If you’re not one of the million hopelessly addicted already, you might have heard people talking about Serial, the spinoff podcast series from This American Life. Journalist Sarah Koenig presents the story behind the murder of a high school student called Hae Min Lee and the dubious case brought against her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who is still serving out his sentence in jail. It is a revolutionary way of story-telling and its impact on the wider podcast industry has already been prophesied. If you need more of a fix, here’s 11 of the best music-related podcasts out there at the moment. May your commute never be boring again.
Inspired by wrestling podcasts, Fucked Up’s Damian Abrahams sits down with people from all walks of the music industry to discover how they got into punk music and how it “inspired them on their journey.” The first episode features Beggars Music Group (XL, Rough Trade, Matador) honcho Martin Mills talking about working with The Ramones and The Fall, renting Gary Numan his first keyboard and putting out one of the first punk singles.
Song Exploder is, according to its mission statement, a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. It features a nice mix of artists from Garbage to Nite Jewel and Spoon to Poliça, and it’s only been going for 20 or so episodes. It’s great listening for anyone who obsesses over details in track or rewinds to hear the same moment again and again. Host Hrishikesh Hirway is skilled at getting a strong and in-depth sense of a track.
Marc Maron’s interviews with celebrities are usually exceptional. He’s not afraid to get down to the nitty-gritty and his guests often seem to open up to him more willingly than they might in a normal print interview. The archive is enormous and there’s a huge amount of musicians in there. Thom Yorke, Ty Segall, Stephen Malkmus, Chris Cornell, Father John Misty, John Cale, Nick Cave, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Tenacious D. are highlights. On a similar tip, The Nerdist podcast is also worth keeping an eye on for interviews with musicians.
Lammo’s weekly Thursday show is simply a really solid place to pick up new music tips. He always has three guests on who review upcoming releases and recent albums you might have missed and you can download each episode as a podcast afterwards. The music’s always varied too: last week they talked about Public Access T.V, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Nehruviandoom, Lonelady, Nas, Marika Hackman and Thurston Moore.
The NYT music podcast – Popcast, geddit? – takes a subject each week and talks about it in depth. Ben Ratliff is a solid presenter with a relaxed style and he often has interesting voices in there too, such as business reporters and other figures in the music industry. He picks the biggest music story of the week to pull apart so recently that’s included U2’s album release strategy, Taylor Swift, ‘Sonic Highways’ and the semantics of R&B. It’s only half an hour so it’s pretty lean and tightly packed with information.
Wireless Nights was first broadcast in 2012 but you can still download it as a podcast if you missed out the first time round – and there have been four special new episodes over the last month to check out. Does anyone in the music industry have a more hypnotic voice to listen to than Cocker’s? The Pulp frontman takes listeners on a nocturnal journey around the different worlds inhabited by people who live mostly in the night. It’s surreal, funny, informative and very unusual.
It can be a full-time job keeping up with what Prince is up to. The Peach & Black podcast keep listeners up to date with reviews of new releases and shows as well as going in depth on his vast discography.
The XLR8R podcast always has great producers and DJs making fine mixes. I’ve discovered so many cool artists and songs through their episodes and they always have a comprehensive track-listing. Also pretty good for having something last-minute to bung on at a party.
Another sole-artist podcast that focusses on The Beatles. It’s discontinued this summer but it’s well worth getting stuck into the archive if you’re a big fan. Earlier this year they went through every album in forensic detail; you’re sure to find something you didn’t know about before.
A couple of months ago the BBC started putting this podcast online and it’s a treasure trove. Highlights include episodes on the science of singing, how young Iranian musicians and singers are finding ways of breaking the restrictions on the public performance of music and songs, the secret history of Bossa Nova and how Jimi Hendrix spent his time in London.
You don’t need me to tell you about this but as it reaches its 3,000th episode don’t forget that the Desert Island Disc archives has loads of amazing musicians in there stretching back decades. Lily Allen and Guy Garvey have been on recently but you could go back and listen to Cliff Richard and Liberace back in 1960. Tons of 30-minute historic artefacts to get stuck into when your bus is delayed.
Any we’ve missed? Let us know below or on Twitter using #bestmusicpodcasts.