THE Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award is Scotland's national music prize which sets out to be the neation's answer to the Mercury Prize, celebrating, promotes and rewarding the most outstanding album releases of the year.

Previous winners have included Young Fathers, Sacred Paws, Anna Meredith, Kathryn Joseph and last year's surprise winner Auntie Flo.

Now in its ninth year, the Scottish Album of the Year for 2020 has been open to any band or artist - and the hundreds on the qualifying Eligible Albums list include those who have self-released using platforms such as Bandcamp, and cover a multitude of genres from classical, jazz, traditional Scottish and folk to hip hop, rock, electronic, indie, dance and sometimes a combination of some of those.


Following a record-breaking 362 albums submitted for consideration some 100 impartial nominators, including myself, have been picking their favourites to reduce the hundreds down to a Longlist of 20 which will be announced next week - later than the norm, due, of course, to the coronavirus pandemic.

These are the albums that floated my boat on the extensive SAY list this year, and got my vote, with some very honourable mentions.

These were our five album picks.

5. The Kidney Flowers - The Kidney Flowers

With Idles reinvigorating the DIY garage/punk ethic - this stunning debut album which hugs some of the best of 90s dark-alterno rock, from this three-piece from Glasgow, makes all the more sense.

Small Fingers is a stomping, trashy, punky, riffing cracker that has been rehashed from an old self-released EP and sounds like the kind of mighty collision of the Pixies, The Fall, The Walkmen and the Wedding Present that John Peel would play on repeat, if he were alive.

4. Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent

The Bathgate-born singer's clear eccentricity as seen online may not be reflected in this this globetrotting, chart-topping debut album but while, yes, it does wallow in self-pitying, sometimes pathetic sorrow, there is no denying these charmingly charismatic radio-friendly pop anthems reveal a classic songwriter is at work. And we all like a good wallow, especially at the moment.

3. Anna Meredith - FIBS

The London-born and Edinburgh-bred composer, performer and producer went from producting her twist on Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the help of the Scottish Ensemble to this experimental 45 minute thrill ride which constantly switches pace and musical influences from classical to 80s synthpop to alternative rock.

2. The Wild Places - Wires

A traditional guitar-bass-drums debut album from the Glasgow trio - which reveals a diversity only hinted at on earlier material. The debut album is a captivating journey through pop, reggae, even surf with one foot firmly planted in the kind of single-minded artistic integrity that Radiohead so blatantly inhabit. And yes, there are, great tunes. Like Fear City.

1. Blanck Mass - Animated Violence Mild.

Ben Power's fourth album was a irresistibly out-there 45 minute melting pot of trance, house, power ballads, punk, hardcore and grindcore that sounds like nothing else around.

Opener Death Drop is a breathtakingly frentic electro vs death metal vs house amalgam made to mash minds.

And a more than honourable mention goes to...

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West - Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold.

The debut album from the political indie-pop band revealed they could be East Kilbride's answer to Arctic Monkeys on this 12-track opus.

Times, the stomping album closer, was dedicated to the late frontman Gary Watson of Glasgow-based band The Lapelles who founded the online music show The Spaghetti Factory.

Sacred Paws - Run Around The Sun

Exactly how could the London-meets-Glasgow two-piece follow up their debut which won them the most coveted music prize in Scotland three years ago? Well, by simply more of the same of their refreshing afro-influenced DIY pop.

Gerry Cinnamon - Bonny

The everyScot Castlemilk acoustic maestro had a lot to live up to after his treasured debut Erratic Cinematic and THAT party anthem Belter. He came out swinging on his second album and the opening track Canter is another earworm that would have been a joy to hear chanted by tens of thousands at Hampden this summer. The coronavirus pandemic put paid to that.

Harsh Winters — The Marriage of a Killer and a Bird Song

Mixing the warmly initimate with the sweepingly epic and the emotionally literate, the new platform for Luke Joyce, former Gothenburg Address / Collapsible Mountains singer and guitarist, sounds effortlessly accomplished.

Fair Mothers - Separate Lives

An eerie collaborative folk-infused album by Kevin Allan, the Scottish songwriter at front and centre which is something of a miracle, as it emerged on Song, By Toad Records, the Edinburgh label that ceased around 18 months ago. Featuring collaborations involving a cast of guest artists including former SAY Award winner Kathryn Joseph and Faith Elliot, it is so refreshingly sparse, you can hear the fret squeaks.

And stuck in the middle at track 5 is the deliciously delicate Undone, which is quite simply spine-tingling. "Same position: on my own".

The SAY Award have announced the line-up for this year’s Live at the Longlist event as Free Love, Kinnaris Quintet and Sacred Paws and all will take to the stage ahead of the exclusive 2020 Longlist reveal.

Transformed into a virtual event for the first time ever, this year’s Live at the Longlist will be broadcast as a YouTube Premiere from 7pm on September 17 (

Fans from around the world able to watch and discover 2020’s Longlist first, as well as witnessing some socially distanced performances from former SAY Award nominees.

Live at the Longlist gets this year’s campaign underway with the programme having been shot at both Edinburgh’s Summerhall and the city’s events space 54EP, where co-hosts Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan will reveal which twenty albums make up this year’s Longlist.

The longlist will then be reduced to the shortlisted ten, with the final winning artist collecting one of the most lucrative prize funds in the UK; a £20,000 cash prize and nine runners up each awarded £1,000. The final award ceremony will take place on October 29.

The SAY Award have also announced their commitment to the Keychange pledge in 2020, ensuring the independent judging panel and nominators list set to decide this year’s Longlist and ultimately, the final winner, features a 50:50 gender split for the second year running.

This year’s nominators include a range of journalists, promoters, music retail and live venue staff, festival directors spanning all music genres and styles.

The 11 judges, chaired by John Williamson, are tasked with listening to the twenty outstanding albums which make up this year’s Longlist to narrow down to a shortlist of ten.

Nine titles will be decided by the judging panel while the final album will be chosen by music fans in a 72-hour online public vote.