From Primal Scream to Bert Jansch, we give you the definitive guide to the Scottish mecca
Cai Trefor

12:45 28th October 2015

London has always been the main attraction in the UK for bands to live and get their music heard.

Glasgow, however, has always been unintimidated by the capital's output and have been the home of some of the greatest bands ever.

The attitude that's helped this prevail is probably best summed up by Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain: "It's because we're so good. Because we're so much better than everybody else. So many other people are complete rubbish!"

Here are 18 of the greatest bands to every come out of Glasgow. 



  • Orange Juice: Led by the staunchly charismatic Edwyn Collins, Orange Juice were pioneering with their shiny and sharp new wave sound. They went from being the most exciting young band in Glasgow to shaking up the UK charts. Their emergence was helped along by Alan Horne's indie label Postcard Records and a 1980 John Peel session.

  • Josef K: Another gem from the Postcard Records days and although they didn't achieve major success in the brief period they were formed (1979-1982), they remain influential in today's DIY indie revival.

  • Aztec Camera: Another Postcard Records band whose jangly guitars made an impact. Their unprecedented success on a small indie operating out of a wardrobe in a bedroom led to Rough Trade snapping them up for their debut album. The band went on to tour and write until 1995 before disbanding. Still, the wave of acts they've influenced is immeasurable.

  • Bert Jansch: 1960's folk artist Bert Jansch has influenced Paul Simon, Johnny Marr, and Nick Drake to name a few. If that's not enough to earn a spot on the list then we don't know what is.

  • Primal Scream: They became a strong an influence on the scene once Bobby Gillespie married rave music with pop/rock after seeing Happy Monday's achieve it. After Andrew Weatherall was hired to mix Screamedelica, they were heralded as one of the defining bands of the 90s and were an important musical bridge for formerly opposing subcultures to come together. Today they're still making great music.

  • Arab Strap: With unique, observant, and starkly honest lyrics about the traumatic side of relationships, Arab Strap have become critically acclaimed throughout the UK. They're a breath of fresh air compared to the overly polished and glossy radio friendly music that makes up the majority of the world's output.

  • The Blue Nile: Paul Buchanan's The Blue Nile put out four albums between 1989 and 2004. The result of spending time to accomplish something extraordinary was worthwhile as they've had overwhelming acclaim and Buchanan has had a successful solo career since.

  • The Pastels: The band gained popularity through DIY fanzine culture in the '80s. Their raw lo-fi sound is part of a school of thought that champions a very honest representation of what the band sound live and shuns shiny production techniques.

  • The sensational Alex Harvey Band: The glam rockers were led by the late great Alex Harvey who is heralded as one of the best frontmen to ever emerge from Scotland. Their take on glam rock rivals the greatness of T-Rex.

  • The 1990s: Former Rough Trade signee's write music which like Franz Ferdinand's works in a party atmosphere and is one of the strongest songwriters to emerge in the mid 00's indie scene. They supported Babyshambles, Franz Ferdinand and their second album saw Bernard Butler of Suede sit in at the production controls.

  • Frightened Rabbit: With a stirring, epic display of power in their live performance it's no wonder the Gigwise favourites have grown from being an indie to a major label signing who've sold out Brixton Academy and made an impact across the pond.

  • Mogwai: If someone says post-rock most people's reaction is to say Mogwai. Their influence on people is so strong that the most avid fans appear devoted to them as they would a cult.

  • The Vaselines: Made famous after Nirvana's cover of 'Molly's Lips' and 'Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam' the band write effortlessly beautiful songs which were a hit for legendary indie labels Sub Pop and K Records.

  • Franz Ferdinand: Their Mercury-selling debut album was one of the highest selling of the '00s and gave Domino Records its first major international success. 11 years on songs from that album are played in nightclubs and bars and are likely to remain ingrained into the fabric of our society for decades to come.

  • Belle & Sebastian: Not only are they praised as the pride of Scottish indie pop but their 1996 debut album Tigermilk put them as one of the most important alternative acts of all time. They're still headlining festivals with knock out performances that are winning new audiences.

  • Chvrches: Since being announced in the BBC Sound of 2013 shortlist, synth pop trio Chvrches have blown up into one of the biggest British bands thanks to with two impeccable albums and a strong live show. Expect them to be playing arenas and headlining festivals in no time.

  • The Twilight Sad: Their doom-laden post-rock is a moving addition to Glasgow's musical tapestry. Robert Smith of The Cure recently covered their track 'There's a Girl in the Corner' which is about as good of a compliment a band can get. But anyway, here's another: they're one of the best bands in the world today.

  • Camera Obscura: After the tragic death of keyboardist Carey Lander due to a battle with bone cancer, hopefully the band will be able to continue with their infectious and strong brand of indie pop in her honour.

  • One of the biggest selling indie bands of the '80s with an extraordinary amount of hype.25 years later they're still regarded as one of the best guitar bands of all time. Immensely powerful stuff.