JANUARY, the month of fresh starts and festive regret. Also the month to look forward into the musical trend globe as we predict who’s going to make it large in 2017. Scotland is flourishing. And so is the music scene. In 2016, we’ve seen some momentous achievements from bands including Be Charlotte, Crash Club, Baby Strange, The Vegan Leather and beyond; these bands are making dents around the world.
For this list, we spoke to music industry insiders including managers, promoters, journalists and beyond to independently curate you a guide from those working in the industry and their predictions of how Scotland will sound in 2017. Check out the list below (in no particular order) and our nominators at the bottom.
2017….. Bring it on.
2016 was a massive breakthrough year for Be Charlotte who quickly became one of the most talked about artists in Scotland. With the material to match the surrounding buzz, her innovative pop compositions and thought-provoking lyricism have stood her apart as a truly unique talent; it is therefore no surprise that she has been tipped for great things in 2017. Having already made a global impression with a tour of the Far East late last year, she is set to represent BBC Radio 1 at Eurosonic Noordessag in The Netherlands later this month before a short European tour. A series of highly anticipated Scottish shows will then follow before appearances at two world-renowned festivals; The Great Escape in Brighton and SXSW in Austin, Texas. 2017 is undoubtedly Be Charlotte’s year.
Catholic Action have had a brilliant couple of years. Making their way from any dank, crowded venue they could get into on their first Scottish tour to attaining enviable support slots with a litany of their musical heroes, the inherent ambitiousness that extravasates from the band’s every well-planned move is the key to their continued success. We only have to think back to The Great Escape in May 2016, when we couldn’t get inside their gig five minutes before they took to the stage to remember the waves they’re making outside of Scotland. The band are embarking on a massive UK tour in February and we’re expecting their infectious sound to reach even more music lovers in 2017.
THE VEGAN LEATHER
Having enjoyed a hugely successful 2016, The Vegan Leather ended the year supporting Paolo Nutini at the world-renowned Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations in front of their biggest crowd to date. On a seemingly unstoppable rise at the moment, the art-pop group look primed for even bigger things in 2017. Ambitious, vibrant, eccentric and with a growing catalogue of well-crafted material, the four-piece have undoubtedly become one of Glasgow’s best live acts and are set to make a big impression when they make their London debut later this month supporting Apothek at the Roundhouse. New tracks could also be on the horizon as the band look set to continue on their upwards trajectory.
Tipped for great things since they first emerged, Neon Waltz have bowled listeners over with the consistency of their output to far. Carving out a niche of their own, the six-piece combine their compelling songwriting with meticulously well-crafted arrangements to great effect; the recently released ‘Dreamers’ showcasing their capabilities in sublime fashion. Having been on the radar for some time, 2017 could be the year that Neon Waltz fulfil their massive potential; starting with an extensive UK tour throughout February and March.
AND YET IT MOVES
And Yet It Moves marked the welcome return of Dale Barclay last year, the new outfit arriving with the bold ambition to save music from mediocrity. Refusing to conform to any expectations, the band introduced themselves in the most memorable fashion with a series of raucous live shows and exciting releases; bold, provocative and utterly genre-defying in style. Boasting an all-encompassing sound that is far from just straight up rock and roll, there seems to be no limits to what this band are capable of. 2017 will see them build on this initial promise with their debut album said to be coming out later in the year.
An exciting new prospect who exudes a definite sense of mystery and intrigue, electronic artist Lully has harboured a small yet curious online presence since she first emerged with her debut track ‘Slow D’s’. Despite there being very little information about her, the two tracks she has released so far have caught the ears of notable industry experts. With support already stemming from Damon Albarn’s famous cartoon outfit Gorillaz, the producer has teased new material as she sets to make her mark on 2017.
Indigo Velvet look set to build on their growing reputation this year with the promise of more live shows and new music. The Edinburgh outfit have won over fans and critics alike with their tropical indie pop sound; transporting listeners to sunnier climes with their bright guitar licks and sparkling melodies. One of the most promising acts to emerge from the capital in recent times, the four-piece have already announced a show at Sneaky Pete’s on 12th February as they look to take 2017 by the scruff of the neck.
MAN OF MOON
This enigmatic duo have won over all corners of the industry in recent years with their ambitious soundscapes and unique musical synergy. Entirely original in their approach, Man Of Moon combine propulsive beats with waves of psychedelia in truly gripping fashion; gaining a reputation for their hypnotic and captivating live show in the process. With an exciting 2017 ahead, the duo will kick off the year with two gigs, one at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh (23rd January) and another at Saint Luke’s in Glasgow with C. Duncan as part of the Celtic Connections festival (26th January). They will then retreat to record their long-awaited debut album.
Having enjoyed a hugely successful 2016, Fatherson are ready to stake their claim as one of Scotland’s top guitar bands over the next 12 months. Their second album ‘Open Book’ was released last year to a great reception, building on the promise of its predecessor with more huge anthems, evocative lyrics and guitar-driven melodies. Coming into 2017 right after a sold out show at the Barrowlands, the three-piece are ready to spread their appeal even further with an extensive tour around the UK and Europe before playing even bigger venues when they support alt-rock outfit Mallory Knox throughout March and April.
Synth-pop outfit Happy Meals have described the forthcoming year as a ‘transitional’ one with the promise of lots of new music and more live shows. Having followed up their critically acclaimed mini-album Apéro with an extended EP titled Fruit Juice, the Glasgow-based duo inhabit a continental sound which combines French and English lyrics over experimental compositions; infectious samples, heady melodies and artful electronics coming together to great effect. They recently finished a tour across Europe and are set for another busy year ahead with a new album said to be recorded and on its way.
Saint PHNX haven’t been around long but they’ve already generated the sort of interest that has seen them tipped for great things in 2017. With an innate skill for anthemic songwriting, the duo are able to conjure vast soundscapes between them; releasing two colossal indie rock anthems that have led to comparisons with popular bands like Kasabian, Imagine Dragons and Royal Blood. If ‘Reload’ and ‘King’ are anything to go by, this band have a bright future ahead. It is perhaps no surprise then that they have been booked to play this year’s Great Escape festival in Brighton.
Having gradually established themselves as one of Scotland’s most creative outfits, Pronto Mama have won over fans and critics alike with their spell-binding live performances in recent times. Completely original and boldly experimental, the six-piece have continued to cut their own path in the Scottish music scene; constantly defying expectations and refusing to adhere to the rules of convention. Having shown what they are capable of with a number of releases, 2017 could be the year that Pronto Mama are unleashed onto the masses with the release of their highly anticipated debut album ‘Any Joy’. Coming out on Electric Honey, it is the subject of a pledge campaign to ensure it is mixed and mastered. There is also the small matter of a headline show at Oran Mor to look forward to on 3rd February.
With only a few live performances to their name, The Cut have already been tipped for great things in the coming year. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen them though; the band were thrust into the limelight when they supported Baby Strange and WHITE last December at the ABC. Another product of Glasgow’s fertile music scene, they are ready to establish themselves among the city’s new generation of rock bands; the suggestion being that some recorded material may be on its way in the near future. Already boasting an effortlessly cool aesthetic and a gripping live show, 2017 will perhaps mark the start of something special for the group.
Having made a significant impression on last year’s T Break stage, Glasgow-based producer Edwin Organ has gained recognition for his unique and modern take on electronica. Carving out a niche entirely of his own, Organ’s arrangements are woozy, infectious and wonderfully bizarre all at once. He released a bewitching new track titled ‘Serenade’ towards the end of last year and is expected to achieve even greater things over the next 12 months.
THE VAN T’S
Another band who have taken the Scottish music scene by storm in recent times are The Van T’s. Spearheaded by twin sisters Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson, the four-piece have gained plaudits for their riff-heavy brand of alt-rock; combining their fuzzy garage rock influences with pop sensibilities to great effect. Their catchy refrains, dynamic rhythms and wonderful dual vocals are known to come to life in rollicking fashion at their live shows; so it is perhaps no surprise that they start the year with a series of exciting shows around Scotland and the north of England, beginning with a headline gig at King Tut’s. Looking to build on the success of last year, it is only inevitable that The Van T’s’ star will continue to rise throughout 2017.
An outfit who have gained a reputation for their energetic and captivating live performances, the only way is up for Bossy Love according to industry experts. The duo, comprised of Amandah Wilkinson, formerly of Operator Please, and Dananananakroyd’s John Baillie Jnr, come armed with a modern and refreshing electro-pop, R&B infused sound that has earmarked them as a unique and exciting prospect for the future. The band will hope to build on the success of last year with more new music and live shows around the UK throughout 2017.
This young producer from Stirling has amassed a huge online following over the past couple of years thanks to his progressive sound. Known for his hugely experimental and carefully crafted arrangements, his EP Escapism II was released in August last year on XL Recordings, home to some of the world’s biggest artists. A clear sign of his impressive reputation, his fanbase has continued to grow around the world with a number of sold out shows around Europe and the US. His star looks set to rise even further this year with a return to Coachella in April.
Thanks to our industry nominators who joined the panel as follows: Aarti Joshi (DF Concerts), Adrian Hunter (Walk Tall Recordings), Alan Morrison (Head of Music at Creative Scotland), Ally McCrae (Two Up Music), Björn Sandberg (WCSP Management), Chae Houston (Tenement Tv), David Weaver (Detour, Derick Mackinnon (New Found Sound), Jamie Anderson (JAM Music Management), Louie (Breathe Underwater Management), Nadine Walker (Tenement TV), Nick Roberts (Electric Fields Festival), Paul Cardow (PCL Presents), Richy Muirhead (Scottish Alternative Music Awards), Stephen Archibald (Jumping the Shark PR), Tam Coyle (Miobabig Music Consultancy), Vic Galloway (BBC Scotland).