The podcast world: always full of surprises. Take, for example, a new show like Pop Detectives where – unlikely it sounds – incongruous couple Ricky Wilson from Kaiser Chiefs and broadcasting veteran Tony Blackburn transform into a pair of myth-busting music investigators, complete with their own fake office. In the series they open the door to pop history’s overflowing cabinet of out-there stories and sort the truth from the false.
The duo have a chemistry – whether it’s a chemistry you can tolerate depends on your favouring on either – but it goes to show, in Podland, no idea is too surreal. Although, maybe don’t hold your breath for that true crime show from Annie Nightingale and Danny from The Script just yet.
Enough of all that, onto what I’ve been listening to, plus, another five recommendations on top of that from NME’s readers. I’m @GregCochrane on Twitter or tweet @nme with your suggestions using the hashtag #PodcastsForThePeople.
What Greg’s been listening to
Stephen Fry’s 7 Deadly Sins
The low-down: Just when it feels like there are few sane voices left in the world Stephen Fry – that bastion of knowledge, reason and mediation – returns. If you’re exasperated with These Divisive Times, at the very least, the opening 15 minutes of episode one of his new podcast series should provide some reassurance: it takes the form of a World-Gone-Mad monologue that only the likes of Fry are articulate enough to pull off. That’s ultimately a gateway into a series about the human self, and how, those olden Christian vices (the 7 Deadly Sins) can each serve as a pertinent and surprisingly relevant inner-launchpad to understand how humanity got itself into its current pickle, and maybe, just maybe, how we can get ourselves out. But that journey, as Fry warns, involves looking into “the dark, turbulent waters of the human soul.”
Where to hear it: Acast, Apple and other podcast apps
The 27 Club
The low-down: Perhaps the most tragic club in existence, the list of musicians who’ve passed away at 27 is notorious and depressing. This new show is revisiting the stories of the members of that “morbidly exclusive” list. In future there will be podcasts on Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin. But for the moment, they begin with Jimi Hendrix, and his extraordinarily vibrant, eventful and ultimately short life. It’s presented by Jake Brennan, known for his true crime meets music show Disgraceland. And like that series, The 27 Club will be Marmite for some listeners; coming across like a hybrid audiobook, fan-fiction and embellished dramatisation. In short, it goes for the juicy – others would say tabloidy – details, and doesn’t overly dwell on the music.
Where to hear it: iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Spotify
The low-down: “America’s Dad” – that was the affectionate nickname given to comedian and actor Bill Cosby. He was a superstar, an ever present in the homes of U.S. TV fans for decades. But behind this wholesome public persona was a violent, manipulative predator, and in 2018, he was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault. This podcast is hosted by Nicki Weisensee Egan, a Los Angeles Times journalist, who had been investigating the claims against Cosby for more than a decade. In the vein of podcasts like The Mysterious Mr. Epstein, it seeks to retrace the Cosby story, pick up on clues and ultimately ask, why weren’t the accounts from his victims acted upon sooner? Importantly, the podcast gives the survivors a voice, even if their courageous recollections of Cosby’s actions make for chilling listening.
Where to hear it: Spotify, Stitcher and other podcast places
The low-down: There are more than a few parallels between the catastrophically messy saga that was the Fyre Festival and the story of Anna Delvy. A situation that got totally out of control. Not familiar? The Russian started out as a magazine intern before she pursued a new life as a wealthy and powerful influencer in New York. Except, she was neither. It was one huge blag, all conducted under the pretence that she was about inherit millions of dollars. Delvy – real name Anna Sorokin – created a persona based on lies, and scammed friends and organisations for thousands to fund her lucrative lifestyle. How did she get away with it for so long? Host Vicky Baker finds out in this experimental show that mixes drama, reality and documentary reporting. Your jaw won’t leave the floor.
Where to hear it: BBC Sounds
Rough Trade Edit Podcast
The low-down: In 2020, the Rough Trade podcast from the legendary independent record store receives a bit of a rebrand. Under a new title it takes the form of a mini radio show, playing music and speaking to guests. So far in 2020, hosts Emily and Nigel have been joined by guests like The Big Moon and Field Music with the promise of plenty more to come. For extended highlights, they’re also publishing a bunch of accompanying playlists on Apple Music.
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud
What you’ve been listening to
Recommended by: @jamesyuill on Twitter
The low-down: Google it: that’s the answer to any query, right? Not always. Underunderstood finds answers to the questions where the internet does not. For example, a simple search would have revealed one reality about Billie Eilish’s recent “sustainable fashion” line for H&M. However, there was a lot more to it. Each episode the team takes a topic and dismantle it – digging deeper than algorithmic topsoil so many of us unquestionably trust.
James tweets: “It’s really well put together. Interesting stories. It’s like Radiolab but without the pomp.”
Where to hear it: Stitcher, Apple, Spotify and other podcast apps
Recommended by: @Shannanniganz on Twitter
The low-down: This long-running show/podcast comes from Double J in Australia. Legendary presenter Zan Rowe invites guests to select the music. The past year alone has seen the likes of Elbow soundtracking “nostalgia” and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way revisiting his angsty youth. Turns out he loves Supergrass.
Shannanniganz says: “Musicians choose songs around a theme. Interesting insights in 1/2 hr bites.”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts
So Do We Still Like This?
Recommended by: @12CRodgers on Twitter
The low-down: Maybe it was an obsession with Insane Clown Posse or you never missed an episode of Saved By The Bell. Do those video games, books, TV shows you loved as a kid still hold up in adulthood? Maybe on reflection they’re terrible. Anyway, that’s the clever premise behind this wistful series.
Christopher says: “Brilliant podcast! The Star Wars episodes and The League Of Gentlemen being my favourites. Definitely worth a listen.”
Where to hear it: Stitcher, Apple, Anchor and more
Stereo Embers – The Podcast
Recommended by: Alex Green @EMBERSEDITOR on Twitter
The low-down: The podcast accompaniment to Stereo Embers magazine, this one is fronted by editor-in-chief and professor Alex Green (he recommends himself, and that’s fine with us). There’s already more than a hundred episodes, so plenty to dive into.
Alex tweets: “Interviews with musicians about the current creative moment in their lives. Past guests include: Kristin Hersh, Bauhaus and The Sherlocks.”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts
Non Denominational: A Sitcom
Recommended by: @hribstar on Twitter
Started in summer 2019, this fictional comedy drama centres around Pastor Jamie and Liturgical Minister Elijah’s non denominational church: Society of the Children of the Natural Earth (SCONE). Endless LOLs. It’s not big budget, but goes to show how far smart scripting can take you.
Matt tweets: ““Well I’ll just self promote this sitcom podcast about a non denominational church I helped co-create…!”
Where to hear it: Spotify, Google, Apple and more