first, my favourite ten scottish releases of the last twelve months. my main list will be a bit lengthier, and will probably see four or five of these appear again - a pretty good showing really.
Zoey Van Goey - Propellers Versus Wings
I reviewed this for The Skinny back at the start of the year. “One of their best assets has always been the vocal contrast between Kim Moore and Matt Brennan – both pleasant individually, but bringing out the best in one other when combined… In this way they echo early Camera Obscura and the sorely-missed Delgados, while also helping ZVG stamp their own name on Scottish indie-pop with equally persistent ink.”
United Fruit - Faultlines
I feel like United Fruit snuck up on me a bit – no easy feat when they’re known for making quite the racket. Looking forward to seeing where they go next…8.
Here’s another one I reviewed for The Skinny… “Yates growls like a Weegie Cave on album centre-piece Mary Hell’s haunted strut, but it’s the closing When You Left Me’s tale of bereavement that will floor those expecting an uncomplicated good time. Yet amidst the finale's mourning, there’s room for some jet-black humour – a balancing act few manage so adroitly.”
We Were Promised Jetpacks - In the Pit of the Stomach
And another one! “A gutsy rebuttal to the whole concept of ‘Difficult Second Album Syndrome’” I reckoned. “It’s not quite perfect – a little spark dissipates whenever they take the foot off the pedal – but on those (numerous) occasions where the band locks in and nails it, the Jetpacks truly soar.”
It took a few listens for this to click, and if it hadn’t been received so enthusiastically elsewhere, I probably wouldn’t have persevered. Glad I did, like; it’s a corker.
They chuck out great albums with such consistency that it’s easy to take Mogwai for granted – I feel like if I’d listened to this just a teeny bit more often this year, it might well have been squaring off against messrs wells and moffat for the top spot.
I wasn’t responsible for reviewing this one, but I did throw together some words on their final Glasgow show, where we bid farewell to The Most Funnest Band Live You Ever Did See. “And then it’s over: but in the words of their almost-namesake (after accidentally conjuring a giant marshmallow man, blowing up a high-rise, and getting sued by half of New York): yeah, but what a ride.” Ach, at least we’ve There Is A Way to remember them by.
It doesn’t matter how late you leave these lists – they always end up a compromise. A couple of weeks ago, this wouldn’t have featured at all – I loved the debut, but never got round to picking this one up (I was probably sulking about missing their much-talked-about planetarium gig at The Science Centre). A top twenty placing in the Skinny poll reminded me to check it out, and I’m smitten.
I reviewed this back in January: a “gracefully busy tapestry of scuffling electronic loops and toy-box tics”, which carried echoes of Sally Shapiro, Bjork, Mogwai, The Deer Ticks and Múm. “For some, this is confirmation of the significant promise demonstrated live; for others, it will be a remarkable unveiling.”
I’ve written a pretty lengthy appraisal of this album already (read it here): suffice to say, if you haven’t given this a spin already, you’re a mad un.