many different levels. More like this please. Try Hawk and Come Undone.
Kid Canaveral – Shouting at Wildlife. Yes the burd does *pop*, especially when it’s as thoughtful and lyrical as this. Great band, great debut and on the must-see-live-soon list. And Another Thing! has been shuffled on the ipod daily.
Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep. A master returns and while we all willed this album to be great, we needn’t have worried. It is. It’s a damn fine comeback and the title track is definitely a stand out.
Burns Unit – Side Show. This is the kind of collaboration that shouldn’t work but actually produced a breathtaking album. Wonderful songs, voices and lyrics combine to deliver a real treat, especially the overtly political Send them Kids to War.
Frightened Rabbit – the Winter of Mixed Drinks. Frightened Rabbit actually featured in my 2009 Scottish top ten with a track off this album. A neat trick. They grow in stature and Living in Colour is currently getting a lot of replay.
The Phantom Band – the Wants. Yep, it’s top or nearby on everyone’s lists and deservedly so. They were great live but I do hope they’ve dropped the rotating drummer idea…. Go try Everybody knows it’s True.
Mitchell Museum – the Peters Port Memorial Service. They burst out of nowhere, taking everyone by surprise and no wonder. They even managed to produce the best album title of the year. Every time I try to pick a favourite track off this album, it changes almost immediately. Scotland expects great things of this band, and rightly so.
Teenage Fanclub – Shadows. Like good wine, they get better with age. Probably my favourite musical moment of 2010 was watching them live at Wickerman, play us through the sunset and into the dusk, effortlessly, joyfully and lovingly – of their music and the crowd. Wonderful. This album gives me another fave Fannies track to add to my bulging collection – When I Still have Thee.
the Sexual Objects – Cucumber. Probably very close to being my top Scottish album but not quite. Experimental, shameless and unapologetically providing music for grown ups. It has to be worked at to be appreciated. I mean, what’s not to like about a song called Queen City of the 4th Dimension
the John Knox Sex Club Tribute – Blud Rins Cauld. You may think I’ve developed an unhealthy fixation but the only thing suggestive about this lot is the name. Folksy is what they are, slow burning, intense but also capable of light and shade. Highly recommended are In the Ditch and the Devil’s in your Hands.
Jesus H Foxx – Matter. Another cheat but only cos it’s an EP. This band has two drummers so they were always in with a shout of finding favour with the burd. Fortunately the music passes muster and I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more from them. I’m half the Man you Were is a great starting point.
the Scottish Enlightenment – St Thomas. Yep, I confess, this band had passed me by until a tweet from Ian Rankin (@beathhigh) alerted me. And I’m very glad it did. This is epic music with epic song titles. Necromancer anyone?
Sparrow and the Workshop – Crystalls Fall. If anyone ever wondered about the ability of pop and now music blogging to eat itself, the overlooking of this band and this album in 2010 proves it. Hello people, this album is great so why is it missing off all your lists? Broken heart, Broken Home is quite beautiful.
Aerials Up – ? Which isn’t the EP or album title but a query as to whether they have either. No matter, the tracks streaming on their website are fab. And they really pricked my ears at Wickerman. Given that they won the Emerging Talent award at the Tartan Clef Awards, great things should surely follow. Go listen to Broken Wing and find out why.
A Band called Quinn – the Beggars’ Opera. A great concept delivered with swagger and conceit. Inventive, soaring and sorry, no recommendations. This album must be listened to from beginning to end.
The Savings and Loan – Today I need Light. Now this album is why you wait to the bitter end before compiling your best of list. Just released, it’s already getting a lot of play on the burdz itunes. If I can draw your attention to Catholic Boys in the Rain which has Tom Leonard reading an alcoholic litany at the beginning. Oh yes.
The Last Battle – Heart of the land, soul of the sea. The album title alone is enough really. It’s folk but just as the burd likes it, dark and hinting of menace in places – they are after all from Leith – and it’s beautifully melodic and meaningful. Oh Best Beloved is top class and probably shaves it as my favourite.
Meursault – All Creatures will make Merry. I’ve saved the best til last, for if you pressed me, this would probably be my Scottish album of the year. Just as Pissing on Bonfires… would easily have been in my top 3 from 2009. Despite coming close together, these are two very different albums, though wrapped in an increasingly identifiable, idiosyncratic Meursault trademark sound and feel.
I like this band a lot. In fact I love this band. And this album has so many high points of creativity, invention and craftmanship, it is just a wonderful and wondrous beast. These boys make music that bring tears to the burdz eyes for all the right reasons. Song for Martin Kippenberger and One Day this’ll all be Fields are particularly awesome.
And there you have it – the burdz top twenty. The great thing about reading other people’s lists is that you always find a new band or an album you missed. So ask Santa nicely and I’m sure he’ll oblige!