How the capital sound of Edinburgh's music scene is rising
For a long time it’s felt as though Edinburgh’s music scene has had to play second fiddle to its cooler, bigger West Coast brother, picking up on Glasgow’s trends and regularly borrowing its records, its clothes and a little of its cachet. But while the press were looking the other way, Edinburgh’s scene has blossomed into a fertile, unique, busily innovative community of its own.
From the tiny but mighty Sneaky Pete’s – regularly filled to the brim by PCL’s shrewd bookings – to the grand and characterful Queen’s Hall, via gothic hipster hangout the Roxy Art House and loveable dive Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh’s venues have a lot to attract the touring bands. But it’s what’s happening at a grass roots level that is most exciting right now.
Matthew Young, owner of the Song, by Toad blog and record label, recently wrote an article for online music magazine Drowned In Sound on Edinburgh’s ‘reactive, unusual and stubborn-as-fuck’ music scene. More recently still, Milo McLaughlin has been guest blogging on Song, by Toad about the general rude health of the Scottish scene, with particular emphasis on Edinburgh. There’s a definite sense of community spreading through the many informed and passionate blogs written by Edinburgh’s music lovers, and increasingly these bloggers are also branching out into other activities; gig promotion or, in the case of Song, by Toad and 17 Seconds, becoming mini-record labels.
Song, by Toad Records began when Young decided to combine the captive readership of his blog with a desire to promote some of the best of the unsigned bands sending him their demos. And while top-class local acts such as Meursault and Jesus H Foxx remain at the core of SbTR’s roster, in 2010 the label has also released music by Loch Lomond (who, confusingly, hail from Portland, Oregon) and Montreal’s Trips and Falls. This means both that there are more exciting bands coming to play to Edinburgh, and that local music is reaching an international audience by association.
Edinburgh’s not a huge place, and while that may mean fewer bands and gigs overall, it also makes the city a hotbed of exciting collaborative events. Take, for example, the bi-monthly three-way musical showdown Versus at the Voodoo Rooms, or one-offs like last summer’s Playing with the Past, where three bands soundtracked material from the Scottish Screen Archive. These nights rely on trusting audiences, willing to bank on the quality of local artists and promoters. It’s this trust that allows promoters such as Ten Tracks, Trampoline, Tracer Trails and The Gentle Invasion to add exciting, relatively unknown bands to their bills, and still be sure of numbers through the door.
We’d like to keep it all for ourselves, but in the spirit of sharing, let’s just hope 2010 is the year that the rest of the world sits up and pays attention to Withered Hand, The Last Battle, Meursault, Jesus H Foxx, FOUND, Keser, Stanley Odd, Sebastian Dangerfield, eagleowl, Enfant Bastard and the others propping up an extremely healthy scene.