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A Reader's Digest: The Best Of The Quietus In 2011
Luke Turner , December 24th, 2011 05:33

Bored of the shite Christmas telly and the droning of relations? Well we've compiled some of our favourite Quietus articles over the past year. Get stuck into the seconds below

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January

The year began with us pointing out exactly why annual tipster lists are a load of rubbish, using Viva Brother as the whipping boys. Now in December, we're glad to have been proved right - though an email that arrived yesterday with the subject "Watch The In-Your-Face Grit-Pop of Viva Brother" suggests that our American friends are the next to be subjected to their embarrassing, shabby indie. At the same time, Luke Turner pointed out why that perennial GUITAR MUSIC IS DEAD feature is plain daft. John Doran talked to Mark E Smith about the This Nation's Saving Grace reissue. Ben Hewitt sat down with the lady whose new album was to dominate the rest of the year, PJ Harvey, British Sea Power discussed Valhalla Dancehall, and Mr Cee Lo Green himself told us all about his favourite albums.

February

Joe Muggs and Rory Gibb had a fascinating and prescient debate on the rise of mainstream dubstep. David McKenna started the brilliant Rockfort column looking at the best of French music, while up in Perth writer Ian Rankin and Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite talked about Scottish identity. We spoke to Dennis Bovell, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, The Human League, and soundtrack composer Clint Mansell. There was a dive behind the hits to look at the lesser known music of the White Stripes and, with a more modernist bent, we chatted with Ben UFO and Kevin Martin. Noel Gardner delivered a Noel's Straight Hedge column on the best in punk rock and hardcore. John Doran reviewed PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, and managed to realise a lifelong ambition by seeing it quoted in Private Eye's Pseud's Corner.

March

Neil Kulkarni started An Eastern Spring, his series about life growing up in Coventry as a second-generation immigrant, you can read them all here. We played war correspondent Kate Adie Ten Songs and asked her what she thought, as well as discussing her life and work. We also interviewed Tony Cook, Kode9 and Spaceape, Duran Duran, Shackleton, and talked to Carl Craig about the history of Planet E. Zoe Howe interviewed Poly Styrene shortly before her death from cancer. We looked back at the NME's famous C86 cassette, explored Radiohead beyond the hits, and Youth of Killing Joke told us about his favourite albums. Tyler The Creator's album was a tediously-offensive disappointment, but thankfully he's just a part of the package - see our Strange & Frightening World of Odd Future. Oh, and The Strokes released another of their crap albums.

April

Daniel Barrow got stuck into the very matter that music is made of with this fascinating and much-debated piece on 'The Soar'. John Doran looked at the matter that music is delivered on, and wrote this humdinger about his love of vinyl for Record Store Day. Speaking of love for records, Erasure's Andy Bell told us about his favourite 13. Battles discussed the troubled birth of their Gloss Drop album, and we also interviewed others including Alexander Tucker, Cornershop and Adrian Sherwood on his wonderful On-U Sound label. Scott McKeating took the helm of the Rum Music column of sounds from the outer reaches.

May

Leo Chadburn examined the enduring appeal of Steve Reich and carried out this interview with the minimalist composer. Robin Turner talked Welsh roots with Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, Stuart Lee spoke eloquently about his favourite albums, and Moby was remarkably frank in an interview with Stephen Dalton. Luke visited Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti's home and studio in Norfolk for an inspiring conversation about their work from Throbbing Gristle to the present day. New Quietus staffer Rory Gibb began his Hyperspecific column, essential reading for all those curious about electronic music. The month ended, though, with Wyndham Wallace's phenomenal Black Sky Thinking article called How The Music Industry Is Killing Music & Blaming The Fans. It still stands as the most popular article ever on the Quietus, and remains a provocative read in these unusual times.

June

Radiohead have made much of their independence and move away from traditional music industry structures. Unfortunately, they haven't always got this right, as novelist Ian Rankin found when his vinyl edition of King Of Limbs didn't arrive in the post. In a guest article for the Quietus, Rankin explained why this had damaged his love for the band. Aidan Moffat also penned a guest piece taking a very literal look at the lyrics of Adele's 'Someone Like You'. Given that she's sold 453,432,646 LPs this year it's probable Adele isn't fussed. Some of her fans, though, would probably like to shoot off Aidan's toe. Dixie Dave of Weedeater didn't need a nutter from the internet, though. As he told Toby Cook, all you need to do is attempt to clean your guns after smoking a massive bong. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips talked about the insanity that led to The Soft Bulletin and excitedly ran through a bonkers list of his favourite albums. We talked to Paul McCartney about his groundbreaking McCartney II, John Doran explored the back catalogue of Queen as if it were the King James bible; Luke Turner wrote a very personal account of his love of Suede and the bold Jamie Thomson wrote a diary about the knackering feat of cycling from London to the Roadburn festival in the Netherlands.

July

July in music news was dominated by the tragic early demise of Amy Winehouse, with Alex Macpherson penning this fitting tribute. 2011 marked the timely return of Pulp, which Neil Kulkarni discovered could not be ruined even by the mediocrity of the corporate hell of the Wireless festival. Robin Turner discussed the folly of the Grand Project with Iain Sinclair, while Luke Turner flew to a land of the midnight sun to discuss the incredibly grand project that was Bjork's Biophilia with the Icelandic star. John spoke to Alan Moore about Dodgem Logic and The Charlatans' Tim Burgess enthused about Lawrence and Felt. Finally, regular visitor to Norway Wyndham Wallace paid a moving tribute to that country after the horrific murders committed by Anders Breivik.

August

The month began with violence on the Quietus' doorstep as riots erupted in Hackney. Luke Turner wrote this report of what happened just at the end of his road. Robin 'Scanner' Rimbaud gave us an intriguing tale of a run-in with the phone hackers of the News Of The World. More cheerfully, the wonderful Dolly Parton talked about music, the Lord and avoiding a big breast-induced bad back, and we looked at the tenth birthday of the dubstep night, FWD>>. And of course we had a great Saturday in the presence of Omar Souleyman, Konono No.1, Toy and Faust at the Quietus Village Mentality stage at the Field Day Festival.

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September

Nick Southall looked at why EVERYTHING SOUNDS SO DAMN LOUD these days in a studious piece on dynamic range mastering. Angus Finlayson, a young gentleman, pointed out to us old farts why the hugely successful Boiler Room is Top Of The Pops for the UStream generation. Taylor Parkes penned a typically brilliant article on Half Man Half Biscuit. Actually, just read all of Taylor's writing here. Neil Kulkarni began his A New Nineties series that looks at some of the records obscured by the big red white and blue fart of Cool Britannia. We also interviewed queen of the bottom-of-the-swimming-pool sound Maria Minerva. Angus Batey started looking back at some of the great LPs of 90s hip hop with this piece on Ice Cube's Death Certificate.

October

Billy Bragg talked to us about Occupy and the future of the Left. We also ran extracts from a new book about David Bowie, cocaine and the occult, and brought together London dandy Dickon Edwards and Turbonegro's English gent Tony Sylvester for a conversation about men's style. John experienced Walls' new album Coracle in a floatation tank, we spoke to Leyland 'Caretaker' Kirby about his life and work so far and John Calvert made a stout defence of the much-maligned Lana Del Rey. John Freeman did an interview with Throwing Muses, and on the sterner side of things Rory Gibb discovered William Bennett's love of African music, explored in the Whitehouse man's Cut Hands project. And for something completely different, Noel Gallagher told us about his favourite albums.

November

Some big interviews this month as Jude Rogers gave Michael Stipe an REM exit interview and John Doran spoke to Kate Bush. Kevin E.G. Perry went to Manchester for a couple of drinks and a chat with Mark E Smith, who had some kind words to say about this website. Angus Finlayson explored misogyny in dance music in an article that provoked huge debate on the Quietus and elsewhere. David Stubbs struck a similarly righteous blow against unpleasant bellendery with this article about the trouble with sniggering 'comedian' Ricky Gervais. Julian Marszalek examined the history of The Jesus & Mary Chain's Psychocandy, Russell Cuzner looked at The Strange & Frightening World of Coil. Other interviews in November included: Frank Ocean, Mike Patton, Bass Clef, Jean-Claude Vannier, The Sisters of Mercy and Steve Ignorant of Crass on saving lives with the Sea Palling lifeboat. Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin told us his 13 Favourite Albums, as did Luke Haines.

December

PJ Harvey topped our annual entirely subjective and completely undemocratic LPs of the year poll, with Throbbing Gristle dominating the reissues and other stuff list. Read John Doran's feature-length appraisal of Throbbing Gristle's back catalogue here. December is also always the month when we started to look back at the year just gone with our annual series of Wreath Lectures. This year, they explored the fractured nature of contemporary culture, why retromania might be a thing of the past, developments in digital technology, false folk and Cameron's Big Society and evolutions in electronic music.

And - deep breath - that's about it. See you all for more unholy noise and righteousness in 2012.

Thanks for reading

Luke, John and Rory

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A Reader Writes:
Dec 24, 2011 11:12am

Great year - you are way ahead of the competition, whether online or in print.

Enjoy a well earned break - 2012 should be the best yet.

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Dec 24, 2011 11:39am

'Stuart Lee'?

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Dec 24, 2011 1:31pm

Sam Herlihy!?!?

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Tindrum1
Dec 26, 2011 6:34am

'Sam Herlihy , July 29th, 2011 09:13' My Favourite of the year. Thanks all

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J M
Dec 26, 2011 3:01pm

Since first coming acorss it in August of this year, this has quickly become my favourite website. I check it daily, you write some of the most interesting articles I've ever read and have introduced me to tonnes of great artists I didn't listen to before, like arabrot, wolves in the throne room, kuedo, perc and loads more.
Only two things could improve the site. 1) A mix in your (admittedly already great mix series) from Hayden Thorpe/ Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts.
2) A metal mix, also as part of the mix series. Would be nice to hear some fresh new metal, the only good stuff i've heard this year has been from mastodon, orange goblin, arabrot and liturgy. Peace.

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S S Sandhu
Dec 26, 2011 9:49pm

It's great that you've flagged up David McKenna's terrific Rockfort column; I really hope it continues in 2012. It's especially valuable since, if you scan most of the Best of 2011 columns floating around on the web, it'd be easy to think only British and American bands make pop music. If The Quietus could also have regular columns highlighting interesting sounds coming out of Germany and Sweden and Japan and Argentina and Egypt and, well, any number of other countries, you'd be providing a crucial service and doing all of us a massive favour. Who knows, maybe like The Guardian's international football coverage, you might tap into (as well as create) audiences that few people thought existed.

Anyway, thanks David McKenna and thanks Quietus. And happy holidays!

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John Doran
Dec 27, 2011 9:25am

In reply to J M:

Thanks very much. We have a mix from Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson of SunnO)))/Khanate/Southern Lord/Thorr's Hammer etc coming up in January.

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John Doran
Dec 27, 2011 9:27am

In reply to Tindrum1:

Come On Fry Young is a very good call. We didn't include any of our ongoing regular columns including this and Sonic Router etc. But they are top, you're right.

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J M
Dec 27, 2011 11:05am

In reply to John Doran:

Excellent stuff! I look forward to hearing it.

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