Opinion: the SAY Award longlist is keeping Scotland’s musical conversation alive

Opinion: the SAY Award longlist is keeping Scotland’s musical conversation alive

Happy Meals

Scottish Album of the Year longlist is a strong showcase of the country’s musical output right now

Another beauty of a longlist emerged this morning from the SAY HQ. It features some of Scotland’s biggest hitters, one of whom will take the best album of the year award in June.

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

Read the complete 2015 longlist here.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

Belle and Sebastian

Scotland's much loved purveyors of jangling indie magic.

Asylum, Hull

Thu 3 Feb

Prices to be confirmed

Brighton Dome

Fri 11 Feb

Prices to be confirmed / 01273 709709

Cambridge Corn Exchange

Sun 13 Feb

Prices to be confirmed / 01223 357851

Also at:

King Creosote

Eclectic indie folk musician, plaintive troubadour and founder of the esteemed Fence Records.

Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre, Glasgow

Thu 11 Aug



Glaswegian post-rock instrumental heroes.

Alexandra Palace, London N22

Fri 25 Feb

Prices to be confirmed / 020 8365 2121

With BEAK>.

Fri 27 May

Prices to be confirmed / 020 8365 2121

With BEAK>.

The Twilight Sad

Melancholic soaring sounds from indie rock band Twilight Sad.

Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow

Sat 2 Apr

Sold out / 0141 552 4601

The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Fri 21 Jan

£27.50* / 0141 353 8000

Paolo Nutini

The Ivor Novello Award-winning Paisley pop singer-songwriter. Paolo Nutini's first album These Streets, which included hits 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty' and 'New Shoes', was released in 2006 and peaked at number three in the UK chart. In his early days Nutini supported The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse and KT Tunstall and has…


Glaswegian synth-indie trio with a penchant for sonic adventurism.