Podcasts are just the thing for shelving, I find, but I often struggle to find good ones. So I was excited to find four that I really enjoy. Like a lot of my recommendations, they err on the side of the creepy and/or mysterious. All are free and all are available on iTunes. All have quality voice acting and excellent production values.
The Black Tapes
Borrowing Serial’s format, this (fictional) podcast follows Alex Reagan, a reporter investigation Dr. Strand, a mysterious figure who’s offered a million dollars for scientific evidence of the supernatural. The podcast takes its name from a mysterious collection of tapes that contain footage that Dr. Strand has never been able to definitively debunk. What seems a straightforward assignment takes Alex (and the listeners) on a strange journey involving mysterious deaths, sacred geometry and Dr. Strand’s missing wife.
Tanis is made by the same people who make The Black Tapes- both in real life and in universe. Like The Black Tapes, the podcast follows a single journalist, Nic Silver, as he investigates the mysterious concept or place or conspiracy known as Tanis. Nic is searching for a real mystery in the internet age – like Alex, he finds a lot more than he’s looking for. While TBT focuses on the supernatural, Tanis skews more to strange conspiracies. Nic relies on the services of Meerkatnip, a hacker who spends as much time wryly dealing with Nic’s naivety as searching for information on the hidden side of the internet.
Both are in their second season, so there’s a plenty to catch up on.
Limetown’s my pick for the best of the bunch – once again, a journalist seeks to find out the truth, this time behind the mysterious disappearance of over 300 people from a small town in America. Like Tanis and TBT, the journalist gets a lot more than she’s bargained for; the tense atmosphere starts at episode 2 and doesn’t let up until its shocking conclusion. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of a second season, but there may be a TV show in the future and the creators are working on a prequel novel.
Alice isn’t dead
Like the previous three, Alice isn’t dead follows a narrator chasing after a central mystery; what happened to her wife, Alice, whom she had presumed dead. Unlike the others, the narrator isn’t a professional journalist; instead, she’s a long haul truck driver, transporting mundane domestic items across America. The podcast consists of her audio diaries, which she narrates to Alice. Along the way, the narrator encounters many other strange occurances and people, some of which are connected to the central mystery of Alice, others which are not.
so claims a song by CSS (they’re pretty rad).
For some people, music is what keeps them going. It can be an essential part of coping and survival and can help people in ways even they can’t understand. It could be the melody, an intense beat or the maybe lyrics blasting through your headphones which make you think the song was written just for you. For whatever reason, music makes us feel things both good and bad. For some characters in the books below, music is what keeps them going through some especially difficult times.
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
“Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.” (goodreads.com)
Eleanor has a pretty difficult home life, and Park enables and encourages her obsession with music. It helps her get through some pretty traumatic times and the 80s tunes Eleanor connects with relate just so to her life and surroundings. AND Rainbow Rowell herself published some playlists on her blog that inspired and represent each of the main characters, so you could listen to those while you read this amaaaazing book and truly immerse yourself in the experience! Just a suggestion. (You can find the playlists here at Rainbow Rowell’s blog)
P.S. We also have this as a book on cd!
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
“It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.” (goodreads.com)
Nick and Norah’s first connection is formed via the playlists Nick makes for his then-girlfriend Tris, who is also Norah’s friend. Tris couldn’t care less about the thought and effort put into these playlists for her, but Norah feels a connection to the person who compiled them and… well you’ll see when you read it 🙂 We also have the dvd, which is just 80c to issue using your YA library card!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
“Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.” (goodreads.com)
We have the movie version of this too! These music books sure lend themselves well to film adaptations, huh?
The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz
“Allie, a sixteen-year-old who is obsessed with LPs, works at the used record store on Telegraph Ave. and deals with crushes–her own and her mother’s–her increasingly popular blog and zine, and generally grows up over the course of one summer in her hometown of Berkeley, California.” (WCL catalogue)
The Vinyl Princess covers a bunch of niche areas – LP collecting, zine-making, blogging (although these are all becoming pretty ubiquitous) – so if you relate to any of these pasttimes, this may just be the book for you!
Fat Kid Rules the World, K. L. Going
Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius. Soon, Curt has recruited Troy as his new drummer, even though Troy can’t play the drums. Together, Curt and Troy will change the world of punk, and Troy’s own life, forever. (edited from goodreads.com)
Fat Kid Rules The World achieves something great in the way music, and particularly the energy of drumming is described. It could so easily fall flat, but Going really captures the energy and essence of a punk drummer.
Chopsticks, Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral
This one looks like it’ll all be sunshine and happiness, but don’t be fooled: “In a love story told in photographs and drawings, Glory, a brilliant piano prodigy, is drawn to Frank, an artistic new boy, and the farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness until the only song she is able to play is ‘Chopsticks.'” So it’s kind of a graphic novel – there’s something for everybody!
We hope you’ve enjoyed NZ Music Month 2014, maybe came to one (or more!) of our library music events and we look forward to doing it all over again next year! If there were any highlights of NZMM that you’d like to tell us about, please do so in the comments! I’ll be back to regular scheduled posting next week – who’s excited for TFIOS? 😉
Have you been wondering what ever happened to the playlists that used to be at the end of every new music post? Well, they’ve been moved over to our new bebo page (that’s right, we have a bebo page, why not add us?), in the ilike box over to the right. This week it’s a Glee filled playlist, as it seems to be everyone’s favourite at the moment.
While I’m here I’ll remind you to get your votes and reviews in for your favourite albums of 2009, post them in the comments here. There’s going to be a “year end music spectacular” mega post created using you input going up sometime after Christmas, so look forward to that.
Apparently Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta went on a spirit quest into the Arizona desert. There he found his true purpose in life was to “…[teach] hipsters to not take themselves so seriously and by telling emo kids to stop being pussies.” Apparently you do this by contributing to the Snakes On A Plane soundtrack, achieving dance-punk fame [via. MTV] and releasing an album called Hot Mess. Apparently.
Sum 41 seem to have amassed enough hits to put out a best of compilation, All the good sh** : 14 solid gold hits (2000-2008) is that very album. And indeed it does include all their biggest hits including billboard number 1, Fat Lip. Bratty mall-punk abounds.
Missy Elliott’s pal Jazmine Sullivan released the long awaited (she started performing aged 11) Fearless last year. It was a fine debut by all accounts, pick it up from here if you haven’t yet listened to the rising R&B star.
Janelle Monae’s first album has been delux-ified and Metropolis : the chase suite : special edition is the result. It’s a concept e.p. detailing the life of a rebellious soul-equipped android who risks disassembly by falling in love with a human. If you enjoy Andre 3000’s soul wackiness you are advised to issue this. Do it.
Jack White is a prolific man. If his bandmates aren’t ready to release any new material he simply forms a new band and presses on. Dead Weather being active band number three, with The White Stripes and The Raconteurs being the other two. Dead Weather is somewhat of a departure for White, who is banging the drums instead of strumming the guitar on this record. On Horehound, the bands debut, he shares vocal duties with Allison Mosshart (of the Kills), with Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (Raconteurs and Greenhornes) rounding out the group. If you’ve ever enjoyed any of the above bands, or even just Rock music in general give Horehound a listen.
The Gossip emerged out of the Nu-Rave scene spearheaded by The Klaxons in 2006 with Standing In The Way Of Control and now return with their new long-player Music For Men. Lead by outspoken front-woman Beth Ditto, it’s more of the same adventurously aggressive, neon-coloured electro-pop.
Metalheads rejoice! A whopping two-thirds of the new CDs this week feature loud guitars and shouty vocals. Beatles fans and Tiki Taane fans can also rejoice, but not quite as much.
Master of Puppetsis considered by many as Metallica’s masterpiece and one of the, if not the greatest metal album of all time. Your parents may not consider it a masterpiece if you play it loud enough, and really, isn’t that the point?
Metallica’s next album …And Justice For All, realeased in 1988 (so too old to have a YA card anymore) saw them break-through on MTV with the video for One. My first memory of Metallica was seeing One on Beavis and Butthead, which means I’m far too old to have a YA card anymore.
Metallica, or the Black Album as it is is commonly referred to due to the black cover, was the one that made Metallica into proper mainstream stars. It includes quite a few big hits like Enter Sandman and slow-dance favourite (at least if you go to bogan schools) Nothing Else Matters.
Before he was a tragic figure on a reality show Ozzy Osbourne cranked out a few top-notch metal albums, the fantastically titled Blizzard Of Ozz being the first of his solo efforts. A cornerstone of 80’s metal.
Diary Of A Madman came next for Ozzy Osbourne in 1981. Building on his previous success, this classic album turned Ozzy into a star. Biting the heads off bats and other craziness would follow…
AC/DC are another classic metal band who operated in the 80s. Highway To Hell was their best record to date and also their most well recieved to date. Includes the classic single Highway To Hell.
A couple of Beatles compilations have turned up, 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, also known as the Red and Blue albums respectively. These are pretty much the definitive Beatles compilations to seek out if you don’t feel like picking up the million or so albums they made.
Flux / Tiki by Tiki Taane has turned up. It’s a remix job for the Past, present, future album and includes a song called David Lange You Da Bomb!, which confused me initially until I realised that David Lange probably was our most rockin’ PM.
Metallica are one of the biggest and longest tenured bands in metal and it all started here on Kill ‘Em All, their 1983 debut record. It’s also probably their fastest and rawest album, if you enjoyed the more recent Death Magnetic then this is right up your alley.
Sticking with metal for a while longer, there is a new Iron Maiden compilation out. Somewhere back in time : the best of 1980-1989 arguably finds the band at their peak. Includes Run to the Hills, Number of the Beast and other headbanging classics.
The Datsuns recently released album number four, Headstunts, and now it’s joined the YA collection. If you’ve ever enjoyed The Datsuns in the past, or are a fan of The White Stripes, The Libertines etc. then pick this one up.
Sate Of Mind are a local drum and bass group who’ve been making waves recently with Faster Than Light. It also comes with a bonus disc of remixes, so, bonus.
Transformers : revenge of the fallen : the album is the soundtrack to the newly released Transformers movie. Green Day, Nickleback, Linkin Park and other similar bands are featured.
Lastly, Hannah Montana : the movie also has a soundtrack that’s been added to the collection. If you’re a fan of Miley’s go out and pick this one up post haste.
If you’re a fan of MGMT and their work, have a listen to Empire Of The Sun’s really ace Walking On A Dream. Also they wear really silly costumes, which is always a nice bonus.
The Rakes’ third album Klang is here. If you enjoy Interpol, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and all that sort of thing, then The Rakes are right up your alley.
Punk Popsters Plain White T’s Big Bad World has arrived. I think they have a new one coming shortly, so get caught up with this beforehand… If you want to that is.
Released in 1973 Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon is one of those albums that always pops up in top 100 all time lists. Come get it from here if you can’t find it amongst your parents collection.
More CDs and playlist after the jump…
The new music is coming in thick and fast these days. I’ve seldom seen it thicker or faster.
Keri Hilson is described by allmusic.com as a dynamic singer songwriter. These dynamic skills have been used to write songs for the likes of Usher, Ludacris and Kelly Rowland, and now on her own album In A Perfect World.
Destroy all lines : dance floor anthems is a compilation for all you cats out there who like dancing to anthemic hits on floors. If that’s you then you’re in luck, because it’s a whopping two-disc affair.
Platinum emo-poppers Paramore have a new live album entitled The Final Riot. All your favorite Paramore tunes being sung along to by an arena full of kids. Close your eyes and pretend you’re there.
Local Hip-Hopper Savage is back in time for New Zealand Music Month with Savage Island. I can only assume that this is a concept album based on some sort of Survivor type show hosted by Savage. At least I hope so …
21st Century Breakdown is the new, soon-to-be inescapably huge album from Green Day. It’s divided into three acts because they’re so big and important they transcend the regular album format. Golly!
We have 6 new CDs, but more exciting than that (for me anyway) is the return of embedded playlists! This time we’re using deezer.com; it’s cool, stylish and most importantly it works with our firewalls. Anyway, on with the new music…
Evermore return with album number two, Truth of the world : welcome to the show. It’s a very grandiose title, perhaps befitting the ambitious sounds within.
Another New Zealand CD is Optimus Gryme’s Eclipse LP. Do you think Optimus Gryme is a rival of The Decepticonz? Do we have a local rap war on our hands ala West Coast vs East Coast circa mid-nineties US? Stay tuned, kids.
J. Dilla was a much beloved hip hop producer before his untimely passing in 2006. Dillanthology is a greatest hits of sorts featuring Common, Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes and more.
The-Dream is one of those big, multi-platinum R&B types from the US. His album Love VS Money features other big, multi-platinum R&B types, such as Kanye West and Mariah Carey. If you are a fan of big, multi-platinum R&B types you know what to do.
Alter Ego is a new mixtape from Kanye West. On it are remixes, live versions and other little goodies not seen on albums prev. A Kanye completist’s dream.
Hip Hop: the 2009 collection has a rather self-explanatory title. Hip Hop from 1992-2009 spread across 2 discs. Includes Akon, LL Cool J, Rihanna and a whole lot more.