Mogwai‘s ‘As The ‘Love Continues’ has been named Scottish Album of the Year at a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.
The band’s guitarist and occasional vocalist Stuart Braithwaite collected the specially-commissioned trophy from hosts Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan, saying: “I really was not expecting this, I have not thought of anything to say other than thank you and I wish I’d got steaming!” before dedicating the award to booking agent Mick Griffiths, who passed away recently.
The band’s tenth album, an hour-plus in length, was already a #1 chart hit with singles ‘Ritchie Sacramento’ and ‘Dry Fantasy’ already familiar to radio listeners. This meant the win for the band, formed in Glasgow more than 25 years ago, was unusual in being the first time a release already as successful as the Mercury-nominated ‘As The ‘Love Continues’ had received the SAY accolade. The band were also the longest-standing artists on the shortlist, alongside fellow shortlistees Biffy Clyro, who formed around the same time, and who have themselves just released their ninth album.
Other contenders on the 10-album shortlist included fellow big hitters Arab Strap, and The Snuts – whose debut ‘WL’ also topped the album chart – as well as relative unknowns such as harpist Rachel Newton, and newcomers AiiTee, Lizzie Reid and Joesef.
Another winner was Lvra, who picked up the Sound of Young Scotland Award ahead of Alex Amor, Cameron Roxburgh, Jen Mac, and Kitti. The prize will go towards funding the debut album by the Edinburgh-based artist to the score of £5,000, as well as contributing towards 500 vinyl pressings of the finished release.
The second inaugural award of the night went to Frightened Rabbit’s sophomore release ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’. Grant Hutchison collected the award for Modern Scottish Classic on behalf of the band, making a poignant speech after receiving the prize from The Twilight Sad’s James Graham, who spoke similarly emotionally about his fellow musician and friend Scott Hutchison, who died in 2016. “My life wouldn’t be the same without the amazing human beings who created this record,” Graham said.
“Pass it on,” he added, “make tiny changes like Scott said. ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ was said to be a breakup album – I’ve never seen a breakup album bring so many people together.”
Co-presenter of the award was Sandra Gordon, of Tiny Changes, the mental health charity set up in Scott’s honour, who described the album as “the most honest and heartbreaking record that I know.”
Grant Hutchison opened his acceptance speech by joking: “I don’t why you’re clapping for us, we didn’t write any of it!”, continuing “All of us can come at it from the same place that all of you can – this was and is Scott’s album. These are his words and they should be shared by all of us. It’s amazing to have an album that’s 13 years old and still inspires artists today, because it still inspires me everyday.”
He concluded an emotionally-charged speech by asking: “If everyone here tonight could do one thing – if you could text someone in your phone book who might need to hear from someone. Just ask them how they are or if they want to meet up. Just say hi, it might change their path.”
Earlier, Nova had opened the evening’s proceedings having received her SAY award after last year’s virtual ceremony, having herself being self-isolating, but was able to mark a return to live music and events with two tracks from her winning 2020 entry ‘Re-up’.
The 10th anniversary of the awards was marked by the revisiting of each of the previous winning albums, by a specially-arranged band led by Admiral Fallow’s Joe Rattray.
Rattray’s ensemble included a small but powerful brass section including tuba, and also trombone, which energetically led on a new take on Anna Meredith’s ‘Nautilus’, from her 2016 winner ‘Varmints’, and Sacred Paws were the only act (Roberts aside) to perform as “themselves”, with two tracks including the title track from 2017’s ‘Strike A Match’.
Hamish Hawk opened the multi-starred segment with an Edinburgh-accented take on ‘The Copper Top’, the poignant lead track from ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ by Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells, the first SAY winner from 2012. This was followed by an even-more-downbeat song from Alasdair Roberts, delivering a new take on ‘The False Bride’, the track he contributed to RM Hubbert’s ’13 Lost and Found’.
Heir of the Cursed – who appeared at the most recent in-person ceremony in 2019 – took over the vocal on a track from Katherine Joseph’s ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled’ while similarly, Auntie Flo’s ‘Radio Highlife’, 2019’s winner, was augmented by vocals from Nova and Lvra.
Both of Young Fathers’ winning entries were honoured, with 2021-shortlisted AiiTee, alongside rapper Bemz – on the longlist for his ’Saint of Lost Causes’ – giving their interpretations of tracks from ‘Tape 2′ and then ‘Cocoa Sugar’.
More on the evening’s proceedings at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @SAYaward as well as www.sayaward.com.