Hero Of The Week – Whoever thought up the SAY Awards

So, Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells won the inaugural Scottish Album Of The Year Award last night. There’s about a million reasons why this is great – it’s beautiful music, it’s distinctive, it wouldn’t win anywhere else – but most importantly it is because it’s Scottish.

Without trying to sound overly twee, Scotland has an excellent music scene which deserves to be recognised more. Obviously the vast majority of music awards are English-centric (read : London) and in many respects that is fair play. Their population is 10 times as big meaning a larger music market resulting in more fans, more venues and more interest.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn‘t care. There’s something in the very nature of the Scottish psyche that helps produce great music. And if no one else is going to celebrate it then we might as well do it ourselves. Sure, the rest of the UK like to pop their head in every 3 or 4 years to see what we’re up to/pick up a band with a funny accent but it’s definitely up to us.

It’s all too easy for music lovers, like football fans, to follow huge bands from across the UK, neglecting their local scene like a Man City fan from Dundee. But hopefully the SAY Awards will help at least some people take a bit more of an interest in what is happening on their doorstep. For example, to my shame I had never heard of FOUND before despite hailing from the same city and thinking I had a reasonable grasp of what was going on. After seeing they were nominated I got all manner of Spotify-involved in them and will definitely be checking them out live as soon as I can.

The setup of the award is also excellent (a public vote combined with a judging panel to select the ten finalists) as it not only involves music fans but allows their tastes to be reflected. The Mercury Prize, which the SAY Awards are obviously trying to pitch themselves as a regional equivalent of, is often derided for it’s positive discrimination and ‘token’ selections. How they managed to keep a straight face when they announced Speech Debelle the winner in 2009 I’ll never know. At least with these awards you can’t really complain if your favourite artists don’t make it through.

So to whatever quango, committee or copycat (Wales established a similar award in 2011 – coincidence ???) that decided to spend government money on it rather than another few feet of tram line – cheers.

p.s that photo isn’t intended as some massive sign of undying love for The Fratellis – I just think writing “Nae Danger” on your amps is a ridiculously Scottish thing to do.

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