2023 saw Edinburgh trio Young Fathers made history by winning their third Scottish Album of the Year award with the LP ‘Heavy, Heavy‘.

While music festivals were getting used to being unrestricted after Covid, there was one sad demise.

Following months of controversy,  the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival finally pulled the plug on their 2023 edition, claiming its cancellation to be “a result of the call for a boycott" of the event by the Bectu trade union.

Festival organisers said they would not be issuing refunds to tickets holders for the event near Stirling on July 21.

The festival had owed hundreds of thousands of pounds to performers and crews who were on site last year.

It is a year that saw new music from Calvin Harris, Lloyd Cole, Chvrches,  Lewis Capaldi and Hudson Mohwake to name but a few of the nation's better known names.

To mark the end of the year this is the latest edition of  the annual journey of the best tracks from Scotland

Thousands of tracks and hundreds of albums were distilled into a long list of over 220 and now this 100-or-so

It is a playlist of some of  the most essential tunes of 2023, from mainstream pop to the avant-garde,  from alternative rock, dance, electronica, hip-hop, rap, indie, trap, choral, punk, post-grunge, folk and... well, as always, see for yourself.

The 100-or-so will be published over four days.  Parts 2, 3, and 4 will drop on December 30, Hogmanay and New Year's Day.  Links aren't live till after the drop.

Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 2 (75-51)

Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 3 (50-26)​

Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 4 (25-1)​

And we start with... Chapter 1... 100-76

=100 Snack Villain - Jupiter Morning

A deserved inclusion on this list for only the second single by the genre-bending Glasgow producer last year - and he has concocted another beguiling downtempo gem in this addictive fusion of lo-fi trip hop, jazzy,  and glitch beats and brass tasters on top of a delicious piano break.


 =100 Catalysis - Mea Culpa

The five-piece Dundee groove metaller are doing here what so few within the genre manage, surprise. While others turn up the rage but with little melody or in-track diversity to fall back on, this face-melting shipshifter of a track starts like a Red Hot Chili Peppers track before Iron Maiden-esque guitars sparkle and then crash bang wallop like a bulldozer through a sand dune.

"This one is one of our favourites from the new album [Betrayal], and would you believe it wasn't even supposed to be on the record originally," the band say. "We'd decided on the 10 songs we were going to use, based on our demos and were happy with it, but when it came to jamming the tracks, the last one we got to really didn't feel good in the room.  We decided as a band that this demo was a better fit for the record, so we binned the other track and worked on this."


99 Nathan Somevi - Vanessa

Fusing jazz classics and soul with a dash of gospel and even a flavour of blues, the Glasgow-based and Ghanaian born guitarist/musician produced an enchanting EP Brave from which this thrilling lead track is an uplifting joyride featuring some delicious sax.

"The story of Venessa, is a tale of a woman once known and half forgotten," he says. In the Ashanti Kingdom, there's this woman named Venessa. She's like a genius at making flutes. Her flutes sound so good, they make you wanna dance and cry and the same time. So one day, the king of the Ashanti Kingdom hears about her skills and invites her to come make a flute for him. Venessa's like, 'Hell yeah, I'll do it!'  So she goes to the palace and starts working on the flute. Now, while she's making the flute, Venessa comes up with this crazy new design that makes the sound like two flutes at the same time. She shows it to the king, and he's blown away! Then the king asks Venessa for her name, and she hesitates for a second.

"But then she whispers her real name, and the king's like: "That name sounds familiar." Turns out, she is actually the long-lost princess of the Ashanti Kingdom! So they brought her back to the palace and started singing and dancing. And from that day on, people still called her Venessa and nothing changed, She was a third cousin twice removed, so no one cared. Her flutes keep making people dance, and everyone's happy as can be. The end, baby!"


98 Brooke Combe - Praise

"Bow down to your queen and give me praise" croons the Edinburgh-born soul-influenced vocalist & multi-instrumentalist who may have made the SAY Award shortlist with her debut album - but it is this swaggering latest non-LP single,  that is the nearest to sounding like the real deal.  It is a statement of glorious gospel-tinged  intent that aims to raise her head above the masses and showcase the  diverse talent that is undoubtedly there.


97 Vinnie Brady - Good Thing 

A compelling debut single from a forthcoming Glasgow singer-songwriter's debut album Person to Person which he admits are based on memories from "so long ago that it's hard to tell whether they are fact or fiction".


96 Big Girl's Blouse - Everybody Nearly Dies All The Time

This debut EP from the the four piece Glasgow post-punk combo comes three years after they were formed in Glasgow.  This is a soft-loud-soft moshpit-friendly sucker punch would-be alterno-rock anthem with mangling guitars and shouty vocals that might be 2023's answer to The Breeders' Cannonball. 

The band met going to gigs before lockdown when songwriter Emmy had just moved over from France and its final form emerged in February 2022, made up of Ross Mills (lead guitar), Harrison Todd (bass guitar) and Reece Craig (drums).


95 Hens Bens - Arguing With The Guy From Sleaford Mods on Social Media

In the midst of a calamity of the same ole same ole comes this psychotic two minutes of proto Devo pop-punk craziness that is deliciously ramshackle and delightfully earworm. The new Scots band describe their music as “noisy DIY nonsense on the road to recovery after a nasty fall down the stairs of pop”. 


94 Pocket  - 80HD

The exciting Glasgow/Edinburgh producer aka Watgood, who made the top ten of this list two years ago,  flits between overground dancefloor pop and more reflective experimental opuses.  This opening track from his Love Disc EP sits somewhere in between, fusing soothing textures and a sometimes moody soundscape with downtempo garage while injecting processed vocals. 

"There’s typically never a process I go into making music with," he says. "I like to start off by throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. That usually consists of building up big walls of ambient sounds and then writing chords or a beat underneath. I like experimentation the most as a basis of writing though. I’m usually a lot happier and have a way better time if I’m trying things I’ve never tried before. That was the case with 80HD. I just wanted to write something super melodic and windy, and it was such a blast to make, especially with all the ear candy and ambience in the intro."


=93 Humour - Wrangel

The Glasgow art-rock neo-indie newbies were well entrenched on this list last year and their psychosis remains delightfully tormented on this gorgeously crazed two-and-a-half minutes with guitars providing off-kilter crashes while Andreas Christodoulidis's uniquely demented yelps are  in full flow. 

He says: "Wrangle is inspired by different stories of polar exploration. I was reading the biography of Captain Robert Scott who led an expedition of five men to be the first to reach the South Pole, all of whom died on the return journey in an unrelenting blizzard. The music had come together already, and the plodding, steady rhythm of the verses made me think of trudging through snow. I had recently watched an episode of Our Planet which showed footage of Wrangel Island in the arctic circle, an uninhabited place where polar bears are now arriving in their thousands to hunt because of the lack of sea ice.

"I thought that there could be something peaceful about being in a place like that, and wanted the character in the song to be imagining living his life out on Wrangel as he makes his way across the ice without much hope of survival. An Indigenous Alaskan woman called Ada Blackjack actually did this after being sent to Wrangel as part of a doomed expedition of which she was the sole survivor, living alone on the island for nearly two years while teaching herself to hunt and to fend off the polar bears which she had a mortal fear of. A really incredible person. These stories of both survival and accepting fate at the end of the world were the inspiration for the song.”


=93 Faex Optim - Wester Hailes (ft Cholly)

Edinburgh melancholic post-electro whizz aka Wes McDonald,  a regular on this list, returns with a new album Crystal Pleasures after nearly four years and takes his mesmerising Boards of Canada template and adds some cute new synth twists and on this soaring opener, some beautiful choral interjections. 

"The new album's got less of the archaic, wobbly synth sounds, and maybe it’s bit more driven.. slightly cleaner mixes," he says.


92  Pippa Blundell - sisters

The delicate purity of the Glasgow-grown alt-folk songstress's vocals, the stripped back acoustic guitar and floating accordian makes this title track of her debut EP a captivating jewel. She graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a degree in mezzo-soprano voice, initially aspiring to be an opera singer.

"It is a set of four stripped back and reflective tracks," she says. "It's about my constant journey of understanding what womanhood means to me. It’s an interrogation of the women in my life, and the intricacies of being a young woman in your early 20s. It's about how my mother raised me, how she upset me, how she loved me. It's about friendship, understanding love, and being a woman in love. It’s an ode to the messy, and the beautiful. It's about sisters.” 


91 Tsatsamis - Single Tear (Taahliah Remix)

The inspired Glasgow black trans DJ and producer sprinkles hyperpop remix magic dust on this track from the London-based electropop artist.


90 Edz - Shooting Star

Edinburgh-based rapper takes dollops of Lewis Capaldi's Bruises throws on whispers of brass, a cute acoustic guitar alongside a standard hip hop beat for this gorgeously produced tale of ambition.


89 Cru Servers - Sacramental Lettuce

The Glasgow producer duo Rickie & Jamie McNeill went quiet after their album Blubber Totum in 2017 but returned with Eel a collection of cutely abstract off-kilter and off-beat electro-focussed grooves of which this deliciously twisted Aphex Twin-like mood music is a standout.


88 Fer4z - Notice That (ft Chachy)

Aberdeen has become Scotland's hip hop central with a host of exciting young rappers coming to the fore.  None is hotter than Nigeria-born FER4Z who is fusing afro, a clever soulful sample and a neat acoustic hook for this earworm gem.


=87 The Kidney Flowers - Mutiny

A post-punk scorcher of a single from the Glasgow trio's head-smashingly feral second LP,  recorded live in a single day, and and one of my favourites of the year.  "Don't believe the hype, you better question everything all the time," rants a primeval Grant Canyon.  Okay.


=87 Redolent - make big money fast online now

The debut EP from the highly promising Dundee-born Edinburgh-raised alt-synthpop five-piece features this shufflingly melodic sparkler which proposes a time where finances aren't a worry.  

"At first look it might seem like a materialistic wee song about the compulsion to get cash,” says singer Robin Herbert. “It’s definitely not [literally about money]; I’m not a money person,” he adds. “It’s me fantasising about never having to think about it again, about being able to do what we want all the time rather than do shite crap that we don’t want to do.”


86 Stock Manager - in the pool

The Glasgow three-piece made this list in 2021 - and this three minute Nirvana-esque soft-loud-soft grunge smasher which concludes with a bananas effects-pedal frenzy  deservedly makes  in 2023.  They describe their sound as VHSRock.


85 Free Love  - I Become

Where the barkingly experimental Scots hippie-electro duo Scots duo Suzi and Lewis Cook cook up their own Private Psychedelic Reel to close their latest album Inside.  It starts as slow building synth-based floaty dream pop with tweaks of their signature keyboard noise weirdness and ends predictably undpredictably for them with a squelching acid drone.

Suzi says the track is "almost like a spiral because it spiralled back to the first music that we ever kind of made together. So it was that idea of I Become in the present tense, but you’re always becoming."


84 Kusht - Falk Cut

The inventive Scottish-born downtempo electro producer has become a list regular and this latest EP features this playful opener - a  typically and delightfully kaleidoscopic journey which grooves on the back of some rather smooth delayed guitars, some dancefloor beats and a definite tribal theme which tries hard to defy classification.   The song's only constant are recurring vocals chops, provided by some lost Madagascan tapes -  1930’s recordings published by Revivethis.  He is currently linked with Tropical Twista Records in Brazil.


83 Lila Dupont - Deep End

The New York-born and Scotland-based singer-songwriter collaborates with Grammy-winning producer-engineer Scott Jacoby on this uplifting and emotional anthem about managing mental health.

"I wrote Deep End during an extremely transitional period of my life. I had just moved over to Scotland at 18 years old and was feeling isolated and just generally lonely. During my teenage years I struggled a lot with managing my mental health and at the time of writing Deep End, I could feel myself slipping back into a bad mindset. Deep End is about recognizing you’re not in a good place mentally but not knowing how to pull yourself out of it," she says.


=82 ONR - Cold In My Shadow

Robert Shields is a name that doesn't trip off the lips - but this list has embraced his output as one of the nation's underrated tunesmiths - from his days as former frontman with the underrated Dumfriesshire combo Finding Albert.  Now with a different moniker, the has produced this sublime dark-pop gem that has jangling edgy guitars, a throbbing synth and as I would expect a killer chorus hook.


=82 Chef The Rapper - Chicago (ft Rockie Fresh, Kapil Seshasayee & Supermann on da beat)

The Aberdeen rapper surrounded himself with some inspired collaborators for this smoother than smooth killa hip hop jewel.


81 Each Confide - What We've Started 

The east end of Glasgow alt-pop duo who were formerly known as Mirrors have only one EP to their name - and this simple catchy single underpinned by a nagging layered synth part is their best to date.


80 MC Salum and Nikhita - Unwrap Me 

Dundee-born producer and rapper MC Salum teams up with Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Nikhita for this woozily housified and soulful single which has echoes of Lauren Hill.

79 Doss - The Mullets Are Moving In

Glasgow's answer to Sleaford Mods create this cunning bedroom-made concoction of minimalist beats, skew-whiff keyboard parts and snarling punk rap-rants about the growing problem of Glasgow’s expanding gentrification with cute lines like “still talking about the west end and I don’t mean to bore ye’ but we’ve already got one, we don’t need any more yeah?”  And just when you are think we can end safely, real rage.


78 Cloth - Money Plant

Standout track from the Glasgow duo’s second album Secret Measure which veers from the understated and unassuming template to create a sophisticated and enthralling synth and throbbing bass pop gem  tapestry - that comes off like The XX force fed Roxy Music - providing the perfect platform for Rachael Swinton's hushed  and breathy vocals.  

"We wanted to really utilise synths on this record as so much of the music we love is electronic," says Paul Swinton of the band. "Ali [Chant, producer] has a whole studio wall of beautiful analogue synths so we got stuck in and ended up using most of them. Two of our favourite moments in the record are on Money Plant – Rachael’s sparkling Stereolab-esque synth solo in the bridge and the huge, epic bass stabs in the outro (both courtesy of a lovely Korg MS-20).


77 Ouijan - home music

The singer-songwriter-producer from Alloa had two songs in our top 20 two years ago - and has still not produced an album. However that has not stopped the inventiveness that is clearly evident in this compellingly warped stop-start electro thang that  contorts into a distortion-heavy hooky monster that at times sounds like a heavily scratched vinyl record.  

Is he R&B, is he indie, is he shoegazey, is he  electronic.  Maybe all.  "All of the track (apart from vocals) came from this random four minute iPhone voice memo. Played some two man piano with me and played some beer bottles and some ooh’s n aaah’s," he says.


76 Amy Macdonald - This Is The Life  (Sped Up Version)

It's Amy Mcdonald for the Tik Tok generation. The original is her best song by a million miles but does it benefit from the 2023 chipmunkification?  Well 10.75m streams on Spotify doesn't really provide any answer. 

Putting the snobbery aside - it rocks and that's all that matters.  And you might just forget there was another slower version.  I did. And what does the Bishopbriggs-born maestro think? "It’s weird what people like," she said.


Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 2 (75-51)

Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 3 (50-26)​

Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 4 (25-1)​