Friday, 23 December 2011

Scottish Fiction - Best Of 2011 - Scottish Albums: 10 - 1

It is with a tear in my eye that I present to you my final list of the list making period. I've already given you my Top 30 International Albums of 2011 and I've unveiled numbers 20 to 11 of the Best Scottish Albums of 2011.

So all that remains is for me to wipe the sweat from my brow, put down my earphones, and present to you dear reader (maybe plural next year), my top 10 Scottish albums of 2011*.

* The usual disclaimers apply - Best means favourite, I've not listened to everything (scandalous I know...) and I welcome disagreement!

10. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize 'Diamond Mine' was released back on 28th March. Certainly it's profile has been catapulted by the Mercury mod, but those of us who have loved KC's music for a while will not be surprised by the quality of this album. It's got such quality in depth, heartfelt lyrics and with Hopkins on board the production is second to none.

(Buy the album, download, CD and LP, here)

9. United Fruit - Fault Lines

I was supposed to head along to the Glasgow launch night but fate had other ideas. However nothing could prevent this album, released on 30th May, from being a big hitter this year. Right from the off 'Kamikaze' dispells any possibility that this might be a nice subdued album and rips yer face off and rattles your bones. I've been lucky enough to see them twice this year, and wow is all I can say. 'Fault Lines' is a stunning debut, a stunning album, just stunning. Stunning.

(Download here, buy CD here)

8. Zoey Van Goey - Propeller Versus Wings

So technically ZVG are not a 'Scottish' band. Yet they've ambled about the Scottish music scene for some time now having formed in Glasgow back in 2006. And in signing with influential Scottish label Chemikal Underground and having been produced by Stuart Murdoch and Paul Savage, I'm hypocritcally* claiming them as 'Scottish'. Released on 14th February on the afformented Chemikal Underground, it's a quirky, fun-filled, jolly good fun album.

* read about how I slammed STV for including Snow Patrol in Scotland's Greatest Album.

(Buy the album, download, CD & LP, here)

7. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will

Seminal post rock Gods Mogwai returned on Valentines day with their seventh LP released on their own Rock Action Records. One of the best named albums of the year, and containing the best named song of the year (you know which one), it's the same beastly guitar driven rock that we've come to know and love. Highlights include Rano Pano, San Pedro and Mexican Grand Prix.

(Buy the CD here, and also available from all good retailers and online stores)

6. FOUND - factorycraft
Released on Chemikal Underground on 14th March lead single 'Anti-Climb Paint' may have been released on a edible chocolate 7", but there's nothing gimmicky about this album. factorycraft is a more stripped back affair, with lead singer Ziggy Campbell's story telling coming to the fore. It's inventive, which one would expect from an art school band, and it's catchy and intruiging enough without being pretentious.

(Buy the album, download, CD and LP, here)

5. Bwani Junction - Fully Cocked

Released on Aksatak Records on 14th November, even though I've only been listening to this album for three weeks before making this list, it's absolutely brilliant. At times it's almost effortlessly brilliant, as the Afro-Caribbean influences sweep throughout the album. But it's not contrived or a premeditated 'sound', it's simply a celebration of sounds and Fully Cocked manages to sound fresh and by references to Auld Reekie maintain a connection to their hometown.

(Download the album here, buy the CD here)

4. We Were Promised Jetpacks - In The Pit Of The Stomach

I have a confession. When Lloyd 'Peenko' Meredith emailed asking for my choices for the BAMS this was number three. However I have since bumped my previous number four up one, due to repeat listening, meaning WWPJ come in at #4. That should in no way detract from what is by all accounts a solid follow up album. Released on 4th October again on Fat Cat Records, it was probably one of the albums I was most anticipating this year. It sounds better than 'These Four Walls', but some of the songs lack a little of the punch of the previous. I feel bad that I'm now comparing this album to the first so I'll stop. Opener 'Circles And Squares' has the same vibe as 'Quiet Little Voices', preview track 'Act On Impulse' hooked my interest with its simplistic beat and showing off the band's penchant for long intro's. And the lead single 'Medicine' is as strong a song as the band have ever released.

(Buy the album, download, CD and LP, here)

3. Remember Remember - The Quickening

After bigging them up in the last section, I really should explain why I've bumped RR up a place since the BAMS. I've hardly had the album off rotation in the last few months. Released on Mogwai's Rock Action Records on 26th September, the album is musically an orchastrated work of art. Keeping the simple method of layering over a repeated beat, this time round, Graeme Ronald has added in fuller sounds by recruiting a band of instrumentalists to his side. At it's peaks, of which there are many, the music soars high, even though there's a tinge of melancholy which was absent from RR's debut. This is music for grown ups.

(Download here, buy the CD or LP here)

2. The Moth And The Mirror - Honestly, This World

I review this album a while back (read here) and reading it back I was rather gushing with praise. And damn right too. I'll direct you the the review for a more in depth discussion, but to sum the album up, it's an album which engulfs you. Capturing you in its folky arms, once invested there is some real post punk angst released, 'Boxes' is a brilliant example of this. Released on 7th November on Olive Grove Records, this is an album which ticks all the boxes I wasn't even expecting it to.

(Buy the album, download or CD, here)

Drum roll please...

1. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older

Right from the off I want to stress that this record should not be looked upon as solely an Aidan Moffat record. Opener 'Tasogare' should destroy that illusion straight away, with it's emotional outpouring from Well's piano. Released on Chemikal Underground on 26th April, 'Everything's Getting Older' has probably been my favourite album of 2011 since buying it. Even at the tender age of 25, I find myself identifying with the gloomy Moffat at times. It's an album of unparalled insight, beauty, humour. Fans of Moffat will click with his usual silver tounge, demonstrated especially on 'Ballad Of A Bastard' and 'Glasgow's Jubilee'. But whilst there is the underlying theme of 'ageing', penultimate track 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' is one of the most awe inspiring tracks I've ever heard. A complete understanding of this great adventure we call 'life', Moffat shows he can do beauty just as well as scathing. As for 'The Cooper Top', well no words I have can do it justice. Watch below. And buy this album.

(Buy the album, download, CD and triple LP, here)

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