Scottish Album of the Year: 2013 Longlist Announced

As the Scottish Album Of The Year Awards longlist for 2013 is announced, we offer analysis on the initiative's cultural significance and revisit some of the coverage we've given the nominees, from Auntie Flo to The Unwinding Hours

Feature by The News Badger | 25 Apr 2013

The longlist for the 2013 Scottish Album of the Year Award (SAY) has been announced today. The second in the initiative's history, the inaugural prize was awarded in 2012 to Bill Wills and Aidan Moffat for their collaborative album Everything's Getting Older. In contrast to last year's longlist, the 2013 selection contains two albums which have had major mainstream success, making stars out of the artists concerned. Calvin Harris, nominated for his album 18 Months, featuring vocals from Rihanna, Kelis and Example among others, was a worldwide hit, while Emeli Sandé's Our Version of Events was embraced by daytime radio, and has sold over a million copies in the UK alone. 

The rest of the list features a diverse wealth of Scottish musical talent, including more than a few artists we've featured over the last twelve months here at The Skinny. Human Don't Be Angry, Malcolm Middleton's offbeat, experimental project was well recieved, and Middleton spoke to us about its creation back in April last year. Errors' Have Some Faith In Magic, reviewed here with a full five stars awarded, was our 4th favourite album of 2012, and the band gave us a track-by-track guide in January. Eclectic Glasgow producer Dam Mantle's Brothers Fowl, reviewed here, was one of his most accessible albums yet, and he spoke to us in December (we've had our eye on the man since our introductory profile, back in 2010).

Other nominees we've had a natter with have included Django Django, whose self-titled debut was our 2nd favourite album of 2012 – Dave Maclean of the band spoke to us in January. PAWS gave us first spin on their debut album Cokefloat (reviewed here) in October, and we spoke to Miaoux Miaoux back April about Light of The North this time last year (reviewed here). We've also been big supporters of The Twilight Sad – featuring the Kilsyth trio in our January 2012 cover story, before looking back with the band on some of the influential records of their youth in December, plus No One Can Ever Know, given a rare five-star review here, was our 9th favourite album of 2012. We had a word with Auntie Flo, too, in April. We reviewed Meursault's Something For The Weakened, RM Hubbert's Thirteen Lost & FoundStanley Odd's Reject, and Admiral Fallow's Tree Bursts In Snow to no little acclaim, plus Afterlives by The Unwinding Hours, which also garnered a full five stars.

Taken as a whole, the list is a portrait of a Scottish music scene that is both creatively and commercially in rude health in many ways, despite the plethora of challenges facing musicians and record labels in the fast-moving, competitive modern music industry. Where a kind of siege mentality exists industry-wide in the face of closing high street shops, a track-driven rather than album-driven download market, and declining sales of nearly every physical format except vinyl, these bands and artists can all be applauded for pulling off the difficult trick of sustaining quality and structure through a full-length album.

The range of genres addressed by this year's longlist is also heartening, with nods to hip-hop, pop music, electronica, punk and jazz included among the guitar-slinging indie mob who tend to dominate many awards ceremonies – although the SAY Award now has a track record of embracing experimental and dance music artists, with recognition for Conquering Animal Sound and Rustie in last year's list. The 2013 longlist was aggregated from the suggestions of a list of industry nominators including broadcasters, musicians, record label owners and journalists. This year's judging panel includes author Christopher Brookmyre, author and journalist Tom Doyle, visual artist Douglas Gordon, musician and label owner Tjinder Singh of Cornershop and Ample Play Records), and DJ/producer Rebecca Vasmant. 

On 27 May, there will be a 24-hour public vote, which will be taken into consideration alongside the judges views. We'll keep you posted with details of how to make sure your voice is heard. The shortlist will be announced on 30 May, with the final announcement of the winner being made on 20 June in a ceremony at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. Of the final ten shortlisted, nine will win a prize of £1000, with a grand prize of £20,000 awarded to the lucky winners.

Auntie Flo commented he was "very honoured" to be nominated, while Dam Mantle said it was "a nice surprise" to see his album listed, and was pleased to see "so many independent artists" from "far-reaching musical zones" being recognised. Django Django commented: "It feels great to be nominated for this award. it's really unexpected but a great surprise. We're up against some healthy competition but that's the positive thing about it because it means that the music scene in Scotland is thriving. From hip-hop to folk to rock to dance music, Scotland is producing great talent."

Malcolm Middleton meanwhile was "frankly shocked," but "especially pleased" to be nominated as Human Don't Be Angry. He commented: "It's an album that's very dear to me and which I feel is the highlight of my musical career so far. Besides, when I don't win it'll be my alter-ego that's lost, not me." Miaoux Miaoux meanwhile was "delighted" to be nominated, and RM Hubbert was "speechless." Stanley Odd applauded the selection because "it represents the quality and diversity of music being made across the country and provides a platform for this to be heard and celebrated."

The Twilight Sad's James Graham said: "Where we are from is very important to us and the music we make, so this record making the long list for the SAY award is something that means a lot to us. To be acknowledged amongst a group of records made by artists who we look up to and admire makes it extra special." Karine Polwart emphasised the amicable nature of the battle for supremacy between artists: "The trick is to remember that we don't make music to compete with each other, or for awards or accolades," she said. "But it's brilliant to get a wee punt." So, who's your money on? Do you agree with the selection? Tell us in the comments below, or come and join us on Facebook to discuss the longlist. We've included it in full below.

Scottish Album of the Year Awards 2013: Longlist

Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow
Auntie Flo – Future Rhythm Machine
Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl
Django Django – Django Django
Duncan Chisholm – Affric
Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events
Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic
Human Don't Be Angry – Human Don't Be Angry
Karine Polwart – Traces
Konrad Wiszniewski & Euan Stevenson – New Focus
Lau – Race The Loser
Meursault – Something For The Weakened
Miaoux Miaoux – Light of the North
Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
PAWS – Cokefloat
RM Hubbert – Thirteen Lost & Found
Stanley Odd – Reject
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
The Unwinding Hours – Afterlives