When it comes to musical history, Edinburgh has nearly always been over-shadowed by the grittier, grimier, bigger city of Glasgow. The Glaswegians can lay claim to the biggest selling Scottish album of all time, Travis’ The Man Who. On top of that, Glasgow also gave the world Belle and Sebastian, Orange Juice, Bert Jansch, Primal Scream, and well most of the biggest names in Scottish alternative music. But is the tide starting to turn?
Certainly, a cursory glance at this year’s Scottish Album Of The Year Awards Shortlist, would suggest that if Edinburgh if not taking over, is at least starting to hold it’s own, with nominations for the likes of Meursault and Adam Holmes and The Embers. Although if we’re being harsh that still puts the city more on a level with the Isle Of Eigg than it does Glasgow, who contributed many more acts to the shortlist.
Like all major cities, Edinburgh’s music scene faces threats from gentrification, noise complaints and the growth of other forms of entertainment, but moves to point a new, “night mayor” should hopefully stop the scene from being entirely eradicated. Great news for everyone, because Scotland, maybe even the world, needs more Idlewilds, more Boards Of Canadas and maybe even more Bay City Rollers!
One band flying the flag for the city of Edinburgh are Mt. Doubt. The band originally started as a vehicle for the solo material of frontman Leo Bargery, before expanding into the current six strong line-up. Now signed to Scottish Fiction Records, Mt. Doubt recently put out their debut EP, The Loneliness Of The TV Watchers.
Musically Mt. Doubt’s world is one of driving rhythms, meandering guitar lines and energetic vocal delivery; recent single, Reference Books, has the same verve as early REM, A Natural Swimmer incorporates gloomy electronics with inevitable Twilight Sad comparisons, and Purity has all the intrigue of those slow burning ballads The National perfected on Boxer. Lyrically, The Loneliness Of The TV Watchers is an exploration of the sense of disillusionment and the fears that can grip us all from time to time, and the corresponding dreams of escaping the banality of everyday living.
On their debut EP, Mt. Doubt deal in the timeless sounds of anthemic indie-rock, Leo’s rich vocal combining the laid-back baritone of Matt Berninger, with a touch of the cold calculated sound of Dave Gahan. Mt. Doubt are a band who seem to have emerged with a widescreen ambition, that’s sure to see them far outgrow the venues they currently inhabit.
Following their EP’s release, Leo from the band has made us a mixtape inspired by Edinburgh, a city he describes as a, “constant sources of inspiration to me”. Check out the tape below which features the likes of Meursault, Posable Action Figures and Future Get Down.
1. Redolent – Fair Daisies
Idiosyncratic pop at it’s very best! Redolent’s slant on indie-pop comes with a Thom Yorke-inspired undercurrent and lackadaisical charm which makes for some infectious listening. They are definitely a band who are sorely underrated and deserving of a much bigger audience; a great example of Edinburgh’s quietly flourishing musical underbelly.
2. Hamish Hawk + the New Outfit – Goldenacre
Hamish is one of the best songwriter’s around, anywhere, let alone Edinburgh. His songs flit between being humorously observational and, at times, beautifully thoughtful and emotional and they are all delivered with a wit and gusto that only a man who performs in a tailored suit can possess!
3. Posable Action Figures – Hummingbird
Two-pieces have a knack of being pretty exciting (Japandroids, Black Keys, Honeyblood etc.) and Edinburgh’s premier rock-duo; Posable Action Figures don’t buck that trend. Their angular riffs and catchy choruses call to mind the likes of Franz Ferdinand whilst maintaining a completely unique, jaggy sound.
4. E M I L I E – Never Enough
Edinburgh really does have everything… E M I L I E’s latest single is proof of that, this is proper pop which would sound more than at home being played on mainstream radio; made up of atmospheric, moody layers of vocals and samples put together with Mark Morrow, one of the city’s most popular producers!
5. Meursault – The Mill
The project of Neil Pennycook has been around for more than a decade now and it’s still producing some really glorious music. This is genuinely individual, careful songwriting underpinned by a really exception lead-vocal, in a way it’s quite reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel and the songwriting of Bill Callahan!
6. Future Get Down – Dreamkillers
Sounding like LCD Soundsystem channelled through the 1980’s, Future Get Down are a testament to the diversity of music coming out of Edinburgh right now! Their pulsating, dance-influenced sound is synth heavy and captivating, and sounds like it should be sound-tracking Brooklyn loft-parties.
7. Donnie Willow – Toys
These guys have been around for years and its really exciting watching them gain real momentum with every new release! Definitely one of the most hardworking and deserving bands around, their alternative-rock sound is indebted to the likes of Reuben and Deftones and is nothing short of blistering live.