A few weeks back, we featured five Edinburgh bands everyone should know about, with the aim of flagging up a few of the local acts who we believe to be worthy of your attention. As recently as a few year’s back, Scotland’s Capital was considered the poor cousin of Glasgow when it came to producing quality bands – but that’s no longer the case. Indeed, after a long, long wait, Edinburgh’s music scene is now something to shout about. To prove the point, here’s another five bands from our fair city to get excited about, in no particular order.
When Young Fathers triumphed over a host of better-known acts – including Damon Albarn, Royal Blood and FKA Twigs – to win the 2014 Mercury Music Prize, it was a surprise, to say the least. But just because most people hadn’t heard of them, that didn’t mean they weren’t worthy winners. Formed in the Capital in 2008, Young Fathers have been on people’s radars in these parts for a good few years now, and in winning the Mercury they did as much as anyone has in recent years to put Edinburgh back on the musical map. Nevertheless, the band – comprising Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham “G” Hastings – insisted that the award “didn’t change anything at all” for them. Having collected the £20,000 winner’s cheque, the trio refused to smile for the assembled photographers, and when asked if they were over the moon about winning, Massaquoi shrugged, “Should we be jumping about the place? It’s just part and parcel on the industry.” Massaquoi did, however, concede in a later interview with Rolling Stone magazine that winning would mean “more people listening to our music and seeing the name Young Fathers. We’re a very ambitious group, so all that helps.”
James Brown Is Annie
Named after an Eddie Murphy Saturday Night Live sketch, James Brown Is Annie have come a long way in a short time. Having started out as an instrumental funk trio (just two guitars and drums), gigging in a piano bar, they’ve added more elements to their sound (electric piano, saxophone, bass and vocals) and reaped the rewards with some very high-profile festival slots. They say you don’t get anywhere in the music industry without being a bit ballsy, and they’re nothing if not that. Founder member Barry Gordon works as a music journalist on the side, and when he was sent along to interview Alan Gorrie of the Average White Band, he let slip that he was also part of a funk band and offered to support the legends next time they played in Scotland. It was a tongue-in-cheek remark, but to JBiA’s astonishment, Gorrie later got in touch and asked them to do just that. The band recorded their brilliant debut album at the Chambers Studios in Edinburgh with Malcolm ‘Molly’ Duncan of the AWB last year, which again goes to show that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Discopolis (now Stillhound)
In 2012, when it was still a bit doomy and gloomy regarding the music scene in Edinburgh, British music bible NME named two Capital acts among its ‘100 Bands To Watch’. The bands in question were Discopolis, a trio out of the City of Edinburgh Music School, and South Queensferry boys Bwani Junction (see No.5). At the time of the article, Discopolis had only released one single, the insanely-catchy Lofty Ambitions, but they were already creating quite a buzz, with airplay on BBC Radio 1 and praise from influential DJ Pete Tong, who described their tune as “tasty”. One of the most exciting young bands in Scotland right now, the former Broughton High School boys’ synth-suffused take on house and electro is something worth getting excited about. The band changed its name to Stillhound a few months back, but they’re still making gorgeous electro-pop.
We Were Promised Jetpacks
Edinburgh-formed, Glasgow-based We Were Promised Jetpacks have been together for more than a decade now, and in that time they’ve won plenty of admirers and more rave reviews than you can shake a stick at. The quintet, who first started making music when they were at school together in the Capital, are now three albums into their career, having announced themselves with their 2009 debut album, These Four Walls, which was released by FatCat Records, the label who launched Sigur Ros, Animal Collective, The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, to name just a few. And while WWPJ are hardly household names, they do have a reputation as a formidable live act, with the ability to sell-out mid-sized venues.
Like the aforementioned Discopolis, Bwani Junction were tipped for very big things by the NME – but the influential music magazine wasn’t the only one blowing their trumpet. DF Concerts’ head honcho Dave Corbet described them as “one of Scotland’s most promising new acts”, and they were soon invited to play festivals like T in the Park and Wickerman. The band – who take their name from a 1956 film set in an Indian railway town prior to independence – were awarded a grant from Creative Scotland to record their debut album with award-winning producer Paul Savage, and they didn’t disappoint. The indie/Afrobeat-inflected sound of Fully Cooked earned them comparisons with Vampire Weekend, and helped them pick up the ‘Best Newcomer’ gong at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA), as well as a place on the longlist for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. Last year, Bwani released sophomore effort Tongue Of Bombie, which like its predecessor was well received by the music press.
Words: Gary Flockhart