If there is one thing Hector Bizerk are always on hand to offer, it is something new and for the Glasgow hip-hop act it perhaps doesn’t get more boundary-pushing than writing the soundtrack for Crazy Jane, a play about a 19th-century Paris mental asylum. But that is exactly what The Waltz of Modern Psychiatry is – an undeniably ambitious project, but one which the duo pull off magnificently. Throughout experimental sounds and true-to-form storytelling brilliance of Louie’s lyrics, the album manages to touch upon powerful imagery and serious mental health stigmas – this isn’t just a soundtrack for playing in the background of a stage play, it is a genuine work of art as a standalone album, which has a very clear and deep message. (Jay Henderson)
Not quite a hip-hop record but far from anything else Joyous Material Failure is the creation of Jonnie Common and Jamie Scott released under the moniker CARBS. Consisting of slouchy beats and loose-tongued rapping the album’s subject matters range from Resident Evil, pizza and ice cream as the duo offer an insight into the millennial era by using witty puns that encourage listeners to chuckle though-out. (Jess Lavin)
A bit disco, a bit techno, and more than a bit joyous electro-pop, Julian Corrie’s School of Velocity is nothing short of an incredible balancing act between simple, pure song writing and soaring, euphoric production. From hooks formed of towering synth stabs to its solid, but playful, underpinning grooves, School of Velocity perhaps surprises most in its impressive lyrical depth and ingenuity – an oft-maligned aspect of contemporary pop. It’s a progression not a revolution for Miaoux Miaoux, but is nonetheless a collection of ten more or less bulletproof tracks. School of Velocity is clever, but honest, and oh-so-easy to love. (Michael Mavor)
Poor Frisco hail from East Kilbride, the very same unassuming west of Scotland town that brought us the great Jesus And Mary Chain and these guys are doing a fantastic job of carrying on the noisy pop gauntlet with Sheep’s Clothing. The melodies and harmonies are overtly pop, yet work so well with the interesting and sometimes angular guitar riffs. Sheep’s Clothing has elevated Poor Frisco into real contenders for most exciting band in the city; every track brings something new to the table while maintaining the rough charm that only Poor Frisco can pull off. (Andy McGonigle)
Everything from glittering arpeggios to mythical, almost Celtic nuances, each track of Lease of Life is unique, but they all share an ethereal quality. Yet much of what features is reminiscent of 80s new wave, echoing Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. There’s something very solid and secure about each track on this album, making it a truly accomplished piece of art. (Rachel Cunningham)
Representing Scotland in the 2015 Mercury Prize, C Duncan brings a surprisingly original, dreamy and warm vision of the country through the bedroom window. Fittingly, Architect feels physically crafted and while the modern indie and pop influences are evident, it is Duncan’s atavism, channeling Palestrina and the choral origins of written western music, that defines his sound and make Architect the most intriguing and incongruous of Scottish releases. (Liam Gingell)
Multi-instrumentalist Liam Chapman and violist Nichola Kerr’s self-titled debut album comes with bold choruses, dynamic instrumentals, heartfelt vocals and an overall atmospheric sound. The album, which was released as a limited number of handcrafted fossil plaster casts with a download code hidden inside, is just as unique as the format it was released on. (Jess Lavin)
Upper Hell saw Orleans temporarily move away from the “movies for ears” tagline and the result is a collection of strong songs that stand together in a coherent structured LP. Upper Hell bounces around in a more confident manner; it’s still slightly cold, but here it’s more ceramic than icy. The cinematic narrative is defined, but the thread linking the songs results in the feeling of watching a high definition version rather than an old 35mm print; highly emotive and highly deserving of the praise it received.
Katie Buchan, aka Best Girl Athlete, saw her debut album, Carve Every Word, never leave the teenager short of praise. The album itself perfectly shows that, although she is young, Buchan can write powerful and intriguing tracks, which showcase emotional depth both lyrically and musically. Carve Every Word is a beautifully crafted album that can be listened to repeatedly and guarantees success will continue on from 2015.
For a record that seems stylistically and tonally to be all about confounding expectations, Lantern fulfills those aspirations and just keeps pushing. With evident influences from Mohawke’s immensely heterogeneous background in the very disparate worlds of EDM and rap production, Lantern is an expertly formed demonstration of invigorating, no holds barred electro-pop… and yet can’t be summarised by that alone. The record as a whole possesses an edge of experimentation and is certainly no stranger to risk in its construction, but still manages to remain astonishingly enjoyable from commencement to conclusion. (Michael Mavor)