Offering a sweeter take on 60s rock Martha Ffion has managed to grab a lot of attention this year since we first caught her support Jessica Pratt in April. Blending lo-fi fuzz guitar, sleek vocals and poetic lyricism ‘No Applause’ offers the both raw edge and maturity some acts have spent years trying to perfect. From this single alone it is clear why Ffion’s originality has received so much praise during preceding months. She also filled in for Sugarhill Gang at Wickerman; quite the year. (Jess Lavin)
Halfrican, the band that were best known for their matching shorts and mixing together fuzz, garage and 60s pop released their first official single ‘Life is Hard’ during the summer. Halfrican’s powerhouse guitar pop really packs a punch and forces the listener to give it their full attention, whereas the track’s surf-rock twang adds further depth to keep you interested. (Jess Lavin)
The elusive Le Thug re-emerged at the start of the year with their first formal release on Song, By Toad Records, though each of the 6 tracks on the EP is just as mesmerising as the one before, ‘Basketball Land’ is a clear standout as it really showcases Clio’s enchanting vocals, which match beautifully with the mix of pulsing drones and electronic flourishes. The track has a real dreamlike quality and is both extremely gripping and powerful without being forceful – never begging for your attention, but capable of engrossing you in its sound. (Jess Lavin)
In the summer of 2013 I caught an acoustic folk duo by the name of The Van T’s at the ABC – little did I know that by the end of 2015, they’d be amongst my favourite current Scottish bands. Nor did I realise the acoustic folk patter would be patched in favour of an incredible, raucous rock reminiscent of the likes of the Pixies and the Raveonettes. ‘Growler’ is perhaps the seminal moment of what has been a fantastic year for the Van Thompson twins – a ferocious track that perfectly purveys The Van T’s sound though its outstanding riffs and atmospheric lyrics. It’s an unstoppable force of a song that rightly deserves a place in any end-of-year list and reinforces the inarguable fact that the duo will be well worth watching in 2016 and beyond. (Jay Henderson)
An unapologetically-catchy, impossible-not-to-dance-to electro-pop track that exists as the crowning glory of an album that will likely be reflected upon as one of Scotland’s finest of 2015. Put simply: you’d have to try really hard to not love it, and even harder to forcibly extract it from your brain. (Michael Maver)
We have been covering the output of Ewan Grant for a long time at Rave Child, and the truly pleasant chap seems to finally be getting his deserved credit. Rising from the ashes of noisy and productive rockers, Algernon Doll, WOMPS have had an excellent first year playing shows across the globe and recording their debut single ‘Live A Little Less’ with garage production legend Steve Albini. The single has gone on to receive a vast amount of praise and it’s clear why as it perfectly mixes fuzzy, turbulent garage with meaningful lyrics and melodic harmonies. The duo seems to have found their road and is now hitting it at full pelt; expect big things from them in 2016. (Jess Lavin)
‘The Bird’ is a perfect example of how strong indie-folk can be – and not just in Scotland. Kathryn Joseph is without doubt one of the diamonds among the plethora of unconvincing, pseudo-emotional acoustic-y acts that have been badly waltzing around the internet hay barn since Justin Vernon brilliantly set the pace with Bon Iver in 2008, and she does so in a way that gently reminds us all that art needn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) be a forced experience. Mixing metaphors aside, ‘The Bird’ blends familiar and melancholic piano tones with uniquely compelling rasped vocals to hugely emotional effect, and is a must listen. It helped her win a SAY award, too. (Greg Murray)
TeenCanteen’s ‘Sister’ is captivating, it showcases the band’s ability to come out with a fighting spirit through an intense and driven sound. In 2015, the band also raised £3456.72 for Scottish Woman’s Aid at their ‘Girl Affect’ event, therefore it is easy to see that last year has been a successful year for the girls. They have much to be proud of from it, and ‘Sister’ can definitely be considered a highlight.
2015 was a pivotal year for the precociously talented Best Girl Athlete with a string of both local and far-flung gigs including a tour of North America, and the release of her album, Carve Every Word, which received an overwhelmingly positive critical response. ‘Seven Seconds’ is a highlight of the record, with its charming combination of upbeat pop, lyrics written with a twist of melancholy, and a lifted final section that catches the listener off guard. (Ellen Renton)
In a year where Hector Bizerk were prolific as ever it was this number that shaded their almost as wonderful ‘They Made a Porno On A Mobile Phone & Everybody Laughed’ featuring Pronto Mama’s Marc Rooney. While the fanbase and the seaming mutual adoration between the two groups drove that track pretty far, it was the sheer sneery, hook of a sing-along of ‘Rust Cohle’ that made it the true standout in another successful year from Scotland’s best hip-hop act. The track named after Matthew McConaughey’s character in last year’s, equally as gripping, season of HBO drama True Detective, is darker than a lot of Hector’s previous material as an Americana guitar riff gives way to sharp synths, while Louie’s couplets are as well thought out as ever. Absolute beast of a track live too!