HERE’S hoping we never see another year like 2020 – utter crap.

Sure, alright, it started off well with the usual gigs, tremendous new releases and the promise of another amazing festival season.

Then the baw burst.

While the months that followed were undoubtedly painful for musicians and their fans, there is a certain pride among the Scottish scene for the output through lockdown.

Some have emerged from the shadows of the pandemic; others have relished the opportunity to write again. In any case, it has been transformative.

In the wake of such defiance lies the promise of vibrant 2021 for all concerned. We lie in wait for the day the gig doors open once again and for the next batch of Scottish stars to arise.

Below is The Weekender’s list of acts tipped to make strides in the new year. Whether that means their first gigs, debut albums or taking over the festival scene as one of the hottest bands in the UK – progress is at the forefront.

The 21 for 2021… Complete with the act’s major milestones this year and what we hope to see from them in the future.


Cara Rose – The Queen of the Ballad

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Cara Rose released her Urges EP in 2020Cara Rose released her Urges EP in 2020

A tonic for dry eyes, Cara Rose is one of Scotland’s most talented.  Though beginning to gain some of the recognition she is due, it is nowhere near what she deserves.  A raw magnetism that lures the ear of a many a fan, bridging a range of genres. Primed to take over.

Best of 2020 – Five masterful tracks in the form of the Urges EP.

Hopes for 2021 – A follow-up EP and few key festival dates.


Tamzene – The Spark to Light the Fire

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Tamzene unveiled a tremendous EP in 2020Tamzene unveiled a tremendous EP in 2020

No doubt, 2020 came with a reckless dose of dread and woe. However, and we’re sure we are not alone in this, one thing that got us through it was Tamzene’s EP intro. It is littered with heart-wrenching emotion and a pain all too real to most. Sadly, the EP is no longer available to stream. But it is hoped the Cromarty singer will be back in 2021 with something completely different. If so, we’d expect her work to pave the way for dozens more next year.

Best of 2020 – The now lost Intro EP, lead single Best of Me and hidden gem accidentally told you (demo)

Hopes for 2021 – Some new releases (ideally an EP/album) and some live dates.


Shambolics – The Kings of Fife

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Shambolics recently held a live-stream for Kirkcaldy foodbankShambolics recently held a live-stream for Kirkcaldy foodbank

If you haven’t heard, you haven’t been listening. Shambolics are going to put Fife back on the map in a big way next year. They most definitely fit into the would-have-been-huge-by-now-had-it-not-been-for-the-Rona category. Their recent live-stream show gives a serious glimpse at their potential, so fingers crossed for their shows in April.

Best from 2020 – A sold-out show at St Luke’s, the lockdown covers, and re-release of Love Collides.

Hopes for 2021 – A UK tour and a release of A Council State of Mind are musts, but single with drummer Jake Bain on vocals would be a real bonus.


Dead Pony – The Riffmongers of Glasgow

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It can be a real pleasure to watch a band pick up momentum; to see them master a recipe that fits their identity. Covid or not, 2020 was always going to be a huge year for Dead Pony – it started with a name change and included a three-track release plan. With a middle-finger to the pandemic, they stuck to their plan and it paid off big time.  If they can maintain their upward motion into 2021, the sky is the limit.

Best from 2020 – It’s surely Everything is Easy…or Sharp Tongues…Orrr maybe 12, Never Me. Come back to me.

Hopes for 2021 – Got to hope a Dead Pony EP is on the cards. I’m very curious to see the range of tracks they have up their sleeves.


DictatorThe Best Bet for a Breakthrough Year

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Dictator are moving on to big things in 2021Dictator are moving on to big things in 2021

There was a point during lockdown when we stumbled upon a live video from Dictator on Instagram… After only a few minutes it seemed obvious to me that this was a band going places. Hailing from the fertile hunting ground of West Lothian, this is a band that has only started to scratch the surface of their potential. We are fully expecting a few top headline slots to kick the year off, but once this band returns to the stage in 2021, they WILL take over.

Best from 2020 – Stealing the show from Sam’s Night and THAT intro from Days Gone By.

Hopes for 2021 – Must be on the big-bands’ radar for support, but a few sold-out headline shows are certainly on the agenda.


Joshua Grant – The Darling of the Capital

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Joshua Grant charted with his single Edinburgh earlier this yearJoshua Grant charted with his single Edinburgh earlier this year

When you consider the singer-songwriter shot up the charts with his track Edinburgh earlier this year, it’s no surprise Joshua Grant is tipped to knock some heads in 2021.  The track might be his vanguard, but there are so much more to the young man who finished off the year in fine form with Lay Me Down. A support slot of White Novels in September awaits, but I’m fully anticipating a headline gig in either Glasgow or Edinburgh to go ahead.

Best from 2020 – Charting with Edinburgh and a fine showing at Sam’s Night.

Hopes for 2021 – A few live shows will be a priority but could end the year with a few new singles or maybe even an EP.


Luke La Volpe An Unstoppable Force

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Luke La Volpe is on the cusp of something greatLuke La Volpe is on the cusp of something great

If you see a “tipped for 2021” list without Luke La Volpe on it… then there’s something amiss.  Too seldom do we find an artist that has a level of substance and style as The West Lothian Fox. Recording his stunning Terribly Beautiful EP in his bedroom during lockdown and only served to underline the man’s potential. An act for the festival main stage in no time. His rise is simply inevitable…time will prove us all so very right.

Best of 2020 – The three tracks from Terribly Beautiful are immense, but the full-band treatment of Dead Man’s Blues might just edge it.

Hopes for 2021 – Another EP would spoil us, but the fingers and toes are crossed.


Primes – The Criminally Underrated

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Primes have been prolific over the yearsPrimes have been prolific over the years

Someone needs to explain why Primes haven’t “made it” by now. It’s something that I’ve struggled to address over the last 12 months – it makes no sense. The Falkirk three-piece is everything you could want from a band and have hooks for days. They are simply prolific, having released their 9th track this year. I’m expecting nothing more the same over the next 12 months.

Best from 2020 – Shangri-La might just have sneaked it, but their acoustic versions of Nine Lives and Moment are absolute gems.

Hopes for 2021 – The stage was set for a hometown headliner: A sell-out in Falkirk is a must.


Rachel Jack – A Singer Re-Born

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Rachel Jack launched a new sound in 2020Rachel Jack launched a new sound in 2020

We all heard the Calgary Tapes and could see the talent Rachel Jack had at her disposal. When it transpired that she was moving into electro-pop territory with her follow-up singles, my initial thought was: ‘Ohhh, that’s interesting.’  The singer did not disappoint either as she unveiled two tracks before year’s end, making us all just a little bit excited for what it is to come.

Best from 2020 – The Calgary Tapes is a fine EP, but the new sound from Jack – in the form of Magazine Girls and For You – is terribly enticing.

Hopes for 2021 – Surely, given the singer’s prolific nature, we will see a new EP. At least, we hope…


The Rah’sPotential Realised

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: The Rah's released The Time is Now in 2020The Rah's released The Time is Now in 2020

They’ve been around for a while now, but it’s pretty clear that Their Time is Now… All the potential is being harnessed and focused under new management and I’d expect to hear a whole lot more from The Rah’s in 2021. The re-release of The Time Is Now is as prophetic as it is welcome.

Best From 2020 – The re-release of The Time Is Now served as a reminder of their potential.

Hopes for 2021 – A return to live shows and some new material – maybe a new EP?


The SnutsThe Next Big Thing

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: The Snuts have sold out three days at The Barrowlands. Image by Gary WilliamsonThe Snuts have sold out three days at The Barrowlands. Image by Gary Williamson

OK, we get it, it’s not very insightful to tip a band for 2021 that are already on the rise – and some rise it is. The Snuts make the list because they are on the cusp of something monumental. Three nights sold out at The Barrowlands in the time in takes me to commute to work… down the stairs… is a major achievement in of itself. But it’s just the beginning. At the end of 2021, we could well be listing The Snuts among the biggest acts in the UK.

Best from 2020 – The Mixtape EP was a game-changer, and the singles that followed weren’t too bad either.

Hopes for 2021 – Though learning to live with the disappointment that Seasons isn’t on W.L., the album will push the band on to their next big steps.


Daytime TV – The Phoenix Prospect

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Daytime TV (formerly Hunter and the Bear)Daytime TV (formerly Hunter and the Bear)

You know them, you do. And if you don’t, you will. It is certainly the case that 2020 has been transformative – some more than others. To that end rose Daytime TV, after shedding their former moniker of Hunter and the Bear. The latter already had an album to its name and a follow-up planned. Their last single Digital Light was an intriguing taste of things to come. Expecting the train to rumble on in any case, no matter what it’s called.

Best from 2020 – Digital Light was a tremendous single that would have kicked the band on had it not been for Covid.

Hopes for 2021 – A UK tour is already the cards… will that second album drop at some point?


Jamie Pollock – Patience Personified

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Jamie Pollock released two tracks in 2020Jamie Pollock released two tracks in 2020

When he started out on his own more than 12 months, Jamie Pollock wasn’t sure what to expect. But it wasn’t waiting more than a year for his first headline gig. The singer has played on his own, having taken over a slot booked for his old band Vida. He then scheduled his own de facto Jamie Pollock shows, including Tut’s, but then Covid struck. The singer has since signed with new management with new material on the way. It might be a long road but 2021 will be paved with gold for the Alloa man.

Best from 2020 – It’s hard to argue against his debut solo track These Times, but fair mention to When The Sun (Like a Rainbow).

Hopes for 2021 – A headline slot a Tut’s and a new single in January. That’s just the start…


Kieran Fisher and the Reel Movement – Chomping at the Bit

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Kieran Fisher and the Reel Movement. Picture by Bazza MillsKieran Fisher and the Reel Movement. Picture by Bazza Mills

There will be so many in the same boat: The first gig was booked for the spring of 2020, but never realised. This show, set for The Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh, would have been a tremendous show For Kieran Fisher and the Reel Movement. It would have been the first since he moved from singer-songwriter to a full band. It was hotly anticipated. It still is. Fisher is a natural songwriter and will surely reap the benefits of full-band shows when the doors fly open.

Best From 2020 – The debut single from Kieran Fisher and the Reel Movement: When it all Falls into Place. What. A. Track.

Hopes for 2021 – If not The Wee Red Bar, then somewhere. Somewhere must host the first gig. It will sell out.


Cloth – The Prodigious Siblings

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Cloth previously featured in The WeekenderCloth previously featured in The Weekender

Spearheaded by brother and sister duo Rachael and Paul Swinton, Cloth is an exciting band that has already garnered some top-level attention. A nomination for Scottish Album of the Year, with their debut record, is just an indication of their potential – with a follow-up in planning. They will most certainly kick on in 2021 with the release of a second album.

Best from 2020 – A place on the Scottish Album of the Year shortlist

Hopes for 2021 – A second release, whether an EP or album, will be well-received.


The Deep Shining Sea – The Budding Buddies

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: The Deep Shining Sea at Ivory BlacksThe Deep Shining Sea at Ivory Blacks

The Paisley trio took 2020 to prepare. They dropped their debut single and have been steadily working away on new material for a big push next year. Having caught the lads once or twice before, and having heard those tracks, it is clear that 2021 will be massive for the three-piece.

Best from 2020 – The lads’ debut single Girl, There’s Something You Should Know…

Hopes for 2021 – Some more new singles and an EP wouldn’t go a miss.


Lucia & The Best BoysThe Good Girl Who Does Bad Things

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Lucia & The Best BoysLucia & The Best Boys

Some bands can produce and Lucia & The Best Boys are riding that wave. Not one, but two EPs? Both of them outstanding? That’s a level that others can only aspire to. If that productivity can stretch to an album then 2021 will be a momentous year for the band. Another EP would be warmly appreciated as well.

Best from 2020 – Oh, it is a close call, but we might be tempted to go for Eternity over Perfectly Untrue. Might change my mind later.

Hopes for 2021 – Two EPs in 2020? Might be too much to hope for in another EP, but some live shows are mandatory.


The Nickajack Men – A Long-Time Coming

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: The Nickajack Men. Picture by John HowieThe Nickajack Men. Picture by John Howie

It has been two years since the last release from The Nickajack Men. Two long years. The album is ready – recorded in 2019 – and will be a game-changer when it is finally unveiled. Some of the tracks were showcased at Tut’s earlier this year and if they are anything like the rest of the album, it should be well received when it is finally out there.

Best from 2020 – It’s hard not to see past a tremendous sold-out show at King Tut’s in January.

Hopes for 2021 – The album, the album, oh please the album. And another headline show.


The Vegan Leather – The Art-Pop Advocates

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: The Vegan LeatherThe Vegan Leather

Another Paisley outfit on the list, with The Vegan Leather are ones to watch in 2021 for good reason. They left it late in 2020 to release new material, save for the odd remix, but it was worth the wait. Gloaming caught the ear of many, and Sanctum Sound has been putting streams away for fun. It may be too much to ask for a new album next year, but there’s always a hope.

Best from 2020 – Sanctum Sound was something, but Gloaming something else. Not to mention that ground-breaking video.

Hopes for 2021 – A return to live gigs is on the cards, but new releases and a video sequel to Gloaming would work for me.


Be Charlotte – The Singer Who Comes Back to Life

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Be Charlotte. Image By Euan RobertsonBe Charlotte. Image By Euan Robertson

Another one on the list that has already “made it” but that doesn’t mean Be Charlotte won’t be making huge strides in 2021. The Dreaming With the Lights Off EP was a statement of intent and was followed up by two more tremendous singles. I’ll just say it, even though we don’t want to jinx it: We need an album. No pressure, but we do.

Best from 2020 – If we had to pick a single song, it’d be Burning, but Be Charlotte turned out quite a few bangers, in all honesty.

Hopes for 2021 – Like every other act, a return to the stage is a must. But another EP – or possibly that album – would be the icing on the cake.


Dylan John Thomas – The Born Songwriter

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We all know what this lad can do. He is a true craftsman who pains over every facet of his work. That dedication is rewarded in the singles he has put out to date – each crafted to his own high standards. We are fully expecting something big from Dylan John Thomas in the new year. When you consider the care he takes with singles and sonic fabric he weaves, it is thrilling to imagine what a Dylan John Thomas album track sounds like. Of course, we’d settle for an EP.

Best from 2020 – Lost Without was the only release of the year for Thomas

Hopes for 2021 – We suspect that 2021 will be the year of the EP for the singer-songwriter.