Scottish music in its various forms has become a reflection of the country’s fast-changing culture and national identity.
From folk and roots music to post-punk and the Scottish indie/alternative movement, it’s not surprising that in just one year The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award had almost 300 eligible albums to choose from.
After just six years, the SAY Award has become quite the prestigious music prize, with a £20,000 prize for the winner and nine runner-up prizes of £1000 each.
Those albums were whittled down to a twenty strong longlist by 100 impartial industry ‘Nominators’ and announced to a crowd of music fans and musicians at the O2 ABC in Glasgow on May 24th. This will now be shortlisted to just 10 nominees with one chosen by the public via a 72-hour online vote (12-14th June).
Now, it is partly up to the current generation of Scottish music lovers to choose what they think best embodies what has been another exceptional year of creative output.
Here is a handy list of the twenty nominees in alphabetical order and why they deserve to go through to the shortlist:
Adam Holmes and The Embers – ‘Brighter Still’
This is the second album from Adam Holmes which features his band The Embers, with vocals from Eddi Reader. This is folk steeped heavily in soul and heartfelt lyrics.
C Duncan – ‘The Midnight Sun’
This is the second offering by C Duncan who notably wrote and recorded this album in his Glasgow flat. A decidedly dreamy soundscape that sends you on a surreal adventure through the use of clever electronics and choral vocals.
Ela Orleans – ‘Circles of Upper and Lower Hell’
Ela Orleans is a Polish-born, Glasgow-based composer and this is her seventh album. At the base of her sound is a perfect marriage of electronic music and synth-led pop.
Fatherson – ‘Open Book’
This is Scottish alternative rock band Fatherson’s second studio album. In places this is anthemic, but overall beautifully crafted and full of raw emotion.
Frightened Rabbit – ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’
Another set of trailblazers in the Scottish alt/indie rock scene, this is the band’s fifth studio album. Frightened Rabbit are back on top form with a lyrically complex and mature sound.
Honeyblood – ‘Babes Never Die’
This Glasgow/Edinburgh duo have reached new heights in the last year with plenty of radio airplay and UK/US tours. Alt-rockers Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers lay into haters and explore themes of empowerment in this punchy release.
The Jesus and Mary Chain – ‘Damage and Joy’
Their first album since 1998’s Munki, this is Jesus and the Mary Chain’s comeback after a string of successful reunion tours. Jim and William Reid encapsulate the true rock ‘n’ roll spirit for a generation of new listeners.
King Creosote – ‘Astronaut Meets Appleman’
Instantly recognisable, King Creosote is now around the 60 albums mark but he shows no sign of waning. His latest release is a masterpiece, poignant, dynamic and in places darkly comedic.
Konx-om-Pax – ‘Caramel’
Konx-om-Pax is also the handle for animator, graphic designer and electronic music maker Tom Scholefield. A blissful homage to a ‘bygone rave era’.
Meursault – ‘I Will Kill Again’
I Will Kill Again was released by Song, By Toad records and is the fourth album by Neil Pennycook under the Meursault name. Melancholy seductive brilliance that proves Pennycook is stronger than ever.
Modern Studies – ‘Swell To Great’
Another Song, By Toad release, Modern Studies are a Glasgow/Yorkshire four piece who are accompanied by an old Victorian pedal harmonium. Transcendent melancholy soundscapes, rich and beautiful folk with a touch of blues.
Mogwai – ‘Atomic’
Originally created for Mark Cousins’ archival film documentary, Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise. A post-rock, synthesiser lead dystopian nightmare comes to life in an album that is both poignant and touching.
Pictish Trail – ‘Future Echoes’
Johnny Lynch aka Pictish Trail manages to reach real depth while still retaining an enormous sense of fun in Future Echoes. A reflection of Lynch’s home life on the Isle of Eigg, where he wrote the album in his caravan it’s Scottish folk meets electro rave at its best.
Rachel Newton – ‘Here’s My Heart Come Take It’
The multi-instrumentalist plays the harp, piano and keyboard and sings in both English and Gaelic. The third solo release from traditional artist Rachel Newton, ‘Here’s My Heart Come Take It’ is an enthralling and evocative album.
RM Hubbert – ‘Telling The Trees’
Another collaborative effort with the likes of Karine Polwart, Kathryn Joseph, Kathryn Williams and Anneliese Mackintosh. The album is a feat of creativity, tantalising in its diversity and a marks a new chapter for ‘Hubby’.
Sacred Paws – ‘Strike A Match’
The debut LP from London-to-Glasgow duo Sacred Paws – guitarist Rachel Aggs and singer/drummer Eilidh Rogers. A fun romp with plenty of energy and elements of post-punk and new wave with moments of real tenderness.
Starless – ‘Starless’
The album features five of the country’s most talented Gaelic singers, former Blue Nile frontman Paul Buchannan and The Prague Symphony Orchestra. An album full of lavish orchestration coupled with compelling vocal performances, steeped in romanticism.
Teenage Fanclub – ‘Here’
Teenage Fanclub’s tenth album release, they are back with a grittier and mature sound which provides their fans with a great piece of escapism.
TeenCanteen – ‘Say It All With A Kiss’
Glasgow based TeenCanteen’s debut album is infectiously catchy and the harmonies are just incredible. It’s poetic, playful, bubblegum pop music done properly.
Vukovi – ‘Vukovi’
A four-piece rock act with powerful guitar riffs and well thought out lyrics easily separating them from others of a similar ilk. The self-titled album isn’t at all staid, but full of energy and an exciting listen.
Keep up-to-date with the latest Scottish Album of the Year Award news via the official SAY Award website!