The 2015 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award shortlist was announced last night and, in a heartbeat, twenty long listed albums became ten.
Paolo Nutini’s Caustic Love won the public vote, automatically ensuring a coveted place on the shortlist.
Elsewhere, the Award retained its capacity to surprise, not so much for who was selected but for who wasn’t.
In making their deliberations, the SAY judges have claimed the scalps of big indie beasts Mogwai, Idlewild and King Creosote. The Twilight Sad, previous winners of the public vote, also failed to make the cut.
But this unpredictability is part and parcel of an unbiased, democratic process which begins with input from one hundred carefully chosen nominators – musicians, promoters, record shop owners, journalists – from across the Scottish musical spectrum.
The twenty albums with the most votes are put forward to a public vote and a ten-strong judging panel completes the whittling process.
The judges won’t meet again until 17th June, the day of the SAY Award ceremony. Who will emerge as the SAY victor?
That entirely depends on the collective tastes of the judging panel, for whom the criteria remains simple: who has released the best Scottish album of the year?
Here is our brief bluffer’s guide to the remaining runners and riders:
The Amazing Snakeheads: Amphetamine Ballads (Domino)
Swampy blues hollering from a band so volatile that they already split up.
Belle & Sebastian: Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador)
There’s always been a dance(able) element to Belle & Sebastian’s music. On their ninth album they went from indie disco to electro pop.
Errors: Lease of Life (Rock Action)
Ambient analogue and proggy post-rock instrumentals from this Glasgow-based trio.
Happy Meals: Apero (Night School Records)
A branding spanking new name to watch. Borders-bred, Glasgow-based duo Lewis Cook and Suzanne Rodden offer a cool, classy take on Euro electro pop.
Honeyblood: Honeyblood (Fat Cat)
Buzzsaw indie pop with biting lyrics from grrrl guitar/drums duo Honeyblood.
Kathryn Joseph: Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled (Hits the Fan)
Singer/pianist who has been compared to Joanna Newsom and Antony Hegarty for her fragile and ethereal sound.
Paolo Nutini: Caustic Love (Atlantic)
A brave move for this established star. Caustic Love bypasses his pop peers entirely and aims directly for the timeless soul territory of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.
Paws: Youth Culture Forever (Fat Cat)
No frills indie rocking from this Glasgow trio on the immediate yet thoughtful Youth Culture Forever.
Slam: Reverse Proceed (Soma Records)
The first new album in five years from Slam’s Stuart MacMillan and Orde Meikle lives up to its name, combining old school sequencing techniques with the latest in studio production.
Young Fathers: Dead (Big Dada)
Last year’s SAY winners have already scooped the Mercury Music Prize for their masterful debut album – can they make it three in a row?