Wednesday 28 October 2020

SAY Award 2020 - the shortlist

During this crazy year, where there have been no gigs since March, music fans have had way more time than usual to go back through their record collection and to add to it by discovering new music.

Tim Burgess has helped shine a light on the art of the album, with over 500 listening parties to date! And over the last few nights he has held parties for all of the shortlisted albums for the 2020 Scottish Album of the Year Award, with the winner set to be announced tonight (Thursday 29/10).

With everything going on in the world, I think the SAY Award 2020 is the most important year for the award yet. It really does give us all a night to reflect on our creative and talented nation and appreciate the music, the art, the nights out and the friendships that often come through a shared love of music.

It's worth taking a moment to think of the artists, bands and labels across Scotland who are still getting music out into the world during current restrictions. Those that are still creating - thank you.

And my thoughts go out to venues, staff, promoters, sound engineers and all the crews that help to put on incredible events throughout Scotland; from stadium shows and festivals, through to modern venues like the Hydro and all the incredible small venues across the land. Your work alongside bands and artists brings so much joy to so many people and I can't wait to get out to gigs again. Imagine the atmosphere at those first shows where we can go wild! 

I can't begin to imagine how difficult things are for you, take care.

So the SAY Award 2020!

Over 300 albums were nominated for the award and the 10 remaining have a chance to win an incredible £20,000! 

That kind of money can make a huge difference to bands and artists; established or new. And speaking of new, I should highlight that eight debut albums make up the shortlist this year! 

The 10 shortlisted albums in the running are;

Blanck Mass - Animated Violence Mild

Bossy Love - Me + U

Callum Easter - Here Or Nowhere

Cloth - Cloth

Comfort - Not Passing

Declan Welsh & The Decadent West - Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold

Erland Cooper - Sule Skerry

The Ninth Wave - Infancy



Personally, I've really fallen for the Erland Cooper album and bought it on vinyl at the weekend. It's a truly beautiful and emotive album. And I'm also very fond of the Callum Easter album and wish I had followed up on recommendations from people to check it out much earlier than I did. It's got a real charm and warm feel to it and I love the variety throughout.

The eponymous debut album by Cloth has won many fans and their #timstwitterlisteningparty last night was very enjoyable and insightful. I think it might be the favourite to win.

I've enjoyed attending a number of SAY Award ceremonies over the years. This time people from all over the world can attend! Simply subscribe to The SAY Award YouTube channel.

The ceremony will begin at 7pm tomorrow night - Thursday 29th October.

Previous winner include; Auntie Flo w/ Radio Highlife, Young Fathers w/ Cocoa Sugar, Sacred Paws w/ Strike A Match, Anna Meredith w/ Varmints, Kathryn Joseph w/ Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I've Spilled, Young Fathers w/ Tape Two, RM Hubbert w/ Thirteen Lost & Found and the inaugural winner back in 2012 was Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat w/ Everything's Getting Older.

Read on for a little bit about the shortlisted albums for 2020.

Good luck to all and well done for making the shortlist.

Blanck Mass - ‘Animated Violence Mild’
Animated Violence Mild was written throughout 2018/2019 at Blanck Mass’ studio outside of Edinburgh. These eight tracks are the diary of a year of work steeped in honing craft, self-discovery, and grief - the latter of which reared its head at the final hurdle of producing this record and created a whole separate narrative: grief, both for what I have lost personally, but also in a global sense, for what we as a species have lost and handed over to our blood-sucking counterpart, consumerism, only to be ravaged by it.

Bossy Love - ‘Me + U’
Glasgow-based, enigmatic, alt-pop duo Bossy Love - comprising Scottish producer, songwriter and drummer John Baillie Jnr (Dananananakroyd / BABE), and Indonesian/Australian vocalist and songwriter Amandah Wilkinson (Operator Please), released their highly-anticipated, debut, 12-track album, ME + U in November, amidst a storm of critical acclaim. Further developing their style for emotionally candid and confessional, yet anthemic, IDGAF lyrics, atop propulsive, rich, pop production, ME + U was selected by The Guardian in their list of Best Albums 2019, before highlighting Bossy Love a second time; in their list of Amazing Musicians To Watch Out For In 2020: “Me + U is the stuff fantasies are made of… best Scottish pop act since Chvrches.”

Callum Easter - ‘Here or Nowhere’
Callum Easter’s dark poetic vision find its most compelling form yet on Here Or Nowhere – a sparse, stark, deeply personal and by turns hopeful, menacing and despairing clutch of intuitively retro-futuristic songs united, as he explains, by “a feeling that the world is fucked up and a belief that people can fix it together.” It’s entirely written, performed, recorded and even mastered by the artist himself between his flat and his studio, save for backing vocals from Sisters Jacqui and Pauline Cuff (Soho/Leith Congregational Choir), as captured by Tim London.

Cloth - ‘Cloth’
Recorded at Scottish indie mainstay Chem 19 with engineer Derek O’Neill (King Creosote, The Phantom Band), Cloth is the self-titled debut album by the acclaimed Glasgow-based three-piece. At once hauntingly sparse and sonically grandiose, Cloth weaves a gentle spell over its 10 carefully crafted tracks. Minimal, chiming guitars, punctuated by deep electronic grooves, set a lush backdrop for Rachael Swinton’s soaring voice, as she recounts tales of lost friendships (‘Curiosity Door’) and melancholic reverie (‘Brooklyn’). The album artwork for Cloth was designed by Glasgow-based artist Jamie Johnson.

Comfort - ‘Not Passing’
All standards are falsehoods
I am no less a woman than a cis-gendered runway model
Prejudices are not opinions
There is no debate
Let them think i look like a man
Let them think I am mentally deluded
I am cultivating in the cracks of their disgust
I have nothing to live for but myself
My womanhood needs no permission
This record is for the people who don't make it
Who don't feel safe enough to live it
Who will be
Who are
We deserve our beauty
And the world will catch up to us

Declan Welsh & The Decadent West - ‘Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold’
Recorded at 7west and produced by Glasgow staple Chris Marshall, the album affirms the message that politics are always personal. They’re tethered to our every day and whether it’s through music, social media or conversations with friends, this need for collective comfort and camaraderie is more important than ever. As opener and single ‘No Fun’ cheekily asks in a London accent, who even listens to guitar music anymore? For Welsh and The Decadent West, it’s a need to create messages of solidarity to those that feel lost and unheard, providing an insatiable, refreshing contrast to the squawking suppressors.

Erland Cooper - ‘Sule Skerry’
‘Sule Skerry’ is the second album in a triptych by the contemporary composer and multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper. Described by MOJO as “Sonic postcards from Cooper’s native Orkney”, the series examines the air, sea and land, as celebrated by Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown. Sule Skerry is bookmarked by Cooper’s solo debut, Solan Goose (an album of the year at 6Music, The Quietus, Music OMH and more) and by 2020’s Hether Blether. On Sule Skerry Erland Cooper takes inspiration from the sea, describing the album as “a nautical map, something to refer back to when you get lost at sea”.

The Ninth Wave - ‘Infancy’
From explorations of self-torment and paranoia (“This Broken Design”) to not being accepted by society (“Flower Into Wounds”) and the overwhelming fatigue of living in a superficial culture(“Half Pure”), “Infancy” is, at its core, a mirror of the darkest facets of living in modern society. The Ninth Wave’s uncompromising message is delivered in a gargantuan, electrifying sonic style that can’t fully be likened to anyone who’s come before them.

 «Re-Up» exists to replenish the underground and remind them what Nova is really about. DIY written all over the album’s DNA, Nova offers her unfiltered truth on crime, clubs, afters and getting money and self-growth. Bassy trap sits side by side with lo-fi hip hop and heavy grime features beats by $1000 Wallet, Inkke and Kami-O, AJM, T.Morgan & Evil M, all local producers based in Scotland, complemented with imagery of drunken street fights, a twisted game of Monopoly and sniper staring down the viewfinder.

SHHE’s self-titled debut album is a sparse, evocative and atmospheric journey of introspection and exploration of identity that demonstrates her ability to capture movement, change and the light and darkness that haunt the human condition. It was impacted by her time in Iceland, where she began work on a project that explores the connection between sound, landscape and sleep. The album is an encapsulation of Shaw’s breath-taking gift for wrapping carefully constructed electronic soundscapes around delicate yet self-assured vocals and lilting melodies. SHHE has found herself on the precipice of unlimited creativity and she’s ready to dive in head first.

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