With the release of the highly anticipated second Chvrches record, Every Open Eye, we thought we would look at our favorite acts from the Highlands, good old Scotland. When doing the list, we were pleasantly surprised with how teeming Scotland has been with independent talent. So here are our 10 favorite from Scotland Yard.
10. Frightened Rabbit
Until sitting down to write this list, I had no idea Frightened Rabbit had been around so long (since 2003 or so). I kind of thought their 2011 ep and subsequent album, State Hospital, were their beginnings, so to speak. I’m almost less impressed now, as those were some of my favorite listens back then.
9. Django Django
Django Django may be a little new to the scene, but they have released two very infectious dance pop albums in the past few years. As long as the solid production doesn’t stop, they should work their way up the list over the next several albums.
8. Annie Lennox
Lennox will probably always be a bit overshadowed by “Sweet Dreams”, but if you do a deep dive into the Eurythmics catalog, as well as her solo stuff, you might be surprised. Unlike many 80’s new wave acts, Lennox has stood the test of time.
Donovan never quite got the respect given to his contemporaries, and its kind of hard to figure out why. Wait, no its not. He’s kind of a weirdo, and not in the “makes you nervous so you have to respect him” type of weirdo. But the just kind of “different and I don’t want to be cornered by him and have to converse with him at a party” type of weirdo. That aside, he is a phenomenal songwriter, and he has gotten his due in recent years.
6. Beta Band
I’ll let John Cusack give you the sales pitch:
CHVRCHES is just 2.5 albums into their career, but they have already made a huge impression, vaulting to #5 on our list. They are certainly leading the charge of all the impressive new artists coming out of Scotland currently.
4. Belle and Sebastian
Maybe Scotland’s best known act, Belle and Sebastian have been making smart and whimsical pop music for two decades.
3. Boards of Canada
Pretty much perfect background music, Boards of Canada have pushed atmospheric electronic music to new heights.
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Jesus and Mary Chain is just one in many lessons I continue to learn. The lesson: There is always one more band out there from a ways back that will blow your mind if you just sit down and listen. I didn’t learn this lesson too recently, but a pleasant lesson nonetheless.
1. Franz Ferdinand
After a bombastic debut, and the Beatles/Rolling Stones/etc. hype that always comes along with hot new bands from across the pond, Franz Ferdinand has settled into a very nice career. They consistently make good music at an acceptable pace, and rarely seem to take a misstep. Slow and steady wins the race for this list.
The “Just Missed Our List” List:
Todd – Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura are one of those bands that are pretty much undeniable: sweet confectionery for your ears.
Wes – Emeli Sandé
Probably the finest young soul singer across the pond outside of Adele (sorry Sam Smith).
Austin – The Proclaimers
When I wake up, I want to listen to the Proclaimers. See what I did there? They may be a one hit wonder, but that one hit is a hell of a song.