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The Scene In Six Sounds: Scotland

Primal Scream, Pstereofestivalen, Norway 2009

Primal Scream, Pstereofestivalen, Norway 2009

Scotland and Ireland are the center of the musical world, just ask Elvis Costello! It might be damp and dark up north, but that’s more than enough reason to take a break from the haggis and deep-fried Mars bars, and write some truly world-class music. From bagpipes and tin whistles to some of the stars of a fashionable UK-wide indie scene, picking just six tracks to represent the bonny wee musical heartland is quite some task. James Hendicott narrowed it down to this:

Lively Rock Band Become Terrace Football Superstars: The Fratellis

These days you’re most likely to find The Fratellis music welcoming teams onto a soccer pitch. BRIT Award-winning debut ‘Costello Music’ took the UK by storm in 2006, with terrace anthem ‘Chelsea Dagger’ still providing entry music for many a high-end soccer team. While follow up ‘Here We Stand’ never enjoyed the same commercial success, The Fratellis remains one of those bands you find yourself down the pub asking ‘who’s that’, and buying the album the next day.
The Unpredictable Indie Mainstays: Primal Scream

Primal Scream live by their own agenda, produce music at their own pace and cause a fair selection of their own controversies, too. Starting out in the ’80s, Bobby Gillespie’s controversial group formed from the ashes of ‘The Jesus and Mary Chain’ (for whom Bobby was the drummer) and are still going strong to this day. Albums like 1991’s ‘Screamadelica‘ (now an indie classic) and tracks like 1994’s controversial direction change ‘Rocks’ have kept the once heavily heroin addicted band in the limelight.
The Cult Underachievers: Idlewild

Despite being perhaps one of the most popular underground indie bands on the circuit almost from the off, Idlewild never really crashed the mainstream, though their progressive change from thrashy rockers to Coldplay-influenced tuneful indie kids over the years did find them creeping into many a CD collection. Arguably one of the most beautiful relatively undiscovered bands of modern times, many fans maintain it’s only a matter of putting enough albums out there before they become a classic. In the meantime, small gigs and intricate melodies keep us ‘connoisseurs’ happy.
Scotland In A Nutshell: The Proclaimers

Can there be a more Scottish band than the Proclaimers? 26 years worth of tracks like ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ sung in such an alluring Scottish accent that the two brothers have come to represent the country to the rest of the UK, with the aforementioned song now an anthem of all things Scottish around the world. Well known for their hefty backing for Scottish Independence and the Scottish Nationalist Party, the band have a strained relationship with those down south, but have nevertheless found plenty of critical acclaim for their eight albums to date.
Scotland’s Answer to Britpop: Travis

Another storming rock-influenced band whose seminal album, ‘The Man Who’ is often credited with opening the door for bands like Coldplay and Keane to walk through. ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ typifies the downbeat Scottish outlook on life, while singles like ‘Driftwood’, ‘Turn’ and ‘Writing To Reach You’ also made the Glaswegians the most talked about band of 1999.
The World’s Most Successful Contemporary Instrumental Band?: Mogwai

Distorted, down and dirty rock from another group of Glaswegians who stand out largely for their famed lack of any lyrics in their music. The name means ‘Ghost’ or ‘Devil’ in Cantonese, while the group’s post-rock sounds have won them a massive cult following and helped them sell out shows all over the world, despite none of their albums ever pushing into the top 30 of the UK album charts. Not bad for band who are the first to acknowledge that their lack of lyrics made listeners ‘uncomfortable’.
James Hendicott is a travel and music writer living in Ireland, and your guide to Celtic punk in the Music+Travel Worldwide from Museyon Guides. More of his work can be found at hendicottwriting.com. And be sure to tune in next Wednesday, for a new local playlist.
photo: Morten Skogly / p3.no via Flickr

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