Quietus Tracks Of The Year 2021

These are our favourite ABCs and RLSAGs of the last 12 months. (Anthems, Bangers, Classics & Really Long Songs About Geese)

Thoroughly Breds Again by Lisa Cradduck

Recently the remorselessly nostalgic Memory feature on Facebook presented me with a photograph from November 2008. I’m sitting at the head of a table in the kitchen of a North London house share. I’m in full-on long hair, berserker beard and Slayer T-shirt mode brandishing a ladle in one hand, and throwing the then ubiquitous doom claw with the other. I’m in front of a table overladen with food. (A vat of chipotle and dark chocolate chilli, kedgeree-style baked rice, fresh guacamole, salsa, patatas bravas and ceviche if you must know.) Luke and I had pooled our meagre resources to cook for everyone we knew who was in the periphery of fledgling independent website the Quietus.

The food was prepared for about 50 people all in all – probably about a quarter of the people worldwide who had actually heard of our website! The people packed into my kitchen were our small team of London-based writers – most of them, like Luke and I, unpaid – some people we knew from our local pub the Mucky Pup, the future lead singer of Turbo Negro and all of Teeth Of The Sea. I’d only just given up drinking a few months earlier and it was my first social event since taking the pledge. I actually remember it being a bit of a nightmare pouring away very tempting looking half drunk bottles of wine and cans of lager later after everyone had stumbled out into the night. Despite being sober, my reputation was still so low that three separate people assumed that the Maldon smoked sea salt I’d left on the table was actually a communal bowl of MDMA crystals.

I can’t remember exactly why we held the meal but I’m guessing we were trying to enthuse people about the Quietus project, which was little more than an inexpertly assembled digital fanzine put together by people whose enthusiasm and need for the project outstripped their ability. I’m not here to throw shade at our own early years: our learning curve was incredibly steep and within months of us cooking that meal we were throwing out world standard articles (every now and then) way before we had an office, or equipment or even a pay packet.

Seeing the photograph made me smile and reminded me that I wanted to say thanks to everyone who reads the site but especially to those who have been with us for a long time and have shown great patience with us while we honed our skills on the job. Also it reminded me that my use of social media isn’t a binary thing. I spend a lot of time thinking dark, borderline unconscionable, thoughts about Facebook, but then I also have to acknowledge that it does have its uses.

I feel the same way about streaming services such as Spotify. While we could make the token gesture of refusing to use or even recognise any streaming services (an attitude I genuinely understand), it’s clear that this means of consuming music isn’t going anywhere soon. With this in mind I’m in the middle of commissioning a series of features on the future of streaming, about how it can become more equitable and environmentally sustainable for everyone involved. So while there may be a Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music playlist of our tracks of the year chart below, this ultimately doesn’t benefit anyone as much as buying directly from the artists or labels themselves. So if any of these tracks leap out at you – especially if they’re by a relatively small independent act such as Bulbils or ZULI or Caroline or Loraine James or UNiiQU3 or aya and so on – please click through to their Bandcamp page and drop them a couple of quid. (In the case of Bulbils’ 37-minute long ‘The Journey Of The Canada Goose’, you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.)

Anyway, I want to say thanks, once more, for reading: now, more than ever, it means a great deal to Luke and I. Have a wonderful Christmas whatever you’re doing; if you feel isolated or lonely right now, hang on in there, things are going to improve next year; and do have a peaceful new year.

And would you look at that! I got the whole way through speaking to you without mentioning that our seasonal one third off a Sound & Vision subscription to the Quietus offer still has three days left to run… d’oh!

John Doran

This chart was compiled by John Doran and built by Patrick Clarke and Christian Eede. Ballots were taken from Robert Barry, Jaša Bužinel, Patrick Clarke, John Doran, Christian Eede, Ella Kemp, David McKenna, Luke Turner and Daryl Worthington

The Quietus Tracks Of The Year 2021

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