TOMORROW you, the people of Scotland, can vote for one of the 20 albums on the longlist for the 2013 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) award – after which the longlist will be whittled down to a ten-strong shortlist, and finally, on 20 June, to a single winner.
And when I say “you” I also mean me, since I wasn’t one of the 100 industry and media experts invited to put together the longlist. I am in no way disappointed, angry, jealous or resentful about this snub. I am completely fine with it.
Not that I’m trying to influence you, much, but I’ll be voting for Light Of The North by Miaoux Miaoux. I’m not sure it was the “best” Scottish album of last year, but that’s partly because I’m not at all sure what that means. Did last year’s winners, Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells, really sum up the best of Scottish music more than Mogwai or King Creosote and Jon Hopkins would have done? Or Tommy Smith?
My feeling is that the 2013 SAY award concluded the most important part of its job when it announced the longlist, boosting the profile of homegrown albums in the process. This is why I favour SAY over the similarly organised Mercury Prize. While the Mercury feels like a bunch of musos self-indulgently making arbitrary lists of albums that were created with such different intentions that it diminishes them all to try to compare them, SAY has a useful political purpose. For all that the music industry has changed in recent years, it’s still London-centric, and a lot of Scottish music struggles to compete for attention with music from elsewhere. If SAY prompts a few Calvin Harris, Emeli Sandé or Django Django fans to investigate what else this country has to offer, that’s a fine thing.
Beyond that – and a general celebration of the art of making albums (a subject that I and numerous others have been blogging about at sayaward.com in recent weeks) – I’m not actually convinced SAY is much more than a popularity contest. So I’m voting for the act I’d most like to be more popular.
Miaoux Miaoux is Julian Corrie, a tall, skinny, boyish, electronics whizz from Glasgow. His music is gentle, joyous, occasionally melancholy, old-school synthpop, sung in a clear, delicate voice. Light Of The North sometimes sounds as if Paul Simon had spent the 1980s immersing himself in New Order and Depeche Mode instead of the Boyoyo Boys and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Sometimes it sounds like Mogwai skipping through a meadow. Sometimes, when Corrie stops singing and lets his machines wig out for a while, it’s just brilliant dance music. He’d make a very likeable pop star. So vote Justin tomorrow at sayaward.com. «