Here is a playlist of the essential 100 (or so) tunes to come out of Scotland.

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

Thousands of tracks were distilled into a long list of over 220 and whittled down to this 100-or-so of the very best of 2023.  It must be said there are some crackers that never made it on this final playlist.

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 are being published over four days with the final part dropping on  New Year's Day.  Links are live after drops happen.


Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 1 (100-76)

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

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


Part 3- 50-26. 

=50 Steve Mason - All Over Again

A hairs-on-your-neck raising full blown hymn-epic with comparisons to Primal Scream at their most souful on Screamadelica from the former Beta Band front man accompanied by a gospel choir on his fifth solo album Brothers and Sisters.  The hardest soul can't help to be moved as he turns the song into a prayer, crooning: “You were there to pull me through when all around was breaking."  

He says: "The album is a testament to my disgust with Brexit and anti-immigration policies. I wanted to make a record that celebrates collaboration and the things that other cultures bring to our country because immigration is just one massive collaboration."


=50 Declan Welsh and the Decadent West - 100 to 1 (Saturday Night)

I look back fondly on the East Kilbride combo going all politi-pop with their single Nazi Boys which made the top 30 of this list six years ago.  The alt-indie combo have supposedly become more 'mature' following the same furrow as the Arctic Monkeys. 

This single from the second album is the band at their most playful and inventive best.   It's too easy for indie pop to sound tired and samey, and the band can fall into that trap. Not with this.  This single has swagger, a flavour of Prince, pounding drums, mood changes, melodic guitars,  funky bits, falsetto interludes, square goes, and and some lovely lyrical couplets, and just transcends the genre. 

  "Hey! Alright! Its time! Saturday Night! Okay! Alright! To do the things you like", could even end up being an arena singalong.   But behind the addictive dynamics is the story of a guy called Donny Dervitt who thinks that the weekend will solve his problems but is wrong and getting blootered isn't helping. He nearly dies as he is hit by a 2008 Megane, driven by a man names Stan but is saved by the bell by a person who knows how to use a defibrillator.  Will he change his ways?   


49 not dvr - wishyouwerehere

The North Berwick teenage songwriter aka Dillon Van Rensburg who is now based in London featured on this last year - and with no album yet to his name, he has produced another insanely catchy but reflective tune from his bedroom studio, featuring a simple acoustic guitar strum that turns into a more powerful thrust underneath poignant words that delve into feelings of isolation, longing, and regret. 


48 Lomond Campbell - Raddar Brad

The Highlander multi-instrumentatlist and producer spent his formative years making sound installations with his band and art collective FOUND and has won a BAFTA for creating a moody, narcissistic music machine called Cybraphon which resides in the National Museum of Scotland. This is a mesmerising in-yer-face reworking of Rad Brad Ivy from his 2021 album LŪP that combines the euphoria of the best of Orbital with the ambient textures of the best of Boards of Canada.


=47 Dot Allison & Zoe Bestel - Bleached By The Sun

Dot Allison, the singer-songwriter/musician formerly with One Dove in the 1990s collaborates with Dumfries and Galloway's Zoe Bestel, one of the most beautiful voices of Scotland previously collaborated on the exquisite Can You Hear Nature Sing? which made this list's top ten two years ago.  This from Allison's Consciousology is equally delightful - starting out as a simple ukelele acoustic but then creeps under the skin with the perfection of their harmonising, the exuberant strings and that chorus hook.  

=47 Spare Snare - wi-fi

Dundonian outfit Spare Snare are celebrating 30 years doing their brand of post-punk and the John Peel favourites reunited with legendary Pixies and Nirvana producer Steve Albini for The Brutal, their 12th album five years after he oversaw their 11th, Sounds. 

This exquisitely manic three minutes and forty seconds is Pere Ubu with bells and whistles, featuring a neat keyboard part, and minimalist introduction before it builds to a mouthwateringly crazed brass-heavy finale.


46 Mastaki  - One Day

After a two-year hiatus the Edinburgh producer returned with this mind-bending blast featuring a fresh blend of drum-and-bass and soul featuring fast skittering production and neatly chopped up melody samples.


45 Mapped By A Forest -  Lost In Our Head

If the debut single Bridges from the exctting new Edinburgh dark wave/post punk duo from Edinburgh was an epic introduction  then this sweet piano-led b-side gem remiscent of Meusault soars even higher with a spine-chilling lighters-in-the-air melancholy that sends shivers down your spine.   The kind of tune you could hear thousands singing along to in unison.   And not typical of the more rough edges material on their later debut EP. 

It's really, quite a personal song to us," says Sam Morris from the band."It's about fighting depression to me and inward battles, being trapped in your own thoughts, and overthinking. Also, I hope its relatable to similar thinking people, and they can maybe find some comfort in the song, knowing they aren't the only ones."


44 Quiet Houses - Weightless

The alt-folk duo made up of Hannah Elliott and Jamie Stewart who met at school in Edinburgh reached the top ten of this list in 2021 with the gorgeous Cold Water Swimming - which made a Spotify playlist called The Most Beautiful Songs in the World.   This spine-tingling song is almost hidden away on their second EP Since July and highlights their impeccable knack of marrying cute lyrics, to minimalist indie-folk qualities, dreamy pop production and Elliott's heartbreakingly captivating vocals.  


43 Rudi Zygadlo - Selotape

The first album in ten years from Glasgow based multi-instrumentalist, producer, and artist contains this superbly crazed skewer of earworm indietronica, queer folk, metal, and hip-swinging psych rock that just sounds bloody amazing.


42 Lewis Capaldi - Wish You The Best (Strings Version)

The Scots singer-songwriter turned worldwide chart-topping superstar has become very very familiar. To the point you know what to expect from the best of him.  Big songs about love and regret, sometimes, sorry often, too much grovelling.  It is predictable that they are beautifully written with huge earworm hooks that stay in your head for days.  And it is predictable that the stripped back  strings version adds a certain je ne sais quoi, exposing  how great a songwriter he really is.  They said AC/DC were predictable.  Stay predictable.


41 North Atlantic Oscillation - Powder

The masterstroke fifth album by the incarnation of Edinburgh's Sam Healy was built to be played in one sitting - with frequent mood swings and shapeshifting time signatures.  This is  a four minute melancholic tour de force which makes the achingly resigned vocals the star.  


40 Casual Drag  - Out of Sight

The Glasgow garage-psyche trio made the top 20 of this list last year and that was without a debut album or EP.  Lo and behold they have come in with a gloriously thumping hot EP  Revolution Will Eat Itself which is a combination of older material and new stuff.   This corker fits the formula of what has gone before - so expect feral guitars, clattering drums and yes it sounds like a lost Cramps classic.


39 Texture ft Supermann on da Beat - Non Zero 

The Glasgow hip-hop producer aka Bram E Grieben teams up with the list's favourite Scots South Asian producer Supermann on da Beat for this corker of a haunting genre-mashing nugget featuring shoegazing guitar and laid-back rhymes. It breaks the rules of what rap should sound like.


38 Kathryn Joseph - what is keeping you alive makes me what to kill them for (Lomond Campbell remix)

The winner of the 2015 SAY Award's stark and horrific first track off her third album is taken into new spheres of electronic symphonic wonderment with this radical reworking by another list favourite - the one-of-a-kind Scottish multi-instrumentalist and producer who spent his formative years making sound installations with his band and art collective FOUND.


37 Tommy Ashby - Moonflowers (Binaural Acoustic Version)

The soulful Borders-based singer-songwriter who has previously featured on this list produced this stripped down, immersive and personal version of this breathtakingly simple and highly addictive indie-folk song from his fine debut album Lamplighter.  It features a beautiful acoustic guitar performance and luscious and crisp vocal layers supported with an ethereal dimension through use of a 3-D binaural head microphone.   

“In Moonflowers I wanted you to be able to hear the vocals wandering around you in the mix, to feel like you were inside the song," he says.  "And the way to do that was to move around the microphone as I sang the vocals. The binaural microphone is shaped like a head so it was like I was serenading it. It was such a fun way to record, I could move closer in or further away, moving between the ears of the listener. I think it gives a unique and immersive listening experience."  It sure does.


=36 Tiga and Hudson Mohawke - In Order 2

The unlikely duo of electronic producers from Scotland and Canada - Hudson Mohawke (Glasgow) and Tiga (Montreal) closed their ambitious debut album L'Ecstasy with this towering single which starts like an industrial-goth new-warehouse monster of the kind Blanck Mass once made - and then a sax appears unexpectedly from nowhere. 

“Some songs you make, you love more than others. The other songs might sense this and start making out with neighbourhood bad boys to get my attention, but it’s just not going to work,” says Tiga.  “This song captures the whole reason we started making music together."


=36 Lila Dupont - Legal In England 

The New York-born and Scotland-based singer-songwriter creates a captivating, euphoric story that is gentle and loud and uplifting.  She was discovered and produced by Grammy-winning producer/engineer Scott Jacoby.  "I owe everything to Scott Jacoby for believing in me when I was seventeen and for giving me a chance to work with him," she says.


35 Fright Years - Let Me Down

With only a few released tracks to their name, this highly promising and exciting Edinburgh post-Covid alternative rock combo delivered this breast-beating indie anthem that soars and soars and soars along with the luscious vocals.


34  Lvra - clones 

A speaker-throbbing frenzied neon hyperpop-influenced anthem that reeks of sleazy confidence while railing frustration on living in the age of social media from the arresting Chinese-Scottish artist's debut EP Soft Like Steel, which made the shortlist for the 2023 SAY Award.  The edginess of the electronics is supported by collaboration partner industrial pop artist girl_irl.

"Clones is my expression of frustration at these times," she says. "We live in an age of populism, cancel culture, hyper-validation through social media - a world where we let ourselves be influenced, whether or not into the mainstream or onto the fringes. I don't think I've ever truly had the confidence to move completely against the grain, nor do I think anyone has to, but it is frightening to see how far we've gone in the other direction.”


33 Young Fathers - Drum

One of the greatest Scots bands around  and current holder of the SAY Award sound like they're having a ball on this ode to finding solace and unity in music and art. It includes lyrics in Yoruba, a language spoken in West Africa.  Kayus Bankole of the band, who was born in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents says: "I speak elementary Yoruba but understand it all. I called my mother to check it over for me before singing. Since we got together as a band I have been using Yoruba words just because they sound good."

32 comfort - Billionaire Potential

The Glasgow avant garde synth-punk sibling duo com have something to say.  With Sean McGhee on drums, and Natalie on vocals,  the latter’s experiences as a transwoman in 2023 does frame much of their writing. Less so on this opening track of their SAY Award-shortlisted What's Bad Enough album which is about the twisted attitudes of bankers, capitalists and corrupt politicians. But what makes this soar is the glitchy electronics, sneering attitude and angular production like being possessed by LCD Soundsystem.


31 Barry Can't Swim - Woman

This star-reaching standout track and lead single from the Lothians-born producer (real name Joshua Mannie) manages to work the magic of surrounding his clear ear for retro beats and sounds in a modern sounding skin. This repeats the feat of his top five tune on this list from last year God Is The Space Between Us by infusing this house tune with a keen ear for a classic soul hook provided by Låpsley with the kind of effect revealed by Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack. 

“I sent it out,” Barry Can't Swim said. “Lapsley came back immediately with this unreal vocal. I chopped it up, re-arranged it… it’s one of those things that fell into place.” riends, music and connection that it put things in perspective and brought me out of the dip.”


30 The Runaway Models - What You Want Me To Say 

Hailing from Fife and based in Glasgow this raw and exciting new four-piece combo have produced a ridiculously catchy and simple two minute throwback hardcore punk anthem with a crazed earworm riff that is delivered with a delightful thrown together DIY ethic and exhilirating 100mph ferocity.

A slam dunk moshpit must from a band who produce their own music, book their own shows and design their own album art.  It's a rfepeat-mode must.


29 Japan Review - The Slow Down

The Glasgow duo of Genna Foden and Adam O’Sullivan mangle shoegaze and delicate electronics with prime My Bloody Valentine edginess with a garage feel and lo fi beats to produce a rousing psychedelic trip on the stunning title track of the band's second album. 

“We wanted to make accessible, electronic pop that had the same amount of space as mid-era New Order recordings. A lot of the rest of the new record is a bit more experimental than our first, but it all orbits our weird blend of shoegaze and electronics, and this sums up our sound pretty well. If you don’t know Japan Review this is probably a good place to start," they say of the album.


=28 Proc Fiskal - Pic of U

The Scots producer aka Joe Powers, a regular on this list, unveiled one of the most inventive and insanely earwormy tracks of the year so far with this playfully minimalist hyperpop cyber-lullaby  from his RT Hon EP featuring a xylophone-synth hook,sighs, fluttering drums, and a chorus of modulated voices asking "are there any more pix of you" that could be a Da Da Da (Trio)  for 2023 but nowhere near as annoying.


=28  sarya - illusion of love

The Edinburgh-based Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter/poet topped this list in the first year of Covid with the kind of  perfectly articulated emotional disorientation and heartache that is echoed in this captivating four minutes which adds an oriental air into the melancholy mash of indie, melantronica and folk.  That list-topper achieved 1m streams at the end of this year.  There is absolutely no reason why this track should not do the same.


27 Chef The Rapper and Aiitee - Last Time I Checked (ft Aiysha)

This killer musical alchemy combines the smooth flow of the Aberdeen rapper and the intoxicatingly soulful croons of Edinburgh-based Aiitee and Aberdeen singer-songwriter Aiysha.  It is a standout track that has a bump and shuffle, is hushed and intimate and is aching and gorgeous like the best of the Fugees. It is from the collaborative EP In My Element: Water.


26 Post Coal Prom Queen - From Glasgow To Mars

By day, Edinburgh-based Gordon Johnstone organises international science conferences, while Lily Higham, the Glasgow contingent, builds websites for the BBC World Service in 41 languages’  At other times they are the producer-composers, who formerly made music as L-Space, who have produced one of the most inventive albums of the year in Music for First Contact.

This standout, while throwing in elements of folk, jazz and electropop as well as a layered choral vocal, is the most conventional sounding track on the album, without ever being really so.

The final part drops on tomorrow, New Year's Day.


Top 100 Tunes from Scotland in 2023 Part 1 (100-76)

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

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