Our Top 20 Albums of 2013!


You can listen to (most of) the National Collective top albums of 2013 playlist with Spotify but you should make sure you support musicians by buying their either direct from them, their record label or from independent record shops. We’ve included links to the artists’ Bandcamp page or their website to help you support the musicians who have made such amazing records in 2013:

20. Sarah J Stanley – The Earth is Flat

Gorgeously heartfelt songwriting backed with lush textures of electronics drifting atop acoustic guitars and pianos. A wee hidden gem.

19. Quickbeam – Quickbeam

Gazing at shoes, like a boss. Quickbeam made one of the lovliest records of the year and filled it with the promise of a band hitting its creative stride.

18. Fat Goth – Stud

Simply the rocking-est of big fat riffy rock bands in Scotland today. Listen while throwing horns and shouting “Yeeeaaaaaaaaaaa!”. Brilliant.

17. Little Kicks – Put Your Love in Front of Me

Some of the nicest people in the Scottish scene, responsible for brilliant synth pop, big choruses and one of Aberdeen’s most legendary club nights. This album should put The Little Kicks firmly on the map.

16. Duncan Lyall – Infinite Reflections

Specially commissioned by Celtic Connections, Treacherous Orchestra’s Duncan Lyall brought together some of the finest musicians in contemporary folk to bring his compositions to life. They created an album of cinematic scope and ambition that sits comfortably in this list as one of the finest records released this year.

15. Biffy Clyro – Opposites

Mon the Biffy!

14. Alasdair Roberts and Robin Robertson – Hirta Songs

Already a bonafide national treasure (well, he fucking should be anyway), Alasdair Roberts got busaaaay this year by releasing not one but two outstanding albums. This one makes the list simply because it was also made in collaboration with one of our finest poets – Robin Robertson.

13. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

A band who seem to be rising steadily and assuredly into the big leagues. Pedestrian Verse bumped them up another notch and is a confident collection of songs that is anything but pedestrian.

12. Sparrow and the Workshop – Murderopolis

With their third album, Sparrow and the Workshop honed their sound to a rocky edge and sprinkled a healthy dusting of goth doom and gloom over it, leading to an album of Americana that sounds like Siouxsie and the Heartbreakers. Glorious.

11. Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse

Former frontman of Y’all is Fantasy Island makes second solo record – is amazing. Loops of sound, guitar and vocalisations create a rich texture for Adam Stafford’s songs to reach out to the listener and give them a cheeky wee slap in the chops, before beatboxing off into the night.

10. Young Fathers – Tape Two

Glasgow hip hop signed to Anticon. That sentence should be enough to get your attention and your interest. The fact that Young Fathers are absolutely amazing and stole the show as tour support for CHVRCHES recently should get you even more excited. THEYAREGOINGTOBEHUGE!

9. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words , Right Actions

It’s Franz Ferdinand! They’re back! And they’re still brilliant! Yay!

8. Rick Redbeard – No Selfish Heart

A record matured in the hills of Aberdeenshire, this is the sound of a man remembering home and the stories that set the place in his heart. A belter of a record by the Phantom Band singer and another winner from Chemikal Underground who have three albums in this list.

7. Adam Holmes – Heirs and Graces

Adam Holmes has been drifting through the folk scene for a few years now, joining a variety of bands onstage but it’s not until he dropped this belter of an album that we really sat up and took notice. It announced the arrival of a real talent, not just in folk music but the Scottish music scene as a whole.

6. Washington Irving – Palomides

There’s been a glut of indie folk bands these last few years due to the success not of Mumford and Sons but of Meursault and Admiral Fallow. Groups that have authentic voices and a creative edge over the likes of Mumford and Sons. Washington Irving have staked their claim as a great indie folk band on their own terms with the second half of their Palomides album (it was released over two EPs). It’s just bloody brilliant songs played from the heart.

5. Mogwai – Les Revenants

Mogwai release their new studio album next year but in the meantime we’re more than happy with this ace soundtrack to the French zombie series Les Revenants. It’s atmospheric, moving and works brilliantly as a standalone record if you’ve never seen the tv series. Soundtrack of the year without a doubt.

4. Conquering Animal Sound – On Floating Bodies

A stunning album and a strong contender for the number 1 spot this year. It just shows how strong 2013 was for Scottish music that it didn’t make the top 3! Often compared lazily to Bjork, Conquering Animal Sound’s Anneke Kampman and James Scott have created a sound entrenched in technology yet soaring on Anneke’s vocals. Poetic, rhythmical and full of beastin beats – this is an album which grows with every listen and will be rightly regarded as a contemporary classic in future.

3. RM Hubbert – Breaks and Bones

National Collective favourite and session star RM Hubbert has had a pretty good year. He won the 2nd Scottish Album of the Year award and then dropped this stunner of a record as the follow-up, making writing awesome music look about as difficult as tying shoelaces – the bastard. It’s another set of deeply personal songs with Hubby taking the lead on vocals across more of the tracks this time round.

2. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

This was hard. So hard. The top spot could really have been taken by either of these and we’d have all been happy but CHVRCHES have to settle for second this time round. They shouldn’t be disheartened though, they’ve produced the year’s finest pop record and an album that will stand the test of time. It’s soundtracked Saturday nights across the country since its release and sounds like pop music forged in the fires of indie clubs across the land. Fiercely intelligent and determined to do it on their terms, this is a band to believe in and to dance your socks off to.

1. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

Annoying teaser campaign aside, this was the most anticipated and hyped record of the year. When it finally surfaced, few were disappointed. Full of trademark minimalist beats with analogue synths drifting in and out to create an album that reinforced Boards of Canadas place at the top of the producer pile. Dark, rich and textured – a vision of tomorrow that requires the listener to think carefully about what they want tomorrow to look like. It’ll stand as not only this years finest record but one of the decades finest.


And that was 2013! There was tonnes of other great records released in Scotland last year, we really had a tough time deciding on these 20. Tell us which ones you liked and how wrong we are for putting CHVRCHES at number two in the comments!

David Officer
National Collective