As promised/threatened at the tail end of last year, I have decided to follow in the footsteps of the estimable Kid Dynamite by cataloguing my 100 favourite songs of all time (and also by pilfering wholesale his format). I figure if I start now and get a couple done each week then we should hopefully be through it all by 2025, leaving me with a lasting record of all my nonsense, and anyone else who manages to follow along with a plethora of unanswerable questions and varying degrees of musical PTSD.
As a chronic maker of lists, this top 100 has sat on my phone for a while now, but I thought it might be interesting to lay it all out with some thoughts on each tune and maybe a little bit of accompanying autobiog as to why and when each of these 100 love affairs began. I’m afraid I’m not going to follow Kid’s very sensible approach of one pick per artist, but otherwise the – ahem – song remains the same.
If nothing else, it will provide the authorities with valuable psychological profiling material when my many crimes eventually and inevitably come to light. And if further enticement » Continue Reading.
Here we all are again at the awards show at the end of the universe. A peek into the other side of the Afterword, away from all the banjos and beards and whatnot, to a land populated by an insufferable Gen Xer with an inelegant Peter Pan complex and a deeply unfashionable belief that music not only did not reach its zenith in the 70s but has in fact only continued to improve with the passage of time.
If you’d each like to look under your seat, you’ll find a crate of rotten produce to reflect your indignation and a vuvuzela to help drown out the atrocious racket with will shortly emanate from this thread. Those among your number less temperamentally inclined to what we all know lies ahead are advised to seek the nearest exit post haste. Those made of sturdier stuff are advised to buckle up, pour yourself a stiff one and dive on in.
2023 was a year of highs and lows. Lots of parties, lots of laughs, some fabulous days out in fabulous company, but also having to watch friends and family go through tough times, and trying to find the best way to support » Continue Reading.
Around a year ago I wrote this rather over-excited blog post, percolating in characteristically uninhibited and exuberant fashion on a moving experience I had with music at the Coachella festival.
Long story short: I went to Coachella, saw Fred Again and found myself brought, quite without warning, to tears by a potent combination of the joy of being out of lockdown, a large, happy crowd, Fred’s rather gorgeous mental-health-positive House music and (let’s face it) what was probably a little bit of sunstroke. But it was also bittersweet – there was some sadness in there wrought of the two years we’d all just been through, the toll it had taken on a number of people I care about, and – frankly – the shit scariness of those early Covid days.
It was a show that proved to be something of a watershed moment, both for Fred and myself. In the case of the former, it established him as something of a coming force in popular » Continue Reading.
It’s the time of the season when I like to sit down, make a big list of all the year’s best tunes, and then write some stuff about them. And then mercilessly foist it all on you.
2022 was, for me at least, an especially good year for music. I mean, obviously I say that every year because I’m an incurable exuberant, but this year in particular really was very good indeed. As in, it was actually a bit painful getting this down to 20 songs, and a busy December has meant I’ve had to do it in more of a hurry than I’d have liked.
I’ll post the longlist in the comments, in case anyone is interested, but this is where I ended up landing. 20 songs that lifted my heart, nodded my head and put a spring in my step across the year. Hopefully one or two of them may do likewise for at least someone else on here. And if they can’t do that, they can at least confirm a few suspicions as to the ongoing death of music.
1. Free – Bakar
A mid-year discovery that proved an ideal soundtrack to virtually every situation and » Continue Reading.
Nearing, as we are, the end of the calendar year, thoughts begin to turn to the traditional “Best of…” Spotify playlist.
Normally, this is a fairly simple process: I keep a running list of good things I hear during the year, I scan through the “best of” playlists on a few websites in early December to ensure there’s nothing too excellent that I missed, and – sure enough – 20 tracks magically present themselves as the period’s finest.
2022, however, is proving something of an exception. Put simply: my longlist is too long, and I am already struggling to reduce it to the requisite 20 without landing firmly in “kill your darlings” territory (and I rather like my darlings). Plus! There’s still about a month to go.
Obviously, this is good news: lots of exciting new music, which is what we like (right?). But it’s also an awful lot of pressure – as seasoned blog observers will no doubt be aware, my end of year playlist is such a feature of the holiday season that many have come to rely on it in order to maintain the fragile balance of their emotional inner lives. Heavy hangs the head that picks » Continue Reading.
Last week I had the good fortune of attending the final night of Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour, at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. I know there are a few fellow fans on here, so I thought it would be worth a quick write up.
Obviously, Sour was one of the better albums of 2021. 11 tracks and a little under 35 minutes of the precocious Rodrigo tearing her ex boyfriend a new one over a series of pop punk and piano-lead indie tracks, with a sprinkling of songwriting genius and a touching refusal to accept when it was time to stop kicking because the corpse was long since cold. An absolute torrent of rage and accusation, all delivered with a smile. God only knows what it must feel like to be the person who inspired it.
So – first up, the audience. 90%+ female, absolutely crackling with expectation and bedecked with merch way before the show even began. I’ve said before on these pages that, for all the lengthy, obsessive “pieces” and poring over rock minutiae we see on the Afterword, probably no cohort actually “feels” music like teenage girls. This event rather confirmed that notion; they were, quite simply, » Continue Reading.
While on holiday last week I finally picked up and read Elizabeth Goodman’s excellent “Meet Me In The Bathroom”. It’s an account of New York music in the early 2000s, documented in that peculiar format of quotes from individuals arrayed in narrative succession, once so beloved of Q magazine. As such, it’s super easy reading and warmly redolent of the heyday of UK music magazinery.
The book focuses mainly on four acts – The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem and Interpol. That said, it also focuses on a number of others who were either fellow travellers, inspirations or successors; the likes of Jonathan Fire*Eater, The White Stripes, The Rapture, Fischerspooner, TV On The Radio, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Kings of Leon, etc.
It’s a highly enjoyable read, particularly for anyone who was young enough to be excited by at least some of these bands, or certainly anyone who is willing and able to recognise the particular greatness of The Strokes.
The turn of the millennium was obviously a time of great change for the music industry, which makes it fertile ground for a book of this type. It’s interesting to read about the flowering of » Continue Reading.
Music makes life worth living. Music is worth living for.
– Andrew WK
So, I had this amazing experience and I need to write about it somewhere, so I’m going to write about it here.
Basically, I went to the Coachella Festival and, in the middle of a weekend of some quite brilliant music, saw one of the best, or at least most affecting, live performances I can ever recall.
Those who pay close attention to matters Bingo Little may already be aware that I am quite keen on an English DJ and Brian Eno protege named Fred Again. He made a couple of great albums during the pandemic and has been playing shows to rave reviews. Plus, he’s already released Lights Out this year, which is wonderful. Advanced word had him as the do not miss act of the entire festival, so I made it my business to be at the Mojave stage early, and down the front.
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who got the memo, as the crowd stretched right out of the tent and demonstrated a restless energy that unmistakably suggested the expectation of an imminent good time. My assumption was that the show would » Continue Reading.
I don’t play Wordle. I don’t have a direct line into Vladimir Putin’s strategic thinking, or the situation on the ground in Ukraine. I don’t tickle ribs, and I can’t tell you which was Andrew W.K’s mental breakdown album (all of them?).
I do, however, listen to new music. Quite a lot of it. And I’m also reliably, reflexively, irritatingly over-excited about it. So I’m going to share some of that excitement with you here, whether you like it or not.
I don’t have a hook here (maybe “post some new stuff you’re listening to”, I dunno) – I just really like these tunes and wanted to pass them on. So: here you go – further timeless treasures to be cast adrift into the howling, yowling, scowling void.
Go Easy Kid – Megan Martin
This is very nearly recognisable as actual music, with verses, a chorus, a bridge and all that other good stuff. Plus! No one shouting. I am clearly getting old. Lovely voice, James Blake on the keys – a soothing balm in times of trouble.
Jolly good show. Well worth the wait, albeit missing the Tupac hologram.
PS – Video will last 30 seconds before the dashed lawyers get to it, but you can guess what it is.
And why is it this (by an absolute mile)?
Just look at that crowd going absolutely mental. Animals.
It’s that time of the year again!
Or rather, it’s a couple of weeks before that time of the year again. A particularly busy Christmas period in prospect has lead me to conclude that it would be a good idea to go early with the Best of the Year playlist, now traditionally released to the eager response of an audience of narcoleptic crickets. Plus, this has the added bonus of avoiding the single greatest risk to any end of year playlist (per Sewer Robot’s recent post): reading other people’s lists, hearing some great new music and reflexively adding stuff you’ve only heard a handful of times because you’re still in the first flush of love, before bitterly regretting said inclusions in years to come.
As the blog’s hopelessly witless advocate for new music, I’m here to tell you that 2021 has been a tremendous year, each and every month sending forth fresh treats to enchant and delight. There are numerous tracks I was convinced would be mainstays of this list which have fallen away in the final reckoning (how on earth did Like I Used To not make the grade? It seemed such a gimme).
Regrettably, I have » Continue Reading.
In between enjoying some of the superb churlishness over on the Taylor Swift Is Ace thread, I got to thinking about Idiot Wind, and how it’s not really my idea of a great break up song. Too heavy handed, too on the nose, says way more about the person who wrote it than the person on the intended receiving end. If I’m being completely honest, I think All Too Well (particularly the new, longer version) is quite probably better. I was always more of an If You See Her Say Hello man anyway.
The above lead me to wondering: what are the great break up songs, and where does this rank in the pantheon?
Ten minutes of exceptionally deep thought later, I landed on the following list….
1. Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill
The song that has it all. Brilliant hip hop/reggae/soul infused production and arrangement, incredibly spare for what it is, a tremendous vocal by one of the better singers of her generation, genius lyrics (no song on this list contains a better couplet than “Tell me who I have to be/to get some reciprocity”), and an unbeatable sense of loss and yearning. The absolute mack daddy of breakup tunes.
A few months ago I briefly raved on here about the Bo Burnham comedy special “Inside” (see: Netflix).
Written and filmed entirely as a one man band during lockdown, the show is an absolutely brilliant expression of contemporary angst, melding skits and songs to create a single whole that sums up what it means to be alive and deeply unsettled in 2021. He’s managed to be funny and tell the truth both at once, and all without leaving the house.
There are a number of wonderful tunes involved (White Woman’s Instagram, All Eyes On Me, et al) and the album is worth listening to, even divorced from the show itself. It’s also had a big impact on the culture: you haven’t had to go far this year to hear kids chanting “Jeffrey, Jeffrey Bezos”.
The thing that really stuck with me though, and that’s been on my “Best of 2021” playlist for months now, is That Funny Feeling, a song about attempting to live your life accompanied by the constant, nagging sensation that things really are going completely to shit in the background and we’re possibly living right at the end of something.
I am, by nature, an optimistic person, » Continue Reading.
This is one of those posts I’ve had rattling around my head for a little while and wanted/needed to expunge to see where the writing down of it all might take me. Wanton self-gratification, in other words.
One of the recent threads about Nirvana got me thinking. I know they’re a marmite band, and a lot of people on here don’t greatly care for them. I know that I very much did and do. A lot of that’s because of the records they made, the noise they created. But – quite unusually for me – part of it is also about one of the people who made that noise.
A million words have been spilled by now on Kurt Cobain, rest his soul. Death has frozen him in carbonite, and made him far more a cartoon than an actual human being. There probably isn’t much more one can usefully say about the man. And yet, here I am with a head full of things I want to say, and half an hour to write them down.
I was 13 when Nevermind was released, and I remember vividly my first true contact with Nirvana. I hadn’t yet discovered the music » Continue Reading.
Prompted, inevitably, by the “1991 day” thread; what are the blog’s favourite songs of the 1990s?
My top 10 is (repeated from that thread) as follows:
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana Juicy – Biggie Smalls Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill Protect Ya Neck – Wu Tang Glory Box – Portishead Shook Ones Pt II – Mobb Deep Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode Say It Ain’t So – Weezer Don’t Let Go – En Vogue Know Your Enemy – RATM
A combination there of my own personal tastes, the songs that had a major impact on the culture at point of release and the ones that have aged like a fine wine and still prompt happy times when they come up in conversation/on the radio. More than anything, they’re the songs that, in some strange way, define the decade from my perspective.
The 90s, for me, were the moment that all the barriers between genres started to collapse; a super exciting time when all sorts of things seemed possible. I was also a teenager for a good chunk of it, which inevitably helped. Some of the above are songs I loved in my adolescence (Say It Ain’t So), some I’ve » Continue Reading.
Apropos of Saucecraft heaping praise upon me for my extraordinarily good taste in music, I thought I’d share with you the things that have been floating my boat this week. Consider this a taster for Rolling Stones Top 500 Songs of All Time, 2038 edition.
First up is Deathloop City Lights. Yes: incidental music from a video game. I’m that far out on the bleeding edge.
Deathloop is a newly released video game which essentially fuses Groundhog Day with Doom and an oddball sense of humour. It appeals to me greatly.
So, I’m merrily playing it, sneaking up on enemies and blowing their brains out, when I pass an abandoned truck with the radio left on. And this song is playing. And it’s beautiful. Properly, properly beautiful. Give it a listen: the dude sounds like him from The Decemberists, and it’s got this lovely skipping rhythm that drops in a third of the way through.
Turns out, it isn’t licensed music; someone actually wrote this beautiful song to just play in the background during a short » Continue Reading.
Those with good memories may recall that – perhaps inevitably for a man of such low taste – karaoke is one of the great joys of my life.
During the grim months of the lockdown, I cannot tell you how often I wished I could be in a dark room, with mates, emoting tunelessly over songs that had done nothing at all to provoke such indignities being visited upon them. Indeed, there were times when I seriously wondered whether the virus might have put an end to such pleasures entirely.
Happily, most of the capital’s major karaoke venues appear to have weathered the pandemic intact, as does the collective will of friends to continue our assault on dignity, restraint and tune. We’ve been back on the horse (so to speak) a couple of times post-vaccination; it’s been a lot like riding a bike – wobbly, uncertain and with bodies frequently thrown from the handlebars. Forgive me, I may have lost the run of that simile.
The important point is this: next Friday we will be venturing back out for another evening of full-throated karaoke magic. As ever, the goal is to avoid pallidly making our way through the familiar material, » Continue Reading.
As noted at length elsewhere, it’s been a bumper few weeks for followers of football. The European Championships have been hugely entertaining, it’s been fabulous to see fans back in stadiums, and – for those who’ve been paying attention – the Copa America has also been humming along nicely in the wee small hours.
As we build towards this evening’s game and then the respective finals on Sunday, this seems as good a time as any to ask: what are your favourite things about football? Could be a great goal, a player you hold dear, a favourite stadium, a match you personally played in, a song, a shirt, a tradition, a particular brand of half time pie – whatever you like.
You may lament the crass commercialization of the game, VAR may have sucked the joy out of it for you, or you might believe that the serpent simulation has despoiled the sport’s garden of eden to the point where it has become unwatchable – simply unwatchable – for you.
Nonetheless, for the vast majority of us, there will be something, somewhere, that football has contributed that, at one time, sparked joy in us. Here’s the place to » Continue Reading.
Friday afternoon, kids absorbed with their mates, finishing up the last knockings of the working week and looking ahead to a weekend of sunshine and f**tb*ll. What better moment to play some new.
As recently essayed elsewhere, I am currently drunk on the glory of life renewed, senses aflame, eyes and heart wide open and enjoying even the most mediocre experiences as if they were manna from the gods themselves. Does this make me an unreliable narrator when it comes to the virtues of recent music? Of course. Was I ever reliable to start with? Probably not. Will I ever stop? Yo, I don’t know.
Posted in the comments below are the 2021 tunes I’ve really been enjoying in recent weeks (Burial aside).
It’s the now customary mishmash of impenetrable Drill, uber-cliched Pop and the occasional power ballad, I’m afraid, but this is what’s on in the kitchen right now and I’m loving it, so who knows – maybe someone on here will too.
Oh, and GY!BE. Dear, sweet, ever-reliable GY!BE. Ploughing what is essentially the same narrow furrow for a quarter of a century without any apparent diminishment in returns. How on earth did they become comfort » Continue Reading.
It’s been a while since I’ve had the urge to write anything about music: somewhere along the way it became apparent to me that nearly everything I liked about the stuff was self-evident in the experience of it, and most of what irked me was present only in the discussion/analysis. It’s so much better to feel the sun on your face than to have someone describe to you what heat is like.
Nonetheless, in the last few weeks I felt the stirring of a long dormant impulse, provoked by a series of chance musical encounters. What follows is an attempt to get something off my chest, to order my thoughts and to transfer unto others the sheer voltaic elation currently coursing through my being. That latter point, of course, the only really good reason to write about music to start with – to take some of the joy it provokes in your heart and send it out into the world to see if it might multiply.
As always, I thank you in advance for your tolerance.
How did I get here? Well, this was this little kerfuffle over a thing called Covid-19. Ghastly stuff, kept a few of us » Continue Reading.
Here we are again; my now traditional annual drive-by posting to bequest unto each of you the sonic fruits of the year just gone. I recognise that it’s both regrettable and painful for all concerned, but then – so has been 2020.
Before I get started, a couple of points of order:
(i) I recognise that I have already ruinously undermined the central premise of this post (being that, like Santa himself, I visit the blog but once a year, but when I do, I bring good cheer) with my recent Maradona obituary. I assure you all that this was unavoidable – when one’s heroes die, one does not tarry with matters of mere etiquette. Nonetheless, I will take this opportunity to say thanks for the kind words from those who spared them, RIP Diego and also to note that, with the passing of Chuck Yeager, this annus has been particularly horribilis for the idols of my youth. Which brings us neatly to point two…
(ii) Can there really be such a thing as a “best of” 2020, I hear you ask? Surely, the past 12 months have been so thoroughly blighted by plagues, economic catastrophes, gigantic mega hornets, Matt » Continue Reading.
Dear Sirs (let’s not kid ourselves here)
I am writing to you all on behalf of one Mr Bingo Little esq.
I cannot, with any certainty, forecast the extent of the cache which herein remains affixed to that name, but I am assured that in the not-too-distant past it constituted an iron-clad vouchsafe of quality such that all doors would open, hearts would flutter and underwear would drop upon its mere utterance. I trust that remains the case and that, accordingly, each of you will voraciously consume what follows, moist with tremulous anticipation.
You will, of course, all be aware that – via a combination of villain circumstance and fickle providence – Mr Little’s attentions have, necessarily, for some time been diverted elsewhere, and that in that interim the Afterword Blog has become unto him as melody to The Fall; a sadly neglected acquaintance. Nonetheless! The festive season remains the perfect opportunity for a man to step back and consider all that he has overlooked in the months preceding, and it is in that spirit that Mr Little has acted entirely in accordance with his status as a member of the much vaunted Metropolitan Liberal Elite, and entrusted » Continue Reading.
Finding ourselves, as we do, in the midst of awards season, much cultural bandwidth is currently being taken up with endless squabbling as to which movies are being cruelly overlooked/dramatically overpraised/insufficiently woke.
Personally, I prefer to think that these things are ultimately fairly meaningless, and that the amount of energy expended on hammering away at what are, after all, mere industry backslaps, could better be spent on more worthwhile pursuits, such as – well, watching/talking about more movies. They’re only movies, after all, and they’re meant to be fun.
With that in mind, I’d like to ask: what are the five best new (by which I mean “new”, rather than “new to you”) movies you’ve seen in the last 12 months? Apart from Gary, whose steadfast refusal to agree with me on matters celluloid is both wearying and distasteful.
Please feel free to symbolically link arms with an activist from the field of your choice while posting.
1. Call Me By Your Name
A truly beautiful movie that has stayed with me over the months.
My initial prejudice was that this was mere homage to the sort of high class, mildly erotic European cinema that you couldn’t » Continue Reading.