Wednesday 12 December 2018

My Top Ten Scottish Songs of 2018

My favourite radio station of 2018 has been BBC Radio Scotland. I started listening to it because I discovered Ricky Ross's Another Country, which plays a far better selection of new and old country and Americana than Bob Harris does these days. I'll always be thankfully to Whispering Bob for introducing me over the years to many of my favourite artists, but he's gone a bit commercial in his old age. Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross is an unlikely country fan, and he admits to coming late to the genre, but 90% of the music he plays is of interest to me, whereas Bob manages about 50% these days.

While enjoying Ricky's show, I also discovered a couple more Radio Scotland shows that became firm favourites, both devoted to the singer-songwriter genre, and invested in lyrical storytelling. Iain Anderson (not the guy from Jethro Tull, though I did have to check) covers the older end of that spectrum well, while Roddy Hart (another songwriter-turned-DJ) has introduced me to some more contemporary acts I've really got into this year. There's a fair bit of crossover between their shows, and a focus on some Scottish musicians I'd never encountered before. They both hit the mark with me far more than the average 6Music show, a station which is still trying too hard to be cool, something that'll only increase once Lauren Laverne takes over the breakfast show. After the doubly demoted Keaveny & RadMac, only Guy Garvey really tickles my fancy on 6 anymore, and even he tries a little hard at times. (Most of my radio listening is done in the wee small hours these days, via iPlayer, so much as I enjoy Iggy, Huey and Riley, I only get to catch them live every now and then... and they're not going to soothe away the mental aches and pains of the day in the way I need at 3am.)

Anyway, Radio Scotland has introduced and re-introduced me to some great Scottish records this year. The Proclaimers have already featured in my Top 18, and there's another great Scottish record coming up once I hit the Top Ten. Here's ten more great Scottish tunes that made me hit download this year...

(I'll dedicate this Top Ten to the late Scott Hutchinson from Frightened Rabbit, a truly great Scottish musician who tragically departed this mortal coil earlier this year.)

10. Blue Rose Code - Ebb & Flow

Top of my list of artists to investigate further in the new year is Edinburgh's Ross Wilson, aka Blue Rose Code.

9. The Gracious Losers - Where The River Meets The Sea

I owe this lot initially to Charity Chic, though they also cropped up on Roddy Hart's show later, once Roddy had decided to follow the cool crowd.

8.  Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert - Quantum Theory Love Song

I often find space in my record collection for the Arab Strap boys. Here Aidan teams up with RM Hubbert from El Hombre Trajeado to offer a tribute to the late Stephen Hawking...

7. Martha Ffion - Record Sleeves

From the album Sunday Best, this reminds me very much of Camera Obscura (of whom more in a moment). Great opening line too.

When we were 15,
We burned our diaries
You saw the devil
Painted on our record sleeves

6. Dead Man Fall - Andy Warhol

Know very little about this lot, but they remind me of a Scottish Vampire Weekend.

5. Daniel Meade - If The Bombs Don't Kill Us

Glaswegian Americana. Lovely stuff.

4. Tracyanne & Danny - Alabama

I suspect quite a few of my fellow bloggers may have found a place in their year end countdown for this collaboration between Camera Oscura's Tracyanne Camplbell and Crybaby's Danny Campbell. I liked the album a lot, particularly the retro-Richard Hawley vibe to some of the songs, yet somehow it couldn't quiet edge its way onto my shortlist. Alabama though, is a classic.

3. Neil Sturgeon & The Infomaniacs - NY Reflection Song

They don't write them like this anymore.

Oh, wait... they do!

2. Karine Polwart - Laws of Motion

I was a fan of Karine Polwart's debut record some years ago, but she'd slipped off my radar until a couple of months back when she released this album... one I've only started listening to in detail and I'm already wondering whether I should have found space for it in my Top 18.

There is one track on this record which is definitely one of my songs of the year... but I'm saving that for another Top Ten in a week or so.

1. Iain Morrison - Let's Go Captain

I have snuck this one into a post earlier in the year, but it deserves another play now. As I said at the time, don't make up your mind about it until 1 minute 10...


  1. Rol - thanks for keeping us abreast of the Scottish music scene!
    You listen to Radio Scotland more than I do

  2. I'm ashamed to say I only know a couple of the names in your top 10, but if they're as good as that Iain Morrison track, I look forward to listening to the rest. (I'm with you on the Ricky Ross fandom - his BBC website is a joy - and Iain Anderson's show is always worth a listen.

  3. Indeed Rol - Thanks for familiarising us with the Scottish music scene!

    Iain Anderson used to host the morning show on our local station which Mr WIAA used to really enjoy when he worked from home - Realise now that it was because we are paired with Radio Clyde, which is where Iain worked. All very complicated the independent radio network it seems but something you will understand well I imagine.

    The fact you're posting here today must mean it's going well with Ofsted! Hope so anyway.


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