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2013 in review: artists and Crawlspace editors

Welcome to the Crawlspace 2013 in review. Similar to last year, we don’t have a list. Instead, we’ve compiled a series of reflections and lists from contributors and artists. The list of contributors is not exhaustive, but we hope you enjoy what is here.

Because it’s an unwieldy length we’ve split the article into a page per contributor in order to prevent your computer from crashing. It is not a cynical grab for clicks. See the contents section below and click from there, or read them in order with the page number links at the bottom of the page. Thanks to everyone who contributed and thanks for reading. See you next year.

Contents:

Introduction by Shaun Prescott

Brainbeau’s Kat Martian
Circular Keys’ Dennis Santiago
Max Easton
Lawson Fletcher
Lawrence English
Fatti Frances’ Raquel Solier
Flat Fix’s Cooper Bowman
Love Chants’ Anthony Guerra
Four Door’s Matthew Hopkins
The Friendsters’ Roberta Stewart
Gardland’s Mark Smith
Half High’s Lucy Cliche
Housewives’ Lincoln Brown
Kitchen’s Floor’s Matt Kennedy
Melodie Nelson / The Singing Skies’ Lia Tsamoglou and Kell Derrig-Hall
The Native Cats’ Peter Escott
RIP Society’s Nic Warnock
Rule of Thirds’ Freya Zaknich
School Girl Report’s Samuel Miers
Standish / Carlyon’s Conrad Standish
Video Ezy’s Del Lumanta
Thomas William

Introduction

Having the opportunity to list a series of records and songs in a specific order is an indulgence that a lot of people who write about music look forward to. The reason for this is because it probably feels, to them, as if they’re sealing the cap on the year and what it meant. For some people it’s important for a year to mean something specific, but I don’t think this year meant anything in particular. It was a horrible year by some measures and a tolerable year by others.

This is the nature of every single year that has ever come to pass. Maybe remarkable things happened which musicians and songs were involved in, or maybe things happened which musicians and songs inadvertently or purposely reflected or represented. But it’s never guaranteed, and nothing is broadly true on these terms.

During the course of this year it became obvious to me that music doesn’t operate in the manner I previously expected it to, as someone who enjoys writing about music. There were definitely occasions when other music writers sought to attach a particular sound or artist to a mood purportedly specific to 2013, but none of this applies to any of the music I care about. Music is not a story or a timeline. It’s easy to expect that it is, because that’s how music has been packaged for longer than many of us have lived. In its most potent form, popular music is definitely something which has come to pass. It is definitely something which was once very important but is not so much anymore.

The music I like is never going to be considered a crucial part of an era, because it simply does not reach enough people, and when it does people just write pithy lists about it on the internet. This definitely annoys me. But when I’m sober I know it doesn’t matter, and I’m especially adamant that history and music need not be so intertwined. Popular music is diseased by this belief that it must be considered important to thousands of people at the same time. This is the opposite of the truth.

For example, when I listen to the Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys record, my instinct is to apply the logic of these songs and their lyrics to the difficulty of balancing certain innate instincts of mine with the pressures of what others seem to expect of me. This is a theme I expect many people will identify in this record. It seems to me impossible that no one should feel the same way, and yet the reason this record meant a lot to me is not scientific. It is an accident. If I had not seen this band play in various venues in my hometown I would not have given them a second thought. In fact I would have ignored them because they have a stupid name and I’m normally a very serious person.

To me, and maybe several hundred others, a band called Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys perfectly captured what it’s like to live in Australia’s largest city in 2013.

By contrast, the reason Teen Ax’s cassette Useless was one of my favourite recordings of this year is not something I could ever hope to share with anyone else. There was a point in 2013 when I felt this city was especially ugly and this record seemed to agree with me. I was horribly depressed. It might not have been a healthy relationship but it was one that I established anyway. Now I know this record very intimately, and I cannot help but bundle it with the Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys record even though one is a rock ‘n roll record and the other is a harsh noise tape. I could write at length about why they’re similar and maybe I will one day, but it would take a very long time.

Then there are the records by Lakes and Angel Eyes which I cannot turn into a story. I cannot rationalise their appeal. I listened to the Lakes and Angel Eyes records repeatedly – almost daily – during 2013, and yet neither mean something that I can articulate. I feel like records like this are the closest I will ever get to spirituality, where the logic is innately understood and there’s no desire to question. I have a lot of fun thinking about music but I’ve never achieved very much trying to think about the music of Lakes or Angel Eyes, but I love them both.

All of the above may sound like I’m trying to discredit the act of thinking critically about music, but that’s definitely not what I want to do. Thinking critically about music is important but above all else it is fun. When I listened to albums by Gardland and Standish/Carlyon this year, I enjoyed them as much for what they helped me imagine and anticipate and question as much as the way they sounded and the way they made me feel.

I’ve always rooted for progress and pushing the envelope. I seek it everywhere, and it’s probably because I live a very common life. I go to work, then I write of an evening, then I play video games, then I read books and then I get drunk at the weekend. I rarely do anything other than these things.

I still value moments when I hear something that shocks me, but in 2013 I saw a band called Woollen Kits at a pub in Melbourne and it put so many things into perspective. I just want there to be something at stake. I know that sounds like a silly thing to say in relation to a charming guitar pop band like Woollen Kits, but this show was so unexpectedly bracing and beautiful and meaningful to me. None of these three feelings are mandatory but each was offered with the power of several tonnes of brick on this night, and it shocked me.

 That’s what’s interesting to me. It’s not interesting to me why these bands – which very few people in the world listen to – are ‘important’, but why they are capable. Why does their music have this power. That’s interesting. That’s what I think is important to talk about. Every other framework or formula we have to assess the worth of music seems utterly meaningless right now. How can music make us feel strongly in any way at a time when we seem to be encouraged to simply ask how it will properly represent us, at our age, at this time.

The album I listened to and enjoyed the most in 2013, from 2013, is Angel Eyes’ Final Fare, and I still haven’t figured out why. I wrote about it in February and I’m embarrassed. I’d remove it from this website for the sake of my dignity but that would seem dishonest.

Then there are all the records and songs I never got to write about, and then there are all the records and songs I didn’t even hear.

Overall, Pet Shop Boys is my favourite band of 2013.

Wonderfuls’ Salty Town was my other favourite album of the year, but it was my favourite album in 2012 too.

That’s all I have to say on this matter.

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2 thoughts on “2013 in review: artists and Crawlspace editors

  1. Philippe says:

    This sounds insanely sappy, but just want to say that I’ve enjoyed reading Crawlspace so much this year. This post tops it off too.

    All the best in bringing writing about more eclectic music in 2014.

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