SAY Awards 2017: Longlist revealed

We look at the twenty albums making up the longlist for this year's Scottish Album of the Year prize

Feature by Tallah Brash | 24 May 2017

The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY for short) Award was launched in 2012 to recognise outstanding talent within Scotland’s thriving music scene. This year sees the award scheme, backed by Creative Scotland, celebrate its sixth year and the 20-strong longlist, decided by 100 impartial nominators from across press, radio, music venues and elsewhere in the arts, has been decided.

As well as a judging panel to help select the ten albums which will make the shortlist (announced on 15 Jun), there will be a public vote from 12-14 Jun where you, the lovely reader (and listener), can vote for your favourite album from the longlist.

The winner of the SAY Award 2017 will be announced at an award ceremony at Paisley Town Hall on 28 Jun. The winner will receive a cash prize of £20,000 and each of the other shortlisted artists will receive £1,000. Each shortlisted nominee will also receive a unique SAY Award designed and produced by the winner of the SAY Design Commission; a prize supported by Renfrewshire Council’s new business investment hub InCube to create the awards for the shortlisted artists.

Without further ado, let’s look at this year’s longlist, in alphabetical order.

Adam Holmes and The Embers – Brighter Still
[10 Jun 2016 / Gogar Records]

Brighter Still is the second album from Adam Holmes, this time accompanied by his band The Embers. Recorded at Glasgow’s Gloworm Studios, the songs combine textures of folk and soul music and features some guest vocals from Eddi Reader.

C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
[7 Oct 2016 / FatCat Records]

The Midnight Sun is the second album from singer-songwriter C Duncan. Entirely written and recorded in his Glasgow flat, inspired by the 1960s cult sci-fi TV series, The Twilight Zone, it takes on a more electronic and dreamy sound than his Architect debut. 

Ela Orleans – Circles of Upper and Lower Hell
[7 Jul 2016 / Night School]

Circles of Upper and Lower Hell is the seventh album from Polish-born, Glasgow-based sound artist and composer Ela Orleans. Consisting of 25 tracks, the 73-minute-long album is loosely based on the story of Dante’s Inferno but infused with deep personal experiences, incorporating art, orchestral textures, synth-pop and electronica. 

Fatherson – Open Book
[3 Jun 2016 / Easy Life/Sony]

Recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studio in South Wales with Scottish producer Bruce Rintoul, and mixed by Adam Noble (Placebo / Nothing But Thieves / Don Bronco), Open Book is the second studio album from Fatherson and is full of emotional and uplifting tracks.

Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack
[6 Apr 2016 / Atlantic Records]

Formed in 2003, Painting of a Panic Attack is the fifth studio album from Selkirk’s Frightened Rabbit. Over the course of their career, Frabbit frontman Scott Hutchison has become a master of emotionally honest lyrics and continues to make poetry out of misery on their latest album.

Honeyblood – Babes Never Die
[4 Nov 2016 / FatCat Records]

Recorded at London’s Fish Factory studio by acclaimed producer James Dring (Jamie T / Gorillaz), Babes Never Die is the second album from Scottish duo Honeyblood. The urgent lo-fi charm that defined their debut still pulses from its core, but the evolution that’s taken place is undeniable.

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Damage and Joy
[24 Mar 2017 / Artificial Plastic Records]

The Jesus and Mary Chain have been on the go since 1983. Breaking up in 1999, the band got back together in 2007 for an appearance at Coachella, and in 2015 went on a world tour celebrating 30 years since the release of landmark album Psychocandy. Damage and Joy is the first album from the Reid brothers and co since 1998’s Munki and a welcome return to form.

King Creosote – Astronaut Meets Appleman
[2 Sept 2016 / Domino]

Astronaut Meets Appleman is the latest release from Fife’s Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote. It explores the tension and harmony between tradition and technology – between analogue and digital philosophies – and according to Anderson it invokes a feeling of “being caught between heaven and earth”.

Konx-Om-Pax – Caramel
[8 Jul 2016 / Planet Mu]

Caramel is the second album from Glasgow’s Tom Scholefield, aka Konx-Om-Pax and is quite a different record from the dark ambience of his debut, Regional Surrealism. Although it’s primarily a beatless album, Caramel has a lightness and energy about it within its still very ambient walls.

Meursault – I Will Kill Again
[27 Feb 2017 / Song, by Toad]

In 2014 Neil Pennycook called time on Meursault, instead opting to go it alone under the moniker Supermoon. Announcing in 2016 that he was back as Meursault, I Will Kill Again followed shortly after. Originally intended as a straight-up rock album following in the footsteps of Something for the Weakened, the final result is a much more stripped-back affair.

Modern Studies – Swell to Great
[12 Sept 2016 / Song, by Toad]

Working throughout the year at Pumpkinfield – Pete Harvey’s rural Perthshire studio – Modern Studies shaped a set of Emily Scott’s songs, drawing largely from the salt and spray of the sea. Their communal 'arts-und-crafts-werk' resulted in their debut album, Swell to Great, named after an organ stop.

Mogwai – Atomic
[1 Apr 2016 / Rock Action]

Mogwai’s Atomic is an original soundtrack composed for Mark Cousins’ documentary film about nuclear history; Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise. The film uses only archive footage to explore life and death in the nuclear age, and Mogwai’s soundtrack effortlessly encapsulates both the nightmare of atomic power as well as its dreamlike qualities.

Pictish Trail – Future Echoes
[9 Sept 2016 / Lost Map]

Future Echoes is the latest long player from Eigg-based singer-songwriter and Lost Map label boss Johnny Lynch, aka Pictish Trail. His latest offering is a very personal musing on mortality, the death of friendships and the finality of things, representing his most confident, cohesive and pop-savvy collection of music to date.

Rachel Newton – Here’s My Heart Come Take It
[15 Apr 2016 / Shadowside Records]

Here’s My Heart Come Take It is the third album from singer-songwriter and harpist Rachel Newton. Newton specialises in interpreting folk songs in both English and Gaelic as well as writing and arranging her own music. Here’s My Heart… is a bold combination of traditional folk and original composition set in a contemporary soundscape.

RM Hubbert – Telling the Trees
[29 Apr 2016 / Chemikal Underground]

Returning to the collaborative format which saw RM Hubbert reconnect with a host of old friends on 2012’s Thirteen Lost & Found, Hubby’s latest offering, Telling the Trees, sees an extraordinary cast of musicians and songwriters brought together once again. The collaborators include Anneke Kampman, Marnie, Kathryn Joseph, Martha Ffion and more.

Sacred Paws – Strike a Match
[27 Jan 2017 / Rock Action]

London/Glasgow duo Sacred Paws’ uplifting debut LP, Strike a Match, was produced by the band along with Tony Doogan (Mogwai / Belle & Sebastian / Teenage Fanclub) at Castle Doom, Glasgow and mastered at Abbey Road Studios. It’s a vibrant collection of songs which effortlessly combines infectious indie-pop and post-punk with African highlife guitars.

Starless – Starless
[27 May 2016 / Marina Records]

Paul McGeechan, aka Starless, released his lushly orchestrated self-titled debut album last year. Recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, the album is both epic and unique and features an array of collaborators from Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile) and Karen Matheson (Capercaillie) to Julie Fowlis and Chris Thomson (The Bathers).

Teenage Fanclub – Here
[9 Sept 2016 / PeMa]

Here was recorded in Provence, France and Pollokshields, mixed in Hamburg, and mastered in London. The band worked on it slowly until they were happy with it, and then they put it out. Since their inception in 1989 and now, not much has changed, they’re still doing the same thing, in much the same way as they always have.

TeenCanteen – Say It All With a Kiss
[9 Sept 2016 / Last Night From Glasgow]

TeenCanteen are Carla Easton, Sita Pieracinni, Chloe Philip and Deborah Smith. Recorded in mono and produced by Stephen Watkins, the Glasgow four-piece released debut album Say It All With a Kiss last year via the Last Night From Glasgow label. The album features Aurora Engine and The Cairn String Quartet.

[10 Mar 2017 / Lab Records]

Scottish quartet VUKOVI mix heavy rock riffs with melodic, catchy vocals to create a sound that is as intense as it is fun. Fronted by Janine Shilstone, they’re best known for their raucous live show and their self-titled debut lived up to the hype with critical acclaim internationally as well as on home turf.

Previous SAY Award Winners...

2012: Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – Everything’s Getting Older
2013: RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
2014: Young Fathers – Tape Two
2015: Kathryn Joseph – Bones You Have Thrown Me, and Blood I Have Spilled
2016: Anna Meredith – Varmints

The SAY Award public vote takes place from 12-14 Jun The SAY Award shortlist will be announced on 15 Jun The SAY Award 2017 will take place at Paisley Town Hall on 28 Jun