he Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award has polled opinion to highlight some of the best Scottish albums of all time, courtesy of input from SAY Alumni and 2020’s eligible artists including Deacon Blue, Mogwai, Rachel Sermanni, Sacred Paws, The Snuts, Tide Lines and more. Over 25 artists have chosen their top Scottish albums, celebrating the best of Scottish music from Biffy Clyro, Camera Obscura, Eurythmics, Frightened Rabbit, Paolo Nutini, Primal Scream, The Proclaimers, Young Fathers and more.

This year has seen an incredible record number of album submissions with over 300 eligible albums already submitted, demonstrating the incredible strength and breadth of Scotland’s music scene. With only two days to go until submissions close, fans, artists and music professionals are encouraged to submit eligible albums NOW, to be in the running for The SAY Award  –

Today The SAY Award also announce an exclusive YouTube Premier with 2019’s winner Auntie Flo. Broadcasting on 25th August from 7pm, Celebrating and Exploring Auntie Flo’s ‘Radio Highlife’ will feature an in-depth discussion on the DJ’s incredible winning album ‘Radio Highlife’; filmed at the YouTube Space in London in November 2019Subscribe to The SAY Award’s YouTube channel and stay tuned for more information on The SAY Award social channels FacebookTwitter and Instagram
SAY Alumni including Honeyblood, Kobi Onyame and Sacred Paws have come together with artists who have submitted eligible albums for this year’s campaign like Bossy Love, Callum Beattie, Deacon Blue, Declan Welsh and the Decadent West, Mogwai, Nova Scotia the Truth, Rachel Sermanni, Sacred Paws, The Snuts, Tide Lines and more to pick their favourite Scottish albums which have influenced and impacted their careers, now all merged into one immense Spotify playlist – available here.

Anna Secret Poet chose ‘The Three E.P.’s’ by The Beta Band and said, “It blew my tiny mind 20 years ago and it still does it today.”

Choosing ‘Be Yourself Tonight’ by the Eurythmics, Amandah Wilkinson from Bossy Love said, “I know this came way before my time but my parents had this on in the house because they were huge Eurythmics and Annie Lennox fans. It’s got incredible pop songs on it and the melodies and the hooks are still permanently in my brain today. I listen to this record and wish that I had written those songs.”

Callum Beattie chose Travis’ ‘The Man Who’ saying “I love the songwriting, every single song on the album is top notch. I love the massive choruses – I remember first listening to the album when I was a wee boy and I just fell in love with it. It’s probably one of the reasons I picked up a guitar and started writing songs.”

Cloth said, “The record that we’ve chosen as our favourite Scottish record of all time is ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ by Cocteau Twins – this is a record that we absolutely love and has been super influential in our songwriting.”
Declan Welsh chose ‘This Is the Story’ by The Proclaimers. “Now, I thought about a few things here – ‘High Land, Hard Rain’ by Aztec Camera, some Belle and Sebastian albums,  Franz Ferdinand’s album or The Lapelles. But I feel like I’ve talked enough about The Lapelles – everyone knows how much I love that album! Lyrically, ‘This Is the Story’ is outstanding, it’s so Scottish but not in a put-on way – it’s really real. The melodies and harmonies in it are brilliant and it has what I think is maybe the greatest Scottish song of all time in it – ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’.”

Elephant Sessions chose Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Midnight Organ Fight’ and said, “Picking our favourite Scottish album was a really difficult choice! We decided to go with Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Midnight Organ Fight’, one of our favourite albums of all time ever, and a great great album – if you’ve not heard it, check it out!”

Elisabeth Eelektra said, “My favourite Scottish album of all time is ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ by Cocteau Twins because I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Fraser, she’s a huge inspiration to me. I feel like that album is one of their best performances and really captures everything that they’re about.”

Erland Cooper chose Bert Jansch’ self-titled 1965 debut. “That set me on a path from Jackson C.Frank, Sandy Denny to Pentangle and way beyond. ‘Needle of Death’ is a masterpiece, it’s such a lilting, hopeful yet deeply melancholic song about addiction and I know, to a departed friend, this album is an example of beauty in simplicity and my favourite Scottish record of all time.”

Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue chose The Blue Nile’s ‘Hats’, saying “I listen often and still love it from beginning to end. Ultimately it is the songs, they still move me.”
Hamish Napier said, “My favourite album of all time from Scotland, or from anywhere for that matter, is Martyn Bennett’s ‘Bothy Culture’. It’s an incredible album, it’s world music, Scottish music, there’s Scottish poets on it, there’s electronica, there’s classical, electric, violin. It’s just jam-packed full of amazing things and everytime I listen to it, I hear something new so – thank you Martin Bennett, this is one of the most amazing albums I’ve ever heard!”

Stina Tweeddale from Honeyblood also chose ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ by Cocteau Twins, saying: “I remember being given a copy of this album by a friend at high school when I was in a very explorative phase when it came to music. At 15 years old I wanted to soak in everything I could find. I remember vividly putting headphones on and listening to it from start to finish; completely submerged in a dreamland. What I love about Cocteau Twins is you must be prepared to be transported to another planet; it is pure musical escapism.”

John Rush said, “My favourite Scottish album has to be Paolo Nutini’s ‘Sunny Side Up’ because it reminds me of some good summers and it’s an album you can listen to all the way through without skipping a track.”

SAY Alumni Kobi Onyame chose 2018’s SAY Award winning album Young Fathers’ ‘Cocoa Sugar’ saying, “The lads hit the nail on the head with this album. Perfect combination of all the elements that I love musically. Melody, lo-fi, hip-hop, content and Afrobeat. ‘Cocoa Sugar’ was the first Scottish album I’ve had on constant repeat and still play today. It’s only a few years old but I believe it has all the elements to age just as well as some of the greatest albums of our time. A classic by Young Fathers and arguably the greatest Scottish album of our time.”
L-Space picked ‘All Creatures Will Make Merry’ by Meursault and said, “It’s a great collection of songs and performances but also, it’s particularly special to me because it reminds me of a time when I first moved to Scotland and was discovering the Scottish music scene, and going to lots of gigs and realising I can find such great music where I live.”

Louise Connell chose ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ by Belle and Sebastian, saying “Every song on it is incredible, it was one of the first albums I fell in love with, let alone Scottish albums that I fell in love with! I think I stole it from  my brother’s CD collection, which wasn’t vast, he was really into MiniDisc – that tells you about the time period – but every song on it is incredible. It’s one of those ones that I can sing from start to end,  but please don’t test me!”

Malka chose another Belle and Sebastian album, ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’. “I love the lyrics, the instrumentation and the production – it’s just perfect to me.”

Scottish composer Matthew Whiteside chose ‘Panopticon’ by David Fennessy, saying “The whole album is an excellent introduction to David’s work but the piece on it ‘Hirta Rounds’ is just mesmerising.”

Iain from Medicine Men said, “My favourite Scottish album of all time would have to be ‘XTRMNTR’ by Primal Scream. It was my introduction to the band as a 14/15 year old and I heard ‘Kill All Hippies’ on the radio and that drum break and bassline just absolutely going through me. Off the back of that I bought the album and I think what they’re talking about in the lyrics still remains true today – it’s even more relevant today than it was 20 years ago.”

Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai chose ‘The Week Never Starts Round Here’ by Arab Strap, saying “When we first heard this record, it was the first time we really felt the Scottish experience that we knew being reflected back at us and it’s a great record – go check it out!”
Haydn from The Ninth Wave chose The Twilight Sad’s ‘No One Can Ever Know’, while Rachel Sermanni picked ‘Boots Met my Face’ by Admiral Fallow and said “It makes me feel all youthful and excited and nostalgic.”

Nova Scotia the Truth said, “My favourite Scottish album has got to be ‘Eye to the Telescope’ by KT Tunstall, I listened to it a lot when I was young. During lockdown she popped up on my newsfeed and it just reminded me to go and listen to it and I reexperienced the magic of that album – it’s really sick!”

Former SAY Award 2017 winners, Sacred Paws, who also have an Eligible Album for 2020, chose Appendix Out’s ‘The Rye Bears a Poison’ as well as Camera Obscura’s ‘My Maudlin Career’. Rachel said “I first heard Camera Obscura before I’d ever been to Glasgow before, I hadn’t really spent that much time in Scotland so it was really exciting to come to the place where they were from because I was such a huge fan. I think Traceyanne has got the most wonderful voice and is an amazing songwriter and lyricist.”

The Snuts’ Callum chose Franz Ferdinand’s 2004 self-titled debut but also gave a special shout out to fellow eligible album The Ninth Wave’s ‘Infancy’. Callum said, “‘Franz Ferdinand’ is just big tune to big tune! Also The Ninth Wave’s ‘Infancy’ is amazing, well worth a listen. Special shout out to Runrig as well who are 30 years in the game and still smashing it, every year. It’s wild!”

Tide Lines had a hard time narrowing their choices down, saying, “Turns out all four of us have got different favourite Scottish albums! We spoke about ‘Opposites’ by Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic’s ‘Vivarium’ and Runrig’s ‘The Cutter and the Clan’ was a big one for a few of us growing up in the Highlands. But I get the casting vote so I’m going to go for a live album from one of our favourite venues we were lucky enough to play last November – it’s Deacon Blue’s ‘Live at the Glasgow Barrowlands’.”
Nick Cronin from Vagrant Real Estate chose ‘Butter’ by Hudson Mohawke, saying, “It’s a great example of how daring and innovative he is with sound design and drum programming, the track fuse continues to blow me away.”

The Vegan Leather said “My favourite Scottish album is ‘Shouting At Wildlife’ by Kid Canaveral, it was one of the first records where I’d heard a real Scottish accent and I found that really exciting and inspiring. The songs were all really catchy and well written but with a tinge of nostalgia and really sentimental – it’s just a really brilliant album.”

Janine from Vukovi said, “It has to be ‘Puzzle’ by Biffy Clyro. I think it’s the perfect balance between pop and obscure hooks – they didn’t lose any of their weirdness when they did that record, it still has that staple Biffy Clyro quirkiness. The opening is iconic – the stabs, everyone tries to do it, they can’t do them in time but you try and do them anyway!”

Wrest gave ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ by Frightened Rabbit a second vote, saying “Every song is excellent and there’s a passion and a rawness to it that just never gets old, no matter how many times you listen.”

Listen to the playlist here and watch acts choose their top albums here.
Returning for its ninth year in 2020, The SAY Award is widely recognised as one of the country’s most reputable and prestigious music initiatives. Coming together to celebrate the passion, value and diversity of Scottish music in 2020, fans and artists alike are encouraged to submit eligible Scottish albums released between 1 April 2019 and 31 May 2020 to The SAY Award WebsiteThe SAY Award strives to be egalitarian throughout all stages of the campaign, reflected in the fact there is no fee to submit an eligible album for consideration, and digital releases that fulfil the criteria are also deemed eligible. All submissions must be made before midnight on Friday 31st July 2020. To submit albums, plus view eligibility criteria and guidelines for the 2020 award – visit

Offering one of the most lucrative prize funds in the UK, The SAY Award winner will collect a £20,000 cash prize, whilst nine runners up are each awarded £1,000.

Once all eligible albums have been submitted and collated, 100 impartial ‘Nominators’, from sectors including journalism, music retail and live music venues across Scotland will consider the titles from The SAY Award’s Eligible Albums list, nominating their five favourite albums and ranking them in order of preference. The SMIA assigns a score to each title in a Nominator’s Top 5, before announcing the 20 highest scoring albums as The SAY Award Longlist for 2020.

The Longlist will then be cut down to a Shortlist of 10 albums, one of which will be chosen by music fans via a 72-hour online public vote. The remaining nine albums will be chosen by The SAY Award judging panel, with the winner announced on Thursday 29th October.

Developed and produced by the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), the 2020 campaign will be delivered in partnership with Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, YouTube Music, 54EP, Sweetdram, Culture & Business Fund Scotland via Arts & Business Scotland, PPL, Summerhall, Ticketmaster and new charity partner Music Declares Emergency.

Previous winners of The SAY Award include Auntie Flo ‘Radio Highlife’ (2019), Young Fathers ‘Cocoa Sugar’ (2018), Sacred Paws ‘Strike A Match’ (2017), Anna Meredith ‘Varmints’ (2016), Kathryn Joseph ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ (2015), Young Fathers ‘Tape Two’ (2014), RM Hubbert ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ (2013) and the inaugural winner Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ (2012).

To keep up with The SAY Award 2020 journey, make sure you follow the award on Twitter @SAYaward, Instagram @sayaward and Facebook @SAYaward