Scottish Punk 2014 Rundown

By Samarth Kanal

2014 was another brilliant year for Scottish music. The DIY Scottish punk scene in particular once again showed why it deserves greater exposure and attention. Clearly, there is still a lack of this. A recent article titled “The British Punk Scene Is Alive And Well” by Noisey named some top British punk bands, with no Scottish ones mentioned. That’s just one example.

Before that paragraph turns into a rant, it might be best to consider the strengths of the Scottish punk scene and show you what may have been missed or forgotten during 2014 from Scotland. At the start of the year, there was a ‘2014 DIY Punk Preview‘ and so this seems like a good way to bookend the year.

January and February were quiet no doubt, almost like the calm before the storm. Scotland’s very own pop-punk stalwarts The Murderburgers had a session on the now defunct Radio 1 Punk Show. The BBC charge bands a killer fee to let them take home their recordings so don’t expect them to surface.

Skip forward to March and the storm had well and truly picked up. The Kimberly Steaks released ‘To Live and Die In West Central Scotland‘ which was a 21-minute commotion full of self-deprecating humour and references to TV shows. One of the albums of the year, though the review didn’t do justice to how long the Steaks’s album has been on repeat for me and many others. Yeah Detroit’s ‘Everybody Hates‘ was pop-punk influenced more by blink-182 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater than The Kimberly Steaks release, but still very entertaining. Terrafraid released an honest, heartfelt emo record in the form of ‘Despondent‘ that same month. It’s not only soulful and brimming with substance but it’s very well produced. Some proceeds from the album go to The Scottish Association Of Mental Health.

Great Cop’s May release was the ‘Stay Human EP’ via Struggletown Records, who were also featured on this series in September. The EP may be short but the three tracks are very promising and Great Cop are a band which you should definitely keep a close eye on. Thin Privilege released their last album, a self-titled and deservedly acclaimed one which was a crashing, careering and satisfyingly-heavy melodic-punk record.

Continuing the theme of bands who are no longer going, The Walking Targets released an excellent album in June with ‘Chasing Days’. The Edinburgh-based melodic-punks produced an appropriate send-off which is full of poignant, heartfelt song-writing in the vein of The Lawrence Arms and Hot Water Music. The same month gave us Algernon Doll’s ‘Omphalic’ which was an honest, introspective and very accessible record benefiting from some excellent song-writing and production.

Kaddish are a band whose latest album is a brilliant combination of hardcore and emo. Intense and chaotic at times and infectious above all, ‘Thick Letters to Friends’ needs your time and attention – a highlight from August. The Lemonaids released a surf-punk album in September which reignited the summer, adding a tasty bubblegum flavour to The Ramones with tongue-firmly-in-cheek. Maxwell’s Dead also released a thoroughly entertaining album in the shape of ‘Deer In The Headlights’, a fast-paced ska-punk banger straight out of Dundee.

Elk Gang’s ‘3 Songs’ is a promising taster of what this Edinburgh hardcore-punk band is capable of. A full length release that builds on this EP would be great – one to watch in 2015. The Murderburgers re-released ‘How to Ruin Your Life’ in October as well which is worth picking up if you missed the original. ‘Tomorrow’s Worn Out Blues’ was Bonehouse’s eight-track EP which had the cohesion of a full-length, just a bit shorter. As a result it’s a really accessible release which manages to be substantial and profound all the same.

In November, Britney released the absolutely chaotic and dishevelled ‘Britney 2’. The band also put on an unforgettable album release show, entering the stage dressed in matching pink onesies. Melodic-hardcore wrestling aficionados Get It Together released a politically-charged EP titled ‘Rebuild, Recover’. It’s punchy with the production being a huge step up from past releases and the artwork is a flattering rendition of Stirling, which just gains further points. The ever-strong Book Yer Ane Fest from Dundee’s Make That A Take Records had an amazing weekend according to those who went – I will forever regret having to miss it. The aforementioned Thin Privilege will cap off the year with their last EP, ‘Thin Privilege Does Not Exist’ on December 31st the day after their final gig.

This isn’t a definitive list of bands, nor is it a ‘top list’ at all. However, it is a compilation of overlooked Scottish bands and albums which deserve your ears. The Scottish punk scene is a diverse, accepting and incredibly hard-working community and its exclusion from more prominent publications comes at the loss to everyone. Though there is a lack of exposure, the sheer graft and talent of these bands and labels should be celebrated above all else and shouldn’t take away from what has been its strongest year so far.