This playlist, out of all of the playlists on Resfeber Travel Blog, is a the biggest one for me. My home playlist. I’m not an overly patriotic person but I do appreciate the sounds of Scottish culture and here is a great example of it. This is the best Scottish music.
On the playlist we have many acts from Scotland who’ve hit global stardom, including Ayrshire rockers, Biffy Clyro and Glasgow’s Annie Lennox, who’s work leading Eurythmics launched her career.
Aside from the big hits, we delve much deeper into Scottish music culture. There is barely a country pub that wouldn’t erupt into song at the sound of the first few bars of Dougie McLean’s ‘Caledonia’. There are lots of undissolved gems too, so delve into the playlist below.
Whilst Dougie McLean provides the old folk, King Creosote provides the more recent link to Scotland’s folk scene. This playlist isn’t only routed in the past as the King proves, alongside modern pop acts like Young Fathers and CHVRCHES.
So whilst you listen with the lyrics of Dougie McLean ringing in your ears, “Caledonia you’re calling me and I think about you all the time” I hope you’ll consider checking out the vibrant music scene in Scotland.
This travel playlist is a great mix of Scots’ pub sing-a-longs and modern music with a traditional twist. It’s perfect to soundtrack your drive through the Glencoe pass, just as well as a Glasgow house party.
Sample Pick: The Jesus & Mary Chain – ‘Always Sad’.
Buckfast & Battered Mars
With tongue in cheek, it’s one of Scotland’s favourite drinks – Buckfast – which lends its name to the playlist, as well as the less popular but equally as famous Scottish culinary delight – the battered mars bar.
I hope you try both during your time in Scotland. I’m not a fan of either but just for fun, it’s worth a go. Enjoy – the playlist that is, not the ‘Buckie’ and fried chocolate, blurrrgh!
Scotland Guide: For a guide of things to get up to, check the 11 best things to do in Scotland post, Ian did for Just Travelling Solo. ANd if you love film as much as we do, check out these amazing filming locations in Scotland too.
Best Scottish Music Venues
Try if you can though, most importantly, to visit the many amazing music venues in Glasgow, if you can.The city is a UNESCO City of Music, so expect a real dose of culture there.
The SSE Hydro have worldwide stars visiting on a regular basis, as do the Royal Concert Halls and Barrowlands is a large historic venue with cultural significance – it’s been at the centre of Glasgow music for decades.
Alongside these, SWG3, O2 ABC, Oran Mor and Stereo also feature highly on our list of favourite music halls in Glasgow, with regular large shows. There are lots of great small venues too though, with Mono and The Hug & Pint being amongst the finest. Also, check out the Ben Nevis bar in Finnieston on Sunday nights, for a great traditional folk music session in an excellent bar.
For clubbing, hit up Sub Club – the longest running dance music club in the world – and SWG3 for regular nights alongside their gig events.
Over in Edinburgh, check out Summerhall, Sneaky Pete’s and Liquid Rooms are the two most common places you’ll find show but gigs are less common over in the East of Scotland. The best clubs are found down on Cowgate, with places like the Bongo Club and Cabaret Voltaire.
Scottish Music Festivals
There is an abundance of music festivals all year round in Scotland. It starts in January with the Celtic Connections music festival in Glasgow, featuring lots of music influenced by celtic folk and traditional heritage genres. For a more modernist approach, the TRNSMT festival in Glasgow takes the biggest bands and matches them with local favorites.
If you are looking for a cool, hip mix of both of these worlds, check out Doune The Rabbit Hole or one of the many smaller craft beer and music festivals, year round.
Over in Edinburgh, you’ll find the Edinburgh International Festival running alongside the Fringe in August and featuring lots of international, world music. The Hogmanay Festival is also a great way to see out the year with a variety of party bands.
Favourite Scottish Bands
Holy Esque – The East Kilbride foursome, all met at Glasgow School of Art and formed a band, known for their trademark enveloping sound and unique vocal style, with shrill yet ethereal qualities.
Honeyblood – The Scots duo make songs with sharp drums and fuzzy guitars and what a noise for just the two of them. Punk ethic with a heart full of wonder and fast becoming a crowd favorite on the festival circuit.
Belle & Sebastian – The Glasgow kings and queens of whimsy have borrowed a hole deep into the heart of Scottish music. Going strong for two decades now, they are considered Scottish indie music royalty.
Biffy Clyro – The most internationally famous of Scottish rock bands on the current circuit, this Ayrshire rock band make huge, anthemic rock songs for the millennial generation. And I mean HUGE.
Young Fathers – Ask them what genre they make and they’ll not answer you but after making music with Massive Attack and winning the Mercury Prize, this is one Scottish act you need to check out. Less hip hop and more hip pop.
Mogwai – Two decades and a dozen or so albums into their career, the Glasgow favourites are a hugely popular band at home. For a predominantly instrumental act to be so popular speaks volumes for the quality of their craft.
RM Hubbert – An outspoken advocate of mental health, RM Hubbert mixes delicate lyrical themes with a combination of flamenco guitar and celtic folk music. It really is as interesting as it sounds and a heartfelt Scots music favourite.
The Beta Band – Part of the old East Fife crew – a mix of artists who hail from just north of Edinburgh. Now disbanded but this is the peak moment of their career. One of the former band member is now a film director and made the excellent western ‘Slow West’.
Idlewild – A classic Scottish indie band from the early 00’s and still going strong today. Mixing emo charged rock, punk and indie they have a back-catalog as vast as a library and just as good.
King Creosote – Also one of the East Fife collective nut now a globally famous folk musician too. After providning the soundtrack to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games film 2014, he leap to fame and it was warranted, with an excellent melancholy folk sound.
Anna Meredith – One of a new breed of creative, art rock musicians and composers from Scotland. Well, Meredith is strictly English I believe but spent much of her life in Scotland and thinks of it as home, so is well accepted up north.
The Proclaimers – You will not be able to go longer than a week in Scotland without hearing this. It is even considered a reserve version of the national anthem by some. A true Scottish classic – learn the words if you can.
Twilight Sad – Having just supported The Cure on their world tour, this Scottish band, complete with broad Glasweigian accent, having been collecting fans the world over. A modern, melancholy bands with potent power.
CHVRCHES – The synthpop trio of widely varying ages turned a few heads when the press shots were released. Their music turned many more however and turned them into an unstoppable pop force over the last couple of years.
Primal Scream – Starting out in Glasgow at the now infamous Splash One nightclub, ‘The Scream’ are one of Scotland’s greatest examples of longevity. With Bobby Gillespie as the wild and charismatic frontman, it’s no wonder either.
Sacred Paws – Another adoption of sorts as this part Scottish, part English band have been taken to the hearts of Scots. Signed to Mogwai‘s record label and building a following fast, they are a talented and grooving rock band.
Annie Lennox – The frontwoman of Eurythmics for a long time and solo artist, in her own right, Annie is one of the nations favourite musicians. She may have left a long time ago – you can take the woman out of Scotland you can’t take the Scottish out of the woman.
Deacon Blue – Another song we’d file in the ‘absolute Scottish classic’ section. A karaoke favourite, yet still a truly credible and great song, no matter how murdered in the pubs the song gets.