-by Libby Sutherland, Violet Wave Staff-
About 80% of the time that I’ve got my headphones in I’m listening to music. However, sometimes when I’m not quite sure what I want to listen to yet… I’ll throw on a podcast. There are several music podcasts that bridge the best of both worlds! Here’s a list of my top 5 right now.
1. Song Exploder
One of my favourite things about Song Exploder is the fact that it always delivers. The artists interviewed on this podcast have ranged from people like Yo-Yo Ma to My Morning Jacket to Nine Inch Nails. So not only are you getting a taste of all sorts of genres, but also a taste of how each of these musicians craft and feel while creating their work. While some artists take a more mechanical point of view and break down the structure and musical instruments they’ve used to build the melody, other’s explain their memories and influences that inspired the lyrics or idea behind the song. Song Exploder is a great way to either develop a deeper respect for your favourite song or gain a new appreciation of one you’ve never heard before. Another bonus is that the episodes are short and sweet and they play the song in full at the end!
Interested? Check out Episode 43: Slyvan Esso – Coffee
2. The Ongoing History of New Music
Apparently, The Ongoing History of New Music has been on the air since 1993, making it Canada’s longest running radio documentary. Unfortunately (and fortunately) for me, I only discovered it a few months ago. This podcast has hundreds of episodes in which the host, Alan Cross, retells and takes a deeper look at the alternative rock universe, drawing comparisons, sharing anecdotes and playing samples of the songs. Cross often dedicates single episodes to ground-breaking bands of the time or dissects entire eras in multi-episode series. The podcast is slick and well-produced, and Cross is highly knowledgable and passionate (although he seems to be a bit more of a metal-head than I am).
Check out: Episodes 846-850: The 00’s (It’s still going!)
3. And The Writer Is…
It’s no surprise that we’re big supporters of Indie music here at the Violet Wave, and while this podcast may feature mostly top 40 tunes, we like to make sure credit is given where credit is due. And that’s exactly the premise behind the highly successful songwriter Ross Golan’s podcast “And The Writer Is…” In each episode, he interviews the song-writing geniuses behind some of the top pop songs today to give them the credit and exposure that they deserve. Golan goes beyond the songs and dives deeper into the personal lives of these writers making for several very interesting (albeit sometimes long) episodes.
My pick: Episode 18 – Simon Wilcox (Canadian, Female, and has written for people like Nick Jonas and Enrique Iglesias)
4. Switched On Pop
Unfortunately, podcast hosts can actually make or break the listening experience for me. Thankfully, the co-hosts of Switched On Pop, Nate and Charlie, have created the perfect mixture of humour and friendship, while still actually being knowledgable about what they’re talking about. By combining their experiences as a songwriter and a professor of musicology, “Switched on Pop” studies the “making and meaning” of popular music. And even if you’re not a “pop music” fan per se, from a standpoint of songwriting and musical craftsmanship, you may still find this interesting.
Give it a try! Episode 105 – What Makes an Award Winning Song?
5. All Songs Considered
Lastly, “All Songs Considered” is the classic, polite and reliable podcast via NPR. It actually originated as a platform to showcase the music that host Bob Boilen had been featuring on his podcast “All Things Considered”. The episodes are all relatively short and vary in structure, often exploring the latest releases from all styles and sounds of the industry and interviewing emerging artists. I’d recommend this podcast if you are looking to stay up to date on the modern music industry and want a new episode every 3-4 days.
For a little something different try: January 29th Episode “Remembering the Beatles’ Rooftop Gig, 50 Years Later, With Someone Who Was There”
All images found were on the respective podcasts websites and can be streamed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and most other podcast streaming services.