World’s critics choose Top 20 Scottish albums

Secretive Edinburgh duo Boards of Canada came out on top. Picture: Complimentary/Facebook
Secretive Edinburgh duo Boards of Canada came out on top. Picture: Complimentary/Facebook
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THE best Scottish album this year was recorded by secretive electronica duo Boards of ­Canada, according to the world’s music critics.

The latest album from brothers Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin, who formed the band in Edinburgh in 1986, tops a 2013 list of 20 compiled by the Scottish-based website Any Decent Music? using aggregate critics’ ratings from more than 50 different publications worldwide.

Other top-rated records on the list include Frightened Rabbit’s latest album Pedestrian Verse, The Bones Of What You Believe by Chvrches and Primal Scream’s More Light. RM Hubbert, who won the Scottish Album of the Year award in June for his last album Lost & Found, was ranked 12th on the list for his latest release, Breaks & Bones.

Terry Watson, co-founder of Any Decent Music? said: “We are a review aggregator so we were taking around 50 sources from the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and we reckon they represent a cross section of web, magazine, newspaper and music reviewing publications.

“What we’re trying to do for users is give them one specific source that gives you a broad opinion. What we’re providing is a list of the most critically acclaimed releases of the last year.”

Other albums featured on the list include Mogwai’s Les Revenants, a soundtrack album for a French television programme by the same name, shown on Channel 4 earlier this year as The Returned, Franz Ferdinand’s Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, and Lloyd Cole’s Standards.

Arts editor of Scotland on Sunday Andrew Eaton-Lewis said the rankings contained a few surprises.

“Musically it is quite a varied list,” he said. “Yes there are lots of older names such as Edwyn Collins, Primal Scream and Lloyd Cole, but then you’ve got Chvrches, who have done phenomenally well in a short space of time – they’ve had a fantastic year.

“They and Conquering Animal Sound are newer, younger acts and the fact that they are coming through and being recognised is encouraging. Conquering Animal Sounds are signed to Chemikal Underground which probably gives them a bit more visibility, so it’s good to see them make this list.”

Watson said that the list was, for the most part, “white, male and old”.

“When you look at this list – what the world’s critics are saying are the most acclaimed releases from Scottish based acts in the past 12 months – it does seem incredibly white and with very few new acts. Many of them are very traditional Scottish names or old school established names like Franz Ferdinand and Primal Scream.

“There is a young vibrant new scene out there, particularly in Glasgow, but some of them haven’t released albums in the past year, and some are perhaps not getting the exposure.”

However, Eaton-Lewis said he was encouraged by the number of bands signed to Scottish labels – or running their own – who also made the list.

“If we’re talking about the Pictish Trail for example, that’s someone who runs an indie label from Fife that’s become world renowned. Many of the bands here are not acts on big labels – they’re on indie labels such as Fence Records of Glasgow-based Chemikal Underground.”

Any Decent Music?’s full list of best rated albums worldwide in 2013 places Boards Of Canada 24th in the overall list while Chvrches lands in 70th place.

Critically-acclaimed albums

Any Decent Music? is a music review aggregator which surveys sources from around the world to create a chart of the most critically-acclaimed albums. The ADM rating is a weighted average from a survey of more than 50 newspapers, magazines and influential music blogs. An album must have at least five reviews before it gets a rating

1. Boards Of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest 8.1

2. Chvrches, The Bones Of What You Believe 7.8

3. The Pictish Trail, Secret Soundz Vol. 2 7.7

4. Alasdair Roberts & Robin Robertson, Hirta Songs 7.6

5. Rick Redbeard, No Selfish Heart 7.6

6. Alasdair Roberts & Friends, A Wonder Working Stone 7.6

7. Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse 7.6

8. Steve Mason, Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time 7.6

9. Young Fathers, Tape Two 7.5

10. Edwyn Collins, Understated 7.5

11. Mogwai, Les Revenants 7.4

12. RM Hubbert, Breaks & Bones 7.4

13. Camera Obscura, Desire Lines 7.3

14. Primal Scream, More Light 7.3

15. Conquering Animal Sound, On Floating bodies 7.2

16. Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action 7.2

17. L. Pierre, The Island Come True 7.1

18. Young Fathers, Tape One 7.1

19. Lloyd Cole, Standards 7.1

20. Dam Mantle, Brothers Fowl 7.1