Happy New Year! If your 2012 resolution is to discover some hot new bands then today’s your lucky day.
At the last count there were 762 Scottish musicians on Twitter, so narrowing that down to the eight I think you should listen to isn’t an easy or pleasant task, let me tell you. But here are the ones I’d put my money on, plus my two favourite non-Scottish newcomers…
FRIENDS IN AMERICA (Facebook/Twitter) (Glasgow)
Crisp melodies, an indie-rock entity with genuine variation and originality, four engrossing musicians with distinct personalities including a dapper frontman with astute lyrics you can/want to make out. Their debut EP is due for release in early 2012, but check them out live – they’re heartbreakingly magnificent. I’ve got relatives I don’t love half as much as this band.
Friends In America – You’re
February 9, Captain’s Rest, Glasgow (info)
CAFÉ DISCO (Facebook/Twitter) (Glasgow)
If catchy pop songs were easy to make, everybody would be at it. Sadly they’re not, so it takes a special kind of magic to rattle out the sort of riffs Café Disco dream up, thanks in no small part to the Swinton twins on guitar, Paul and Rachael.
Café Disco – Terra Nova
January 15, King Tut’s, Glasgow (free acoustic set in downstairs bar)
May 5, Brew at the Bog, Inverness (tickets)
SEBASTIAN DANGERFIELD (Facebook/Twitter) (Edinburgh)
Classy, carefully thought-out and executed folk-rock from the capital. A fine choice as winners of the 2011 Scotsman Radar Prize and makers of arguably the past year’s finest EP, The Sound of the Old Machines.
Sebastian Dangerfield – The Sycamore Tree
February 25, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh (tickets)
BASTILLE (Facebook/Twitter) (London)
Bastille – Flaws
The only act I hadn’t already heard of in the Blog Sound Of 2012 longlist that was worthy of further investigation. Dan Smith’s solo project-turned-band is the most triumphant mix of indie and electro I’ve come across since The Postal Service.
YOUNG AVIATORS (Facebook/Twitter) (Glasgow via Northern Ireland)
Following in the footsteps of Two Door Cinema Club and Snow Patrol by relocating from Northern Ireland to Scotland to pursue their musical ambitions, Young Aviators are polished, charismatic and good-to-go for the big time. Their Hunting For Heaven EP is a belter.
Young Aviators – Hunting For Heaven
PAWS (Facebook/Twitter) (Glasgow)
The unpredictable thrill of watching PAWS live, when they turn up the reverb to ridiculous levels and blitz the audience with an aural assault of raw punk-rock, hasn’t really been captured in their recordings. That should change with their debut album, which they’ll be making in London in mid-January, and is strongly rumoured to be coming out on FatCat.
PAWS – Lekker
January 9, Vic Galloway BBC Radio Scotland session
January 26, Electric Circus, Edinburgh (tickets)
February 2, Cafe Drummond, Aberdeen
February 3, Madhatters, Inverness
February 4, Newmarket Bar, Thurso
February 16, Kirkcaldy High School (pupils only)
February 25, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh (tickets)
MIKE NISBET (Facebook/Twitter) (Oban)
You can’t help but admire Mike Nisbet, quietly going about his business with little fanfare before releasing a remarkable debut album that makes you wonder why more musicians don’t spend as much time honing their craft as they do pimping themselves on Facebook. Vagrant is a proper singer-songwriter’s record, untouched by fads or trends. It deserves to make this man the biggest word-of-mouth success story from Scotland since Admiral Fallow.
Mike Nisbet – El Frida
January 15, The Pop Cop Subcity Radio session
March 10, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
March 11, Hootananny, Inverness
CRAIG_FS (Facebook/Twitter) (Glasgow)
I was a wee bit unsure about this Glasgow Podcart discovery when I heard some of his earlier tunes, but Grass Stains is a surefire deal-breaker: eight and a half minutes of epic, euphoric electro-house fusion with an outstanding vocal from Rachel Tesfaye. If you’re searching for the next Calvin Harris, I think you’re looking at him.
Craig_FS – Grass Stain (feat. Rachel Tesfaye)
BEAR’S DEN (Website) (London)
Former Cherbourg frontman Andrew Davie was top of The Pop Cop’s ones to watch in 2011 list as a solo artist, but he decided to take his incredible songwriting talents into a new heart-on-sleeve group called Bear’s Den and they could well be the latest sensations from the Communion scene.
Bear’s Den – Fickle Love
January 20, Mitchell Library, Glasgow (tickets)
OSKAR EMPIRE (Facebook/Twitter) (Wick)
Going out on a limb with this band. All there is to judge them by is one demo, but it brilliantly conjures up the spirit of Blink-182 (before their woeful reunion album). If Oskar Empire have more like Hide And Seek up their sleeves, their prospects look very healthy indeed.
Oskar Empire – Hide And Seek
As well as all the acts above, 2012 should be the year There Will Be Fireworks, Galleries, Bear Bones, Withered Hand, Dot JR, Make Sparks and The Jezabels all become famous and make millions from their new albums. Right? Right.