A Bunch of Podcasts
Just ahead of the April 28 release of his new album, Together Through Life, Bob Dylan put up one song, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, from the new album on his website for a free download, only for 24 hours. The song was available on Dylan’s website from the midnight of March 30th to the midnight of March 31st.
Tipped off by a music newsletter, I managed to download it. Together Through Life will be Dylan’s thirty-third studio album and if Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ is a sneak preview of the album, it may well be another great album from Dylan who will turn 68 on May 24.
On the song, Dylan employs a zydeco-style accordion and a blues-steeped guitar to do a number that you can put on repeat and go on listening to. If the album is going to be anything like that, it’ll surely be hot property. The tip-off about the free download came to me accidentally—because I subscribe to an irrationally large number of e-newsletters and feeds. Surely there must be easier ways to know what is going on in the increasingly cluttered world of music out there? One such is to subscribe to podcasts that help you keep track of genres that you enjoy. That’s, unfortunately, not very easy either. Like blogs — 99.9 per cent of which are crap — podcasts proliferate the Internet but few podcasters are really good at what they do.
I think a good music podcast has to a) be regular (that is, it shouldn’t miss an episode) and b) be credible and true to its theme or subject matter. I’ve been subscribing to several music podcasts over the past couple of years, yet I can list only a few that I like. Here are some podcasts that I enjoy. Many of them (much to my delight) play new music but there’s a fair smattering of the mainstream on this list (now that should keep the retro loving hordes satisfied!).
A couple of Blues Podcasts: The Roadhouse is a weekly hour-long podcast that claims to compile a playlist of the “best blues you’ve never heard” and lives up to that. If you like discovering new blues musicians or rediscovering rare oldies, it’s the one for you. A bit edgier is the Bandana Blues podcast, spun out weekly jointly by two blues fiends—one in the US and the other in Europe. You get a mix of old and new artists but also rare tracks by bands like Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings (Wyman is a former Rolling Stones bassist), Fleetwood Mac (before they went pop) and Charlie Musselwhite (a blues harp player par excellence).
A Classic Rock Podcast: For retro nerds, no amount of new bands makes the cut and they always yearn for the good old days when cutting-edge music was all about Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Cream, Deep Purple and so on. I found a podcast called Rock of Ages that has episodes dedicated to these bands and a few others. Sadly, the guys who ran Rock of Ages seem to be on a hiatus, but thirteen of their episodes are available at Rock Of Ages.
An eclectic one: The National Public Radio or NPR as it is known is a treasure chest of interesting radio programmes and a great music resource. I found the All Songs Considered podcast in its directory. In every episode, the host features new musicians as well as old, established icons. So you may find Bob Dylan rubbing shoulders with Fever Ray, a modern Swedish musician, and Grizzly Bear, an indie band from Brooklyn. Or Morrissey and Lily Allen on the same episode with some totally unknown new indie rocker. I told you, it is eclectic. Look for All Songs Considered on the NPR website.
Progressive Rock. If that sometimes-mind-numbing genre is your cup of tea (I like a shot on badly hung-over Monday mornings) and you’d like to immerse yourself into stuff that Keith Emerson, King Crimson and their ilk made famous, head over to the Progopolis podcast for sounds turned out by bands like The Gravy Train, Donny Who Loved Bowling, UKZ and The pH Factor. Progopolis comes with some odd humour tossed in with the music, by the way.
One for the Covers: I enjoy listening to familiar songs done in unfamiliar ways and Coverville is a podcast that does just that. You could get Pearl Jam’s Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town done by Charlotte Martin or Buddy Holly’s Rave On covered by indie sensations, M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel. I recently heard an episode where Bon Jovi did a cover of the Irish hard-rockers, Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town, followed by The Lost Fingers (a Canadian gypsy jazz band) doing a cover of a Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name.
Oh, and did I mention that all these podcasts are available free?
Listen to some ‘virtual’ tracks: