What records even came out in 2021? Did any? Did I just spend the entire year playing indie rock from 1999 as a coping strategy? Is Feeder’s Yesterday Went Too Soon actually the dark horse album of 2021? I could just abruptly end this post right here. While this year’s list required a lot more basic research to get the neurons firing, I do feel pretty good about the outcome.
2020, right? For its second year, No Magic just about endured the loss of live studio guests, and I still managed to play 1100 tracks and host 44 new shows. Musically, the trend this year was to play a lot more older tracks: Nostalgia and the familiar made for vital comfort in trying times. All the same, the show still featured 12 brand new albums.
It’s traditional at BFF.fm to publish an annual retrospective at the start of each new year. At the start of 2020, for whatever reasons around travelling and getting a bit lost in the writing (as you’ll see), I had only finished half the post. In the time since… well, what is time, anymore, anyway? While it feels slightly absurd to share a “Best of the year 2019” post now, seven-hundred-thousand lifetimes later, in very, very, very late March 2020 (ahem), the fact is that I still care a lot about these records — and about No Magic. I keep coming back, trying to finish this white whale of a blog post. I’d kinda like to get it out before I have to start thinking about the next one.
Here we go again. In 2018 the Eclectic Kettle playlist spanned 1073 tracks. As we went through the emotional rollercoaster of compiling the final episode, pulling some of our favourite tracks we’d ever played, I feel really good about how our show ended up sounding. Now, with that final Christmas Day broadcast edited and cued up, just time for one more “Parboiled…” post for me to reflect on our final year.
At Christmas last year, I left my job at Twitter after seven years. A month in, I got the first instinct to write about one sliver of the real-time society in contrast to my newfound sense of space. (It took a little while to edit it for publication.)
In 2017, Simon, myself and a gleeful bevy of guests played 981 pieces of music on Eclectic Kettle. As always, the annual traditional distilling to just five tracks makes for a slightly absurd proposition. But with the consternation and relentless trial of a year tainted by violence, sex crimes and the smear of tanning spray, there must be some satisfaction in noting its end. There was great music, so at least we’ll take that with us to the next one.
A “Top 5” then? As I look over those last two shows of the year and try to think which of those records I would insist on taking with me to the next place it’s not terribly easy. But here are five that if you come here from space, or the past (or the future, Doctor) you might think that 2015 was a pretty solid year for this strange Earth-magic we call music