SAY Award 2013: Favourite Fives

The best Scottish albums ever, from nominated acts...

In anticipation of the SAY Award ceremony, taking place in Glasgow on June 20th (today!), Clash invited three acts from the award’s shortlisted 10 artists to spotlight their own favourite Scottish albums.

The shortlist features: Admiral Fallow’s ‘Tree Bursts In Snow’; Django Django’s eponymous debut; Human Don’t Be Angry’s similarly self-titled collection; Lau’s ‘Race The Loser’; Meursault’s ‘Something For The Weakened’; The Twilight Sad’s ‘No One Can Ever Know’; Karine Polwart’s ‘Traces’; Stanley Odd’s ‘Reject’; Paul Buchanan’s ‘Mid Air’; and RM Hubbert’s ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’.

Below, we’ve selections from Dave Maclean of the also-Mercury Prize-nominated four-piece Django Django, alt-hip-hoppers Stanley Odd and The Twilight Sad’s frontman James Graham.

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Dave Maclean’s Favourite Five

Primal Scream – ‘Screamadelica’

What can you say about this album? For me, it's just one of the best records ever made. It had such a huge impact on me at the time because it had elements of what I loved about ‘60s music but with a modern dance edge that made it feel really exciting. It also linked to the acid house and rave that I was beginning to become interested in. 

The Beta Band – ‘The Three EPs’

The Beta Band was a huge part of my life and this album (or collection of EPs) stands out as the best work they did for me. Every track means something because I was there when it was being made, listening to tape demos, ideas, scrapped loops... I even played drums on a demo take of ‘Inner Meet Me’ and I used to travel down to London to DJ at the gigs. It was just so exciting for me to be part of it. It was also a great time for me as a teenager, and these songs will be forever linked to romantic endeavours, friendship and personal ups and downs. 

Gerry Rafferty – ‘City To City’

My dad loves this album and he always had it on in his studio when he was painting. I became hooked on the vocal sound and the songwriting style. The sincerity and honesty of the songs really drew me in and kept me coming back. Tracks like ‘Home And Dry’ and ‘Right Down The Line’ are still my go-to songs when I'm feeling a certain way.  

Ali ‘Beag’ Macleod and Kevin Macleod – ‘Braes of Badentarbat

This is an album by my cousin Kevin and our friend (and probably relation) Ali Beag. It’s Highland music and Gaelic verse from the area of Scotland that my father's family is from, in Wester Ross. They are two very talented players and this album is a joy to listen to. It contains a song called ‘Miriam Maclean Of Polbain’ (Miriam is my sister). She has Down's Syndrome but she's one of the most outgoing people you'll ever meet and this song is a great tribute to her. 

The Incredible String Band – ‘The 5000 Spirits’

I love listening to this record! I picked up a copy at a car boot sale when I was at art college because the cover looked so mad. I think it has a connection to Pentangle in some way... and again reminds me of being a kid, when I'd hang out in my dad's painting studio where he was listening to tons of great folk records while he worked.  

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Stanley Odd’s Favourite Five

Belle And Sebastian – ‘Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant’

Solareye: This is an album I can listen to again and again. The storytelling is excellent, with wide-ranging subject matter from social commentary to deeply emotive content. The title, which I believe was taken from graffiti on a toilet wall, is beautiful, descriptive and cryptic, as is much of the album. From the melancholy of ‘Don’t Leave The Light On Baby’, to the despair of ‘Chalet Lines’, to Isobel Campbell’s whispered observation of “I’d rather be fat than be confused”, the album traces a path through often dark material with sweet, unassuming pop delivery.

Loki and Scatabrainz – ‘Summer Knows… A Darker Shade of Grey’

Solareye: I’ve limited myself to one Scottish hip-hop album for this list. Loki has been one of the most prolific and influential rappers in Scotland for the last 10 years. For me, ‘Summer Knows…’ showcases his versatility, imagination and storytelling ability to the fullest, supported by the strength, quality and diversity of beats provided by Scatabrainz across the record. The black humour, social referencing, emotional struggle and depiction of community that characterise Loki’s work are all evident here, combined with outstanding wordplay and lyrical ability.

Rachel Sermanni – ‘Under Mountains’

Veronika Electronika: The main selling point of this album is Rachel's vocal. It has an incredibly delicate honesty, which captivates as it draws you in. The album as a whole is genuinely beautiful and moving. It is poetic in content, coupled with gorgeous melodies and fairy tale imagery, unfolding with every listen.

Del Amitri – ‘Change Everything’

T Lo: Growing up in Germany, this was the first album I was consciously aware of that came from Scotland. I was a young teenager and had just started up a death metal band. We would hang out after rehearsal, get stoned and listen to all sorts of music we could get our hands on – this was obviously pre-Spotify and YouTube. Our drummer brought this CD along, and for the first wee while – because of the strange name – I thought it was actually a Spanish band. It also didn't help that the band pictures in the sleeve were taken in Holland I think!

Anyway, I liked it a lot, and any other Scottish band I came across from then on I put into that same virtual drawer, building up my personal landscape of Scottish music until I moved here about 10 years later...

Frightened Rabbit – ‘Pedestrian Verse’

AdMack: Frightened Rabbit need no introduction to the Scottish music scene or, for that matter, the world. This is their fourth album and, in my opinion, their best yet, which is in no detriment to their previous ones. It has a very different live, raw sound to it, which complements the familiar storytelling lyrics that have been a key feature of their previous records. Awesome and inspiring!

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James Graham’s Favourite Five

Mogwai – ‘Happy Songs For Happy People’

This was the first Mogwai album I ever bought. I remember going into record shops and seeing the shiny silver front cover and it standing out from the rest of the albums on the shelves.

I've done lists like this before and I've always picked ‘Young Team’, but I recently listened to this record on tour and it reminded me that this was the album that introduced me to Mogwai’s music and one of my favourite bands. I also remember seeing the video for ‘Hunted By A Freak’ on 120 Minutes on MTV2 and thinking it was really cool.

It’s a great album. I love the way it flows and it has some of my favourite Mogwai songs on it, such as ‘Ratts Of The Capital’, ‘I Know You Are But What Am I?’, and ‘Hunted By A Freak’. It's one of the best Scottish albums by one of the best bands our country has produced.

Frightened Rabbit – ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’

When we first sent our demos to Fatcat Records, they got back to us and asked if we knew a band called Frightened Rabbit. We said, “No, because we've got no friends, and we don't even like each other.” We looked them up on MySpace – ha ha, f*cking MySpace, those were the days, eh? – and found a bunch of pictures of two guys dressed in wrestling masks lying in bed together, which we thought was weird. We were later to find out that they were brothers, which makes it even weirder.

So, we headed along to their next gig. We loved the gig and became friends blah blah blah played gigs together blah blah blah got drunk together blah blah blah watched The Bodyguard in bed with them blah blah blah

We made our first record and they had just finished their second. Scott invited Andy (MacFarlane) and I over to his flat to drink and listen to their new record. The three of us sat there drinking and I remember sitting, listening to it then turning to Andy to say, “Fuckin’ hell! This is brilliant!” And then turning to Scott and saying, “You’re a prick! This is amazing!” It's a perfect album to me: writing clever pop songs is one of the hardest things to do and this album is full of them.

They're still our good friends and are everything a good band should be. They still help out smaller bands and promote Scottish music wherever they go. They're still weirdoes, though. 

Arab Strap – ‘Monday Night At The Hug & Pint’

I've said many times over the past seven years how much Arab Strap influenced me, and they still do to this day. This was the first Arab Strap album I ever bought. I love everything about this album.

I've just noticed I’m quoted on this album’s Wikipedia page: “This was the first Arab Strap album that I ever listened to. For me it was the first record that I realised it was okay to sing in your own accent. Aidan (Moffat) is one of the best lyricists of the past two decades!” Look, mum, I'm famous!

Aidan and Malcolm (Middleton) have become good friends and thankfully they don't think we're shite. The video for ‘The Shy Retirer’ is great as well. I’m going to stop writing now, as if they read this I don't want them thinking that I'm sucking up their arses too much.

Idlewild – ‘100 Broken Windows’

This was the album I listened to the most when I was at school. I remember coming home and seeing them on MTV2 a lot. I listened to this record while we were on tour in America recently and it brought back a lot of memories. I think we covered ‘Roseability’ when we were in school. My first-ever gig at my favourite venue, The Barrowlands, was an Idlewild gig. We supported them on their Greatest Hits tour back in 2008 and it was great to see ‘Little Discourage’, ‘These Wooden Ideas’, ‘Actually It's Darkness’ and ‘Roseability’ played every night.

Boards Of Canada – ‘Geogaddi’

I got into Boards Of Canada, Mogwai and Arab Strap around the same time in my life. I don't think I can say much about them that hasn’t been said before, to be honest. I love everything they’ve released and I'm really looking forward to their new record (Clash review). I picked this record again because it’s the first album I ever bought of theirs. I listen to a lot of instrumental music when I write lyrics and this album is on more often than not when I write.

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Find the SAY Award website here.

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