This Week in Podcasts a weekly roundup of mini-reviews of all of the podcasts I’ve listened to in a week. If you see any podcasts that you feel are missing from my list, there’s a good chance I haven’t listened to the show yet! Feel free to give me recommendations–as well as any feedback or discussion!–in the comments below, in my asks on tumblr, or on twitter.
In case you didn’t see the update, this is going to be the first of these posts using the new format. Because this is the first post with the new format, I just want to say that a B or a C is not a bad grade. Bs are good episodes! Cs, especially C+s, are forgettable, but they’re fine. I listen to so many podcasts each week. Some of them are just going to be a little forgettable. Most podcasts are going to land in the B-C range.
This week, I also gave my first impressions on the D&D podcast Join the Party.
“What To Make Of Philando Castile’s Death, One Year later”
I hope the title here speaks for itself. This emotional 20 minutes of radio is haunting and painfully important. I hope you listen to it.
“Fleet Foxes – Mearcstapa”
This episode of Song Exploder is what makes the show so interesting. In this episode, Robin Peckold of Fleet Foxes explain the writing and production of the band’s new song, “Mearcstapa.” I do not like Fleet Foxes. Their music has always seemed like the epitome of easy, boring acoustic music, but during this episode, I was astounded by Peckold’s knowledge and the amount of care put into the song. With each new layer added, I become more and more interested to the point where I was laughing about just how many features were put into the song. At the end of the episode, I still did not like “Mearcstapa.” Even with all the layers, it still bored me. What the episode had done, though, was give me a deep respect for Peckold regardless of my taste and remind me that what might seem simple is likely worlds more nuanced than I would think on a first listen. This episode wasn’t just about Fleet Foxes; it was about reminding me of basic humility. This is why Song Exploder shines: it does this almost every episode and remains fascinating even if you don’t like the music itself.
The Penumbra Podcast
“2.07: Second Citadel – Knight of the Crown, Lord of the Swamp (Part 2)”
I’ve discussed before that The Penumbra Podcast really only shines when it’s a Juno Steel episode, and this week’s show was another reminder of why this podcast frustrated me for so long. Between a dull script and obnoxious acting, this episode was worse than forgettable, but better than annoying. Its one saving grace was the production, which was much cleaner and less distracting than the other episodes in this series.
After a standard-setting, beautiful second season, Invisibilia‘s second season proves little other than annoying. This episode, about pressuring your children to be one idealized self, frames itself like a murder mystery. When two teens kill themselves after their school institutes hypnosis to help them learn . . . could hypnosis be why they killed themselves? No. No, it couldn’t. By the end of the episode, this framing device has been dropped, seemingly only brought up to give the story more flair. There’s very little analysis of how pressuring teens to reach their goals aside from explaining the factual events of two suicides and then very disrespectfully bringing up this pressure to the parent of one victim. This episode says very little other than, “We have cast aside our beautiful structure of tying stories together and instead decide to sensationalize true stories.” I’m very, very disappointed. The only saving graces this episode had were at least being interesting and well-produced, two things that Invisibilia will luckily always have on its side.
This Week’s Ratings
- The Hilarious World of Depression, “Placebo: Vol. 2 of Listeners’ Favorite Coping Songs”: B
- The Sporkful, “How to Be Fat (with Lindy West)”: C
- The Penumbra Podcast, “2.07: Second Citadel – Knight of the Crown, Lord of the Swamp (Part 2)”: C-
- Left Trigger Right Trigger, “First Annual Father’s Day Dadstravaganza”: B-
- Wolf 359, “Mini Episode 14: One of Them”: C+
- My Brother, My Brother and Me, “MBMBaM 360: Gatorade Weak”: C+
- The Far Meridian, “1.3 The Bus Stop”: C
- Hello from the Magic Tavern, “Season 2, Ep 14 – Elf Help”: B
- Millennial, “#13 Long Distance Love Story (Rerun)”: B
- Code Switch, “What To Make Of Philando Castile’s Death, One Year later”: A-
- Note to Self, “We See Ourselves in Black Mirror”: B+
- The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, “An orbiting Human Circus Special: The 2nd Imaginary Symphony, Episode 4”: B
- The Heart, “The Visits”: C
- 99% Invisible, “You Should Do a Story”: C
- Join the Party, “Wedding Party III”: B
- Beautiful Stories from Anonymous Strangers, “66. Sex Drugs and Retail”: B
- Invisibilia, “Future Self”: C–
- Join the Party, “Afterparty: Wedding Party III”: B
- Spirits, “Episode 37: Rainbow Serpent”: B–
- Under Pressure, “Pavlov’s Nematodes”: D (First Impressions review to come after Episode 5 instead of explaining this rating here)
- Song Exploder, “Fleet Foxes – Mearcstapa”: A-
- Invisibilia, “True You”: B-
- Snap Judgment, “Snap #608 – Overthrow”: C
- Kind World, “#40: Four Bullets”: C
Nothing of note this Friday. Instead, I spent my time catching up on other podcasts after starting Join the Party, Potterless, and Spirits.
- Nancy, “#14: Kathy Goes to Camp” (the last episode of Nancy‘s first season): B+