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SNACK Scottish Single of The Year 2023

The Shortlist

It’s Album of the Year time! So, why singles?  As always, SNACK’s first instinct is to support the grassroots and concentrating on singles allows us to celebrate artists at the very start of their creative journey. It’s pretty much that simple. Also, we love singles – they’re great!

So far, the SNACK writers have whittled over 250 songs released by artists with a connection to Scotland in 2023 down to just 19 of their favourites, the final slot in our 20 strong Shortlist decided by the recent Readers Vote – congratulations Fourth Daughter. We’ll be announcing the winner of the Writers Vote in the coming weeks via our social media. We’ve also made a SNACKSSY 2023 playlist which you can listen to on Spotify or Apple Music. Enjoy!


Katya Mansell – You Belong Here 

Beginning with a father accepting their child; by verse two he is attending a vigil. ‘You Belong Here’ is a touching reminder to those needing support; an important message backed by a shuffling rhythm along with an ebbing web of delicate synths and dreamy guitar. A delicate yet confident track, Katya describes it as ’a love letter to the trans community’ a message of hope to our young people that you do belong and deserve to thrive. 

Andy Reilly


Hairband – Unconscious Rivals

‘Unconscious Rivals’, lead track from the 2023 debut album of the same name, is a great introduction or reintroduction to Hairband; a looping, loosely jumpy, jangling jaunt reminding us why we liked them so much back in 2018. The call and response, the air, the reconciliation – on a day like today – we swoon!

Andy Reilly


LVRA – Venom 

‘venom’, a co-production with TAAHLIAH, is a foul-mouthed, full-throated roar of a track. Finding strength, expression, and community in the queer club scene, it slinks with sleazy confidence and a sledgehammer of a guest verse from Spent. Classy, Nasty, Trashy – as they say – unsubtle, but that’s exactly the point. It sounds like glitter bricks smashing windows. 

Chris Queen

LVRA – venom [feat. Spent] (Official Music Video)

Astral Difficulties/Weird Wave – Lost Map Presents Weird Wave

Bringing together a collective of artists from across the label on the Isle of Eigg to create a largely spontaneous album in a remote hostel could have resulted in absolutely anything. What it did create was a record that is both a psychedelic exploration of the soul and an infectious slice of kosmichesmusik that sounds like a group of great musicians having a whole lot of fun.

Chris Queen

LOST MAP presents WEIRD WAVE – ‘Astral Difficulties / Weird Wave’ (Visualiser)

Carla J Easton – Blooming 4U

‘Blooming 4U’ is a flurry of soaring sounds and sunshine melodies: incredibly infectious, it has the propensity to ring in your ears all the way through any given season. Featuring a kids’ choir as joyous, raucous, and life-affirming as you’d expect from a bunch of Glasgow Southside weans being egged on to make as much noise as possible – B4U gives strong vibes of an artist and collaborator inventing a new benchmark, both personal and peers’.

Andy Reilly

Carla J Easton – Blooming 4U

Crush Mouse – Nunchucks

A smooth blend of early 00s power guitar pop with a clever rap delivery, played straight with a knowing wink. In a parallel universe this was number 1 across the world for 9 weeks straight. It would be wrong to give away the best lines, but some of the lyrical puns and pay-offs are brilliantly bad (read brilliant), meshing well with the irresistible melody and energy. Endlessly quotable – you will have this on repeat. 

Andy Reilly

Crush Mouse – Nunchucks (Official Lyric Video)

Raveloe – Rustle in the Leaves 

Channelling the natural world, ‘Rustle in the Leaves’ has a folky authenticity. On the surface, it transports listeners to a time they can’t place, a place of muddy boots and ruddy cheeks, somewhere deep in the mind of Scotland’s collective rural past. The unforced dance of the ‘rustle’ as a metaphor for unease and anxiety is at once subtle and crisply evocative.

Craig Howieson

Raveloe – Rustle In The Leaves

NANI – Search Bar 

A soothing tune full of smooth vocals, lavish violin layers, jangly guitars, a groovy bassline, and a whistle-along section: everything you look for in a pop song. This is one hell of an earworm, dreamy and full of dry wit. Focusing on the world of dating and exes in the age of social media, the eponymous ‘Search Bar’ refers to the casual online sleuthing we are all too guilty of. It’s an intra-social media take on ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ with some clever lyrics and the kind of hook that sticks around your brain. 

Matthew O’Donnell/ Chris Queen

NANI – Search Bar (Official Music Video)

Dot Allison – Unchanged (feat. Andy Bell)

From a simple pluck-and-strum folk vibe to a crescendo of hope and spirit on the chorus, ‘Unchanged’ showcases Dot’s classic vocals, fragile yet powerful, breathless and inspiring, while the music spirals upwards in the background. ‘Unchanged’ displays the cohesion of the artist’s vision laid out in album Conciousology, calling for action and change but also serving as a reminder of the world’s immersive beauty. 

Andy Reilly

Dot Allison – Unchanged (feat. Andy Bell)

SulkaWeekend

Laid-back melodies with flashes of Elliott Smith. ‘Weekend’ is the kind of track you want to drive to, destination unknown; just let the smooth guitar and delicious vocals be your guide. There’s a certain addictive chew to the lyrical rhythms and harmony twists that brings us back time and time again to this wee gem of a song.

Louise Holland

Sulka – ‘Weekend’ (Official Video)

Alice Faye – Nowhere to Go 

A poignant and deeply emotional ballad exploring themes of isolation and loneliness. The stripped-back, haunting melody, coupled with Alice’s rich vocals, will have ‘Nowhere to Go’ touching your soul. The lyrics are raw, often cutting, and are a credit to Alice’s songwriting ability. Alice Faye is without doubt one of Scotland’s strongest, most memorable new voices.

Matthew O’Donnell

Alice Faye – Nowhere to Go 

Bemz & Sean Focus – Raging Bull

With casual ease and a great deal of real technical skill, Bemz jumps over some complex rhythmic stuff here as he trades bars with Edinburgh-based Afrocentric artist Sean Focus. There’s musicality and implied melody in a lot of what he does, and a clever way with imagery. A line like ‘ride on my stubble’ has a visceral physicality to it, delivered with so much confidence and cheek that it can’t help but be likeable.

Chris Queen

Bemz & Sean Focus – Raging Bull

There Will Be Fireworks – Classic Movies 

Absence may well make the heart grow fonder. But even if we ignore the protracted leave of the beloved Scottish quintet, There Will Be Fireworks, their latest single ‘Classic Movies’ is the kind of track that elicits the same serotonin rush of seeing a loved one after far too long apart. Twinkling guitars, soaring vocals, and a wistful romanticism similar to that which Brian Fallon instills in his work, it is truly great to have them back. 

Craig Howieson

There Will Be Fireworks – Classic Movies (Official Video)

Fourth Daughter – Walk With Me

A comforting electro-pop feast that will have you dragging everyone you’ve met out straight to the dance floor. ‘Walk With Me’ is chunky with an ethereal aftertaste that harks back to the nineties club scene. Low key, fuzzy euphoria soaks into every surface. Sway, jump, bust out your best moves, or simply nod along in the corner. It’s no wonder ‘Walk With Me’ is the winner of the 2023 SNACK Single of the Year Readers Vote.

Kenny Lavelle

Fourth Daughter – Walk With Me

SHEARS – I Look At You (It’s Over)  

Watching the evolution of Rebecca ‘Shears’ Shearing over the last few years has been a great joy, her dark edged pop music not afraid to explore every avenue and see where it takes them. Here she’s taking two-step and UK Garage beats, singing a tender, heartfelt breakup song over a speaker-shaking bass line that feels like the street lit sheen of the city at night.

Chris Queen

SHEARS – I Look At You (It’s Over)  

Quad90 – Le Blank 

Taking notes from the mutant disco of Ze Records and the icy cool of Laetitia Sadler, this combines dancefloor funk with a heavy electronic beat and a joyous sprinkling of house keys – an irresistible slice of attitude in a world all of its own that feels like it should be playing in the world’s coolest nightclub full of the most beautiful freaks.

Chris Queen

Quad90 – Le Blank 

TEOSE – Rat King

The scuzziest in sound and title of all this year’s shortlist, ‘Rat King’ (a cluster of rats, tails tied together) makes it TEOSE’s second year running featuring in our top 20. From the suitably scratchy intro, complete with ridiculous bass run, it propels itself into your consciousness and, more than likely heard live, pints flying in your local packed basement. 

Kenny Lavelle

TEOSE – Rat King

Town Centre – Maybe I’m Alone

Only Town Centre’s second ever release, ‘Maybe I’m Alone’ features a deliciously fat and clunking synth anchoring a spoken word, voicenote style piece recounting what sounds like an interesting night out, complete with wood panelled car interior. The band originated from a pretend Eurovision Song Contest, and we’re now left asking why more bands don’t start this way. 

Kenny Lavelle


Broken Records – You Won’t Be There 

A sombre, ruminative return from one of Edinburgh’s most cherished groups; ‘You Won’t Be There’ provides the perfect accompaniment to autumn’s darkening nights. As we close the curtains on the outside world to find peace with our inner thoughts, the band’s lustrous ballad may be an ode to loneliness, but it also acts as a warming reminder that the sun will rise again. 

Craig Howieson

Broken Records – You Won’t Be There (Lyric Video)

Frankie Morrow – Cruel

‘Cruel’ continues Frankie Morrow’s journey from folk to pulsating rock with nuanced layers. It’s a song that offers rewards on repeated listens, and if you have the phrase ‘cry wolf’ stuck in your head, blame this lot. Lead singer Maz is as beguiling on record as she is on stage, with the vocal delivery as catchy as the flu season that will be rapidly rolling around to the Central Belt soon enough.

Andy Reilly


LongLonglist collated by Lara Delmage. Additional thoughts and words across all reviews by Kenny Lavelle & Louise Holland

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