Gary Flockhart: Mercury rising great news for Edinburgh

Young Fathers. Picture: John Devlin
Young Fathers. Picture: John Devlin
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LAST week Capital hip-hop trio Young Fathers were shortlisted for the prestigious Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize, which serves as a reminder of just how far our music scene has come in the last few years.

Often – way too often, actually – it’s said that our city lives in the shadow of Glasgow musically but, with two of our bands shortlisted in as many years (Edinburgh-formed Django Django had the honour in 2012) and none of theirs since Franz Ferdinand won a decade ago, it’s clear we’re no longer playing second fiddle to our west coast cousins.

And yet, they still say along the M8 that our bands are less hungry and ambitious than theirs.

Us Edinburghers, say the Weegies, are more middle-class and pride ourselves on high-brow art, caring little for low-brow pop music. But this isn’t true.

Granted, there are plenty of great bands from the Capital’s musical past who had looked like sure-things only to fade into obscurity – Josef K, TV21, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Aberfeldy, St Jude’s Infirmary... the list could go on – but I’ve been saying for a few years that things were looking up.

Critics of the Edinburgh music scene will no doubt point out that nothing has changed; that we’re still producing critically acclaimed but commercially ignored acts. Again, I disagree. Acts like the Djangos, Withered Hand and Broken Records have sold credibly in recent years, while Balerno-born singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt is now a bona fide pop star.

It’s time, then, to stop pandering to the illusion that good music only comes out of one city in Scotland – because it simply isn’t true.

Although I can’t see anyone but Royal Blood – or perhaps FKA Twigs – winning this year’s Mercury Prize, the fact yet another act from the Capital have made the shortlist is proof in itself that the city’s music scene is in rude health.

Good luck to Young Fathers, all the same – they are worthy contenders.