First, a special mention: huge congratulations to George The Poet who, since our last column, picked up NME’s first ever Best Podcast (supported by Dax) trophy at the NME Awards. Have You Heard George’s Podcast? was a more than deserved winner. Shout out to the amazing nominees though – The Missing Crytoqueen, My Dad Wrote A Porno, Sex Power Money and Stay Free: The Story of The Clash – all of which featured in Podcasts For The People.
Enough back slappin’. Let’s get down to some new listening recommendations for this coming fortnight. Five from me and five from you – NME’s discerning readers (turns out you love the supernatural stuff). Who knows, maybe next year’s award-winning podcast will be among them?
What Greg’s been listening to
Phone A Friend
The low-down: George Ezra is reinventing what it means to be a popular musician… there, I said it. The charmingly normal George Ezra has scored a successful podcast series by chatting to his famous acquaintances. But, truly, it’s the way Ezra discusses mental health, which is positively redefining the male pop star in 2020. The format is simple: George calls up his songwriter pal Ollie MN once a week, they check in on each other, talk openly about their experiences and their struggles. All ego is put aside – their conversations are vulnerable, candid and often funny. You get Ollie chatting about the slightly gross side effects of his antidepressant medication and George discussing intense therapy sessions for his OCD, mixed in with tales of nudist beaches and quizzes about the Tudors, which is a favoured period of history for George. That’s what you call using your platform for good.
Where to hear it: Spotify, Apple and other podcast places
Start with this: https://open.spotify.com/show/58q3i5wTcgnP3pUhWVsilU
No Dogs In Space
The low-down: Daunting as it sounds, this US show serves up a four episode music history lesson that totals around eight hours. Hosts Marcus Parks and Carolina Hidalgo are sort of doing a Dissect, but on genres: carefully deconstructing then reconstructing stories. They rewind to the 1960s and begin with punk, using The Stooges as their launch-off point. A series for both seasoned punk heads and newcomers searching for an entry point; not aware of the pre-punk significance of The Monks? No problem! It’s packed with music and book recommendations, too. Approach it as you would The Irishman: experience it in a number of sittings and remember to take regular loo breaks.
Where to hear it: Apple, Spotify and other podcast apps
Start with this: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/no-dogs-in-space/id1495604041
The low-down: We’re used to seeing small start-ups become global empires, but even by modern standards WeWork – the co-working space business – was a sensation. It grew unbelievably quickly, and just a few years ago was valued at $47 billion dollars (that’s more than Uber) – but all was not well, as you can tell by the podcast’s name. WeCrashed, presented by David Brown, focuses heavily on charismatic co-founder Adam Neumann – his pursuit of growth and, as the investment money flooded in, his increasingly erratic behaviour. It all began to get very cultish: a gong brought to meetings, workers encouraged to chant ‘we work’ as if at a sports match. “Adam’s ambitions and his spending were spinning out of control,” remarks a voice mid-way through the series: that’s putting it mildly.
Where to hear it: Overcast, Breaker and other major podcast places
Start with this: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/id1494781373
We Need To Talk About The British Empire
The low-down: How does the old cliche go? We have to learn from the mistakes of the past before we can move forward? It won’t have escaped your notice but Britain’s experiencing a tumultuous time: great divisions have emerged in society; generational, racial, financial. So much of that separation can be linked to ignorance – people simply aren’t informed about relatively modern historical events that pre-date our current situation. Some of that history is shameful, money-driven and murderous, it’s “history we rarely acknowledge or discuss”. We Need To Talk About The British Empire approaches this uncomfortable but essential topic via interviews with people about their lived experiences – TV presenter Anita Rani appears in episode one – plus insights from historians and specialists. It’s a non-stuffy, and digestible route into a past that reveals so much. Without this kind of insight, it’s difficult to see a path through our present predicament.
Where to hear it: Audible
Start with this: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/We-Need-to-Talk-About-the-British-Empire-Audiobook/B081581253?pf_rd_p=35b3e967-b884-4dcf-b6c4-d65dc2979847&pf_rd_r=NY9TGMBTQQYDZE2MEBQQ&ref=a_ep_podcas_c2_zing_1
The low-down: A different way of approaching the true crime podcast: mortem switches perspective on things. So often this genre retells the story of the victim, dredging up upsetting details and circumstances for family and friends. This podcast strips that out – the victims are fictional, but the stories, science and the specialists are real. Like host Carla Valentine, a practising mortician – warning: the detail of her day-to-day isn’t for the faint-hearted – who investigates the circumstances around the mysterious death of a man who’d been set on fire. All the fascinating, gripping, gruesome detail of your favourite true crime shows, just delivered with a little more compassion.
Where to hear it: BBC Sounds
Start with this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p082bzcp
What you’ve been listening to
Peach And Black
Recommended by: Craig Agnew, on Facebook
The low-down: For a decade now this unofficial Prince podcast from Australia has been chatting news, reviews and anything and everything dedicated to The Purple One. Most recently they’ve released a four-part guide to the super deluxe edition of Prince’s ‘1999’.
Craig says: “Really insightful about a lot of his music and opinionated. It’s great.”
Where to hear it: Major podcast apps
The Evolution of Horror
Recommended by: Jorge Loser, @loserjorge on Twitter
The low-down: Weekly show where host Mike Muncer is joined by guests to talk about how horror films have changed throughout the years – expect plenty of gore. Mark Kermonde discussing The Exorcist is a great place to start.
Jorge says: “It’s the best horror related podcast out there. Fluid, informative, funny and nice, with top notch guests and true experts and lovers of the genre speaking without trying to preach.”
Where to hear it: Stitcher, Libsyn and other podcast places
Clinton Baptiste’s Paranormal Podcast
Recommended by: Lisa Robinson, @LisaRhubarb on Twitter
The low-down: Remember Clinton Baptiste from Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights? Well, the clairvoyant, medium and psychic has a podcast that promises to “take you on a spiritual journey beyond the Celestial Curtain.” Hauntingly hilarious.
Lisa says: “I cannot recommend it highly enough. Clinton probes our souls deeply and deserves to win a bunch of awards!”
Where to hear it: Acast
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
Recommended by: Craig Potter, @onceabee on Twitter
The low-down: Once a week Dr Sydnee McElroy and Justin McElroy delve into the history of medicine to uncover some of the strange, disgusting and “sometimes downright dangerous ways we tried to solve our medical woes through the ages.”
Craig says: “A doctor and her husband – think Horrible Histories for grown folk.”
Where to hear it: Apple, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and more
Start with this: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/sawbones-podcast/sawbones
Recommended by: Tammy Webster
The low-down: Yet more spooky recommendations from you lot. This long-running comedy-meets-the-supernatural show has been away a little while but with good reason; they recently released a film version. On it presenters Ian Boldsworth and Barry Dodds visit some of the most haunted locations in the UK.
Tammy says: “The first podcast to be made into a full length feature film!”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts
Start with this: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-parapod/id1035354371?mt=2