Aztec Camera

‘Walk out to Winter’ or ‘three cheers for British winters’

Roddy Frame/Aztec Camera

This is the time for the Christmas song. There are many diehards that have had their fingers just itching to press the play button of the Christmas radio station even weeks before Thanksgiving. Makes enough sense, but the endless barrage of the holiday tune is a bit much to take at times (how much can you listen to that Mariah one – really).

While the Christmas spirit is very lovely, it is a total loss to ignore anything else that is equally as beautiful at this time of the month – the winter song.

Winters in Britain are completely unlike the ones I survived as a kid in Wisconsin. There’s certainly a lot less snow for one thing, and it’s quite a lot warmer in England. But there’s something in the air here that doesn’t exist in a tumultuous Midwestern winter – the damp. Despite being moderate pretty much all winter there’s this terrible dampness that I believe has lead me to procure some of the worst colds of my life. Even our food gets damp.

Somehow, this is charming. Everything can be charming when you’re an expat!

There is one song, though, that captures the mood of both winters to me: one scene filled with several feet of snow that shines endlessly in the sun and the other a dark and damp cozy place with simmering rain. That song is Aztec Camera’s jangle pop track ‘Walk Out to Winter’ from his 1983 debut album High Land, Hard Rain.

The sound is something truly great in this song – so light and shiny that is feels of winter. The lightness of the chords just gleam off the guitar (in a figurative way, I think). Johnny Marr has been quote admitting that after hearing ‘Walk Out to Winter’ he was jealous of Roddy Frame’s jangle pop guitar, so he wrote ‘This Charming Man’ – which is arguably one of the Smith’s best tracks ever written.

The video, of course, is impossibly twee like much of what came out of Scotland at the time. Where Scottish Roddy Frame runs amok on a beach and fun fair while being pursued by a rather elusive older woman. Personally, I believe that the album version is superior to the single but there is plenty of charm in each.

Long live the Winter song! There’s plenty of room for both, especially if anyone is feeling a bit fatigued in even the most cheeriest of times.

Great Scot!


Today is the day Scotland votes on their independence referendum. Whether they decide to stay or go, the love for Scotland outside of Scotland still remains. They are fantastic people with a country that could make anyone envious. It is a place that captures the love of most who go through their borders. Edinburgh, outside of London, remains my favourite city in the entire world. It is the country that has produced some of the greatest post-punk and indie bands this side of 1978.

So here’s to Scotland. Whatever the decision, you’ll always be an envy. And these are the bands that prove it:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Aztec Camera: Roddy Frame’s lovely jangle-pop outfit has a catalogue filled with deliciously sweet pop singles (“Walk Out to Winter” and “All I need is Everything”). Originally on the infamous Postcard Records, Frame moved on to Rough Trade and WEA to release a solid set of albums. it was Frame’s guitar work that made a certain Johnny Marr jealous enough to write the guitar line to “This Charming Man”.
  2. Orange Juice:
  3. The band that gave the world Edwyn Collins and a whole slew of fantastic music. Still hailed as Scotland’s greatest export and the band that kept Postcard Records alive – if only for a while.

  4. Josef K:
  5. One of the first bands to prove that Scottish post-punk was going to be a force for the coming decades. Their only album, The Fun in Town, is a classic with some of the most influential sounds.

  6. Belle & Sebastian:
  7. Stuart Murdoch and clan have been the most consistent band of the last three decades. Eight albums, many very solid and more than a handful are greats, and they are still one of contemporary music’s most interesting bands. Twee: how Scottish music should be.

  8. Primal Scream:
  9. Blur and Oasis can get all crowns they want – Bobby’s Primal Scream created the best dance music of the 90’s. People in clubs still throw their hands in the air to sing “MY LIGHT SHINES OOOOON!” Anthems worth keeping around that would make any Scot proud.

  10. The Wake:
  11. A band that is often tragically over-looked. Ethereal and bright, the Glaswegians are, thankfully, reformed and still producing music. Their vast collection of singles are well worth checking out for those not yet attending the wake.