Top Ten Scottish Indie/Alternative Bands

Scottish Indie/Alternative Bands

Overblown’s Favourite Scottish Indie/Alternative Bands

I’m skeptical about the motivation for David Cameron’s visit to Scotland. Is it too much to suggest the whole debacle was carefully planned and staged so as to further the cause of the yes vote? I mean, no one in Scotland likes Tories and no one anywhere likes David Cameron so why would his opinion hold any sway? Perhaps he was intended as a Trojan horse. Scotland is a Labour stronghold, and so the benefit of Scotland’s independence to the Conservatives seems pretty self evident. A canny move by the Tories. Personally, I find myself torn. If I was Scottish and living in Scotland I feel I would vote yes, but as I live south of the border I am loath to lose the influence of the Labour stronghold.

At any rate, the vote is today. And I don’t think it can be overstated about how monumental it could well be. What would the economic fallout be? What will be the political fallout? Would Scottish independence be a catalyst for other smaller states around Europe to seek independence?

Regardless of the result and subsequent consequences, you have to have suitable music in these doubtful times. With this in mind Overblown has cherry picked a bunch of both burgeoning Scottish bands and others that have been around the track a couple of times as a kind of “Soundtrack to Scottish Independence”. What all these bands have in common is their own independence. They all operate on their own labels or other independent labels. This independence is a trait they may share with their motherland sooner rather than later.

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1Django Django

We might get a little flak for including Django Django in this list. They did, after all, form in London. But seeing has all the members met at Edinburgh College of Art and are Scottish fellows they are definitely worthy of inclusion. They’ve been on the road now for the last five years and released their self titled debut album in 2012. FYI, their name has nothing to do with legendary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

2Casual Sex

Casual Sex are from Glasgow and so most definitely Scottish. They sport a polished post punk sound that is both spiky and catchy. They have songs about having sex with your girlfriend’s mate and another about school in the 70s. “A Perfect Storm” is their latest offering taken from an EP of the same name. Like the Velvet Underground if they had formed in Scotland in the late 70s.

3Young Fathers

This alternative hip hop group are one of the wonders of modern multiculturalism that political groups like UKIP are too blinkered to see. Forming in Edinburgh but of Algerian, Nigerian, and  local descent their debut album Dead, which was released earlier this year through Big Dada Records, has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. This is the modern world.

4The Vaselines

So you all probably know at least two Vaselines songs even if you don’t know it. “Son of a Gun”, “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” were all covered by Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was a huge fan. He even convinced them to briefly reform to support them in Edinburgh in 1990. In their first incarnation they released one album and two EPs, but subsequently reformed in 2008 to release two more albums. Indie punk pop gold.

5The Pictish Trail

Johnny Lynch is The Pictish Trail and named after the Celtic natives of Scotland during the Iron Age and Medieval periods. He also ran the Scottish independent label Fence Records until August 2013. His oeuvre consists of straight up folk to jittery folktronica as demonstrated on the first single “Wait Until” from his latest album Secret Sounds Vol 1 & 2.

6The Spook School

A Edinburgh indie pop punk quartet, The Spook School are unique in that their songs are genuinely infectious, at times heart rending and deal with “gender, sexuality, and queer issues”. If today is all about Scottish independence, then The Spook School are all about independence from gender as a social construction. Plus, their drummer Niall McCamley is epic craic live.

7James Yorkston

A singer songwriter from Fife, Yorkston was also a part of the Fence Collective that included the Johnny Lynch run Fence Records. Has released around ten albums to much critical acclaim. His latest The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society was released just last month through Domino Records. He’s playing in my hometown of Cork tonight. Wish I’d known that earlier, I would have given the lads at home a heads up.


Rumour has it PAWS enjoy a ruck. Or maybe Morrissey is “egomaniacal” as they suggested after he allegedly tried to get their gig cancelled when they were playing next door to him for fear of their loud indie rock drowning out his more restrained offerings. At any rate they create a good time noise with a clear love for American indie music from the 80s. Can’t go wrong with that.


Where would this list be without these legendary post rock Glaswegians? Since 1995 they have been pushing the boundaries of modern rock music sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully, but always without fear for taking the wrong step. Their most recent album Rave Tapes further expands their sound with forays into electronica. “Remurdered” is taken from that record.

10King Creosote

And here he is at number one. King Creosote. The uncrowned king of indie Scotland. Kenny Anderson to his friends. You may call him King. He has released more records than you can shake a big stick at. The figure is around forty at the last count. Of note are Diamond Mine, his Mercury Music Prize nominated collaboration with electronic artist Jon Hopkins, and this year’s From Scotland With Love which served as a soundtrack to the film of the same name. It seems only fitting to end with a video showing archive footage of Scotland. “Something To Believe In”. Today my friend Emer posted an apt Nelson Mandela quote in relation to the referendum: “Let your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”. Enjoy.

If you like this list of Scottish indie/alternative bands, you might enjoy our list of promising Irish Alternative Bands

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