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by Jason Gubbels

June 3, 2013

Glasgow's Indie Pop Scene

by Jason Gubbels  |  June 3, 2013

Scotland's largest city has served as a focal point for the country's indie pop scene since Edwyn Collins formed the seminal Orange Juice in 1979. The group released five singles in rapid succession on small local label Postcard Records (which also hosted nearby Edinburgh outfit Josef K, as well as fellow Glaswegian act Aztec Camera). The early "Falling and Laughing" apotheosized a new sound for the punk/post-punk underground: the shambolic, Byrds-influenced guitars and bright vocals of what would soon become indie pop.

There were other local tendencies unique to Glasgow, such as a weakness for gorgeous sophisti-pop (Deacon Blue, Lloyd Cole) and a gift for tossing off melodic noise-bombs (The Pastels, The Vaselines, Bis). Primal Scream morphed from paint-by-numbers jangle pop into psychedelic studio masters. Nearby suburbs Paisley, Bellshill and Falkirk contributed their own notable bands (Close Lobsters, The Soup Dragons, Arab Strap). But it was the late-'90s success of Belle and Sebastian that helped cement Glasgow's reputation as a proving ground for witty, folk-influenced indie pop heavy on the charm.

In recent years, Camera Obscura have proven worthy heirs to the Belle and Sebastian tradition, while The Pastels have continued refining their almost-falling-apart-at-the-seams aesthetic (both also have new albums out), even as such diverse Glaswegian acts as Franz Ferdinand, Glasvegas and Dogs Die in Hot Cars found various modes of chart success. And while post-rock act Mogwai and noise group A Sunny Day in Glasgow prove there's more to the city than breezy indie, perhaps the quintessential Glaswegian cult band remains the blink-and-you'll-miss-it late-'80s career of Close Lobsters, with their tight hooks, glorious jangle and slightly sloppy execution. If you're at all intrigued by the specific pleasures of Glaswegian pop, let this playlist serve as your expert tour guide.

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