14 Jul June Podcast Round Up
So, my podcast obsession is still thriving. So much so that I’ve even started planning my own podcast with my friend. Watch this space.
I keep speaking to other people who are also avid podcast listeners lately. Either I was never aware of how popular podcasts are and people have been listening to them this whole time, OR, as I suspect, podcasts are going through a renaissance.
While there’s an absolute treasure trove of podcasts out there, I find the amount of choice can be daunting. My eyes light up at the amount of choice but I don’t even know where to start.
Finding some of my favourite podcasts has involved research and trawling through a lot of stuff I wasn’t totally keen on. It’s infuriating because I know there’s so much good listening material out there it’s just a matter of finding it.
So bearing this predicament in mind, basically I decided to start a monthly round-up of podcasts I’ve listened to so that hopefully you’ll find a few recommendations to add to your list and save you a lot of trawling in the long-run.
Brace yourself, very excited brain vomit is pending.
I was recommended Unexplained by a co-worker and I’ll be eternally grateful they notified me of its existence. To be honest, I was kinda shocked that I hadn’t stumbled upon it myself in my podcast trawls because Unexplained is exactly what I’ve been looking for in a podcast ever since I got into them. Horror and mystery are so perfectly suited to the audio format. The act of simply listening engages your imagination so keenly, the stories get unpacked in your mind’s eye, they get closer than film and become somehow more unnerving.
Unexplained is created by Richard MacLean Smith. It’s about (oddly enough) unexplained occurrences that no one has ever been able to fully provide an explanation for. It covers UFO sightings, brushes with potential sea monsters, demonic possessions, poltergeists, and otherworldly incidents that will give you chills.
Every element of it is superb. The eerie, original opening music (which MacLean created himself – you can find it here), the incredibly well researched stories and theories behind them, the sense of history and storytelling techniques employed as MacLean recounts the incidents in question, and then the philosophical arguments and potential explanations. These don’t leave the listener with a firm opinion but rather leave us to make our own mind up.
Basically, every element of Unexplained is of a really high quality and you should go listen to it right now.
My only qualm is that I wish the episodes were longer. They are usually between 20 and 35 minutes long. I wish they were about an hour long because it feels as though they are over all too soon. This is probably just me being greedy.
Luckily, if you do decide to start listening to Unexplained you have a bit of a back catalogue to work through – a whole 33 episodes you lucky duck. I’m rapidly working my way through them all and I’m so not ready for having none left and having to wait for season 3.
If you know of an unexplained mystery that you think would be great for Unexplained, MacLean is always open to suggestions over on the Unexplained Twitter.
I’ve quite recently got into crime documentaries having watched Making a Murderer, Amanda Knox and The Keepers. Then there was Serial Season 1 all about the mysterious disappearance and murder of Hae Min Li (I recommend this podcast).
So, since clearly scaring myself with ghosts and UFOs and poltergeists with Unexplained wasn’t enough, it was time to scare myself further with real life crime.
Although, as the name does not suggest, Criminal is not the hard-hitting true crime podcast about serial killers that you think it is. Rather it looks at crime in a more interesting, unique way with very interesting, unique stories. My favourite episode was about a body farm in Texas – The Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF). FARF is basically a place where corpses are kept and studied to garner a better understanding of human decomposition. The research they conduct can help with criminal cases where a body is found days or months after a murder.
Pretty interesting, eh? And creepy of course. Yet, hearing the interviews with the people who work there completely normalises what they do for a living. Interestingly, it’s almost entirely women who work there and conduct the research.
So, don’t expect Serial-esque investigation that covers a case over many episodes. Criminal’s stories link to crime a bit more tenuously than that but it still makes for a very interesting, short podcast (most episodes don’t go on longer than about 35 mins).
Jules & James
I reviewed J&J a few weeks back when I first started listening to it. We’re now on episode 11 and I’m not sure how invested I am anymore. Which is upsetting because I loved it so much at first.
It feels as though J&J is lacking direction at the moment. Jules and James are well acquainted by this point and chat together about their lives. Yet, it keeps inevitably coming back to the flirtations and awkward silences whenever they approach the topic of meeting. There’s an underlying sense that maybe they actually really like each other. I feel for me this will-they-won’t-they situation is starting to feel slightly repetitive.
I’m simply tiring a bit of it. There’s limited directions which this podcast can take because it is limited by the fact it will always revolve around a 35 minute phone call between two people. J&J as I mention in my review have developed a bit of a will-they-won’t-they type situation. But the more I wonder if they’ll eventually meet and embark on a relationship the more I think it’s the only logical direction J&J can take. It’s one I simultaneously want to happen and don’t want to happen.
I’m still going to stick with J&J however. I feel as though I know them personally now and need to keep up with them.
As a student I studied a couple of modules on linguistics. I found them really interesting but I wanted to focus more on English literature in my degree. Renaissance literature and 18th Century Literature were my thang.
Nonetheless, what I picked up in linguistics stuck with me and I’ve had a bit of an interest ever since Enter: LEXICON VALLEY. A PODCAST ABOUT LANGUAGE.
A podcast by Slate.com and hosted by linguist John McWhorter, Lexicon Valley explores the ways English has developed. Episodes delve into things you may have wondered about English such as (my favourite episode) the prevalence of the word “like” in every day conversation and the many different meanings “like” can take on when incorporated into sentences.
While it’s very easy to listen to and understand, Lexicon Valley is a bit more demanding of the mental faculties than Jules and James for instance. It’s a podcast that you’ll need to pay full attention to. I’d liken it to watching an episode of QI.
On the whole, it’s a very informative Podcast. It will make you pay more attention to the way you speak and to the way others speak. It will make you generally more inquisitive about language.