15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever

29th Nov 2013 | 14:29

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Average White Band
Funkin' it up north of the border

We mean this in the nicest possible way, but it has to be said that the Average White Band never sounded very Scottish. Funky as hell, they could have been led by James Brown or opened for Earth, Wind & Fire.

But no, this horn-toting outfit hailed from Dundee, and created a stone cold classic in the shape of Pick Up The Pieces. Make sure you also check out Let's Go Round Again and Cut The Cake (Dundee cake, presumably).

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
The Proclaimers
We're not sure what they're looking at, but the Reids are not impressed

Craig and Charlie Reid have the finest voices in Scotland. Identical twins that are able to harmonise as only twins can, they're probably best known for I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) but their back catalogue is well worth investigating.

The brothers' second album, 1988's Sunshine On Leith, is a genuinely brilliant slice of melancholy Scottish pop magnificence, and has recently had its very own concept movie made, Mamma Mia stle.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Belle and Sebastian
These people are dangerously twee

Founded by Stuart Murdoch, this bunch of fey popsters merged '80s indie with Nick Drake, and - on their early albums in particular - made something utterly magic out of them.

For proof of their unique, intimate magic, check out either If You're Feeling Sinister (1996) or Boy With The Arab Strap (1998).

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Teenage Fanclub
A club you really should join

A fuzzy indie dream that remain one of the most underappreciated groups, well, ever, Teenage Fanclub will be discovered by future generations who will mock us for not rising them up to megastar status.

All Byrds-ian harmonies and soaring pop choruses, if you don't own 1991 melodic masterclass Bandwagonesque, get thee to a record dispensory. Yours ears will love you for it.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Boards Of Canada
Electro boys

Behind the layers of mystique that surround elusive sibling duo Boards Of Canada lays two of the finest electronic producers the UK has ever produced.

Few electronic acts have ever been quite as successful at harnessing feelings of nostalgia and warmth that comes from repurposing analogue gear and earthy, natural sound sources. The band’s ’98 debut LP Music Has The Right To Children is still a favourite around these parts.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
He's blue

Few recent electronic producers can lay claim to the sort of sonic personality that Glaswegian artist Rustie has.

His synth-heavy productions radiate vibrancy, and his signature blend of R&B-indebted melodies and energetic drum machine beats is instantly identifiable as his own.

It’s big, brash dance music, yet Rustie’s music is far too unpredictable, idiosyncratic and downright clever to ever lump in with the bravado-driven, drop-obsessed EDM crowd.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Cocteau Twins
Not twins

Between the beautiful, haunting vocals of Elizabeth Fraser and the delicate instrumentation of Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, the Cocteau Twins were like at perfect storm of atmosphere.

Their songs were gothic, often cold and utterly cryptic, yet they still feel emotional engaging and very human.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Orange Juice

The flag bearers for early '80s Scottish pop with brains, heart and irresistible grooves, Orange Juice estbalished Edwin Collins as a national treasure north of the border.

They also influenced a whole new generation of ace dancefloor-aware Scottish guitar groups including the likes of Franz Ferdinand, so hooray for that.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
David Byrne
He knows how music words

Byrne is internationally acclaimed as the frontman of Talking Heads, whose intelligent lyrics, funky rhythms and finely-tuned sense of the avant garde made them an artistic and critical smash in the '80s.

However, Bryne is still going strong both as a writer (see his fascinating book, How Music Works) and as a musician (check out his recent lauded collaboration with St. Vincent).

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Don't feed them after midnight

What more needs to be said about Mogwai? The Glasgow five-piece are the undisputed kings of noisy, emotionally-charged rock music.

They make music that is in equal measures unrelentingly powerful yet delicate and subtle. Masters of the guitar but also capable of a killer synth breakdown. What’s not love?

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Del Amitri
Didn't come home too soon

These melodic Glaswegians always flirted with rather than cemented mainstream success, though they did score a US top 10 hit in 1995 with Roll To Me. However, lead singer Justin Currie and his band always knew their way around a tune.

What's more, given that we're celebrating Scotland's patron saint here, we should point out that Del Amitri even went as far as to record the official song for Scotland's World Cup bid in 1998. The track, Don't Come Home Too Soon, was sadly prescient: the team didn't make it past the group stage.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
King Creosote
The acceptable face of folk

Folk has something of a bad rep right now, with even Gary Barlow cracking out the banjos on his new single.

However! One listen to Fife's King Creosote - aka Kenny Anderson - and your faith in acoustic meditations will be restored.

Put simply, his mysterious voice and sea-aired melodies make for a thrillingly dignified brand of Celtic soul. If you've yet to discover Kenny, you're really missing out.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Franz Ferdinand
They will take you out

Grabbing the indie-pop landscape by the lapels with 2004's tempo-twisting Take Me Out, Franz Ferdinand quickly established themselves as the new face of danceable Scottish indie pop.

Arch, infectious and with an instinct for the pop jugular, they might still be best known for that first, perfect single, but what a single it was.

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
The Jesus And Mary Chain
Cooler than you

What is it with great bands and brothers with the surname Reid? William and Jim were at the heart of The Jesus And Mary Chain, a band whose powder-keg combination of direct pop songs and super-distorted guitar freakery was wildly influential, not to mention incredibly cool.

The band also acted launched the career of Bobby Gillespie and therefore Primal Scream, so thanks for that as well, you Reids!

15 of the greatest Scottish musicians ever
Frightened Rabbit
The rabbit that will folk you up

It’s worth commending Scottish rock outfit Frightened Rabbit for managing to blend influences from folk and good old-fashioned indie without sounding utterly tedious in the way that 98% of indie-folk bands do.

It’s largely thanks to the passionate Scottish drawl of vocalist Scott Hutchinson, whose vividly descriptive lyrics leave the band sitting just the right side of anthemic and emotional.

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