BEST SCOTTISH ALBUMS OF 2016-PART 2.
BEST SCOTTISH ALBUMS OF 2016-PART 2.
RM Hubbert-Telling The Trees.
For Telling The Trees, RM Hubbert joined by a stellar cast of guest artists. This includes Karine Palwart, Kathryn Williams, Martha Ffion and Anneliese Mackintosh. These multitalented songwriters, musicians and vocalists join RM Hubbert in creating another album of collaborations. Hubby’s first album of collaborations, Thirteen Lost and Found, won Hubby the Scottish Album Of The Year Award. Telling The Trees had a lot to live up to.
It’s a captivating album of genre-melting music. Telling The Trees. features everything from folk, country, flamenco, indie pop and America. It features music that’s atmospheric, beautiful, cinematic, ethereal, hook-laden, melancholy, pensive, poignant and ruminative. The result is an enthralling album that hopefully, marks the start in a new chapter in RM Hubbert’s career.
Telling The Trees is the first album of the post-Ampersand years. The threads that ran through the Ampersand quartet were Hubby contending with the loss of both his parents and a five year battle with depression. Hopefully, Hubby is coming to terms with the loss of his parents, and has won his brave battle with depression. If he has, then Telling The Trees will be the start of a new chapter in his career. That would be fitting. Twenty-five years ago, in 1991, RM Hubbert took his first tentative steps into Glasgow’s vibrant musical scene. Nowadays, RM Hubbert is regarded as a veteran of the Scottish music scene, whose fifth album Telling The Trees was released to critically acclaim.
Rick Redbeard-Awake Unto.
Three years after the release of No Selfish Heart, Rick Redbeard released his sophomore album Awake Unto on Chemikal Underground Records. It’s an album where Rick Redbeard has come of age musically as a solo artist.
No wonder. Rick Redbeard spent three years carefully crafting the ten songs on Awake Unto. It was recorded with help of a few musical friends. The result was Awake Unto, which is a much stronger and more cohesive album than No Selfish Heart. Awake Unto also an album that oozes quality.
Many of the songs on Awake Unto have much in common. Not only are they beautiful, but they’ve a cinematic quality. Rick Redbeard paints pictures with his lyrics, and with his unique and unmistakable vocal, takes the listener on a musical adventure. They discover songs that are beautiful and cinematic. Others are poignant, atmospheric, and tinged with drama, melancholy, mystery and mysticism. Some are melodic and memorable, while The Golden Age is an anthem-in-waiting. Wild Young Country and Field Years are both heartfelt paeans from the pen of Rick Redbeard. He’s a talented songwriter, who has the ability to breath life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics. Proof of this is Awake Unto, where Rick Redbeard comes of age musically.
Simple New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84)-Deluxe Edition.
When New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) was released in 1982, it transformed the fortunes of Simple Minds. They were on their way to becoming one of the biggest Scottish bands of the eighties. Simple Minds were reborn as stadium rockers after the release of (81–82–83–84), which was released as a Deluxe Edition by Universal. It’s a reminder of one of Simple Minds’ finest hours.
After struggling for four albums, Simple Minds came of age musically on New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84). It feature anthems like Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize and Someone Somewhere In Summertime that helped transform Simple Minds from also rans to superstars.
Now, Simple Minds were well on their way to superstardom. There was no stopping them as they strutted and swaggered their ways through million selling albums of stadium rock. At last, Simple Minds were fulfilling their potential. They would enjoyed many a Glittering Prize, but one of the best was New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) in 1982. It stood head and shoulders above the rest; and transformed Simple Minds’ career. They became stadium rockers and fully fledged colossi of planet rock.
One of the most anticipated Scottish albums of 2016 was Starless, a project that Paul McGeechan conceived over seven years ago. It was an ambitious project, and one that would take time, patience and persistence to realise. However, this he realised, was the time to make the Starless project reality. So having compassed music of the music on Starless, Paul enlisted a few friends.
Soon, Paul had a cast of some of the most talented singers in Scotland. This included The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan, Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson, Marie Clare Lee, Julie Fowlis and Andrew White. Pop and rock vocalists joined traditional singers in Starless. Joining them, were the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. They provided an emotive backdrop throughout Starless. Not only did they sweep the arrangements along, but framed the vocals. What was unusual was that the strings dominated the arrangements on Starless. However, Starless was no ordinary album, and Starless were ordinary group.
Instead, Starless is more like a musical collective, where there is room for the lineup to evolve. However, on Starless ethereal beauty and troubled troubadours with worldweary vocals join lush strings in producing an almost flawless album. That album is Starless, which features stars aplenty.They shine bright and made Paul McGeechan’s Starless project a reality, and a resounding success.
After a six year absence, Glasgow’s very own Kings of jangle pop, Teenage Fanclub returned with their much anticipated tenth album, Here. It was the long awaited followup to 2010s Shadows. Since then, the members of Teenage Fanclub have been spending much of their time working on various side projects. Eventually, the call came, and everyone returned to the mothership, Teenage Fanclub. That has been home to the Bellshill boys since 1989. This homecoming was going to be special.
From the opening bars of I’m In Love, right through to the closing notes of Connected To Life, Teenage Fanclub never put a foot wrong. The songs are anthemic, beautiful, joyous, melodic and sometimes, even have a melancholy quality. Other times, the songs are dreamy, rocky and ruminative. Always, though, the songs on Here are memorable as Teenage Fanclub roll back the years.
So good is the music on Here, that it’s akin to a return to Teenage Fanclub’s golden years between 1991 and 1997. Back then, Teenage Fanclub could do no wrong. That’s the case on Here, which was released on Teenage Fanclub’s own PeMa label. It’s a welcome return to form, from Teenage Fanclub who are enjoying an Indian Summer in their twenty-seven year career. Here finds Teenage Fanclub combining balladry, perfect pop and jangle pop with rock and even a hint of country. It’s a flawless fusion where Teenage Fanclub back the years on what’s their best album in nearly twenty years, Here.
The Cosmic Dead-Rainbowhead.
Having formed in 2010, The Cosmic Dead didn’t waste time in recording and releasing their eponymous debut album. It was released in 2011, and was a fusion of space rock, Krautrock and psychedelia. The Cosmic Dead showcased a group who channelled the spirit of Hawkwind and Ash Ra Tempel. This won the approval of the record buying public. So have the other albums The Cosmic Dead have released. This includes Rainbowhead.
Every album that The Cosmic Dead have released, has been leading to Rainbowhead. It’s a fusion of heavy rock, Krautrock, psychedelia and space rock. This is the sound that The Cosmic Dead have been honing for the past six years on their five previous albums. However, Rainbowhead trumps everything that The Cosmic Dead have released and should introduce their music to a wider audience.
Rainbowhead features Glaswegian groove-meisters The Cosmic Dead at their hard rocking best. They kick loose from the opening bars of Human Sausage, and never let go until the closing notes of Rainbowhead. In between you’re treated a glorious assault on the sensory system that unleashes endorphins aplenty. This comes courtesy of those genre-melting innovators The Cosmic Dead, and their latest critically acclaimed album Rainbowhead. It’s a career defining album from The Cosmic Dead, and shows that they’re destined to join the elite of Scottish music.
The Pictish Trail-Future Echoes.
Four years after the release Secret Soundz Volume 2, in 2012, The Pictish Trail returned with the much-anticipated followup, Future Echoes. It was released on The Pictish Trail’s Lost Map Records, and is the first album The Pictish Trail has released since the demise of Fence Records. However, The Pictish Trail picks up where he left off on Secret Soundz Volume 2.
Future Echoes finds The Pictish Trail combining elements of disparate genres, and weaving them into a musical tapestry. To do this, The Pictish Trail fuses folk, indie pop, dance music and electronica. Other ingredients include indie rock and even psychedelia. They become Future Echoes, an album where ballads and uptempo songs side by side. Together, they create a potent and heady musical brew. It’s akin to a journey on an emotional roller coaster.
During that journey, the songs on Future Echoes are beautiful, catchy, joyous melodic and memorable. Others are cinematic, dark, dramatic and melancholy. Very occasionally the darkness descends, and on Far Gone (Don’t Leave) the lyrics make for uneasy listening. Sometimes, The Pictish Trail heads into anthem territory, and his hook-laden songs prove irresistible. Other times, he showcases his versatility on Future Echoes’ ballads. Transformed into a balladeer, The Pictish Trail breaths meaning and emotion into the lyrics. They’re a reminder that The Pictish Trail, whose one of Scottish music’s best kept secrets, is a versatile and talented singer who seems to mature with age.
The Temperance Movement-White Bear.
Recording the followup to a successful album can be difficult. Many bands have suffered from second album syndrome. Not The Temperance Movement. Their sophomore album White Bear, which was released by Earache Records. It features The Temperance Movement at the peak of their powers.
They literally strut and swagger their way through White Bear, creating music that’s anthemic, hook-laden, melodic and nine times out of ten, always rocky and memorable. The Temperance Movement don’t ration hooks, as they follow in the footsteps of The Faces, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Black Crowes on what’s a career changing album, White Bear.
White Bear reached number one on the UK rock charts. It seems that The Temperance Movement are the real, deal and the future of rock ’n’ roll. The Temperance Movement’s sophomore album White Bear showcases an old fashioned rock ’n’ roll band at their swaggering best. Seamlessly, The Temperance Movement fused blistering, old-school rock ‘n’ roll with blues and country on White Bear. This is a heady and potent brew from a truly versatile group, The Temperance Movement.
Trashcan Sinatra-Wild Pendulum.
Not many bands are still together after thirty years. Most bands split-up long before then. Not Irvine’s finest indie rockers, the Trashcan Sinatras. They’re survivors, who have lived through the bad times and survived to tell the tale. Trashcan Sinatras also released a new album during 2016, Wild Pendulum on Red River Entertainment.
Wild Pendulum features the reinvention of the Trashcan Sinatras. tweaked their sound, and given it a moderne makeover. Sonic scenery, samples, loops, horns and found sounds have been combined on Wild Pendulum. There’s even a dance-track on Wild Pendulum. That was a first. It sits side-by-side with anthems, beautiful ballads and perfect pop. Still, the Trashcan Sinatras were one of the finest purveyors of perfect pop extraordinaire. This the Trashcan Sinatras have been doing since 1986.
Thirty years later, and stll, the wider record buying public have yet to discover the delights of the Trashcan Sinatras, and their sixth album Wild Pendulum. It features Irvine’s finest purveyors of jangle pop at their pioneering best, as they reinvent themselves.. The result is Wild Pendulum, the Trashcan Sinatras finest album since their 1990 debut Cake, Sadly, Wild Pendulum has been overlooked by record buyers, who have missed out on an almost flawless album of jangle pop from one of Scotland’s most talented bands, the inimitable Trashcan Sinatras.
Usually, when it comes to the time to look back at the previous year. I’m able to say that Scottish music is in rude health. This year, I’m not so sure. There doesn’t seem to be the same amount of up-and-coming bands threatening to make a breakthrough. Indeed, the only new bands on this year’s list were Starless, Adam Holmes and The Embers and Miracle Glass Company. Their debut album MG 1 introduces a truly talented band with a big future ahead of them. Hopefully, it’s a similar case with Starless. However, one of the most moving and beautiful albums on the list was Adam Holmes and The Embers’ Better Still. Mostly, it’s some old friends that can be found on the list of best Scottish albums of 2016.
This includes artists and bands on the comeback trail. Emma Pollock, Mull Historical Society, Teenage Fanclub, The Pictish Trail, Trashcan Sinatras all made a welcome return with new albums. They’ were without some of the best Scottish albums that were released during 2016.
Especially Scotland’s very own comeback Queen Emma Pollock. In Search Of Harperfield was one of best Scottish albums of 2016, So was Teenage Fanclub’s Here, which marked the returned of the Bellshill boys. Then there was the Trashcan Sinatras Wild Pendulum, which marked the return of Irvine’s indie rock kings. 2016 was certainly the year of the comeback.
Apart from comeback albums, Frightened Rabbit’s Painting Of A Panic Attack, Mogwai’s Atomic, King Creosote’s Astronaut Meets Appleman and The Pictish Trail’s Future Echoes all oozed quality. So do Kris Drever-If Wishes Were Horses and Martin Green’s Flit. Both are well worth adding to your collection.
That is the case with all the albums on the best Scottish albums of 2016. These albums represent the creme de la creme of Scottish music. Hopefully, these artists return with new albums and will feature on the list of the best Scottish albums of 2017. Maybe by then, bands there will be some new names on the list and Scottish music will be in rude health.
BEST SCOTTISH ALBUMS OF 2016-PART 2.