Saturday 17 September 2016

Podcasts - Bowie Edition

David Bowie has been there all my life. He was on the radio, on the telly, on my brothers tape deck, played at discos, on production duties for some of my favorite albums, in my music magazines and in books I owned. He was only ever fully accepted as a musical entity into my music brain in 2013 though. I always had problems with him partly because by the time I'd reached double figures his best work was behind him. I remembered the great tunes from when I was little Ashes To Ashes, Rebel Rebel and all the stuff that never went away because it was on the radio. I didn't hate Modern Love and Let's Dance but even then I knew he wasn't at his peak and after that geez....he certainly was no longer very cool Blue Jean, Glass Spider, Dancing In The Street, Absolute Beginners etc. Then there was my brother, I mean I thought it was totally naff that he was listening to Tin Machine when Sonic Youth and The Pixies were at the peaks of their powers in the late 80s. Later I liked that tune off the Lost Highway soundtrack but that was pretty much it.

For some reason I decided to chuck all my prejudices away in 2013, well just go back to the good stuff. I always knew it was waiting for me plus it wasn't like I hadn't heard it all previously. I suppose 2013 was the year I went out of my way to listen to those records by choice as opposed to having them thrust upon me. That was a strange year for me as I had moved away from Melbourne where I'd lived for over 20 years. I was unsettled, lonely, missed the big smoke and was in some kind of culture shock. I'm still figuring it all out. Anyway I got all his records from 1970-1980 and immersed myself in them. He got so popular round here on weekends I would have Bowie breakfast. I drove the Mrs mental, I think. Enough about me and my insanity, I thought we'd have a little look at some of the podcasts dedicated to Bowie. Some of these were before his death and some were tributes after he had passed away. All these podcasters have been discussed in the previous 3 posts.

SOUND OPINIONS #347 - This show is dedicated to the classic album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

SOUND OPINIONS #381 - Toni Visconti discusses working with the great man here.

SOUND OPINIONS #529 - This episode is called Remembering David Bowie.

MY FAVORITE ALBUM... - With Neil Finn (Split Enz/Crowded House/Finn Brothers/Solo) where he discusses among other things one of his heroes David Bowie.

MY FAVORITE ALBUM #120 - Ben Blacker talks about his love for Bowie's Alladin Sane.

MY FAVORITE ALBUM #138 - In this fantastic podcast actor/podcaster Stephen Tobolowski talks about The Ziggy Stardust LP and how it affected his life.

WORD PODCAST #188 - Great writer Peter Doggett (of Man Who Sold The World: Bowie & The 70s fame) and Paul Du Noyer join The Word wankers to discuss Mr Bowie.

One of the greatest rock writers in history, Paul Morley, has written a book on David Bowie called The Age Of Bowie and here he is the other day with just one of The Word wankers for WORD PODCAST #256. Morley is on a superlative roll and I'd have been happy for him to continue on for another hour. Good stuff!

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Podcasts - Part 3

We're winding up the podcast series with perhaps one more post after this. Another pet hate that creeps into the podcast world is dudes doing their research on the the fly. Some of these podcasters will tell you they are looking up wikipedia and skim through the info, reading it aloud while recording then not bothering with editing. This is lazy and not an enjoyable listen. Microphone technique is another huge problem. Some casters will go from inaudible to screaming into the mike, v annoying. Getting shitfaced whilst recording your show doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be entertaining either. After all there is only one Headly Gritter!

From the same network as the enjoyable Stuff You Should Know podcast. This is similar with good introductions and overviews of interesting topics like MSG, coincidence, shame, Satanic Panic, weird snow, MDMA, science of beards etc. Occasionally I feel a bit like I've had fast food for dinner and need a hearty nutritious meal ie. I haven't been fully satisfied with the information presented. That's the nature of these types programmes though, I guess. You can then go and investigate further on the subjects that intrigue you.

As above, this is another podcast from the crew. More introductions to topical subjects. They've covered cannibalism, serial killers, devil worshippers, genocide, the internet, North Korea, the war on drugs, the bible, Osama Bin Laden and a bunch of other stuff. This show's a bit more on the conspiracy theory side of things but looking at the information with sane objectivity.

The aforementioned Stuff You Should Know podcast stills rules the roost for this network though, mainly due to the chemistry of the hosts Josh & Chuck.

There are some excellent episodes of this podcast. Recorded live in front of an audience at the library I assume. The classic here for music fans is David Fricke interviewing Lou Reed, Mo Tucker and Doug Yule ex-members of The Velvet Underground in 2009. Other episodes include John Waters on his book about hitchhiking Car Sick, Matthew Wiener creator of Mad Men, Joan Didion, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry & Chris Stein, Laurie Anderson, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin on Def Jam and many more.

Along with Daughters Of Darkness this is the finest film podcast my ears have come across. Mike White & his co-presenters articulate their knowledge of film with great finesse. The high quality of this show reminds me of Film Buff's Forecast, the brilliant long running 2 hour radio show on Melbourne's 3RRRFM. Every podcast instalment of The Projection Booth I've listened to has been terrific. Who knew Bruce Dern almost made the American olympic running team?

One of their outstanding projects was the 4 hour epic VHS Extravaganza followed up a month later with a 2 and half hour episode The Revenge Of VHS. This double feature of podcasts was a fascinating look inside the resurgence of VHS culture, video collectors, documentaries about VHS, nostalgia for video shops, clam shells, cover art and everything else in between. At over 6 and a half hours it's a testament to The Projection Booth team that I didn't get bored.

An episode on Let's Scare Jessica To Death was first rate as director John D Hancock was interviewed along with Lee Kalcheim who wrote the original script. Who knew this underground movie was a multi million dollar success?

Their discourse on Two-Lane Blackop was a marvellous episode too as it contained an interview with the film's director Monte Hellman.

I could go on and on.....In fact there's something like 300 episodes of this podcast so that should keep any film aficionado going for a very long time. Obviously this is highly recommended for those willing to go really deep into Movie culture.

No matter what you may think of Henry Rollings (sic) there's no doubting he can spin a good yarn. Here he co-hosts a podcast with his manager Heidi May who is the yin to his yang. So if you can stomach listening to the man prattle on, there will be much here for you to enjoy. They recorded just 15 episodes of this podcast over a 6 month period in 2015. Hear tales about Hubert Selby Jr., William Shatner, Rollins Band, Lollapolooza, Charlie Sheen, California, acting and RuPaul. Who knew that there was an unreleased musical collaboration between Hank & RuPaul from the 90s?

Scared Jessica

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Podcasts - Part 2

After listening to some of the less professional podcasts I've got some new pet peeves. I now can't stand people saying 'I love this' or 'I hate that' or 'He's one of my favorite directors', 'That record is just shit' or  'You must like this....!' etc.

I get the kind of DIY thing that some of the podcast kids are going for, but sometimes the amateurish approach to their recording, equipment, research and articulation on their subjects leaves a lot to be desired and can be unlistenable. Here we continue our little squizz at the world of podcasting.

This is probably the best podcast discovery of the year and it only kicked off in March. Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger host this show on cult movies with equal amounts passion and knowledge. They present Daughters Of Darkness with great conviction and eloquence. This show is incredibly well researched and Samm and Kat have a delightful chemistry. So far they've covered Lesbian Vampire movies in a 3 part series. Then they brought us a a four part season on Polish director Andrzej Zulawski who recently passed away. Next they investigated the subterranean world of indie American exploitation films that featured in Stephen Thrower's top book Nightmare USA. There's plenty more too. This one is for the cinephiles and lets hope it continues with such high quality.

Another podcast dedicated to film and man there are a lot of them out there. This one's a bit too haphazard for my liking. It's a bit like overhearing a conversation in a bar about a film director. Perhaps that's what they're going for. It might be enjoyable to be in that conversation, not so much fun to listen to it.

This is an excellent podcast presented by The Peabody Awards. Great interviews with award winners Anthony Bourdain, Serial's Sarah Koenig, Documentarian Alex Gibney and Sopranos creator David Chase. This could have been one of the great podcasts in history as Matt Shedd is a fabulous interviewer but it came to an abrupt halt after just five shows.

Supposedly this is a comedy podcast! It's remarkably unfunny despite the occasional interesting guest ie. John Ronson, Rob Brydon, Louis Theroux etc.

If you can get past the acquired taste of so called comedian Richard Herring you may well be able to enjoy some of these episodes. Sometimes I can't listen to him and other times I can tolerate him. As the title suggests his show is recorded in front of a live audience and he's had the cream of the comedy crop turn up for this podcast which ensures hilarity often. Comic legends such as David Mitchell, Stephen Fry, Ross Noble, Steve Coogan, Sarah Millican, Jessica Hynes, Lee Mack, Eddie Izzard and Vic Reeves have all graced the Leicester Theatre stage for these recordings. The two episodes that stand out have been when David Cross and Bob Mortimer were guests stars and in fine form. He's had his share of turds too ie. Russell Brand, Sue Perkins, Jake Whitehall etc.

Jeff Garlin of course plays Larry David's manager in the classic sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. The best podcast is the first one and it's with Larry David. This instalment is like an elongated scene between the two in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, depending on your view of the show you'll either love it or not. The other episodes have been disappointing. He got a bit cringeworthy during the podcasts with Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler.

Mulligan and O'Hare!

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Podcasts - Part 1

In 2016 I have mostly been unable to enjoy or even listen to music, much to the detriment of my blog. I put on normal TV for the first time in over 12 months this April only to discover Australian telly is just as shite as the last time I turned it on. I knew there was a reason I got got rid of cable a couple of years back. The free to air idiot box is even worse. The only 2 shows I've been able to enjoy are Gogglebox and Have You Been Paying Attention?, sometimes they even wear a bit thin. There are so many unfunny comedy shows, unlikable comedians, overtly crass witless characters, formulaic reality tv, terrible American tonight shows where the hosts have no craft (Fallon, Colbert & Corden all seem to be in the wrong format) and don't get me started on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting commission) let alone fucking ABC2. My love for Aussie Rules footy has waned and sports broadcasting seems to be at its lowest ebb (The Olympics) as well as being at saturation point. I didn't even fully engage with this years season of Girls, which has been the best show of the last few years.

In the search for something to fill a void for my natural curiosity (I've only been able to read one and a half books in 2016) I have tuned into the podcast world. Previously I have enjoyed The Ricky Gervais, Stuff You Should Know, Bret Easton Ellis, Finders Keepers Radio and No Such Thing As A Fish podcasts. I decided to go deeper this time. I've been checking out certain podcasts to see what the fuss is about and just came across others. Fuck there is some shite out there but a couple of gems have come to my attention. So here's a brief look at some of the casts of pod I have wrapped my ears around.

This is the one everyone talks about and it even won a Peabody award. Sarah Koenig and her cohorts excel with their 2 seasons. The first is 12+ episodes investigating a murder trial gone awry. The second is a bizarre 11 part story of an American soldier who goes AWOL in Afghanistan. Recommended.

Marc Maron presents interviews with an array of cultural figures. He's really bloody annoying and comes off awkward when talking to women. I don't think he's actually a comedian . Don't understand the popularity of this one. Wtf?

This is also quite annoying. The presenters (who call themselves comedians??) come across as so needy and desperate (also see above) while they interview people from current pop culture. Like Maron the interviews with women sometimes come across as awkward and even a bit creepy.

This one is a bunch of annoying British men who love the sound of their own voices and find themselves 'oh so interesting'. However there have been a couple of good episodes particularly the shows where excellent authors Pete Doggett and John Savage have been guests.

This is a well researched and professional podcast about music presented by a couple of old rock crits from Chicago Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. It's a bit old hat but the old hat bits are the best bits. Slayer, Bob Dylan, Toni Visconti on Bowie, John Savage on punk, Sarah Marcus on Riot Grrrl, Jac Holzman on Electra Records and Stanley Booth on The Rolling Sones are amongst some of their choice episodes. Get your retro rock information fix here.

Jeremy Dylan has a guest on each episode talking about their fave LP. Records covered are usually of the canonical variety although Comsat Angels, The Shangri Las, The Blue Nile and Shuggie Otis have had episodes dedicated to them. Dylan does his research but many episodes depend on how eloquent his guests can be about the music they love. Bob Harris on Forever Changes, Stephen Tobolowski on Ziggy Stardust, Robyn Hitchcock on Plastic Ono Band and Bad Dreams on Unknown Pleasures are some of the highlights ......Oh and Dylan loves his Beatles, he could probably do a separate podcast on that little known group. This show is at its best when host and guest are just as engaged as each other by the LP being discussed.

Bill Ackerman does a very good job presenting this show with a different guest each week discussing Horror/Genre/B-Movies etc. His guests include writers, exhibitors, bloggers, zine publishers and documentarians. He's had some of the best authors in the field featured on his podcast including Danny Peary, JA Kerswell, Kier-La Janisse and Daniel Bird. The highlight so far was episode 2 with guest Samm Deighan, she writes the excellent blog Satanic Pandemonium and has just started co-presenting the fabulous podcast Daughters Of Darkness (more on that next time). Supporting Characters is just 14 episodes in, making this a relatively new podcast on the block and he's setting the bar high. Recommended for film buffs and cult movie fans.

Kathleen's Hanna