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Posts Tagged ‘podcast’

Music Mix and Podcast Update

Posted by Peder on 30 January 2010

I’ve blogged before about music mixes and podcasts I like.  Here’s a quick update of what I’ve been up to recently.

Music for the Appreciation of Nature

I was running on a wooded trail a few weeks back and realized I didn’t have the right mix for appreciating nature.  Such a mix would be more subtle than other running inspiration I’ve used.  Its dulce tones would foster quiet reflection.  To contrast, a few bombastic, awe-inspiring anthems would enrich the soul with energy and joy … the aural equivalent of the bright sunshine warming my face.  Voilà!

There’s some African stuff in there, southern Asian (Indian), Icelandic … as well as East Asian and electronica sounds.  And a touch of Latin in the second track.  I tried it out on a run last Sunday, and it sounded great.


A bunch of songs I liked from the movies Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (did you know they’re making a 3rd?) and Inglourious Basterds.  It’s meant to be shuffled; I don’t have a set play order for these tracks.  Of particular note is that Santa Esmeralda version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”  It’s a 10 minute version, but miraculously never wanes in excitement!

Podcasts (I’ve linked their websites, but it’s probably easiest to grab these feeds through iTunes. Just type the title into the search bar.)

Stuff You Should Know – Hosts Josh and Chuck take on a new topic almost daily on a podcast which is now near the top of the iTunes Most Popular list.  Ranging from totem poles to geocaching to the CIA testing LSD on the public, each episode will teach you something in a fun, informal manner.  Yeah, learning!

All Songs Considered – Ripping the name from All Things Considered, this National Public Radio production looks into the modern music scene with an informed perspective.  The commentators can periodically come off a bit pretentious, but I’ve realized the good aspects of the show more than outweigh the bad.

Live Concerts (from All Songs Considered) – Speaking of NPR, they publish live concerts for free online.  Some short sets are even on video.  ‘Nuff said.

Musicheads – New music album commentary from a local radio station.  Their schtick is to ask if an album is “working” for them.  Unfortunately, over the last six months or so, more and more albums seem to work, meaning the show is becoming something of a promotion vehicle for the music they’re playing on the station.  Also, they repeat shows a little too often for my tastes.  In a perfect world they’d have more shows and use the space to rip on a couple albums once in a while.  Especially the ones I don’t like!

The Dinner Party Download – I just started listening to this one, and it has promise.  Each short episode has a quick joke and some fun stories from the past week.  And a drink recipe.  The idea is to prep you with stories and banter for your next dinner party.  Not a bad angle.

The Five Minute Linguist – Being that I’m a language nerd, this show has really peaked my interest.  But it’s not all grammar rules.  Topics range from how do languages spread, to what’s up with Esperanto, to was German almost the official American language?

That Sucks – This is a video blog that highlights little-known comedians.  Each short episode is centered around the theme of something that sucks.  Very funny.


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My Top Albums of 2008 (and Podcasts too)

Posted by Peder on 17 December 2008

Photo by Mahesh Habarakada

Photo by Mahesh Habarakada

I was recently reading yet another magazine’s listing of the top albums of 2008 – this one from Spin – and thought it might be fun to see what new music I’ve been listening to this year. So I concocted a quick smart play list on iTunes and found the following list (in no particular order):

  • R.E.M.Accelerate – When I heard Michael Stipe say this album was politically charged I knew I had to get it.  And when I got it, it took me back to a happy place I once had with their albums of the late 80s and early 90s.  Style and substance:  It rocks, it has innuendo, it’s a great album.  The album plays so well as a set, but some of my favorite songs include “Accelerate,” “Mr. Richards,” and “Red Head Walking.”
  • TV On The RadioDear Science – Holy crap this album blew my socks off.  Like their previous releases, it gets better as it grows on you, but they way they go between percussive jet fuel and tender ballads made me a hard core fan on first listen.  Seeing them live was easily one of, if not the best, show I saw all year.  (Other big one was Radiohead at Outside Lands)  Fave songs include “Halfway Home,” “Family Tree,” and “Shout Me Out.”
  • AtmosphereWhen Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold – I didn’t realize how much I listened to this album until I checked iTunes, but I cranked it a lot.  I suspect some of that came from the fact that I spent a good chunk of the year prepping to come back to Minnesota and these guys are a local favorite, but the album is just good Rhymesayer’s hip hop.  Fave’s include “Puppets,” “The Skinny” and “The Waitress.”
  • BeckModern Guilt – Just good Beck, plain and simple.  I’m a fan of Beck, have liked most of his albums, and have seen him twice in concert.  This album was also a no-brainer for me to get, and it did not disappoint.  Fave tracks include “Gamma Rays,” “Modern Guilt,” and “Profanity Prayers.”
  • The NotwistThe Devil, You + Me – So here’s a sleeper pick, if not for the fact it’s a great late night listen.  For a band that’s really switched it’s style up a lot, this album stayed satisfyingly close to its predecessor Neon Golden, which I also love.  This German laptop rock just has a spot in my heart.  Fave songs include “Where In This World,” “The Devil, You + Me,” and “Good Lies.”
  • Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend – Early, early in 2008 I started hearing about this band from Columbia University and thought I’d give it a go.  So fun and upbeat, each song comes off with a youthful innocence captured by the clean guitar riffs.  Funnest songs include “A-Punk,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” and “Walcott.”
  • The Ting TingsWe Started Nothing – When a buddy told me to get this album I kinda laughed in his cyber chat face.  But then I listened — first calling it a guilty pleasure, then bringing others for the ride.  It’s infectious, upbeat and perhaps a bit overplayed on the local radio station, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Guiltiest pleasures include “Great DJ,” “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” and “Keep Your Head.”
  • MGMTOracular Spectacular – I felt a bit late to this party cuz I didn’t really get into this album until after I heard them on the air and read about them in Spin.  But I’m here now and this is an album I don’t really go more than a day without hearing at least one of these tracks:  “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feels,” or “Kids”
  • Kings of LeonOnly By The Night – Having been mildly impressed with their debut album, I picked up this album in a bout of drunken downloading and for once am happy with the results!  It’s well-produced and finally gives the singer the official position as band frontman, letting the guitar take its more appropriate role behind the vocals.  I love the songs “This Sex is On Fire,” “Use Somebody,” and “Be Somebody.”  I brought some other thoughts on this album to bear at the end of this post.
  • David Byrne and Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today – It only came out recently but man is it good!  I’ve listened to these grooves a lot over the last couple weeks and have to put the album among my faves for the year.  Particular tracks I love are “Home,” “Everything That Happens,” “Life Is Long” and “Strange Overtones.”
  • Raphael SaadiqThe Way I See It – Waiting for a double half-caf Americano at Starbucks (You can take the boy out of California …) I saw one of those free iTunes download cards they give away there.  It was “100 Yard Dash” off this album.  Smooth, Motown melodies that call back to an earlier time.  Woah, we have something here.  Then I put it on when I helped my mom paint her laundry room and it was a hit.  Finally I heard an interview with the Raphael on The Sound of Young America and was impressed with the person behind this great sound.  Give yourself the pleasure of an album you probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise and get this one.  The whole album plays well, but I recommend “100 Yard Dash,” “Just One Kiss,” and “Staying in Love.”  Nah, really just throw that disc on start to finish!

Like I say, these albums were the ones with the highest play counts on my iTunes, which is an admittedly imperfect science.  That count doesn’t take into consideration what I played on my iPod, on CD in my car or on other people’s systems.  But they’re the albums of 2008 that have had a positive influence on this crazy, crazy year of mine.

2008 was also the Year of the Podcast for me, and I listened to a lot of these as well.  I can only see this “radio on-demand” technology growing and having an increased role in my life in 2009.  So, in alphabetical order, here are some of my favorite podcasts of the last year:

  • The Bugle – John Oliver from the Daily Show and his commedy partner Andy Zaltzman have a good English go at the lighter side of the weekly news.
  • Common Sense with Dan Carlin – A guy in Oregon gets political and *thankfully* doesn’t take sides.  “Your independent alternative to the partisan voices you normally hear.”  He makes a lot of sense too, and was a refreshing source of insight during this politically-charged year.
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – A fan of history rather than a professional historian, Dan has a very compelling way of sharing stories and insights from history to his audience in this, his second show.  He’s a lot more fun to listen to than pretty much all of the other history podcasts I’ve tried out.
  • Dear Amber – Insider’s Guide to Chinese Culture – Run by the school I used to teach for (proud much?) and, this podcast goes over Chinese culture from the perspective of expats.  Kinda fits me, and I love to listen and reminisce
  • The Moth – Stories told live without notes.  Very good, interesting tales.  The art of storytelling is not dead!
  • On Point with Tom Ashbrook – Part of the NPR network, On Point provides depth behind current news stories.  Plus Tom Ashbrook is a great interviewer, and it’s great to listen to him work difficult interviewees.
  • The Sound of Young America – I only recently discovered this one but love it for interviewing interesting people.  It’s where I learned a lot about Raphael Saddiq.  Score.
  • WNYC’s Radio Lab – This is a fun show that takes on a different random, interesting topic each episode.  They talk about it, interview people about it, make jokes about it.  And I really like their storytelling/interview style where they stick bits of commentary between parts of the guest’s interviews.  It provides context and adds to the impact of the interviews.  Guess that’s where the “lab” part comes from.

Here’s hoping 2009 will be half as cool as 2008 has been.  I suspect it will!

Edited to Add: I had a look back at my account (which I’m really not using anymore) to see what bands in general I had listened to in 2008.  Here are the top 10 bands I rocked out to, regardless of whether or not they had a new album in 2008:

  1. Arctic Monkeys
  2. Shiny Toy Guns
  3. The Notwist
  4. The Lovemakers
  5. Radiohead
  6. Boards of Canada
  7. Vampire Weekend
  8. TV on the Radio
  9. Beck
  10. Hellogoodbye

Posted in Music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Peder on 25 April 2008

I am a fan of podcasts. I love having radio “on demand” whenever I want to hear a program. And thanks to iTunes and sites like Odeo, there are tons of options out there.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – got the podcast fetish started. This guy puts historical events into modern contexts, contemplates alternative history and just informs all around. Fun listen, they last about an hour.

The Bugle – do you know John Oliver from the Daily Show? This is his show w/ co-conspirator Andy Zaltzman. They go on about the news and the like with their very British sense of humor. ~30 mins each.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – same guy’s political commentary. More temporally relevant, this one addresses current US politics. Equally harsh on both major parties, this show may ruffle a few feathers, but it definitely gets you thinking. Comes out around once/week and goes for ~45-60 mins.

Diggnation (video) – Weekly hour-long video of hot topics from Great watch, the hosts, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, are funny. Plus it’s a good way to find bizarre conversation starters online.

The Moth – so there’s a group of storytellers in NYC that publish 15 minute stories on this podcast. One of my more recent discoveries, I enjoy the art of storytelling. Tons of different topics.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook – in-depth news a la Frontline but from NPR. I was really brought in by some recent conversations w/ young Chinese about censorship, environmentalism and the Olympics.

60 Minutes – cuz I seem to always be busy on Sunday evenings, it’s nice to be able to have a listen (sans video) when I can. And like w/ TV, I can shut if off before Andy Rooney starts his drivel.

Which are some of your favorite podcasts? Leave me a comment!


Update (Jan 31, 2009)

I wanted to take a moment and add to this list.  Over the course of 2008 I added to and modified my listening spectrum.  In this post I talked about my most-listened to albums and podcasts of that year.  So here are some more great podcasts:

The Sound of Young America – anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes with people influential in pop culture, spanning mostly comedians and musicians. Their tagline is “A public radio show about things that are awesome.” I couldn’t agree more. The show is the cornerstone of which has a variety of other shows, listed on this page.

WNYC’s Radio Lab – I think the “lab” here is how they disect their interviews to add commentary and tell a story which is then heigtened or enhanced by the interview at its core. But the show will investigate some question, perhaps not one you’ve asked yourself, and take it on from a variety of perspectives. Very cool.

Dear Amber – this show talks about what it’s like to live as an expat in China, especially Shanghai, and it includes relevent language tips. Speaks straight to me for a number of reasons. One, I was an expat living in Shanghai. Two, I had many friends from Amber’s demographic. Had we been in town at the same time, we likely would have been friends. Three, the show is produced by the people I used to work for. Long story short, the Kai En English Training Center found it could significantly expand its reach by offering online lessons. Problem is, as of this update, the most recent show is called “The Final Show,” and I’m not sure I like where that’s going.

Posted in Communication, General Tech-ishness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »