Back in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic dictated everything.
In the years of this annual “Best Tracks” list, live gigs (you remember) were a no-go, but it allowed bands and artists to take stock and produce one of the most exciting years of Scottish music I’ve encountered.
With a long list of over 300 songs, distilled into this Top 100, this eclectic annual journey started.
You’ll hear everything from alternative rock, pop, electronica, hip-hop, rap, indie choral, punk, post-grunge, folk and… in this Scottish playlist of the most important tunes of 2020. All right, see for yourself.
It’s a combination of the known, the little known and the unknown, instant pop anthems and demanding experimental ventures, leftfield and mainstream.
The 100-or-so will be released in 4 days’ time.
Part 2 (75-51): from AC/DC to The Blue Nile: Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2020.
Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2020 Part 3 Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2020 (50-26)
Top 100 2020 Tunes from Scotland Part 4 (26-1): from Lewis Capaldi to The Blue Nile Part 4 (26-1)
And we’re starting with….
Part 1 – 100-766 Part 1
=100 Gallus – Eye to eye
A razor-sharp, eccentric post-punk masterpiece is the Glasgow quartet, who called themselves after the pub where they met. They say the lyrics are about “how polarized society became in the run-up to the general election, but then as we got closer to lockdown, we saw how the pandemic polarized people even further.”
= 100 mouse letters- Dunkinin-
The underground electronic music producer based near Edinburgh creates an idiosyncratically wobbly and floaty computer pop with light beats that drift into the subconscious. “Apparently, LFM also offers “The Magic Window” at madwaspradio.com.
99 Steg G and the Master of Freestyle – An Interpretation
Steg G, the award-winning DJ, producer and mixer who produced the beats for some of Scotland’s earliest hip-hop tracks, works on a sleek hip-hop vs. acoustic vs. rap vs. conventional Celtic drum anthem with a long-time colleague who tries not to be too cheesy to mark the Arbroath Declaration’s 700th anniversary. It marks the 700th anniversary of Arbroath’s Declaration. The duo says that it is “a tribute to this beautiful country and all its people’s spirit, ingenuity and heart.”
98 Zac Scott – Recognized/To Know/No
A beautifully soulful highlight track from the Glasgow-based acoustic singer-masterfully songwriter’s made, intricate and truthful debut album, who continues to work as a music teacher after studying at New York’s Lincoln Center Education and graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he also received the Mary Stuart Prize for Public Speaking.
97 Popup – Panama
This four-piece indie-art-pop combo from Glasgow, founded by old school friends 16 years ago and around long enough to remember MySpace, took 12 years to follow up their debut LP with their second album, Whimpers. I grin at this rollicking, funky rockabilly tune.
96 Mima Merrow – Song of Fire
Good Grief is the title of the Glasgow-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s debut EP, and the two words to describe this stirring alt-folk song with its mix of confessional, wistful guitar, captivating harmonies and aching melody.
95 Different (US) Unify – Solitude & I
It has drum-and-bass rhythms, top-notch Depeche Mode-style synths and fantastic vocals. “It’s a song we’re very proud of and we hope you like it too,” they say. The Scottish-Swedish duo, led by ex-Geneva singer Andrew Montgomery, have produced one of their most seductive four minutes yet.
94 Mike Vass – And in the Sun
The Scottish multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer is best known for traditional Scottish music, so this tantalizing five-and-a-half-minute hypnotic electronic epic, released unannounced, is rightly a departure. And a glorious one.
93 Snash – Pigs
“Fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman…” Great “bark at the moon” offering from the four-piece punk combo from Glasgow, who have turned away from poppy new wave to find their fire and have more in common with nu-metallers Deftones. And that’s not a bad thing.
92 Mogwai – Moon In Reverse
Atmospheric and elegant piano and guitar-led piece of class from one of Scotland’s most important and influential musical exports from the chilling soundtrack to the ZeroZeroZero series.
91 Lizzie Reid – Seamless
Sounds like a country classic with a definite Glasgow lilt. “I listened to da