Scotland Rocks!

When most people think of Scottish music, an image of a man in a plaid skirt comes to mind. But there's a lot more than bagpipes and fiddles going on north of Hadrian's Wall.

I'm the sort of person who really likes music, but who doesn't really care a lot about bands. My friends (who are in a very good band called My God Micah) must get exasperated with me because I never know who sings any song and am totally clueless about which bands play what shows where.

So I was surprised when I began to take special notice of a couple of CDs my friend Matthew would play a lot; it seemed whenever I asked "what band is this?," he would say a name and follow it by "they're from Scotland." This was how I came to check out the albums These Four Walls by We Were Promised Jetpacks and Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons (later I found out the latter is from London, but nevertheless, I was intrigued). It occurred to me that I liked Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian as much as the next person, two Glasgow stalwarts that made it big in America thanks to iPod commericals ("Take Me Out" and "No You Girls" by Franz Ferdinand) and the Juno soundtrack ("Piazza, New York Catcher" and "Expectations" by Belle and Sebastian). What other great music, I wondered, might Scotland be producing?

Right about this time, I embarked upon a home improvement project. In order to successfully paint the trim in three rooms without going completely crazy with boredom, I would require many hours of interesting music. It seemed to be the perfect time to check out any other Scottish rock bands lurking in the collections of the Denver Public Library. Fortunately, the media collection at my branch, Ross-Broadway, is excellent, and even with the holds moratorium, I was able to go home with 5 CDs of Scottish rock bands I'd never heard of. I genuinely enjoyed listening to all of them.

My favorite discovery of all is the folk/pop sound of Teenage Fanclub. Their album, Shadows, sounds sort of like the Beatles singing Sheryl Crow songs, but better. I laughed out loud to the quirky lyrics of Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit, and found myself humming along to the catchy tunes on Ode to J. Smith by Travis.

So, laddies and lassies, think beyond the pipes and drums. There's some great rock music coming from the land of Loch Ness. Do you know of any good ones?

DPL has albums by the following Scottish rock bands:

  • Aliens
  • Bay City Rollers
  • Belle and Sebastian
  • Cinematics
  • Codeine Velvet Club
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Frightened Rabbit
  • Glasvegas
  • Idlewild
  • Mogwai
  • Primal Scream
  • Teenage Fanclub
  • Travis
  • Twilight Sad
  • Unkle
  • Vaselines
  • We Were Promised Jetpacks
Written by SarahH on January 11, 2011


Anonymous on January 12, 2011


Great post. Scotland rocks! I found out about Teenage Fanclub in a Brit box set here at DPL. They are the best.


Anonymous on January 15, 2011


I'd also add shoegazers The Jesus and Mary Chain, postpunk Orange Juice, alt-rockers The Fratellis (also featured in an iPod commercial), indie band Mull Historical Society, and The Proclaimers, whose song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" got a lot of play when it was on the Benny and Joon soundtrack in the early '90s. Also, the Reindeer Section, a "supergroup" started by Snow Patrol's lead singer.

Kelly on January 16, 2011


I will have to check some of these out! I used to be a huge Belle & Sebastian fan, and thanks to them discovered that Scotland produces some really great music. I've lost touch with my Scottish curiosity, thanks for reminding me.

SarahS on January 18, 2011


A list of rock bands from Scotland and no mention of Jethro Tull? I am amazed.... last I looked DPL does have some of their CDs. They're playing at Red Rocks in June.

christopher on January 19, 2011


I have the new Frightened Rabbit in rotation right now and am enjoying it. Good list, Sarah.

emma on February 27, 2011


thanks for this!
also, marcus (the lead singer of Mumford & Sons), is an old friend of mine, it's exciting to see people enjoying the music as much as i do, not that i'm biased...haha.

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