Texas / K T Tunstall / El Presidente, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

It speaks volumes for the strength of Scottish music in the past year that the organisers of Edinburgh's by now firmly established Hogmanay Street Party were able to fill the bill across two stages almost entirely with big-name homegrown acts, most of whom either made their debut or consolidated their position within the UK music scene substantially in 2005.

The nation's recent tendency for producing somewhat bland radio singers was thrown into focus, at least in terms of the main stage acts. The newly established second stage of the New Year's Eve mini-festival, outside Waverley station, showcased the slightly more obscure acts, with the 2005 Mercury Music Prize nominees Hard-Fi representing the only major non-Scots band, alongside Glasgow's Sons and Daughters.

This gothic country-rock quartet - who released their second album, The Repulsion Box, on Domino last summer, which is also the home of their friends and sometime tourmates Franz Ferdinand - were perhaps the biggest reason for more alternative-minded concert-goers to get excited, although the slightly contrived but still punchy blend of ska and anthemic guitar rock offered by Hard-Fi meant that this stage was a more credible alternative to what was happening in Princes Street Gardens' nearby main arena.

Although their presence on the recent John Peel tribute cover of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen In Love" was mystifying, in terms of their commercial style clashing with Peel's alternative slant, El Presidente make all the right moves required of larger-than-life rock idols.

The Glasgow-born lead singer Dante Gizzi's self-styling as the figurehead of his own fictional banana republic complements the mutely stylish poses thrown by his backing group, although the music is a hook-filled throwback to Gun, Gizzi's former band.

In contrast, Hard-Fi's fellow Mercury nominee KT Tunstall is someone who promised huge amounts at the start of her career, yet who has seen her critical reputation slip in comparison with her stratospheric commercial rise.

That, prior to "Suddenly I See", she described this gig as "the very big cherry on top of my year", was acknowledgement of her well-earned success. That she was wearing a photographer-friendly sequinned Saltire dress was testament to the fact she's played the game to get it.

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