The Chinese year of the rat apparently represents surplus and 2020 saw many of us get more than we bargained for. Too much baking, too much screen time, too much news, too much sanitising; but thankfully there seems to be no such thing as too much music.
Scotland, like many places around the world, saw its up and coming musicians get creative in the absence of traditional recording and promotional opportunities.
The following list is a celebration of some of the most industrious Scottish acts of 2020 as well as a prediction for who is destined to break biggest in 2021.
Glaswegian quintet Walt Disco have been not so subtly crafting their gothic-glam-art-pop sound for what seems like forever. 2019 singles ‘My Pop Sensibilities’ and ‘Past Tense’ showed great promise, but it wasn’t until 2020’s ‘Young, Hard and Handsome EP’ that their full range and potential was brought to the fore.
With opportunities at SXSW and The Great Escape lined up, the events of 2020 could have quashed the lofty ambitions of this flamboyant fivesome. However, having survived and even thrived, Walt Disco seem determined to make up for lost time in 2021.
Frontman James Potter recently told the Student Music Network that what the band does next, “probably will involve an album. We’ve been working on it so it’s going to be a really exciting year.”
Here’s hoping, James!
While many of us may have trudged through the latter part of 2020 feeling a little sorry for ourselves, TAAHLIAH had at least two reasons to smile. The artist, producer and DJ extraordinaire picked up best newcomer and best electronic at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards and became the first black transgender artist ever to win. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, she managed to secure the awards without having released any official music. The hype surrounding her debut single is now palpable.
As for what 2021 holds for TAAHLIAH, she recently told the Student Music Network that fans should expect her first release soon, swiftly followed by a full EP before summer. She is also planning to debut a live performance art piece at Transmission Gallery in Glasgow in March.
Starting off 2020 as CRYSTAL, a name change to Dead Pony coincided with the band signing to Lab Records on a multi-single deal. An impressive string of releases followed including the Abba-tinged ‘Everything Is Easy’, ferocious ‘Sharp Tongues’ and polished ’23, Never Me’.
When they weren’t releasing acclaimed, radio-friendly toe-tappers, Dead Pony found the time to undertake an impressive transatlantic live stream through The New Colossus Festival.
With the backing of a label who boast the likes of VUKOVI, The Lathums and Hockey Dad on their roster, 2021 is looking increasingly bright for these post-punk provocateurs. “All our hard work has finally started to pay off”, commented frontwoman Anna Shields to Our Culture in the aftermath of the band’s signing to Lab Records.
Something tells me she might be right.
As a former member of Dead Pony herself, Lizzie Reid’s departure from the band has been both literal and stylistic. Gone are the days are the days of her rumbling bass locking succinctly between pounding drums and piercing guitars. Instead it is her ultra-personal brand of folk that is turning heads now.
Having signed to Seven Four Seven Six, Reid recently released ‘Seamless’: a stirring but subtle coming of age ballad. Upon hearing the demo she admitted to Tenement TV, “I had tears streaming down my face”.
Her writing is raw and relatable but still in its infancy which is why she is being touted for great things in 2021 and beyond. Lizzie Reid: remember the name.
I once heard someone describe Gallus’ sound as “Misfits meeting The View for the first time” and I’ve been hard pushed to think of a better description ever since. Their straightforward, energetic indie-punk approach could be the perfect antidote to the socially-distant lethargy of 2020.
If and when music venues reopen and the people of Scotland are allowed to jump on top of one another once again, Gallus should be the first band everyone crams in to see. Frontman Barry Dolan was optimistic about such a scenario when he spoke to Tenement TV: “I think people will rally round it. The demand is going to be so much higher when this all blows over.”
In the interim, Gallus have continued to add different strings to their bow with each release. From tub-thumping ‘Breathless’, to the catchy ‘Eye to Eye’, to pointed ‘Marmalade and melodic ‘What Do I Know’, they are honing their craft and deserve to be recognised for their graft, consistency and resilience.