One’s To Watch In 2011

Posted on January 11, 2011


When considering who to totally underwhelm and basically put a jinx on by tipping them for 2011 I decided on one basic criteria: who I think is going to have a great year.

What is involved in having a great year is fairly open to interpretation, and I’m not going to try to define what it is, though if anyone meets Dougie Vipond I count that as ‘having made it’. I will just say that I’d expect a lot more folk to know these names come this time next year.

Some of the those mentioned are new acts, some are not, I didn’t really think it was that important with my thinking behind the choices.

It has been incredibly difficult narrowing down the list, do you go for a top ten? 11 for 2011? Eh, well I’ve gone for 12 – one for every month of the year. That’s the best excuse I could come up with.

Amber Wilson

This Aberdeen based singer-songwriter has an unforgettable voice, and a barrage of tunes to compliment it. She was the first artist to be interviewed on the blog and plans for a band and new EP are now coming to fruition. She also mentioned she should be part of the Glasgow music scene soon – which would mean a good deal bit more exposure than up north grants – so keep an eye out for her live.

Bear Bones

This ensemble outfit, led by Ben Harrison, make folk music with an enchanting feel to it. I heard the band first in a live environment and was completely wooed by the harmonies and layers of instrumentation that project the songs like a lullaby. They recently released their debut single, Diving Bell, through Eli and Oz, and, if their live set is anything to go by, have a lot more up their sleeve.

Blue Sky Archives

‘We hit the ground running’ was a motto for the band which perfectly summed up their extremely impressive burst into existence. I’d expect them to keep gathering pace this year with a second EP ready to go and an appearance on a Saraseto Records compilation. They’ve been tagged post-rock pop and that fits well as they have that post-rock edge and the potential to appeal to the masses.


I’ve been following the music of Esperi for quite a while now, and the upcoming debut album is something that should be pretty special. Esperi is the perfect combination of organic acoustic music and electronics – most visible in his loop station exploits – and the recently released Dialled (above) shows that everything is coming together in style for 2011.


If I had pulled my finger out and posted all my end of year lists LightGuides would have been all over them, including EP of the year (I know it was a mini-album) for Past and Present, which is a phenomenal piece of work. The Glasgow three-piece had one of my songs of the year with The Casting Call and have an arsenal of tracks that set them apart from other alt-rock outfits.

Loch Awe

The Edinburgh outfit released the quite short, but excellent Artificial Life In A Digital Sea earlier this year, and true to form I didn’t get round to reviewing it. It’s a beautiful piece of work, that harks towards traditional folk music, and just oozed potential. The album was put together in about 2 weeks, so I can only imagine what they’ll produce with months on their side.

Nevada Base

Nevada Base are producing some of the finest electro music anywhere right now. Retaining a traditional band set-up and adding a mass of electronic elements has helped mould their sound into a crossover prospect that will be loved by both dance and indie fans alike. Next up is an appearance on a Saraseto Records compilation.

Penguins Kill Polar Bears

Last year’s Dawn EP saw Penguins Kill Polar Bears become one of the most exciting bands we have, and since it’s release they have gone from strength to strength. They are a mighty live band who have been able to catch that intensity on record, which is a rare thing. Big things are already planned for 2011 with the release of the Vessels and Veins EP (which the song above, Lungs, comes from) and a national tour pencilled in for February.

Skies Fell

Epic post-rock band Skies Fell have set the bar extremely high for themselves; their two releases so far have been fantastic, with Contest being my Song Of The Year, and their debut Glasgow show was as impressive an introduction as you will get. They’ve got everything needed to have a massive impact in 2011 and I’m sure all expectations will be met.

The Son(s)

The secretive The Son(s) really made waves when appearing from nowhere last year, with a brand of slick americana that just washed over you like the Californian surf. The Son(s) were the first band to be Recommended on the blog, and have been one of the emerging acts of the last twelve months. A single release with Eli and Oz is up next and a much-anticipated album will soon follow.

Trapped In Kansas

Trapped In Kansas display stunning tech guitar work that melds into equally wonderful songwriting which is a wonder to both see and hear. After the success of Towerblock as a split release from Gerry Loves Records the band are putting the finishing touches on their debut EP which will be out early this year and should continue their progression as our finest math-rock band.

Washington Irving

The folk scene is the most congested of all musical areas in Scotland, but Washington Irving really stand out for me. The contemporary indie stylings meet a traditional folk stance to produce something quite special. They are part of the impressive Instinctive Racoon stable, so expect to be hearing a lot from them this year.

Posted in: Features