Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Scottish Music Revolution

For so long, no country was prouder than Ireland of its musical heritage, but Scotland has been catching up with a rising folk/traditional scene, reviving and keeping the old tunes.  But now those within rock and pop have taken to a new sound: their natural Scottish lilt.
The Imagineers
For decades, pop and rock musicians (or their managers rather) all over the world strove for the most marketable music possible, and that meant catering to the largest pop/rock music scene in the world: the United States.  Everywhere singers adopted the American accent when singing, or at least muted their own accent to the point of unrecognizable accents.  But with burgeoninig bands, such as Glasvegas and Frightened Rabbit, the Scottish accent is returning to the airwaves, home stereos, and mp3 players all around the world. (The Guardian also wrote of this.)

Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit was first brought to my attention in college became a Chuck music staple, introducing their glorious melodies to American nerds.  For a while, they were at the head of this charge to bring back the Scottish voice and represent Scottish rock to the rest of the world.  Lead vocalist Scott Hutchison croons in an effortless sell of the Scottish lilt.  And you know that Scottish rock can work (not Scottish grunge punk, mind you, like the Irish counterpart...I'm looking at you, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys) when you listen to these boys kick it.  But you know, when you listen to Frightened Rabbit, it's a natural essence, derived the craggy hills of Scotland, and it drives a unique new direction of rock music based in Scotland.  It's the epitome of Scottish Rock, a distinct style that can only be defined as "polished, rhythmic, energetic, proud, emotional, crooning tunes".

Check out Frightened Rabbit at their official website, twitter, and facebook.

The Imagineers
If you've seen Craig Ferguson's return with new episodes recently, you've probably seen The Imagineers.  Craig returned with a trip to his homeland of Scotland, and each episode featured a song by The Imagineers.  They even performed Ferguson's theme song to a refreshing delight and necessary vigor for the energetic and weird Craig Ferguson.  The Imagineers were simply a local band trying to make their way in the business.  And then they were essentially discovered by Craig.  Their Scottish charm, complete with a Scottish accent, was known to the rest of the world (or those weird and nerdy enough to watch Craig Ferguson).  Since their first appearances on Ferguson, they've appeared on the show back in the States.  They're the newest Scottish rockers to hit the international scene.

Explore the world of The Imagineers at their website, twitter, and facebook.

Julie Fowlis
You might know Julie Fowlis now.  Why?  She did two original songs for Brave, and one of her songs was featured on the trailer.  But for Brave, she stood brave and sang her songs in English, which made her uncomfortable, but with that, she brought a certain overseas draw to Scotland and its music.  So now audiences have heard Fowlis in both English and Scottish Gaelic.  I can only hope things go up from there.  With Northern Ireland's Cara Dillon being heavily featured on a Disney Tinkerbell movie, narrating the beginning, and singing a few songs, Disney is branding themselves as a global multicultural force.  This may be great for marketing strategy, but it's great for multicultural exposure.

Follow Julie Fowlis and her endeavors to keep and promote the Gaelic language at her official website, twitter, and facebook.

Amy Macdonald
Amy Macdonald's  career started off with a bang.  Her first album was not your typical pop star/rock attitude.  She criticized the media, the government, ageism, among other things.  But she did it with grace, even when talking about being drunk off your ass and trying to find a place to stay the night.  Her booming, unique, full voice shows slightly less of a Scottish lilt than her musical peers do in Scotland, but she still represents the musical heritage well with a blend of pop, rock, and country with the distinct Scottish sound (without any bagpipes).  PS--She looks a little like Emma Stone, no?

Follow Amy Macdonald at her official website, twitter, and her facebook page.

KT Tunstall
KY Tunstall recently revealed that she's fed up with the pop music scene.  She's returning to her roots with folk music, and that's what she's been playing.  After her first album, she had no say in her musical career, which led her to be highly unsatisfied.  Rather than tolerating that, like many may, she is going to release independently, like so many of the Scottish bands.  What her next album holds is up in the air, but you can bet that she'll be singing with Scottish style and a brilliant brogue (thought hers is not as strong).

Find out where KT Tunstall is headed next on her official website, twitter, and facebook.

Karine Polwart
Karine Polwart never strayed from her natural voice and the musical traditions of Scotland.  As a founding member of the band Malinky (you all know of my love for them), Polwart sang traditional songs in the Scots dialect.  But this path of traditional music revival set her on a new path, diverged to tell her own tales with her own voice and experiences.  She's since become of the most prominent folk/rock singers in Scotland with biting and highly emotional lyrics that only a Scot could do.  We can probably thank her for leading the charge.  In her upcoming album's song "Cover Your Eyes", Polwart takes us to the dunes of Scotland.  And she's right about her music being more like a movie's soundtrack.  The song's ebb and flow mock the sea's tide.  The things she's doing with music is incredible.  The heart and soul and intelligence she puts into every note is stellar.  Karine's multiple projects include The Burns Unit, an eclectic group of musicians not just from Scotland but from all over the world, and they are rocking it.

Follow Karine's work through her thorough, endearing, and exciting updates on her website, twitter, and facebook.  And check out The Burns Unit on facebook and twitter.

Emily Smith
I can't rave enough about Emily Smith, whom I've written of recently.  She's much like Polwart, but engages with tradition more, often with her Kiwi husband Jamie McClennan on fiddle.  She combines perfectly the modern sounds with traditions, and she doesn't hold back her Scottish heritage with an appeal to a wider audience than typical Scottish folk singers.

Track Emily Smith as she hops continent from continent, Scotland to New Zealand, spreading the "Traiveller's Joy" on her official website, twitter, and facebook.

Of course there's Malinky, who's currently on hiatus, but their band led traditional music to be noticed again with a crisp, haunting sound.  Their multiple awards and nominations are a testament to that.

See if Malinky returns at their website.

Be it traditional or modern, folk or rock, Scotland is owning their heritage and producing more quality music because of that, seemingly leading the country before the current independence debate.  Take some time to find out your preferences and dig into the Scottish music scene a bit more.  And when you take a trip to Scotland, be sure to go to Glasgow, where this is all unfolding before us.

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