10. NOBODY WANTS TO BE HERE AND NOBODY WANTS TO LEAVE – TWILIGHT SAD
Typically dark but utterly compelling, the best Twilight Sad album yet.
9. CAUSTIC LOVE – PAOLO NUTINI
One of Scotland’s true international pop stars, Paolo remains defiantly individual and unafraid to go against current trends. At times Caustic Love is more like a 70’s funk record than a typical 2014 pop album and it s a hefty, mature work. We still don’t know whether Iron Sky referred to the referendum but it was adopted by Yes anyway.
8. GACH SGUEL – JULIE FOWLIS
Now a Gaelic superstar after her ‘Brave’ sound track exertions, Julie followed that up with this great collection of gaelic songs. With an impressive array of musicians of the Scottish folk aristocracy variety, including Duncan Chisholm (more of whom later) it sounds great. A fantastic voice and a great ambassador for the language of the angels.
7. GREAT DIVIDE – TWIN ATLANTIC
Great Divide got a UK chart position of number 6 with this ambitious album based on their obvious love of the old ‘rock and roll’. Full of big catchy choruses and interesting arrangements it’s one to sing out loudly with with the roof down, that’s if you have a convertible – if you’ve not, just open the windows.
6. TILL TOMORROW – DOUGIE MACLEAN WITH THE RSNO
My old mucker Dougie, the Bard of Butterstone, the Sage of Snaigow, back with this orchestrated working of all his finest songs. He can now add to his bragging rights in the Taybank that Kylie was his support act at the Commonwealth Games! Went to see this performed at the 10th anniversary of Perthshire Amber and it was just fantastic. My favourite moment in the indyref in Perth was when he and I organised a flash mob on the High Street with loads of local musicians playing Caledonia almost in homage to this giant of Perthshire song.
5. RAVE TAPES – MOGWAI
It’s hard to believe that the masters of noise will be celebrating their 20th anniversary next year and 2014 was one of their best years yet. Rave Tapes is the band’s 8th album and even scraped into the UK top 10. More of a consolidation than a new development it left their legions of committed fans delighted. On tour most of the year, Stuart Braithwaite, still had time to emerge as one of the key cultural voices in the Yes campaign. One of the most enjoyable panels I was on this year was with Stewart and Stewart Henderson from Chemikal Underground talking about the possibilities in Scottish music with independence. Saw Mogwai play in the few days before the referendum at the Yes campaign’s incredible Usher Hall gig and live they are as massive sounding as ever. Will be interesting to see what they get up to in their anniversary year
4. DEAD – YOUNG FATHERS
Didn’t know much about this Edinburgh trio before they became the surprise winners at this year’s Mercury Prize. Since then this has barely been of my various istening devices. Almost impossible to classify, hip-hop remains the underlying influence with just so much almost eccentric stuff added on top. A fascinating album and an album that is actually hard to get tired off, with something new found in every listen. They seem to be a bunch of guys who also know exactly what they want to achieve and their next outing in the studio will be one of the most eagerly anticipated albums in Scotland.
3. LIVE AT CELTIC CONNECTIONS- DUNCAN CHISHOLM
I’ve known Duncan since he sported a full barnet of hair as the young fiddler in Wolfstone. He was always a superb musician who just manages to get something extra out of the fiddle and I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him in his many guest appearances with Runrig. If you only listen to one ‘fiddle’ album make it this one. Rightly awarded album of the year at the MG Alba Folk awards, it is more than ‘just’ a live album. It is in fact the first performance of The Strathglass Suite, an ambitious instrumental work comprised of pieces from the Strathglass Trilogy that he’s been working on for the last six years. Great one to relax to and chill out with.
2. FROM SCOTLAND WITH LOVE – KING CREOSOTE
Where his collaboration with Jon Hopkins promised much Kenny Anderson took it to another level with this imaginative collaboration with film maker Virginia Heath. A truly beautiful and ambitious album, Kenny’s songs were composed to fit around undiscovered footage of Scottish life in the 20th century. Sara and I went to see the film in Dundee Contemporary Arts and we had the rare pleasure of listening to Kenny and Virginia talk about the project afterwards. Listening to these songs whilst watching this remarkable archive on the big screen was one of my highlights of the year, even if Kenny teased us by saying he was going to perform some ‘Better Together’ songs after! We also went to his gathering in his home town of Anstruther the day after the referendum and listening to some of these songs with the band, it even almost cheered me up.
NEW GODS – WITHERED HAND
Sara O introduced me to Withered Hand a couple of years ago when she came back from a Fence Collective gig raving about the songs, and particularly the lyrics, of this former Jehovah’s Witness. The first album, Good News, was just such a ground breaker. Unusual, unafraid, huge but homespun, I loved them immediately. If anything New Gods is even better. More mature and melodic but with a huge heart and still sounding like nothing else. I really thought that this album would make them huge and sure it will still happen. We went to see them at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh and it was a fantastic night. Go see them live if you can. My album of the year. Go listen, you’ll love it.