Posts

September 28, 2019

Note.

THE LIST
1. Switched on Pop/Off Book - "Switched Off Book" This episode merges the worlds of Off Book (a musical improv podcast) with Switched On Pop (a musical analysis podcast). It dissects the musical theatre genre via a musical created on the fly, with the level of wit and insight listeners have come to expect from each of the shows. I’m a big fan of cross-pod collaborations, and this particular one seems like a no-brainer.
2. Still Processing - "2020" This is by far the most entertaining yet serious analysis of the field of Democratic nominees. It is also a quiet flex of Still Processing’s range to incisively critique a topic while also laughing along the way..
3. The Bill Simmons Podcast - "Malcolm Gladwell on the Future of Books, Kanye Tirades, Sandra Bland, Donald Sterling, Joe Paterno and Intuition" Two of the heaviest hitters in the podcast game hang for a spell, covering all the topics in the episode title and so much more. For the podcast…

September 10, 2019

SOMETHING NEW

Post-apocalyptic worlds have been beaten to the brink of death, and yet creators everywhere have continued to set stories in the after party to the end times. And to be honest, I kind of dig it. These stories distill the basest elements of what it means to live in and apart from a society, regardless of the availability of running water or a regular romance fully separated from the fate of the human race. Zombies or totalitarian governments inspire fear about the worst possible fate that could befall us as a species - the 180 degree turn away from one’s sense of normality. While some cataclysmic event lingers in the realm of possibility, we are far more likely to suffer minor tragedies, gradual setbacks that don’t turn our world upside down but do certainly force a considerable shift in lifestyle. Ellie and The Wave splits the difference between a mass extinction event and global warming. The new narrative fiction podcast centers around 30-something Ellie browsing throug…

August 30, 2019

SOMETHING NEW

Moonrise, the new podcast from The Washington Post, boasts some of the most impressively topic-appropriate sound effects in any audio doc I’ve ever come across. There are so many great historic sound bites that set the mood for this dive into the backstory of the space race. The whole design is a little other-worldly with a strong science fiction vibe, and as someone who didn’t live through the space race I feel like the tenuous sense of complete doom conveys pretty well in the soundscapes.

The show’s aesthetic reminds me a little bit of NPR’s Throughline, evoking a cool vibe that dictates the way we are to feel about the subject. It seems a little insidery and almost conspiratorial, a general whiff of counterculture wafts throughout the series. That said, maybe it isn’t any wonder than the flow of the episodes is a little disjointed. The show has more than a few dry spots, and I found my attention wavering in the lack of a simple narrative thread to tie episodes together…

August 14, 2019

A brief note: I think this post marks the first time I've ever typed out "mansplaining." Google flagged it as misspelled, suggesting I might have meant "mainspring" or "plainsman." I tried hyphenating but that lead to "splaining" getting the red squiggly with the replacement options "man-spraining" (too violent), "man-explaining" (too what-your-great-aunt-probably-thinks-it-is" and "man-splatting" (too ambiguously gross). But you're here for podcast recs. Right. Carry on....

SOMETHING NEW

I love music. Yet with my predilection for getting so lost in the podcast sauce, music listening opportunities are becoming fewer and farther in between. Frank Turner's Tales From No Man's Land is a new podcast that might just get me back into regular music listening. The concept album seeks to exhume the stories of forgotten women, many of whom have been lost entirely to the modern world, and the accompanying p…

August 1, 2019

Welcome back from my unintentional summer break! Despite the absence, or maybe because of it, this is a bit shorter of an issue. But still a good one, I hope!

SOMETHING NEW

Extremities is a new show that recently completed its first season, which highlighted the tiny nation of the Pitcairn Islands. This is a travel documentary series with a niche - studying remote places on this planet where human life persists. The opening of the first episode careens through the unbelievably long itinerary required to travel from the United Kingdom to the tiny British territory in the South Pacific. The intro is somewhat inexplicably riveting (or maybe it’s just me?), and it perfectly sets the stage for the journey ahead.

The narration deserves a lot of credit for the show’s hypnotic appeal. Somehow host Sam Denby has approached that line of dry recitation and nestled into a comfortable hum that perfectly accompanies the already intriguing fertile storytelling ground provided by the island’s history. …

July 7, 2019

SOMETHING NEW

Born from the hosting team that brought you the branded podcast Breach, So, Bob is a podcast that informs and entertains with episodes surrounding internet surveillance and privacy. Alia Tavakolian and Bob Sullivan head up this Spoke Media show, and together create a sense of wonder to accompany an equal sense of dread about the trappings of our increasingly technological world. The hosting combo provides the perspective of an eager and well-informed millennial who nonetheless admits she has a lot to learn, and a battleworn tech journalist who possesses a guarded but healthy optimism about the state of the change in the world. So, Bob takes a layman centered approach, placing the concerns of the average user in the forefront to guide case studies seeking to understand whether tech is good or evil. This is the right question, albeit one that trends towards the same answer in every case: it depends on how the tech is being implemented and dissected.

Before journeying forth…

June 27, 2019

SOMETHING NEW

Al Jackson & Frank Caliendo Try To Be Serious is very much something the general population would conjure upon hearing the word podcast - dudes just shooting the breeze in a semi-structured way that isn’t actually all that structured. And the dudes are comedians. But the dudes are not both white. And, while rambly, they attempt to avoid riffing - as the title nods to. This break in comedy is refreshing, but the attempt to be serious falls a bit short of the mark. It’s not that I don’t want to listen to a podcast and laugh, it’s that the serious tenor of the conversations are a bit circular and unproductive in generating compelling discourse.

Like most people (I imagine), to me Caliendo scans as the guy that does some bang up celebrity impressions from a couple years back. He had completely fallen off my radar until this show popped up when browsing the new shows on my podcast app a couple months ago. I was intrigued by the title, as my one word identifier for the dude…