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Playlist: A guide to modern Scottish rock in five essential albums

"There's a lot more to Scottish rock music than just an accent over some generic power chords," alt-rock trio Fatherson tell Louder. One of Kilmarnock's biggest musical exports, their new album, Sum Of All Your Parts – with its soaring choruses, jangling guitars and stick-in-your-head-for-days hooks – drips with the sonic trademarks which have come to define Scotland's rock heritage. But, the band says, Scottish rock is about more than just music; it's about attitude. "There’s a sort of 'no bullshit' honesty in the music," they add. "No one wants to come across as big-headed." 

Given their place at the heart of Scottish alternative music – with stints supporting everyone from alt-rock powerhouses Biffy Clyro to cult favourites Frightened Rabbit – when it came to finding someone to guide us through the best modern Scotland has to offer, we couldn't think of anyone better suited to the task. "We decided to list full albums instead of individual songs, because we really feel that you need to listen to 10-14 songs from a band to get to grips with what they are saying with their music," they say. "Singles are great but we are really enthusiastic about the albums listed below, and they should all be enjoyed in their entirety.

"Until you've listened to some, or all, of the records listed below, you might not see the relation between all of these albums – they're all very different on paper. But if you give them all a chance, you'll start to get the connection, and hopefully get the vibe of what Scottish rock music is all about."

Biffy Clyro - Blackened Sky (2002)

"The first offering from arguably the biggest rock band to ever come out of Scotland. Blackened Sky is the first record that we all listened to that made us aware of what Scottish music could be; its raw, heavy and mathy, but still has some really beautiful, quiet moments on the album too. The build all the way through Christopher's River is something really special and something that definitely shaped some of our earlier songwriting."

Listen to: Christopher's River, 57, Joy. Discovery. Invention.

The Xcerts - There Is Only You (2014)

"The Xcerts have been one of the hardest working Scottish bands on the scene for the past few years. They have been constantly touring and honing their skills – their third album is really the culmination of all that experience. Each song on the album is explosive and streamlined in way that only a band of their calibre can get away with. We would highly recommend going to see these guys live to fully get a feel for what makes this band so excellent."

Listen to: Kevin Costner, Shaking In The Water, Kids On Drugs

Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows (2000)

"100 Broken Windows is a special album to us – the first support tour we did was with Idlewild, who were celebrating the 10th anniversary of this album. It was so amazing to see this played every night in full and not something that we will ever forget. The album perfectly encapsulates 2000 post-punk whilst still being refined and hooky."

Listen to: Little Discourage, These Wooden Ideas, Roseability

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight (2008)

"Probably the most lyrically visceral album on this list, we feel that this icon of modern Scottish music absolutely deserves to be included in our guide to Scottish rock. Probably the least traditional 'rock' album on this list, it has a massive dynamic range over its 14 tracks, and some really big, euphoric moments that will stick in your head for days after you hear them. Scott Hutchison’s words have a way of summing up exactly how everyone in their 20s feels about a breakup. We don’t know anyone who hasn’t listened to this album and gained some comfort from this record. It is a true masterpiece and we urge you to listen to it if you haven’t already."

Listen to: Head Rolls Off, Keep Yourself Warm, Good Arms vs Bad Arms

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (2004)

"This record was released when we were in school and it was the first Scottish album on this list to really break into the mainstream. Songs like Take Me Out and This Fire became anthems to our generation, and rightly so; the 80s style guitar lines and playful nature of the songs really get stuck in your head. Probably the most light-hearted album on this list, it really shows the diversity of music that can come under the banner of Scottish rock music. It’s just one of those classic albums that everyone knows and will dance round whenever it comes on in a bar. We bloody love it."

Listen to: Jacqueline, Take Me Out, This Fire

Fatherson's new album, Sum Of All Your Parts, will be released on September 14 via Easy Life Records. Watch the video for single Making Waves below:

Briony Edwards
Briony Edwards

Briony is the Editor in Chief of Louder and is in charge of sorting out who and what you see covered on the site. She started working with Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines back in 2015 and has been writing about music and entertainment in many guises since 2009. She is a big fan of cats, Husker Du and pizza.