Scottish new music round-up: December 2020

We discover new releases from Lost Map Records, Paradise Palms Records, Belle & Sebastian and more, and take a look at what you might have missed in November

Feature by Tallah Brash | 10 Dec 2020
  • Belle and Sebastian

While 2020 has been a massive steaming pile of shit, a lot of good has still come out of the last nine months since life was turned upside down by the coronavirus, and although the arts have been hit particularly badly by the pandemic, musicians across Scotland have, against all odds, continued to harness their creativity, and this month is no different.

As well as the arts being hit hard, so has the hospitality industry, but Edinburgh's Paradise Palms have remained hopeful, and helpful, throughout. When things got really bad they helped provide meals for Edinburgh’s most vulnerable, and since then have been keeping our tummies filled with delicious takeaway munchie boxes and boozy cocktails. But Paradise Palms are as much about pleasing ears as they are about satisfying bellies, and the pandemic hasn’t stopped them putting together their annual Bonnie Tropical compilation.

Released on 4 December via their in-house label, Bonnie Tropical 5 features 15 tracks from exceptional local musicians, some names you may recognise from previous appearances in these very pages (Super Inuit; Midi Paul) and others that were certainly new to us so may also be to you (sarya; Miss Represented). The compilation covers everything from techno to trip-hop, pop to house, 80s to 8-bit and more, with the whole 80-minute runtime arcing in such a way that it evokes a whole night out from pre-drinks hype to big dance energy to being back at home, passed out on the couch – in short, it has us longing for messy nights out with pals.

Back in September, when The Skinny were just starting to get back up and running again, we returned to news of a new Lost Map Records signing, a Glasgow-based glitch-pop producer, originally from East Lothian, called Matt Gibb. Creating music under the moniker Kinbote, after some beautiful singles, on 4 December he released his debut album, Shifting Distance. With its lo-fi beats, glitchy mechanics and woozy vocals, it will perfectly soundtrack the crispest of winter mornings just as well as it would the hottest of summer afternoons.

From fresh talents to old hands, last year Belle and Sebastian spent a big chunk of the year on tour, part of which saw the Glasgow band take to the high seas for their own Boaty Weekender festival. To celebrate their 2019 adventures, on 11 December they release What to Look for in Summer, a double live album which, across its 23 tracks, features performances from Boaty Weekender as well as from shows in North America and Barcelona, and it includes big hitters like Step Into My Office, Baby, Funny Little Frog and, of course, The Boy With the Arab Strap, which Stuart Murdoch never tires of playing live: “I genuinely look forward to it,” he says. “If the concert’s going great, it just feels like a natural vibe. And if the concert’s going okay – maybe it's a Sunday night and everybody’s a little bit flat, or still in their seats – it’s definitely the time to send it home.”

Elsewhere, Love Music Hate Racism Glasgow released a compilation album on 1 December featuring tracks from Jill Lorean, Djana Gabrielle, RAZA and WomenSaid amongst others. The Ninth Wave can’t be stopped as they release yet more new music, this time in the form of poptimistic single Everything Will Be Fine (4 Dec), and new Glasgow emo/rap artist Crush Mouse has caught our attention with his ‘don’t-take-life-too-seriously’ bops, and on his latest single Filth (11 Dec) he sings about ‘dirty plates and mouldy cups’, ‘hair clogging up the plughole’ and the best delivered line: ‘congealed soy milk on my cereal’. In short, it’s good fun and we are about it.

Finally, if you were looking for something festive then Slime City’s Michael M is releasing A Digital Christmas For You (10 Dec) featuring song titles like Baby, I Will Zoom You This Christmas and Humans Are Not Worth Saving (Merry Christmas). It also features two hilarious bonus tracks, Are You Hanging Up Your Stocking On Your Wall? and The Moon is Right, where every line from the Slade and Paul McCartney Christmas mainstays are replaced by those song titles. It’s exceptional tomfoolery. But it makes us laugh, and perhaps that’s exactly what Christmas needs this year?

November releases you may have missed...

New music seemed to come faster in November than the days got shorter. Firstly, happy birthday to Glasgow’s Olive Grove Records who celebrated ten years of the label with their excellently titled Get Into the Grove compilation. Also celebrating ten years, Edinburgh's My Tiny Robots have made their previously released four-track EP and three singles available for the first time as a mini album entitled X, and for any MTR fans needing a sharp hit of Edinburgh oddpop nostalgia, this is a must! 

As far as singles go, Dead Pony's 23 Never Me is a glimmering gut punch of pop-punk; CLING's MI AMOR is an afro/dancehall delight; Russell Stewart's Citrus is a masterclass in alt-soul, and Slime City made us laugh with IDST, their ode to data privacy. Meanwhile, the last Friday in the month was nothing short of poptastic with DRIFT releasing the rumbling and gorgeous The Isles of pt.2 and Roma Rose channeling CRJ on Stay Like This, while Edinburgh hearing-impaired songwriter PINLIGHT released the effervescent Grow Slow and Chloe x SHUTE's Stay Home was ‘a mellow dream-pop bop inspired by the nostalgia of life before 2020.’