This is just a brief list of some stuff I’m looking forward to in the Edinburgh music scene over the coming year. I don’t intend to be parochial about this, or too narrow, but I am not as close to the precise ins and outs of what’s happening in the rest of the country so there’s a limit to what I can meaningfully say about what’s going on there. It’s not meant to be exhaustive either, just some thoughts pottering about at the front of my mind.
Last year saw the first steps made by a couple of new labels in Edinburgh, Kilter and Mini50. With Song, by Toad Records virtually at capacity in terms of labour and money, and 17 Seconds and SL Records also really busy, these two new labels should have a pretty free hand in terms of first dibs on emerging bands this year.
Kilter have already showed the quality of their work with the beatiful eagleowl single in December, so in that sense they’re a slight step ahead. Mini50 have been negotiating with some of the newer bands to emerge in the last year or so though, and album releases by the likes of Mammoeth should give a really solid foundation to their launch. Basically, this is great news for the city’s young bands.
The New Generation of Bands
Whilst I’m talking about the newer bands to emerge last year, there is a definite gap forming in the local musical ecosystem. The fact that Broken Records and now Meursault and Withered Hand have graduated to an audience both nationwide and beyond leaves an opportunity for one of the new generation to make a mark locally.
With a single and an EP already to their name, Jesus H. Foxx are slightly further ahead in their development, but with the very promising emergence of bands like the Pineapple Chunks, Conquering Animal Sound and the Last Battle there is the opportunity for a band from the new generation to progress to the stage where they will obviously and easily be able to fill small venues like Sneaky Pete’s and whatever the Roxy management turn the old Bowery space into.
The New Roxy
And while we’re on the subject of the Roxy, Rupert Thomson, former Skinny editor, has been appointed to run the entire building in the new year. I have a lot of time for Rupert, so I am really hopeful that he can carry on the development of what is pretty clearly the best gig space for small bands and promoters in the city. In the absence of Ruth and Jane the place will inevitably have a very different atmosphere, but it is still easily the best space of its type around, so I really hope the new team can continue to foster the underground scene in the capital with the same kind of devotion and sympathy which Ruth brought to the place. And very nice that they now have a one o’clock license, which is very fortuitous timing indeed for the new venture.
Descent of the Digital Press Locusts
Last year saw the formation of so many new blogs in Scotland it made my head spin. In fact it actually made me feel like an established veteran. With respected indie publications like Bearded and Plan B swinging the axe on their print editions and also retreating to the web, we are getting closer to the American press model every day.
In the States there are basically no music magazines left, so labels and bands take blogs way, way more seriously, because we are pretty much the only people left who are addressing their audience. In the UK there are still some excellent music magazines – Clash, Word, The Stool Pigeon and so on – but glossies like the NME, Q and Uncut are really becoming embarrassingly bad. Personally I would be surprised if the year passed without a high profile music press casualty, which means that the playing field is unusually open for blogs and other digital publications. And with the death of music television beyond the insultingly stupid X-Factor and its diseased ilk, pretty much the only music television which exists in the UK is now online.
This general trend could lead to a fairly considerable shift in how online publications are treated over the next year or so and, instead of being considered amateur or grassroots or DIY, we could end up being as close to mainstream as it actually gets in the indie world.
That Extra Step
Glasvegas were probably the last really big band to come out of Scotland, in terms of sheer audience size. Frightened Rabbit, depending on their next album, could follow in their footsteps over the next twelve months. Do any of the Edinburgh bands, I find myself wondering, have it in them to follow in their footsteps? Are we likely to ever see the likes of Withered Hand, Meursault or Broken Records get anywhere near a late evening slot on the main stage at a major festival anytime soon? It would be nice to think so, wouldn’t it.
Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt.1