14 Aug 2017
Because if you're going to spend sixty minutes listening to some dudes talk, they better know their shit.
There's something about podcasts that feels incredibly grown-up. As someone who never really listened to the radio, I lumped podcasts in with my ignorant perception of commercial radio as a dying, authoritarian medium for squares and basics, but boy was I wrong.
Independent radio and podcasts are responsible for some of the best contemporary works of music journalism and entertainment. While musical television programming is in a dire state, existing only through a handful of bloated and tired Later Live... With Jools Holland episodes a year, radio and podcasts has become of the best mediums for cutting edge, musical content. Whether you need something to stimulate the musical side of your brain while doing mind-numbing work, or have a long and lonely commute each day, or you just want to listen to something great in your own free time, this list is provides you with the cream of the crop of music podcasts:
Ever wondered why Solange chose the title Cranes in the Sky? Or what Perfume Genius' isolated, ethereal vocal layering sounds like? Or how Nicholas Brittel masterfully threaded Little's, Chiron's and Black's theme for his score for Moonlight? Song Exploder will answer all the burning questions you have about the best contemporary releases.
Each week a different musician is invited onto the show to deconstruct their work, exploding the arrangement and inviting the listener to delve deep into every microscopic detail of their chosen track. It's basically the How It's Made of music, just minus the factory-driven capitalism and add the intimacies of detailed artistic expression.
Now this one really goes without saying, everyone loves a good Ted Talk, but it's worth reminding y'all that there's a wealth of great music related content on there. With their genre-focused playlists, Ted Talks provide brilliant range of playlists that cater for an array of music listeners, such as key talks for Jazz lovers, Classical music enthusiasts and aspiring rockstars, plus there are playlists curated by a wide-range of musicians, from Bjork to Bono, giving you tasty audible nuggets of wisdom to listen to.
Unbreak My Chart
When was the last time you actually cared about who topped the singles chart each week? For a lot of millenials, the answer is never. Every since the ol' internet strolled into our lives and changed the way we consume literally everything, along with film, television and shopping, the singles chart has felt redundant and practically irrelevant. And maybe that's true, but on Unbreak My Chart, the podcast that "takes the top 10 and talks about it at school the next day," hosts Laura Snapes and Fraser McAlpine take an impassioned and dedication approach to good pop music, wading through the apocalyptic amount of Ed Sheeran and songs featuring Quavo to unearth the genuine contemporary pop gems in an admirable and entertaining listen each week.
WTF with Marc Maron
Through his top-notch, informal interviewing style, comedian and actor Marc Maron has become one of the biggest names in podcasting and interviewing generally. Everyone from Barack Obama to Louis Theroux has stopped by for a chat in his garage. Although not strictly a music show, Marc Maron's love of music has caused multiple big name musicians to stop by for some of the most in depth and essential interviews of their career. With episodes from Randy Newman, Ryan Adams, Joanna Newsome, Bruce Springsteen, Kamasi Washington, St Vincent, Elvis Costello, David Byrne and Quincy Jones, you can tell that Maron pulls the highest of high caliber musical guests, making this a must listen for music fans.
Theneedledrop - TND Podcast
The self-proclaimed internet's busiest music nerd, Antony Fantano, is easily one of, if not the, biggest individual taste makers in music criticism. With over a million subscribers on his YouTube channel, this melon is a force to be reckoned with. You can listen to an endless stream of his video reviews just fine without focusing on the visuals, or you can delve into the archives of his long running podcast.
I'd recommend his podcasts for something with a lil more weight to them, as he tackles a range of music-related topics such as 'who are the top ten worst rappers in the game?', discussions on how to review and album and in depth interviews from a range of personalities, from rapper Daveed Diggs, ambient musician Tim Hecker and fellow YouTuber the Nerd Writer. Always well thought-out and articulated, TND Podcast is a joy for those who love intelligent discussions about music.
NPR Tiny Desk performances
It's not always about listening to people talk about music, sometimes you just want, to paraphrase Elvis, a little less podcast banter a little more music, please. For those who want a cooler, more talented alternative to the Radio 1 live lounge, NPR's Tiny Desk performances are the perfect, tab-in-the-background, live music show to spice up your life.
There's an ever expanding archive of great, intimate performances from some of the best musicians working today. If you want to kick off with some of the best, I'd recommend Noname's joyous, poetic performance, Chance the Rapper being an absolute delight and Anderson .Paak's effortlessly cool and instantly iconic stop at the Tiny Desk.
For Hip Hop fans, the growing Deadendhiphop media empire is something you definitely need to be invested in. Charismatic regulars Myke C-Town, Feefo, Kinge, Beezy and Sophie review albums and discuss a multitude of topics, usually focused around Hip Hop or black culture, providing thoughtful, entertaining and often hilarious insight into every subject they tackle.
What makes Deadendhiphop so great compared to any other roundtable discussion show I've ever seen is that you get a genuine sense of passion and friendship within the crew. Whether they are arguing about what constitutes a classic album, or cackling over Big Sean's god awful bars, the opinions and observations Deadendhiphop share are the most consistently intelligent and entertaining Hip Hop-focused content made by a music publication.