171-175 – Scottish album of the year contenders

I was trying to think of a theme to link together this latest group of tunes, rather than just following the simple “here’s 5 random songs lumped together with no rhyme or reason – yay!” formula. But after failing to come up with anything insightful, I’ve decided to simply take something relatively newsworthy and go from there.

So here’s today’s theme: 5 of the contenders from this year’s Scottish Album of the Year short/long lists. Now, i’ve already featured one or two of them over the past few months but there’s a wealth of other stuff in there that I’ve been really happy to discover. So let’s get started.

1 – FFS – Johnny Delusional

We’ll begin with a slight cheat; namely a supergroup made up of bands that you’ve ~(probably) heard of. But it’s so bizarre that it definitely deserves a place here.

FFS are an alliance of Glasgow indie darlings Franz Ferdinand and, randomly, 70s alt-rock weirdos Sparks (yes, that Sparks. The ones who did This Town’s Not Big Enough For The Both Of Us). And it’s wondrous. The two styles mesh seamlessly and create something really quite lovely, with their latest single Johnny Delusional proving the point perfectly. It’s a glorious beast of a tune, full of Franz’s scuzzy guitars and some cracking synth work. I love it.

2 – Steve Mason – Planet Sizes

Second up is Beta Band frontman Steve Mason, whose album Meet The Humans has been getting a huge amount of buzz recently – and not just from its SAY Award nomination. It’s really nice, dreamy alt-rock/pop complete with the lilting, throaty late 90s alternative vocals that the likes of the Betas, the Doves et al were famous for.

This song Planet Sizes is excellent, and has a tremendous video too (which may or may not have affected my decision to include him in this post). Enjoy.

3 – Admiral Fallow – Squealing Pigs

Some unashamed Scottish indie-folk now from Glaswegian group Admiral Fallow. Their album Tiny Rewards is the one that’s been SAY Award-nominated, but I’ve actually taken a track from another one of their LPs, Boots Met My Face, instead.

Squealing Pigs is a tremendous little piece of raucous joy, all filled with lovely wee acoustic melodies and happiness. Easily the most uplifting piece of music I’ve heard all week.

4 – Jarlath Henderson – Courting is a Pleasure

Nu-folk goodness here from BBC Young Folk Musician award-winner, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Jarlath Henderson – whose mix of Scottish and Irish traditional music, wrapped up with modern flair is an absolute delight. This tune Courting is a Pleasure – from his recent LP Hearts Broken, Heads Turned – is fantastic, particularly once it kicks into ambient backdrop-filled, slightly squelchy-sounding sections towards the song’s crescendo.  Really impressive.

5 – Hector Bizerk – Everybody Laughed

One of the entries on the SAY Award’s long list, Hector Bizerk is an experimental hip hop group comprising drummer Audrey Tait and rapper Louie who spit out some frankly awesome (and catchy) pieces of social commentary. Their nomination actually came for The Waltz of Modern Psychiatry – a soundtrack LP to the play Crazy Jane – but I’ve chosen something from their most recent album, 2016’s The Second City of the Empire. 

This song is the razor-sharp Everybody Laughed – a searingly savage little track about sexual oppression in Glasgow that contains some of the best Caledonian rapping I’ve heard in a long time (sorry, Stanley Odd!). Apologies to end on a bit of a downer, but this is phenomenal stuff.

No video though – so you’ll have to make do with the Spotify link, I’m afraid.

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