Opinion: the SAY Award longlist is keeping Scotland’s musical conversation alive
Scottish Album of the Year longlist is a strong showcase of the country’s musical output right now
This article is from 2015.
As a playlist of the country’s musical output, what do these 20 albums sound like to the rest of the world? Well, they sound like the tinkling, roaring, pulsing mix of twee pop, jangly folk, radio rock, odd pop and trippy-French-language-louche-disco that makes up Scotland’s music scene right now.
Pleasingly, the list merged some very well kent household names (Idlewild, Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, King Creosote, Paolo Nutini) with some magnificent musicians and bands still floating below the radar, but very deserving of some limelight.
There’s much to love on the list; a sleazy, addictive synth début from girlfriend / boyfriend duo Happy Meals (runner of micro-label Instructional Media, and musical polymath Lewis Cook is surely long overdue some serious praise for his melted-pop output of recent years); gleaming, goofed-up ambient dancefloor-jams from Errors; gloriously maudlin bringdown anthems from The Twilight Sad; throwback acid house and unnerving techno from Slam; sugary-slacker-rock from Glasgow female-twosome Honeyblood and plenty more.
Now as the Tweets and Facebook posts begin pinging in, lamenting overlooked bands, and nailing colours to the mast before the vote is opened to the public in late May, it’s a chance to discuss, champion, gripe and gush over Scotland’s musical landscape.
Strong as the list is, and bearing in mind the SAY’s truly commendable encouragement of any type of entry – from the self-released bedroom opus to the ultra-polished, big budget studio hit – there still seems a slight absence of the kind of music that Scotland produces prolifically and very competently, albeit less publicly; metal, experimental, weirdo, jazz, modern composition and underground dance acts are nowhere to be seen, giving a slightly warped snapshot of the kaleidoscopic, multi-faceted Scottish music scene.
But then again, that’s surely what the SAY Award’s all about – progressing the musical language and keeping the conversation going about what we do well. Congratulations to the 20 nominees, and cheers to the good health of Scotland’s music!
Claire Sawers is music editor at The List, and was a judge for the 2014 SAY Award