Our collective kitchens have never had so much esoteric goodness as during lockdown, when all manner of illuminating podcasts have been released into the digital ether like sonic polyfilla filling the vacuous crevices in our home-bound brains. This week we thought we'd let you in on some crackers that we've had our ears glued to at Oliver Spencer. From rock 'n' roll royalty to the world of competitive chilli pepper eating, this list is an earful of eclectic wonderment and weirdness. Enjoy...
For anyone passionate about music (but especially those old enough to remember hankering after a canary yellow Sony Walkman Sports), the Rockonteurs is an absolute gem of a podcast, hosted by Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt. Gary, he of Spandau Ballet megafame, and Guy, acclaimed bassist who shaped songs for the likes of Madonna and Pink Floyd, are joined by fellow musical luminaries each episode, chewing the fat on their respective glory days. Don't miss the Johnny Marr episode which is so fascinating, but in truth every guest brings to the table some amazing stories and insight into what it is like to be in a band at the top of their game.
Now in its fourth season (and owned by the New York Times since 2020), Serial is the amazing investigative journalism podcast founded by the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. If you haven't dialled into yet, no problem - each season recounts a different true-life story. So good is the story-telling that you'll be completely engrossed in the twists, tails and terrific cast of characters. Having won every major award for broadcasting, including the duPont-Columbia, Scripps Howard, Edward R. Murrow, and the first-ever Peabody awarded to a podcast, Koenig's Serial is the highest level of long-form journalism trafficked into our obliging ear canals.
American journalists Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall make up the brilliant double-act 'You're Wrong About', which as you might have guessed, goes to great detailed lengths in debunking things, people, historical events and ideas that you probably believed without even giving a second thought. As eclectic and esoteric as it is brilliantly researched and presented, you can expect episodes as diverse as the OJ Simpson trial, the Stanford Prison project, killer clowns, Princess Diana, human trafficking and Courtney Love, with no end of eye-opening facts to regurgitate as your own when the pubs reopen.
Transmissions: The Definitive Story of Joy Division and New Order
It's amazing that it has taken all this time - some 45 years - to finally have been gifted the unadulterated history of New Order/Joy Division, but perhaps not surprising. For close to half a century, the band's history has been marked with myth, legend, recrimination and petty legacy-claiming, but all that has been swept aside in the interests of musical posterity. Featuring candid interviews with all of the surviving band members, actress Maxine Peake narrates the story from the band's early Manchester days, alongside contributions from the likes of Bono, Shaun Ryder, Damon Albarn, Johnny Marr, Liam Gallagher, Karen O and many more. If you weren't a fan before, Transmissions will have you going through the back catalogue with unrelenting interest.
In its own words, "Articles of Interest is a critically acclaimed, two-season mini-series (totaling twelve episodes) within the 99% Invisible podcast. Each instalment delves to a different aspect of dress. Together, the episodes link thematically, each one to the next, like a daisy chain. Think of it as a podcast concept album … on clothes." We couldn't have put it better ourselves. Created by Avery Trufelman, Articles of Interest covers a broad range of concepts including the rise of casualwear, the environmental impact of the textile industry and more pragmatic topics such as plaid, the Hawaiian shirt, knock-offs jeans and much more. It's a font of fashion knowledge and required listening for anyone with more than a remote interest in how they look.
Anyone looking to make that 1% change in any aspect of their life should most definitely dial into sports presenter Jake Humphries and Professor Damian Hughes on their acclaimed High Performance podcast. You know the score - interview a high performer/ridiculous over-achiever as Humphries gets under their respective bonnets with questions, leaving Prof Hughes to shrink the guests and find out what really makes them tick and how you can emulate these behaviours. The cast is pretty all-star, from Eddie Jones talking about the relentless pursuit of perfection to Matthew McConaughey on looking for life's green lights. We feel more efficient just writing about it...