Scottish new music round-up: November 2020
We take a closer look at three Scottish releases coming out this month, and take a dip back into what you might've missed in October. Spoiler alert: it's all very good!
While things may currently be a bit rubbish – understatement much? – at least we still have music! As is to be expected, along with the cold weather, November also brings with it a slew of new Scottish records worth turning the TV off for.
Romanian-born, Scotland-based singer-songwriter Lizabett Russo is releasing her fourth album, While I sit and watch this tree, on 27 November via the Last Night From Glasgow label. Recorded earlier this year during lockdown, While I sit and watch this tree features seven original songs and one traditional Scottish song, The Water is Wide; two of the tracks are also in Russo’s native Romanian tongue – Colo Sus Pe Un Mente and Valuri Si Ganderi, both of which “have an emphasis on the human connection with nature.”
As well as finding inspiration in Russo’s journey as an immigrant, she also draws inspiration from a recent trip to the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador. In the album's accompanying press release, Russo says: “These songs focus a lot on empowering people on their personal paths and speak about the need for us to respect and preserve nature and also remember our true nature which is not separate from mother Earth but connected to everything and everyone on this planet.” While I sit and watch this tree is delicate, considered and a beautiful listen from start to finish.
Earlier in the month, on 6 November, Glasgow's Peter Cat releases his debut LP, The Saccharine Underground, via MoFi Records. It's a nostalgia-inducing glam-pop romp that brings to mind the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Jonathan Richman, The Divine Comedy and Belle & Sebastian; you can even hear a sliver of Donovan’s Mellow Yellow on (I Want to Break Down) In Your Arms, and can easily imagine a 2020 Elvis taking on crooner duties on If You Can’t Live Without Me, a feat that becomes all the more plausible upon hearing the opening lyrics of SO STR8.
In a world where more and more artists are turning to electronic technology to create their music, it's also refreshing to learn that Peter Cat recorded The Saccharine Underground straight to tape with absolutely no digital instrumentation. Also, it was produced by Catholic Action’s Chris McCrory, which is probably the most perfect pairing for this yacht rock, baroque pop record we can think of. A match made in heaven, if you will.
From one cat to another, Edinburgh-based Mario Cruzado, who you may or may not know from fronting Plastic Animals, releases his debut EP Artifice under his solo moniker, Blue Tiger, on 27 November. Coming out on DIY indie label OK Pal Records, Artifice is a delightfully lo-fi, melancholic pop offering which in places calls to mind the likes of Beirut, Grizzly Bear, and even Gruff Rhys. With gorgeous vocal harmonies throughout, the EP’s mid-point (Ornament) also features soaring strings from Robyn Anne Dawson, and EP closer Alone With You has a very welcome guest backing vocal from Hailey Beavis. Artifice is a beautiful five-track EP that will provide a much-needed sonic hug to anyone who needs it this winter.
October releases you may have missed...
Here are a few things that caught our attention as October wore achingly on, starting with Lizzie Reid’s simply stunning single Seamless (16 Oct). Hailing from Glasgow, you may know Reid as a member of raucous pop-punk outfit Dead Pony (fka CRYSTAL), but her solo work couldn’t be further away from that of her band. Reid's voice is, quite simply put, sublime, and the way she uses her impressive range to express vulnerability is unreal. If you’re a fan of Angel Olsen, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Rose, or just heart-on-sleeve songwriting in general, then Lizzie Reid is for you.
In Edinburgh, up-and-coming rapper and R’n’B artist Jayda released their 11-track Lotus Mixtape (17 Oct), filled with thought-provoking excerpts and slick vocals; Forever Alien released their kitchen disco-ready EP, Chasing the Dragon (26 Oct); and on 30 October Austrian singer-songwriter NANI released her six-track EP, Pure Frustration, describing it as a record “about finding the world extremely fucking annoying”, something we can all relate to right now.
On the same day, Paisley's The Vegan Leather released The Gloaming, their first new music since 2019’s Poor Girls/Broken Boys; while Fife-based “queer-dad-poly-plum-producer” Ben Seal offered up DEATH & MORE, an album of vibrant eccentric pop, certain to add a bit of colour to the greyest of days.
Finally, on 29 October Mogwai had the first play of their dreamy new single, Dry Fantasy, on BBC 6Music. Offering a glimpse of what we can expect from their forthcoming album, As the Love Continues, due on 19 February via Rock Action, at least we all now have something to look forward to next year.