Greg Cochrane’s Podcasts For The People #17 – Comedy in the lockdown, Narcos and James Acaster’s greatest year for music ever

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What type of podcast are you reaching for right now? Something that keeps you informed about Coronavirus? Something educating? Entertaining, stupid or silly? Maybe you don’t want to hear another word about it? There are shows for all of these things. I want to hear about the podcasts you’ve found to be a comfort during lockdown – be it the ones keeping you up to date with the news, or those providing you with a much-needed distraction. Tweet your recommendations to me @GregCochrane, or post them @NME on Twitter using #PodcastsForThePeople.

One tip: maybe you’ve had your heart warmed by some of the good deeds being done by people and communities during quarantine? If so, Make A Difference is a great podcast making sure those stories never get forgotten. On with this fortnight’s recommendations… 

What Greg’s been listening to

James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds


The low-down: The kind of conversation that happens before kicking out time at the pub (pubs… remember them?) or anytime on BBC Four: what was the greatest year for music? ‘69? ‘84? ‘95? Comedian James Acaster thinks it’s 2016. So much so, he wrote a book about it and now has made a podcast. He bought something like 600 albums from that year: an experience that’s reignited his love for discovering new music. Each new podcast he’s joined by a guest – the first one features Romesh Ranganathan, with Sophie Duker, Jamali Maddix, Desiree Burch still to come – where Acaster discusses an ‘06 album with that person. Sometimes they know it, other times they don’t. By the end, either impressed by Acaster’s passion and persuasiveness or not, they either agree or disagree that 2016 was the greatest year for music ever. Y’know, looking back, maybe he’s onto something.

Where to hear it: BBC Sounds

Start with this:

Dear Young Rocker

The low-down: Remember the feeling? That supercharged, raw, turbo-mix of emotions that characterised early adolescence where music feels like the only language your brain speaks. It’s a period where your first heroes emerge and maybe you have your first terrible attempt at forming a band. Above all: there’s a sense that no-one gets you. DYR bottles that experience, a show that puts a fresh spin on the music podcast genre – a coming-of-age audio memoir “for anyone who found a home in music”. In this scripted series set in the early 2000s. Chelsea (now 30) writes a string of letters to her younger self. It’s not just about idolizing D’arcy Wretzky from The Smashing Pumpkins, it sums up the detachment, community and the developmental powers of formative music discovery in all its awkward, spotty glory.

Where to hear it: All major podcast places

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Locked Together


The low-down: Coronavirus has emerged as a podcast genre of its own in the past few months. Shows about all kinds of fallout from COVID-19: business, educating the kids, working from home, protecting your mental health… Locked Together exists on the lighter end of the spectrum. It’s where famous comedy duos fire up Zoom to talk about how they’re coping in quarantine. Unsurprisingly their chats concentrate on the sillier stuff. Jennifer Saunders & Dawn French, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and Sharon Horgan & Rob Delaney have all recorded episodes. Paul Whitehouse detailing his home exercise routine to a Led Zeppelin soundtrack (he’s also not a fan of Lewis Capaldi) with Harry Enfield is a good place to start. So too is Jimmy Carr contemplating when it is too early to start writing jokes about the pandemic.

Where to hear it: Audible

Start with this:

Real Narcos

Narcos Mexico
A still from Narcos: Mexico

The low-down: If you’re a fan of Narcos on Netflix – and its subsequent spin-off series – then this new show will likely continue to feed your appetite for content about the world’s most notorious drug traffickers. “If you make a mistake these people will kill you within a blink of an eye” – that’s the stark opening scene-setter that comes from one of the contributors to this new show, where real life DEA agents discuss what it was like being deployed from America to Colombia in the ‘80s with a mission to shut down the blood-thirsty criminal networks run by Pablo Escobar and El Chapo. Less glamorous than the dramatisations you may have seen, but equally as enthralling.

Where to hear it: Stitcher – and other podcast apps

Start with this:

Katherine Ryan: Telling Everybody Everything

The low-down: Confessional new show from the Canadian comedian where she lays everything out with total honesty. The setup is straightforward – just Ryan, the microphone and her personal experiences. It starts out with the story of the heart-warming rekindling of the relationship with her childhood sweetheart, and now husband, Bobby K. The second episode is a real hard hitter, though: Ryan opens up about her recent pregnancy loss, its brutal emotional impact and how she continued working while processing the trauma. It’s very impactful listening. The thrust of it? No-one talks about this stuff, society does not have an open conversation about miscarriage and navigating grief. Be aware, some listeners may find the subject matter triggering.

Where to hear it: On major podcast platforms

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 What you’ve been listening to

Fake Doctors, Real Friends

Recommended by: Marinella, @so_mari on Twitter

The low-down: Co-stars on Scrubs and real life best mates Zach Braff and Donald Faison are reliving the hit TV show one episode at a time. New episodes drop weekly.

Marinella tweets: “The best thing to happen since the beginning of the lockdown.”

Where to hear it: Apple, Spotify and other major podcast places

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Pleasures Known

Recommended by: Shane, @MrShaneMorgan on Twitter

The low-down: A podcast about the fascinating aftermath of punk – in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s it gave way to some of the most experimental sounds ever created. This is all about the albums, songs and moments that defined that era.

Shane says: “Three Aussie blokes talking about post-punk music.”

Where to hear it: Apple podcasts

Start with this:

Film Stories

Recommended by: Dave, @Davejking on Twitter

The low-down: For those who want to dig a bit deeper into the history of their favourite movies host Simon Brew has you covered – recent episodes include Starship Troopers right through to Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

Dave writes: “The Film Stories podcast is a delight, and totally binge worthy.”

Where to hear it: Podbean, Apple and other podcast apps

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Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast

Recommended by: Jason M, @GQJason on Twitter

The low-down: Huge guests from the world of Hollywood on this long-running show from comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried and Frank Santopadre. The show recently celebrated its sixth birthday.

Jason says: “Always makes me laugh hard. Has an interesting mix of guests and provides a history of Hollywood from the early 1900s-Now.”

Where to hear it: Stitcher, Spotify and more

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Jimmy Eat Pod

Recommended by: Justin and David, @jimmyeatpod on Twitter

The low-down: Essential listening for fans of the Arizona rock band, presenters Justin and David dissect a different Jimmy Eat World song – there’s plenty, they started in the early ‘90s – on each weekly episode.

They say: “Together the two hosts learn about the band and how to podcast at the same time.”

Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts

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