Tips for 2020: Scotland

Tips for 2020: Scotland

CURRENT AFFAIRS

Current Affairs are Joan (ex-The Royal We/Seconds/Rose McDowall’s band), Seb (ex-Anxiety/Pissy), Josh (The Downs/Kaspar Hauser/ex-Rose McDowall’s band) and Andrew (Shopping/As Ondas). Between them the band also run the Spite House collective – an all ages punk party focused on supporting female and queer independent music from Glasgow and a platform for touring bands to play to a welcoming audience. They released their debut album Object & Subject. Their single ‘Cheap Cuts‘ is urgent, hooky and snarling; this tangled beauty of a song is riven with bounding post-punk bass, a scratching frenzy of guitars and hollered screams, emanating from the garage of four particularly pissed off people. This kick in the nuts to austerity is also smothered in an addictive tune rattling with the ghosts of The Slits, Hole, Shellac. Awesome! (Bill Cummings)

SAVAGE MANSION

Already well known to those lucky enough to have come across his debut album Revision Ballads last year, Craig Angus – the steady presence behind the Savage Mansion name – looks set for a busy 2020 with new single ‘Karaoke’ due out on 28th January and a heavy hint of more to come before the year is out. As Savage Mansion, Angus, an ever-present figure in the Glasgow DIY scene creates slacker jams that are a charming blend of Californian bliss and Scottish wit. He also possesses an unnerving ability to craft inescapable melodies that permeate through his hazy drawl as he shuffles and clatters through glorious snatches of indie-pop.

Signed to the always interesting Lost Map and with an illustrious cast of musicians including the fantastic Martha Ffion and members of Catholic Action (another Scottish group set for a big 2020) providing a hand, Angus is unafraid to shake things up. Embracing big choruses and willing to pair the divine and the daft within his lyrics he is an endearing talent well deserving of some wider recognition. (Craig Howieson)

HAPPY SPENDY

Eimear Coyle’s DIY synth-pop band Happy Spendy make the most effervescent, wondrously moon-eyed music, shot through with an aching sense of loss. Much of Coyle’s writing is borne from the experience of her father’s death a few years ago, and explores the way that grief becomes an ever present part of life, even in the happiest moments – particularly, in fact, the happiest moments. Her songs are disguised with upbeat melodies and daft keyboard noises and surrounded by her best friends, and they’ve played joyous live shows supporting the likes of The Vaselines and The Spook School.

Newly signed to Lost Map, new single ‘Feelings 2‘ is drawn from the EP Ready When You Are, which is out on February 28 ahead of a compilation in the spring that assembles all their singles to date in one lavish, bumper package. (Colin Bond)

COPING MECHANISM

A familiar face within the Scottish music scene, PAWS frontman Phillip Jon Taylor is set to release his first record of solo material under the name Coping Mechanism on 7th February following a relocation from Glasgow to the Highlands. Lead single ‘Silver Spooners’ at first sounds a world away from his previous output with the indie-punk stalwarts but on closer inspection the album reveals itself to be a kindred spirit. Guitars, and often vocals are largely absent, but in their place, Taylor has utilised an electronic arsenal of loops, synths and programmed drums to create an immersive, beguiling album with at beating heart at its ambient core.

There is still plenty to hook in fans of his output as PAWS, the brilliant futuristic pop-punk glitches of ‘Lasso The Moon’ being the perfect example. However, it will likely be the gorgeous soundscapes like that of ‘If You Want I Could Carry You Home’ scattered elsewhere that will drag listeners back in time and time again. (Craig Howieson)

YAKIMA

Glasgow fourpiece YAKIMA have the distinct appeal of sounding as if they are reaching your ears in some half-dreamt state. As it bleeds through a softly cushioned layer their lo-fi indie is blessed with a hushed quality despite its swirls of electric guitars, popping bass and snapping snares. The group’s debut EP Go Virtually is out on 20th March and features the lead single ‘It Helped’, a careering haze of harmonising voices and blazed guitar washes. (Craig Howieson)

BELL LUNGS

Eerie doesn’t even begin to cover the troubling, gravity-defying improvisations of Bell Lungs. Like a banshee spirit raiding some crypto-zoological toy box, she sounds like a madness-inducing glimpse of some impossible plane of reality. The new LP is out in March. Expect glitchy loops and dark, peaty psych-folk. Just don’t lose your way there after dark. (Colin Bond)

https://bell-lungs.bandcamp.com/album/wolves-behind-us

ZOE GRAHAM

Zoe Graham has been meticulously piecing together a reputation for affecting crystalline electronic music imbued with a bittersweet emotional essence. Still only 22, with a grounding in folk music Graham is a burgeoning Glaswegian artist whose songwriting displays a depth and maturity for an artist still discovering her own powers.

On her recent single evocative single ‘Gradual Move’, the past is something constantly reshaped by increments, no matter how sudden some of life’s departures may seem, as minimal atmospheric backdrops are punctured by moving couplets.

With her new single ‘Sleep Talking’, meanwhile , Zoe Graham explores what happens with eyes closed and heart open-wide across a glistening palette of electronic pop decorated in pianos and synth textures, with echoes of the work of Christine and the Queens or Purity Ring this track plumbs the depths of night time anxiety.

Graham wrote the song from experience, having fallen out of love with an ex-girlfriend and keeping her true feelings hidden. “I would wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, thinking I had admitted my feelings aloud,” she says. “A terrifying feeling that the person I really care about lying right next to me might have heard it, and the confusion of whether I even said anything at all.” 

At its core, ‘Sleep Talking’ is a song about the inability we feel to be honest to those closest to us – and to ourselves. (Bill Cummings)

 

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