The preamble is understandably different from our previous year-end charts lists. Well, it has, after all, been a different kind of year.

But what’s not changed is that the music coming out of Scotland has been of the same high standard, even though so much of it was created under lockdown conditions

We have tried to limit ourselves to 50 albums but especially this year with the erratic nature of releases – mostly self-released with no PR – we’ve got the nagging doubt that we missed something… (we have ordered the top 20 as usual but opted for an alphabetical list for the ‘bottom end’ of the chart).

But either way, please see our favourite 50 as an oddly-ordered general list of top recommendations to hear before another onslaught of quality music arrives in 2021.

But to the winner. It’s been an odd year, in case no-one noticed which has the effect of ever-changing moods for everyone and this can be reflected in their choice of listening at any one time. Calm and pastoral for, well, anyone in need of some respite; robotic and beat-driven for anyone wanting to tick away the seconds and minutes; simple mindless pop to simply forget our cares… but for many it’s all come down a release of pent-up energy caused by anger and frustration.

And who better than this Edinburgh punk act. But don’t be fooled, these are carefully-crafted songs with call-to-arms lyrics and choruses to soundtrack a storming of the barricades.

Paper Rifles’ debut ‘The State Of It All’ was #5 in our 2018 chart, but older readers may remember a fresh-faced act, Curators, who were #3 in 2010 with ‘Is This A Private Fight’ (as well as #5 in 2013, with its follow-up, ‘The Cold In The Walls’). When they split due to an inexplicable lack of worldwide acclaim frontman, Jon Dick formed Paper Rifles and things have come round nicely full circle with the new album even containing a ‘cover’ of ‘Cemetery Sea’ from Curators’ debut.

So without further ado, here’s the chart that counts…

1. Paper RiflesTraitor’s Hill (Anti-Manifesto)
It’s been the kind of year asking for a short sharp shock of an album but the ‘punk’ label is too easy for a landmark collection of diverse and crafted songwriting

2. Thomas LeerEmotional Hardware (Smitten Kitten)
Truly leading the way, the electronic past master showing that he’s still ahead of his time, 40 years on

3. Limo Cunningham Short Cuts (Bandcamp)
Rather than a collection of experimental one minute tracks the Fife-based songwriter’s 41-song album brims with snippets of tunes and hooks

4. Army of MothsBy Word of Moth (Bandcamp)
The trio’s second long player somehow raises the bar of OTT epic electronic prog which really requires the invention of new adjectives and superlatives

5. Callum EasterGreen Door Sessions (Moshi Moshi)
Not exactly brand new, but this stripped-back collection of tunes from his Lost Map days only emphasises the strength and potential of Easter’s songwriting

6. Mitchell Museum Skinny Tricks (Scottish Fiction)

7. Mt. DoubtDoubtlands (Last Night From Glasgow)

8. Morphamish & TryptaminesAdventures in Anywhen (Anywhen)

9. Elvis ValentineThe Book of Numbers (Bandcamp)

10. Port Sulphur – Compendium (Creeping Bent)

11. Imra VepEmbarrassed Landscape (Gringo)

12. Check Masses – Night Life (Triassic Tusk)

13. Mood TaegExophora (Happy Robots)

44.Conscious Route & True NoteLost Routes (True Hold)

15. Adam Stafford Diamonds Of A Horse Famine (Song, By Toad)

16. Martha FfionNights To Forget (Lost Map)

17. PilotcanNo More Shan Goodbyes (EVOL)

18. Iklan Album Number 1 (Soulpunk)

19. The Son(s) The Creatures We Were Before We Are Ghosts (Olive Grove)

20. PopupWhispers (Popup)

and the best of the rest…

AdenineAdenine (Lorimer)

Rachel AggsVisitations 2020 (Lost Map)

BeerjacketHealth Hour (Beerjacket)

BrontosaurusThese People (Puzzled Aardvark)

Isobel CampbellThere Is No Other (Cooking Vinyl)

Willie CampbellNothing’s Going To Bring Me Down (Invisible King)

Lyle ChristineFunraiser (Flaky)

Erland CooperHether Blether (Phases)

Carla J EastonWeirdo (Olive Grove)

Fair Mothers Separate Lives (Song, By Toad)

The Grand GesturesLow Lights (Chute)

The Just JoansPrivate Memoirs and Confessions Of… (Fika)

Modern StudiesThe Weight of The Sun (Fire)

MogwaiZeroZeroZero (Rock Action)

The MuldoonsMade For Each Other (Last Night From Glasgow)

OvalsFreedom of People and Ideas or Be Good to Yourself and Other Animals (Ovals)

Nyx Nott Au Pieds De La Nuit (Melodic)

Pale Fire Husbands (Late Fragments)

Peter CatThe Saccharine Underground (MoFi)

Pictish TrailThumb World (Lost Map)

Rainbow SkullRainbow Skull (Rainbow Skull)

Grant J RobsonOutside (nagalutb)

RollorWe Are Due A Visit Soon (Bandcamp)

Savage MansionWeird Country (Lost Map)

Scotland in the 80sThe Dreary Heather Club (Bandcamp)

Secret Gang HandshakesThe Viceroy of Pure Joy (Tideline)

Spinning Coin Hyacinth (Geographic)

Starry Skies Do It With Love (Fox Star)

Jamie SutherlandBruise (J Sharp)

VasaHeroics (Dome A)

Vulture PartyVulture Party (Last Night From Glasgow)

Andrew Wasylyk Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation (Athens of the North)

Yorkston Thorn KhanNavarasa: Nine Emotions (Domino)

*Usual E&OE. We’re bound to have forgotten some album or other – and compilations etc would probably have doubled the list, so we had to draw the line somewhere – so if your favourite is missing then best just assume that rather than it being (IMO) rubbish, it simply got overlooked, perhaps by just being so good everyone was dazzled by its brilliance or it had become so much a part of our lives that it was hiding in plain sight.

*And we’d have loved to have done a playlist, but since we’re supporting the #boycottspotify campaign… well, maybe next year!