2009 is nearly through and for me the Scottish underground scene is in as healthy a state as it ever has been. Withered Hand’s debut album ‘Good News’ is without a shadow of a doubt the album of the year for me. And the wonderful thing about this artist is the impact that he seems to have on everyone who hears his music. You just have to look at the polls over on songbytoad these past few weeks to see the impact he’s had on people far and wide. Not many people didn’t have song by him in their top 5 songs of 2009. On top of which Good News features heavily in the top 5 album lists of most people who have had the pleasure of hearing it. Hopefully the good word will be spread further in 2010.
eagleowl released a new single in December, once again to glowing reviews left, right and centre. They may have taken until the last month of the year to release it but the impact that it has had has been quite amazing. Everyone I know who was at the single launch has lauded it for being an amazing show and every blogger or journalist I know who has the single has something positive to say. For me, they remain one of the most interesting and genuinely affecting bands that exist in Scottish music.
Beerjacket is another one who has made waves in 2009. His 4th (??) album ‘Animosity’ is jam packed with fantastic songs reminiscent of early Elliott Smith. Having had the pleasure to have seen Peter play twice this year it’s not just his record that catches the attention. Live he is a special performer. The intensity and passion there for all to see. A man who clearly cares deeply about his music but appears genuinely humbled by the attention he’s received. A cover of ‘Dancing In The Dark’ rightly gained him attention from the world wide media and hopefully there are bigger and better things to come from him in 2010. A lovely man and a wonderful artist.
Broken Records released their debut album on 4AD to mixed reviews. Having been massively over hyped, in my opinion, they were then very unfairly over criticised(often by those who’d hyped them!) for a record, which is really good without ever reaching the dizzy heights of their live performances, which are never anything less than sensational. I still love listening to the record because I love the songs and I genuinely hope the guys follow their debut up with something that puts the doubters to rest. At their best they are still one of the most exciting bands around. I don’t suppose they are underground anymore, but I don’t care, I still think of them as the guys who played Trampoline at Capitol all those years ago. 2010 should see them continue on the road to stardom, if there’s any justice in the world.
There Will Be Fireworks released a brilliant self titled debut album this year. It’s one of my favourites without a doubt. It’s a fabulous record because I think it works as a whole piece of music perhaps better than any other I heard this year. Desperately trying to get them along to play Trampoline in 2010. Fingers crossed on that front. Keep an eye out for these guys cause I think they are destined for bigger and better things.
FOUND continued to push the boundaries with their ‘Let Fidelity Break’ EP. A total change in pace and direction from ‘This Mess We Keep Reshaping’ but an absolutely joy of a record. You need to own this. And get drunk. And turn it on and dance. It’s just brilliant. Would talk about their Cybraphon project but I think them winning a BAFTA is all you need to know about that. Stupidly talented boys. If they are playing at a venue near you, make sure you get along to see them.
‘Nothing Broke’ EP by Meursault is another favourite of 2009 from Edinburgh’s finest band. A total change in pace from debut record ‘Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues’ this EP produced a firm favourite with fans in the form of William Henry Miller Pt 1. Not my favourite on the EP. That goes to ‘Love or Limb’, a simply stunning tune on which Neil Pennycook’s vocals steal the show. They often do. And as for William Henry Miller Pts 1 & 2, having become favourites of Meursault fans the band have only gone and changed them up on recent single releases!
And so to 2010 we march. I’m pretty confident that it’s going to continue to be brilliant in terms of new music. Load of great albums to look forward to. I’m really looking forward to albums by The Scottish Enlightenment, Meursault’s second long player (fuck yes), The Last Battle, Conquering Animal Sound, Esperi, Debutant (possibly), eagleowl (possibly), Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Mammoeth, Inspector Tapehead (a Jonnie Common project……joke), Jonnie Common……to name a few. On top of which there are many bands to keep an eye on such as Lyons, Mitchell Museum, Cancel The Astronauts, The Stormy Seas….plus many, many more. The year really does look exciting from an underground perspective and I for one cannot wait.
Who do you guys tip/recommend to make an impact in 2010?? Let me know.