Although born in London, I’ve lived in Edinburgh most of my life and now call it home. Scotland’s capital city is steeped in history and has been home to many famous residents: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sean Connery and JK Rowling to name a few. Edinburgh is home to the annual Edinburgh Festival and Festival Fringe, when thousands of comedians, actors, musicians, dancers, circus performers and artists come and put on shows and events for the month of August. Edinburgh’s own music scene is good, although it’s dwarfed by the scene in Glasgow. Nonetheless, there are still lots of great bands from Edinburgh: here are some of my favourites.
Isa & The Filthy Tongues – Dark Passenger
Isa & The Filthy Tongues were formed from the ashes of Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie (see below) with the addition of American singer Stacey Chavis. Their dark indie sound should appeal to fans of The Pixies, The Killers and Blondie. I was at the album launch for Dark Passenger last month so I’m especially pleased to see it on Spotify. Highlights include New Town Killers (used on the movie soundtrack of the same name), City of Roses, and Busshelter – featuring a brilliantly local Irvine Welsh-style story read by Richard Jobson.
Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie – The River Sessions / The Day Of Storms
Before Isa & The Filthy Tongues there was Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, an indie rock band who in the early 1990s were huge in Edinburgh but never managed to translate this acclaim to national success. When Glasgow’s Deacon Blue and Wet Wet Wet were getting all the acclaim, it was the Mackenzies who for me were the true rock stars. Their lyrics courted controversy (with songs about rape, AIDS, and masturbation), but many songs were about Edinburgh: Goodwill City, Calton Hill, and Deacon Brodie to name a few. With over half-a-dozen albums released, only one – this live double-album – is currently on Spotify.
The Proclaimers – Notes & Rhymes
Probably Edinburgh’s most famous band, the Reid twins have had considerable success in their 20-odd year history performing as The Proclaimers. They’ve featured on many Hollywood movie soundtracks, can be heard on the P.A. every time Hibs football club play at home, and recently had a No. 1 hit single (a re-recording of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” for Comic Relief). Spotify has most of their albums, including last year’s release Notes & Rhymes.
The Shop Assistants – Will Anything Happen
The C86 scene was coined to include all the indie jangly guitar bands of the mid to late 80s. My favourites were Edinburgh band The Shop Assistants, whose one-and-only album is thankfully on Spotify. I went to university with one of “the shoppies” so they have a special place in my heart; I only wish they’d stayed together for a second album.
Ballboy – I Worked On The Ships
The Shop Assistants were favoured by the BBC’s Long and Peel, and ballboy are another Edinburgh indie band who have recorded several Peel sessions. One of my ex’s put me onto them and I instantly liked their style and playful lyrics (not to mention some wonderful song titles such as “You Can’t Spend Your Whole Life Hanging Around With Arseholes” and “All The Records On The Radio Are Shite“). Most ballboy albums are on Spotify, including this one from 2008.
Other Edinburgh bands include:
- The Exploited
- Bay City Rollers
- The Beta Band
- Boards of Canada (not on Spotify)
Edinburgh photo by LordWoolamaloo aka byronv2.