Monday, 6 January 2014

Scottish Fiction Top 20 Scottish Albums of 2013

Last week I unveiled my favourite tracks of 2013 on the blog, which had the rather unfortunate effect of generating a list induced frenzy upon myself.  Since then I've decided fighting the compulsion is futitle, and the only thing for it is to provide our Top 20 Scottish albums in list form too.

If you tuned into Scottish Fiction's New Year's Day special on Pulse 98.4 FM, then you may already know the outcome.  Similarly if you have checked out the latest Scottish Fiction podcast then the element of surprise may have frittered away.  Incidentally said podcast is available here.

As always with lists, you need to put a limit on what you include, otherwise it becomes tedious.  I am of the person opinion that there's no difference between my 35th favourite album of the year and my 34th favourite album of the year.  So I've gone for a Top 20.  (Also in a rather convenient coincidence, 20 tracks fit nicely into a two hour radio show.)  However there's a few 'honourable mentions' I'd like to put out there, albums that had I invested more time in them (which I didn't for whatever reason), probably are equal to any on the final list.  So do try and check out the following albums too; eagleowl - This Silent Year, Steve Mason - Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time, The Little Kicks - Put Your Love In Front Of Me, The Pastels - Slow Summits, Sweethearts Of The Prison Rodeo - On The Desolate Hillside, Monoganon - F A M I L Y, L. Pierre - The Island Come True, Blue Rose Code - North Ten, Homework - 13 Towers, and This Silent Forest - Indivision

Without further ado, in reserve order, here's our favourite albums of 2013:

#20 - Reverieme - With Up So Floating

Self released back in April, Reverieme have evolved from being the solo project of lead singer Louise Connell into a fully fledged band with this clever and catchy sophmore album.  With Up So Floating features some darker moments, but fans of the Camera Obscura influenced sounds of debut album Melodies will not be disappointed either.

#19 - Camera Obscura - Desire Lines

Speaking of Camera Obscura, the Glasgow indie-popsters made their return this year with their fifth studio album Desire Lines.  Sweetness seeps out from this record, with Tracyanne Campbell's vocals softly weaving through the layered melodies to wondrous effect.

#18 - Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest

Who didn't wet themselves just a little bit when the news eeked out about super secret Boards Of Canada releases on RSD 2013?  Returning from a 8 year absence, Tomorrow's Harvest came out on 10th June after one of the best hype building promotions in recent years.  Woozy, dreamy, evocative and deliciously layered, it's classic BoC.

#17 - Quickbeam - Quickbeam

Albums this beautiful deserve to be heard by as many people as possible.  The eponymous début album from Quickbeam is one that you can lie back, turn off and shut out all the concerns of daily life, and float away with.

#16 - Friends In America - What It Is To Be

Not American, but most likely friends, Glasgow four piece Friends In America have been building up to the release of What It Is To Be for the best part of two years.  A labour of love, which shines through the clever songwriting and melodic indie sound.

#15 - Kid Canaveral - Now That You Are A Dancer

Indie darlings Kid Canaveral released their second album Now That You Are A Dancer on the now defunct Fence Records.  Building on the strong base they developed with Shouting At Wildlife, it's more of the assured indie-pop that we loved first time round.

#14 - Blood Relatives - Deerheart

In the form of Dead Hip, Blood Relatives are responsible for endless hours of this mid 20's male shaking his hips unashamedly.  Yet the catchy melodies and pun filled lyrics didn't end with the first single taken from the album, they continue right through like a stick of rock.  A joyous début that you will return to again and again.

#13 - Hector Bizerk - Nobody Seen Nothing

Self released, self promoted, and self supported, Hector Bizerk continue to stream ahead blazing a trail for Scottish hip-hop and demonstrating what you can achieve when you apply yourself.  Louie raps with passion, belief and knowledge, with Audrey snaps at the drums.  Fuller, louder, and sharper, the album deserves all the plaudits it has received.

#12 - RM Hubbert - Breaks & Bone

Not one to rest on his laurels, SAY Award winner RM Hubbert had album number three in the bag even before previous album Thirteen Lost & Found bagged him the SAY Award prize.  The last in the ampersand trilogy Breaks & Bones sees Hubbert attempt to call time on the experiences that shaped his previous work and move on, and features vocals from the man himself for the first time.

#11 - Kevin Harper - Kingdom Of Wires

 A contender for the most under appreciated album of 2013, Kevin Harper's self released effort Kingdom Of Wires is an unheralded gem.  The albums embodies DIY punk ethos and musically draws influence from a host of '90's American alternative bands.  Lyircally it's as honest and open an LP as you'll find from last year.

#10 - The Spook School - Dress Up

Demonstrating the immediacy and expectation that comes with releasing material on the internet, I expected The Spook School's début album a long time before it finally came out in October.  However it's clear that the band have been working hard, tightening up everything, honing their sound to ensure that when they did drop Dress Up, it lived up to the promise of their early singles. 

#9 - Fat Goth - Stud

 RAWK!  Released all the way back in January, it would be easy to forget Fat Goth and their second album Stud given all the great music that been released since.  But Stud is not an album that goes quietly back on the shelf.  It's 9 songs worm their way into your head, set up camp, and hold the funkiest, loudest, raucous party you've ever imagined.

#8 - Sparrow & The Workshop - Murderopolis

 Released on the Song By Toad label Sparrow And The Workshop's third album, the cheekily named Murderopolis, may be the band's finest yet.  At times descending into effects driven madness, at others harmonising playfully, it's a creative masterpiece.

#7 - Conquering Animal Sound - On Floating Bodies

 Ally McCrae stated that Conquering Animal Sound were one of his tips for the SAY Award's 2013.  He's a man who knows a thing or two.  Were On Floating Bodies to be absent from the longlist when it's announced in a few months, it would be a travesty.  It's a wonderful album which pushes the boundaries the band marked out on their previous album.

#6 - There Will Be Fireworks - The Dark, Dark Bright

The Dark, Dark Bright is an absolute triumph of an album, from a band who now can stand aside, not behind, the influences that shaped them.  There Will Be Fireworks prove they can do layered indie rock in the quiet-loud-quiet mould as well as anyone.

#5 - Rick Redbeard - No Selfish Heart

Steeped in Celtic folk music, No Selfish Heart sees The Phantom Band frontman Rick Redbeard step out with his own solo material.  Hauntingly beautiful, simplistically detailed, the album celebrates the softer, gentler side of music.

#4 - Algernon Doll - Citalo-pop

Ewan Grant a.k.a. Algernon Doll taps into his punk and hardcore roots to craft an album that has more room to breathe, and is more complete than his début.  Citalo-pop scuzzes, fuzzes, roars and delights with Grant's elegant songwriting heading the charge.   

#3 - Adam Stafford - Imaginary Walls Collapse

One of the most inventive, creative and thoroughly likeable musicians, Adam Stafford returned with a masterful blend of musical influences that hang off each other with ease.  Imaginary Walls Collapse is a triumph deserving of your time.

#2 - CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe

 There was no way that The Bones Of What You Believe couldn't have been a success.  But a collective sigh of relief was exhaled when we realised just how good CHVRCHES debut was.

#1 - Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse

Number 1.  Numero uno.  Top of the heap as ol' blue eyes would say.  2013 really say Frightened Rabbit step up to the plate that being signed to a major label presents.  Not only did they play their biggest UK tour to date, pull in a massive crowd at T in the Park, but fourth album Pedestrian Verse has the making of becoming a classic album.

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