Music

Listen to these 10 music podcasts to broaden your horizons

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By Dave Hanratty
From mixes and interviews to shows that break down the science of writing pop songs, podcasts help you be the best music fan you can be. Dave Hanratty, host of NO ENCORE, suggests 10 must-listens.
Haven't you heard? Podcasts are the new radio, TV, books, and magazines. It's where all the savviest people get their infotainment these days. And if your best friend or significant other doesn't have a favourite, then they're probably too busy making their own. Like I did with NO ENCORE.
To soundtrack your travels into work for the foreseeable future, here are 10 of the very best music shows from around the world for you to subscribe to and devour at your convenience.

Song Exploder

It might seem a given to throw Song Exploder into a rundown like this, but there's a reason for that. The Los Angeles-based bi-weekly keeps it simple, inviting guests of varying styles and status into the studio to break down their artistry in relaxed, revealing, and sometimes remarkable fashion.
The genius lies in addressing just one song of choice, which almost always yields passionate and fascinating insights. A-listers and indie darlings abound, but make time for turns from Christine And The Queens, Janelle Monáe, Big Boi, Cat Power, John Carpenter, and even cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
An image of Janelle Monáe performing live at The Roundhouse in London, UK, in September 2018.
Janelle Monáe

Dissect

Cole Cuchna obsesses over modern pop music the same way academics paw over the compositions of classical music titans, and you can hear this unabashed enthusiasm in his serialised podcast, Dissect. Where Song Exploder nerds out about one song, Dissect focuses on one album for an entire series of 30 minute episodes, working through each track with rigour and fanboy passion.
Spotify brought Cuchna onboard to develop his podcast under their original audio content initiative, but the same energy that fuelled the first two series about Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly and Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is still there on his third, about Frank Ocean's Blonde.

Couch Wisdom

Another podcast delving behind the scenes in an attempt to breakdown the artistic process is Red Bull Radio's Couch Wisdom.
Delving into the inexhaustible pot of Red Bull Music Academy lectures, this weekly podcast features in-depth, warts-and-all interviews with musical luminaries such as Manuel Göttsching, Jlin, Frankie Knuckles, Cosey Fanni Tutti and many more.
A photo of electronic music producer and DJ Jlin at the Red Bull Music Academy in Berlin, in September, 2018.
Jlin

Disgraceland

Disgraceland host Jake Brennan explores the shadowy side of music in this engrossing, story-based show. As much a true crime podcast as it is a music one, Brennan uses each 30 minute episode to tell stories of music stars behaving badly or becoming embroiled in bonkers criminal adventures.
Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, Norwegian black metal, GG Allin, John Lennon,and Jerry Lee Lewis have all played a prominent role in this excellent, ongoing podcast.
If you like Disgraceland, then Tyler Mahan Coe's podcast about the badassery of country stars, Cocaine & Rhinestones, is also worth your time.

Talkhouse Podcast

From the minds that gave us Ezra Koenig's wonderfully surreal review of Drake's Nothing Was The Same comes the Talkhouse Podcast, a forum where journalists are left out in the cold, as superstars quiz one another about whatever is on their minds.
Recent excellent mash ups include Steve Albini and Jerry Casale (Devo), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) and Alan Sparhawk (Low), Mac DeMarco and Neil Finn (Crowded House), and Natalie Prass talking with Matthew E. White.
Mac Demarco
Mac Demarco

Hip Hop Saved My Life

Let's say that you've never encountered hip-hop before. You might think that a show that places the genre front and centre isn't for you, but then you've probably never heard British stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan's buoyant passion for the subject.
As you might expect from its title, Hip Hop Saved My Life adopts something of a joyful approach, and yet Ranganathan isn't afraid to take aim at sacred cows when the mood arises.
His approach is reflected in an eclectic chorus of guests that has included UK hip-hop legend Rodney P, Mo' Wax Recordings boss and UNKLE main man James Lavelle, British rapper Ty, and even Ranganathan's own mum, Shanthi.

Hit Parade

If you're looking for music podcasts to tune into, then you're either already something of a music nerd – or you'd quite like to be one. And this is where Slate's music history podcast, Hit Parade, comes in.
Its host, experienced critic and music writer Chris Molanphy, dives headlong into a satisfyingly broad range of topics, breaking them down, and bringing to light previously lost facts and stories.
With topics ranging from the birth of hip-hop and Madonna's late-90s revitalisation to why on earth Bon Jovi are still massive, this one is for trivia-loving music fans.

WTF With Marc Maron

Although he's not strictly a music interviewer, American stand-up comedian and actor Marc Maron has welcomed some of the industry's biggest and most intriguing names onto his WTF podcast since 2009.
Maron is an engaging host who knows how to get the most from his subjects, including Barack Obama, who turned up on his show in 2015.
The music-related highlights over WTF's decade include an episode exploring the wild origins of Father John Misty, Lorde waxing lyrical about Fleetwood Mac,and a tricky chat with Nick Cave that pulled back the curtain on the Australian musician's ambitious script for a never-made Gladiator sequel.
In 2018, Maron welcomed the remaining Beastie Boys, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Roger Daltrey, Kurt Vile, Joan Jett, Slash,and Paul McCartney on to his show. Not a shabby lineup, at all.
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney

On Shuffle

This podcast from US sport and culture site The Ringer prides itself on keeping things bang up to date. Unlike a lot of music podcasts vying for your attention, with their focus on music history trivia, On Shuffle's Micah Peters is interested in the big topics of the day – new trends, revivals, comebacks, Twitter beefs and big zeitgeisty albums. It's like the audiobook equivalent of an old music weekly.

10. R U Talkin' R.E.M. Re: Me?

The podcast formerly known as U Talkin' U2 To Me sees US actor/comedian combo Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt from Parks And Recreation) and Scott Aukerman (the co-creator of Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis) moving on to another world-conquering rock band's discography.
This time they are sifting through R.E.M.'s entire discography – often getting lost in hilarious tangents – as they attempt to make sense of their unabashed Michael Stipe fandom.