Next year will undoubtedly be a big one for Scottish artists and their music with the National Museum of Scotland’s Rip It Up exhibition starting in June and running through to late November and The Scottish Pop Music Exhibition Centre now hoping to be open by April or May.
However these are very different times from when bands like the Edinburgh beat combo The Athenians were playing nine times a week – twice on Fridays and Saturdays – and still holding down day jobs in the Sixties.
And though nobody knew it was post punk at the time as a genre, it still has relevance today and so do many of the bands. Paul Haig of Josef K went on to influence New Order and many others including Franz Ferdinand; dozens of bands cite Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice as an influence while others will talk of Roddy Frame and Aztec Camera.
That Malcolm Ross played in all three bands (Joseph K, Aztec Camera and Orange Juice) and is respected in his own right too only sums up what a time it was and then we have Scars, Fire Engines, Skids, Simple Minds, The Associates and indeed many more that deserve to be mentioned, only proving the point, where do you stop?
While the choice is more clear-cut from the 80s indie bands with the Shop Assistants and The Pastels, still hugely influential today, many of those smaller 80s bands went on to big things in the 90s with bands like Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream. Then there was Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Biffy Clyro and so it went on.
Of course I’ve missed out the pop hits of The Bluebells and Altered Images in that brief sojourn, failed to extol the virtues of Deacon Blue, Love and Money, Hipsway and their ilk and not mentioned entire genres like dance and folk. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Ivor Cutler should of course never be forgotten!
Many current artists such as The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit have been with us now for over a decade and go from strength to strength but it has to be said that there have been fewer artists break through more recently in the way Chvrches have for instance.
Of course working on the pop music centre has focused my thoughts on all this – as did the requests I’ve had recently, and get every year, to recommend new Scottish artists to look out for.
Dan Willson and his band Withered Hand certainly deserve to be huge but Dan is already a ten-year veteran as is Neil Pennycook of Meursault, another band that deserve a far bigger audience.
There have been flashes of brilliance this year from the pop of Be Like Pablo to the pop punk of Paper Rifles, but again neither are completely new to the scene.
In the end there was one artist I felt fitted the bill and that was Hamish James Hawk or Hamish Hawk and The New Outfit as he currently calls himself and his band. His first album came out in 2014 – endorsed by King Creosote – and is very good indeed. He has slowly built up a good live following and released several excellent songs in the last year.
A songwriter of some skill who traces his art back through Withered Hand and Belle and Sebastian to Roddy Frame, I heartily recommend you give him a listen. Google and YouTube will get you there! 2018 may well be the year that a new wave of young Scottish artists make their mark and come up with something new and exciting.