On 18 April 2007 The Scotsman newspaper began a weekly supplement entitled Recommends. The purpose was to give readers the opportunity to tell other readers of their favourite places and things to do in Scotland. These recommendations generally took the form of Top 5s.
Under the auspices of then Assistant Editor David Lee, the feature flourished and in 2008 it was released into the world in book form, courtesy of Edinburgh’s Luath Press. Recommends took many weird and wonderful turns from its original remit. Originally the feature served as a handy guide for visitors and tourists as to the best delicatessens, birdwatching sites and hidden shopping gems and topics that might of interest to staycationers and incomers alike. However, as the weeks and months passed some of the lists submitted took a more surreal route and, indeed, in my own case, some of these contributions were somewhat off-topic and had nothing to do with Scotland at all. Guilty as charged.
I’ve decided to republish some of the contributions I made during the lifetime of the much-loved feature. Sadly, none of my many Top 5s made the book, which concentrated on the more useful and practical. The top 5 Horse Songs, which merited a special mention at the book launch, wouldn’t have been use to anyone looking for the best chip shop or best places to fly a kite in Caledonia. Although one contribution, made in March 2008, did win me a weekly prize of a meal for two at The Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry. I forget which one it was but I shall investigate my records further as I’m sure I have the cutting somewhere.
There’s no set order for the lists I’ll publish again here. I’ll add explanatory notes as and when needed but otherwise the pieces will be as I originally submitted them. I’ll begin with my five bands for 2009, which only serves to show what I know about music…hee-haw!
1. Attic Lights
Technically, with several plays of their last two singles on no less a show than Sir Terry Wogan’s (only the most listened to radio show in the UK), one might think that Attic Lights have already “made it”. But the sky’s the limit for this powerpop quintet who should end the year striding the pop world like colossi. See them at Celtic Connections before everyone else catches on. Top Tune: “God”. http://www.atticlights.co.uk
2. We See Lights
The jockmopolitan We See Lights, who hail from Bo’ness, Airth, Corstorphine and Milngavie, with a bit of Granton and Leith thrown in for good measure, fit nicely into the Aberfeldy mould and that’s no bad thing by any manner of means. Their debut album is imminent. Buy it for someone you love and see them smile. Top Tune: “Parachute”. http://www.myspace.com/weseelights
Alt.country meets powerpop as Dropkick continue to hone their melodious art with smashing tunes and fabulous melodies a-plenty. Sure the influences are as plain as the nose on your face but with more hooks than Bob Nudd’s fishing bag, 2009 could well be the year when the world truly knows their name. Remember what happened the last time a band with three Taylors emerged on the UK music scene? Need I say more? Top Tune: “Patchwork”. http://www.dropkickmusic.co.uk
4. Paper Planes
Out of Glasgow via New Jersey, noiseniks Paper Planes promise to explode in 2009 with their special brand of power punk surf pop. If only they can stop lead singer Jennifer popping home to the States for her tea. Rumours that she has a black belt in origami are unfounded at this time. Top Tune: “Diamond Diner”. http://www.myspace.com/glasgowpaperplanes
5. Findo Gask
Glasgow electro-warriors Findo Gask certainly have a way with a tune and, with the wind in the right direction, 2009 promises to be a fruitful year for the former Fifers. Hear last year’s single “One Eight Zero” and think of Kraftwerk playing Frisbee with Lemon Jelly. Raveheart indeed. Top Tune: “Va Va Va”. http://www.myspace.com/findogaskuk
Comments: An update on those I gave the kiss of death to in late 2008. Attic Lights parted company with Island Records before taking some time out. They’ve returned this year with “Super De Luxe”, a new album released on the more pop sympathetic home of Elefant Records. We See Lights are still going strong although they have been quiet of late. Dropkick are still throwing albums as regularly as Zsa Zsa Gabor ordered wedding cakes and the band has undergone some personnel changes. Paper Planes became Astral Planes but called it a day in April 2011. As of March 2010 Findo Gask were also no more. So there’s a warning to any band who has the temerity to play the kind of music I like. It’s a curse I tell you. Run, save yourself, before it’s too late.
You’ll notice that most of the bands then had My Space sites. My research on their current activities was done on their Facebook pages. Oh, how times change.