Thursday, 3 January 2013

top scottish albums of 2012!

happy new year! just like last year, i'm gonna follow the lead of every magazine, blog and opinionated so-and-so by arbitrarily ranking a bunch of things, grouped together pretty much solely on the basis that they all happened to come out in the same 365 day period. first up: my favourite scottish albums of 2012.

it was a very, very good year for north-of-the-border music. how good? twilight sad didn't even make the list. good grief!


Chris Devotion and the Expectations – Amalgamation  

Chris Devotion and the Expectations - Amalgamation and Capital

I reviewed this for The Skinny back in January last year, reckoning that, if you encountered it anonymously, "you might presume it a greatest hits rather than a debut, its no-nonsense new-wave suggesting a lost genre classic from a contemporary of Elvis Costello – a Jags, or an Any Trouble perhaps, with extra punk crunch in some of its more straight-up rock n roll numbers... Devotion and his Expectations are not exactly reinventing the wheel, but nor are they attempting to; instead, they’ve elected to rev it into a rubber-shredding spin, sparks flying from every boldly-struck power chord and cheeky lyrical bon mot."


RM Hubbert - Thirteen Lost and Found 

RM Hubbert - Thirteen Lost & Found

Another one I wrote about at the top of 2012. More satisfying than debut First & Last, in part thanks to contributions from a rather talented bunch of guests (Aidan Moffat, Alasdair Roberts, Alex Kapranos and more), but mostly due to the fact that Hubbert has an awful lot of talent crackling in his fingertips.


Holy Mountain - Earth Measures

Holy Mountain - Earth Measure LP

Capturing the ferocity of their ever-awesome live show and then some, Earth Measures was an almighty sledgehammer of a record. Of the album launch, i wrote: "the trio know when to exert moderation and when to cut loose; coiling tight then releasing the tension in wild displays of abandon." A-fucking-men.


The Curse of the Haunted Headphones cover art

Randolph's Leap - The Curse of the Haunted Headphones

A stripped-back cassette-only release that perfectly captured the lo-fi brilliance of Adam Ross's songwriting. The more recent Fence EP demonstrated Randolph's Leap's full-band style splendidly, but this is the release that coaxed me back most often in the last few months.


Paws - Cokefloat

Again, I didn't review the album, but i did have some choice words to say about its launch. Words like "awesome" and, er, "crunchy" (you can read the full review here).


Human Don't Be Angry - Human Don't Be Angry

Human Don't Be Angry - Human Don't Be Angry

Aaaaaand another i reviewed for The Skinny on release: "Working with a pseudonym borrowed from a German board game, Human Don’t Be Angry sees Malcolm Middleton in an appropriately playful mood. Opener The Missing Plutonium lounges like Don Henley’s Boys of Summer given a retro-futurist reshuffle, while H.D.B.A. Theme further clarifies the album’s combination of guitar-based vistas and looped cores. Both tracks impress by blowing open expectations, pushing Middleton into new, but intuitively grasped, territories."


 Meursault – Something for the Weakened

 Meursault - Something for the Weakened

Another absolute cracker from Pennycook and co - one that's rightly topped more than one best-of list this year.


James Yorkston - I Was A Cat From A Book

James Yorkston - I Was a Cat From a Book

Yorkston's best album yet, full of beauty and fire and sadness and anger.



David Byrne and St. Vincent - Love This Giant

Ok, so this one's only 50% Scottish, but the album was 100% ace, so it's in.


Errors - Have Some Faith in Magic 

Errors - Have Some Faith in Magic

A five-star review back in January, and still on top 12 months on. "Tusk is an impeccable introduction - bombastic and tight, its opening is a Richard Burton monologue-short of Jeff Wayne, its central melody a crystal-prog wonder. It’s one of their third album's boldest points of progression from past releases, though the echoing vocals that slink through single Magna Encarta also refresh the band’s palette... [But] despite these tweaks, Errors' strengths remain consistent, dextrously push-pulling the listener between dance floor and headphones, the latter to appreciate the invention on offer, the former to get lost in its folds. The pointillist-style artwork is nicely representative in this regard – intricately clever up-close, unfussy yet beautiful when surveyed as a whole: quite simply, magic."

[read 2011's list here!]

[read 2010's list here!]

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