I've got another loosely-themed issue for you. This week's podcast recommendations are all about music. That said, I've often received a pretty strong "that's not music" response every time I've tried to play tracks by The Books to friends and family. And as for bleepy-bloopy modular-synth based stuff, the disgust and repulsion was even stronger. So your milage may vary but I think all this stuff is bona-fide music, and I love it.
Three great episodes to listen to this week:
- The Books: Smells Like Content, Song Exploder (16mins, 2014-11-12)
- If forced to compile a list of the Top Ten "Best" Podcasts, Song Exploder would certainly be on it. The show ticks all my boxes: a deep dive into a niche topic? Check. Beautifully produced? Check. An array of guests that aligns with my tastes? Check. An obsessive interest in picking apart the minutiae of a musical track, piece by piece? Check. (Okay, I'll admit there aren't too many shows that tick that last box). The show's creator, Hrishikesh Hirway, has proven on other shows to be a charming and sympathetic interviewer, but in Song Exploder he's worked hard to be invisible: he lets the musician and the music tell the story. This episode in particular is a great place to start because Smells Like Content is song that was written at the mixing desk: a collage of found-sounds and unusual production tricks. Find it here.
- Tom Whitwell: Music Thing Modular, Why We Bleep (81mins, 2018-01-21)
- This newsletter is inadvertently charting my descent into an obsession with modular synthesis (kickstarted by the Not A Podcast from issue #6). The latest manifestation of my new interest is a willingness to hoover up any modular-related content, and having thankfully some of this comes in podcast-form. But if you don't share my interest in synth hardware, fear not: this discussion between performer and modular-YouTuber Mylar Melodies (real name: Alex) and module-creator/builder Tom Whitwel (real job: Digital Editor of The Times) covers wider and more interesting ground than just modular synthesis. Highlights include a section on "generative" music and some great anecdotes about encounters with the OG musical minimalist, La Monte Young. Find it here.
- Maisie Peters, Ditty In A Dash (22mins, 2020-06-22)
- Despite considering myself to be (on some level, at least) a musician, traditional song-writing and lyric-creation has always been a blind spot of mine (as evidenced by my interest in bleepy-bloopy instrumental nonsense). This new podcast, Ditty in a Dash is a wholesome look behind the curtain at that very process. Host Frances challenges her music friends to create a song in fifteen minutes (or less) with just the barest bones of starting inspiration. The results are surprisingly effective, and the whole experience is thoroughly entertaining. Be warned, however: if the sound of young people being happy drives you crazy, this might not be a podcast for you. Find it here.
Not a podcast, but...
If the beeps and bloops and talented young people are all getting too much for you, you'll probably want to hit the wine. But what if you're not a traditional "wine snob", and find the lingo confusing? As always, YouTube's got your back. Video creator Sabrina Cruz neatly explains the problem, and recruits her editor Melissa Fernandes to help dig into the topic properly. The whole video is great, but be sure not to miss the excellent "flavour maps". This week's Not A Podcast was recommended by loyal newsletter reader Adam (do we need a label for us? "Nerds" feels like it's already taken. PFNers sounds a little too contrived. Suggestions on a postcard) Watch it here.
As always, feel free to forward this email to someone you think might like it. And if you've been forwarded this email (by someone awesome, no doubt), you can sign up for yourself at podcastsfornerds.com to be sent all future issues.
Thanks again, Tom.
You've been reading an issue of the Podcasts for Nerds newsletter. Find out more here, or signup below. 👇
You've been reading the Podcasts for Nerds newsletter.
If you enjoyed it, sign up now to get the my podcast recommendations sent to you every week: