Author: sludgieboy (Page 2 of 10)

Some general housekeeping

some general housekeeping

The Pantaloon Society

Rating –

The Exorcist Files

Rating –

Tales Of The Echowood

Rating –

This is a bit of a different post this week. As I write this I have 72 unfinished podcasts, with 538 downloaded episodes! I thought my phone felt heavy. Some of these podcasts have already been reviewed, some have reviews half written, languishing in my Google docs folder blinking at the light as I start yet another queue jumper review. Some however will never get a full post review. Usually this is because I don’t like them enough to dedicate my time going through all the episodes. So in the interests of doing some general housekeeping, I’m writing this with an aim to clear these shows from my podcast lists.

This post therefore is a way to kill multiple birds with one stone. I’ll give each series a paragraph or so of a review and you can be free to check them out if you wish and comment on how I don’t know what I’m talking about. In the interest of fairness, I will listen to 10 episodes of each. I have usually made up my mind after one or two, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. As such, this post will probably be longer than a regular review, but that can’t be helped. So without further ado, let’s take a dive into the less favoured series’ in my podcatcher.

So what are they about?

the pantaloon society logo

The Pantaloon Society is an ersatz Rivers Of London but with clowns rather than the police force. This is not as entertaining as it sounds unfortunately. The writing in parts had a similar “psychogeography” style in the vein of Alan Moore or Peter Ackroyd, although this seems to be a style that was as quickly discarded as it was adopted. The series is narrated “The Racontereuse”, who tells the story of Jen, a clown who works inthe childrens ward of a hospital. After some strange events, she is approached to join the titular “Pantaloon Society”.

the exorcist files logo

The Exorcist Files dramatises the casebook of Father Carlos Martins. This is the podcast equivalent of those late night shows on Really. Most people here invite dark forces into their lives by accident or design. Don’t worry though, because the church is there to rush in and save the day. It’s also on hand to sternly wag a finger at any behaviour it considers unacceptable.

tales of the echowood logo

Tales Of The Echowood is a fantasy series following an as yet unnamed person (you, I guess) who walks through an ancient archway in a forest and finds an old inn owned by a fairy, or faerie as I reckon they’d prefer I spelled it. The question is whether a mute trespasser from the real world is able to save the Echowood before it’s too late.

Why don’t I like them?

The Pantaloon Society is a tough call for me to include here. The ingredients are all there for a 5 brain series that would have me recommending it to everyone. Just like all you need to make a cup of tea is tea, water, milk and sugar (if you like it like that), it amazes me that some people make the most awful concoctions with those four items. In a similar manner, The Pantaloon Society misses the mark, and leaves me wanting.

The Exorcist Files is possibly the biggest let down of the lot. I was hoping for something interesting, or at least spooky. What you end up with is something that is neither. It seems that demons are everywhere and they are just waiting for a chance to possess our fragile, fallible bodies. Apropos of nothing, I also find it irritating when people pronounce Ouija boards as “weejee”. Especially people who should know better. Catholic exorcists for example.

Tales Of The Echowood has nothing essentially wrong with it. The production values are high, and the music is epic in the manner of The Elder Scrolls soundtrack. I think my problem with it is that stories like this make me cringe. I had a feeling I wouldn’t like it before I even pressed play. As episode one started, I found my fears coming true. My first impression is that this is like season one of 13 Days Of Halloween, but for middle aged hippies who wear tie dye. 

Final thoughts

Originally this was going to be a one off post, where I would get through a few shows with one fell swoop. Unfortunately, this is going to be a two parter, maybe even three.

Part of me regrets setting the “ten episode” threshold, because some of these were very hard going indeed. I’m always pleased to be proved wrong though. I can be hasty in my judgement sometimes and I really want to enjoy every podcast I listen to.

Ultimately, there is nothing here that you can’t find better versions of elsewhere.

If strange, surreal, paranormal comedy is your thing then give Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason a go. If you don’t mind swearing then also try A Scottish Podcast. Wormwood is also a shoo in here too.

If creepy, true stories of the paranormal is your bag then give Radio Rental, or any of Danny Robins’ podcasts a go (Haunted, Uncanny, The Battersea Poltergeist, and The Witch Farm)

If fantastical stories with a modern twist is what whets your appetite, then give The Silt Verses, Bridgewater or The Magnus Archives a spin. 

You can get the podcasts here:

The Pantaloon Society

The Exorcist Files

Tales Of The Echowood

Errr, it’s quite upbeat actually

The Downbeat review

Rating –

The Downbeat logo

Another music based podcast this week. Not only music based, but drummer based, so if this makes you roll your eyes and sigh with boredom, then go back through my previous posts and find something else. Being a drummer myself, I can listen to drummers talk all day.

Craig Reynolds is a drummer that recently sprang to my attention after a YouTube post that caused a great deal of controversy. Whilst I recognised the name of his band, I don’t think I’d actually heard them. Most of his YouTube content is very funny, hilarious in fact. There’s a few videos I’ve watched many many times, not only because of his humour, but because the standard of the drummers he’s critiquing is (usually) so high.

So what’s it about?

Whereas the previously reviewed podcast  Drum For The Song sticks solely to drummers, Craig branched out and interviews drummers, guitarists, singers and producers. This is more in line with a show like Chris Garza’s podcast (although I prefer this one), even more so when he inevitably interviews his own band members. 

In a nutshell, this is a series by musicians, for musicians. There’s discussions on drum gear, problems with touring, problems with venues, problems with bands and problems with technique. Lots of problems and how to get past them. Don’t let this summary put you off though. The podcast itself is very light-hearted and the guests are just as entertaining as Craig.

Is it any good?

If you are even remotely interested in the workings of the music industry, then this is a must listen. Also this is essential if you are in a band and looking to progress. The industry insights and cautionary tales are invaluable, at least they have been to me. 

Craig is like the drum world’s Stewart Lee. His tone of voice is strikingly similar, especially when he starts talking about people who complain. Just by way of a little digression, I think that Stewart Lee is someone who casts a very long shadow. I hear his turns of phrase all over the place nowadays. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather hear someone copying Stew than Mrs. Browns Boys.

This is easily one of the best and most entertaining music podcasts I’ve ever heard. While it’s different in style from his YouTube channel, it’s a lot less confrontational. Probably because he’s talking to people he actually likes rather than anonymous commenters on his videos. Having said that it’s still a great listen, and very bingeworthy.

Final thoughts

Now, I’m well aware that almost 100% of my limited reach on the internet will have absolutely no use for this show whatsoever. I like to think of this as something of a time capsule. One day, some young drummer will stumble across this post, go back and unearth the podcast and it will rock his world. 

If I’m honest here, I’d prefer this show if it was exclusively drum related. I know I’m probably being selfish for thinking that, but I can’t help it. That’s not to take anything away from the show. It’s brilliant, and I won’t be marking it down because of that. I’m not that petty. Sorry Craig, I know you can’t please all the people all the time, and you’ll probably be reading that first sentence in your whiney complaint voice. 

You can get The Downbeat here:

Stranger in a strange land

Re: Dracula review

Rating –

Re:Dracula logo

Back to regular programming this week folks. I’ve had loads of stuff going on outside the podcastverse, but now I’ve got the time to enjoy listening to shows without deadlines and embargoes to worry about (I do quite like deadlines and embargoes though)!

So what’s under the microscope this week? Well dear readers, we are dealing with a classic here. A classic in more ways than one. Read on and discover why this is almost the perfect podcast for this here podcastgeek.

So what’s it about?

Re:Dracula is an interesting take on the classic Bram Stoker story. I say “interesting take”, its more fathful than any of the other versions out there. It’s told in “real time” as entries in Jonathan Harker’s diary. Therefore the episodes vary in length, and they are released on the relevant days. Thrown into this are also reports by Doctor Seward as Renfield grows ever more agitated, and the correspondence between Mina and Lucy. Their innocent gossip in particular providing a contrast to the darkness of the events around the male protagonists.

I can’t really expand on it more than that. Everybody knows the story so this section is understandably short

Is it any good?

I really like most of it. The story is great, it’s told in an interesting way, and the acting is top notch (more on that in a bit). I’m not too fussed on the interviews with people scattered throughout. I appreiate why they did it this way, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but they don’t interest me, so I tend to skip those episodes. It may have been a better option to have those as bonus episodes after the story has finished, as they have done with Scamanda.

I have also heard that some people aren’t really keen on the shorter episodes. Some are under ten minutes long. I could understand this if you are listening along in real time as well, but due to my other commitments, I just binged the whole lot, and to be honest I didn’t really notice that. So I guess you can do things properly , listen in real time and maybe get frustrated, or ignore all the hard work that the producers went to and plough through it all in huge chunks. It’s up to you.

Now, on to the voice talent. In my opening paragraphs, I mentioned that this may be the perfect podcast for me. The reason for that is the cast. The keen eared among you will recognize Jonathan Sims from The Magnus Archives, Graham Rowat who I have waxed lyrical about in various reviews before, and Karim Kronfli as Dracula. I immediately recognized Karim’s voice as gangster Bruce from A Scottish Podcast, a show you’ll remember my fondness for. Looking at his IMDB page, he’s been in so many classic podcasts I’m sure you’ll know him from elsewhere.

In fact, the only person missing from this cast is David Ault. If he shows up I would probably get all giddy and giggly when it’s on.

Final thoughts

Even if you know the story inside out (I mean, who doesn’t know the story of Dracula) I would recommend this. It’s such a great production (possibly the best thing Pacific S. Obadiah has done). Don’t get me wrong, I loved SCP Archives and The Sheridan Tapes, but this is next level stuff here.

If this is the shape of things to come from him, then we are all in for a treat indeed.

You can get Re:Dracula here:

You may remember that this line here usually says “or wherever you get your podcasts”. I put that in originally as a little fun quote to mirror what all podcasts say when they are advertising. I thought it was cute. However, Imran over at GreatPods told me about a site that provides links to every major podcatcher. So from now on, I’ll just post the new link and you can sort yourselves out. It’ll probably take me a few posts to get out of the habit though!

Do the right thing?

Alphabet boys series 2 review

Production company – Western Sound 

Rating –

Alphabet Boys logo

This should have been another release day special. Due to the fact that Into The Dirt was released a day later but scheduled first, this got pushed back to avoid two posts in two days (and ease my aching hands that have to type all this). So with a bit of jiggery-pokery, this one is being reviewed today instead. Phew, sorry for the digression, but I try not to miss release days. Not that I’ve ever had release days to stick to until recently, so another shout out to GreatPods for hooking me up again!

So what’s it about?

Alphabet Boys is an investigation into the shady activities of the FBI, the DEA and the CIA. Truth be told, I binged series 1 immediately before I got the advance episodes of series 2 just so I could familiarise myself with what’s going on. There was no need to though. Whilst the setting is the same, the stories are unrelated.

Flaviu Georgescu was born in Bulgaria. After becoming an American citizen, he got a job working with a relative in Las Vegas. He gained a reputation as someone who could acquire anything for his high class customers. His reputation must have preceded him somewhat, because he got approached to broker an arms deal for the Colombian militia group FARC. 

As the deal progressed, his deep love for America led him to contact the CIA to notify them, and soon (he thought) he was an official informant. Except he wasn’t. Due to a misunderstanding, Flaviu was working entirely on his own. Unfortunately, that was the least of his problems. Soon he is caught in a quite frankly unbelievable web of informants and undercover agents.

Is it any good?

Series 2 is a real mindbender. The nature of the story means it gets very hard to follow exactly what is going on, and who’s working for who. The only way I can describe it, is like the Charlie Day meme from Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia with the board and all the red strings pointing everywhere. The podcast logo for this series is absolutely accurate. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I won’t say more than that.

Being released by Western Sound, you know the production will be high. I was disappointed that I came to this series so late. I would have liked to listen to series one as it was released, but “better late than never” as they say.

Final thoughts.

I really enjoyed this one, although if I’m honest I preferred series one. Yet again there is a great sense of injustice as the lives of ordinary people get destroyed. This time it’s not even corruption, as in A Tradition Of Violence etc. but rather the complete lack of empathy shown to the public by the powers that be.

I’ll be interested to see what season three has in store. I really can’t get enough of this kind of thing at the moment.

You can get Alphabet Boys here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Oh what a tangled web


Into the Dirt review

Production company – Tortoise Media

Rating –

Into The Dirt logo

Another release day special here, whilst I could have put this one off until next Sunday, I really didn’t want to. I got sent the first three episodes of a brand new series from Tortoise media, that at first seemed intriguing. And also meant it went straight to the top of my listening pile.

So what juicy morsel have Tortoise released for me to sink my teeth into this time? It’s a very strange story of double crossing, espionage and covert deals. The protagonist is also a very unlikely character.

So what’s it about?

Rob Moore gained fame in the 90s as producer of epic satire shows like Brass Eye. With an inherent mischievous attitude, and an ability to talk people into saying anything he wanted (I mean literally anything. Have you ever watched the “cake” episode of Brass Eye?).

Brass Eye imploded after a mass outcry caused by the release of the episode on paedophilia. Chris Morris went on to be just as satirical and subversive directing films like Four Lions, but Rob Moore found himself without anything to do. As the saying goes “the devil makes work for idle hands”, so what did he have in store for Rob Moore?

After trying his hand at a few unsatisfying enterprises, he was approached to become a part of the world of “corporate intelligence”. To all intents and purposes, a spy. This seemed like a perfect job for someone who was used to talking his way into (and out of) bizarre situations. He was good at it too. Until he was tasked with infiltrating an environmental campaign group who wanted to outlaw the use of asbestos.

He soon found himself at odds with his Buddhist beliefs. His need to “turn poison into medicine” played on his mind constantly and he decided to turn on his employers and blow the whistle on this shady world. Or did he?

Is it any good?

It’s by Tortoise Media. Of course it’s good. I can’t really find fault with anything I’ve heard here (so far). And unless something drastic happens, then this will be another epic story by those investigative journos over at Tortoise. To quote another overused phrase, “truth is stranger than fiction”. As anyone who has listened to series such as Londongrad or Hoaxed will testify, this is absolutely true. Into The Dirt is no different.

I usually struggle to try and avoid spoilers in my reviews. In this case it isn’t too hard. Today, when this show goes on release, Tortoise Media subscribers will automatically be one episode in front of me, so there is nothing that will be any surprise. Even if you don’t subscribe, you can still get the first two episodes immediately.

I think that anyone who loves tales of intrigue and espionage will love this show.

Final Thoughts

This is another outstanding podcast from Tortoise Media. I’ve been a fan of them since Londongrad launched, and as soon as a new show comes out it jumps to the top of my listening pile immediately. I’m so happy that I’ve had the opportunity to get a sneak peak of a new show.

I always tend to roll my eyes when podcasts give a trigger warning (not that this one does have one). I guess I’m not easily upset. This series did get to me though. Before I was born, my father worked with asbestos and he died of cancer related to it. Hearing Harminder describing her father’s illness did get to me, as it was an all too familiar memory.

The only thing I can complain about is that I’ve only got the first three episodes to listen to. I could have got through the whole series in one sitting. But I guess I’ve been spoiled with whole shows on pre-release to binge, and this is so good that I was left wanting.

As I look back through my other reviews in preparation to finish this one, I realise I havent reviewed Londongrad yet. Rest assured I’ll be making a space in my schedule to amend that grevious mistake asap.

You can get Into The Dirt here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts

(un)Happy Shopper

Siege review

Production company – BBC

Rating –

Siege logo

Another short story from the Limelight series on BBC Radio 4, that brought you the previously reviewed podcasts The System, The House the Vanished, Who Is Aldridge Kemp, Firewall and others. From that list, you can see that this series has some big shoes to fill.

Will this series be on a par with Aldrich Kemp, or will it leave me unsatisfied like The House That Vanished? I’m not going to tell you this early on am I? You’ll have to read to the end to find that out.

So what’s it about?

Siege is an interesting take on a hostage drama, told from the perspective of interviews with the hostages themselves after the event. Actually, the term interview isn’t entirely accurate. There are no questions here, just the hostages giving their accounts of what happened, answering unheard questions. This is quite a good idea in practice.

Over the course of 5 episodes, you are on a gripping ride of what should have been a day just like any other, but one that went awry very quickly. What starts as a robbery at a supermarket, becomes a hostage situation after the security shutters fall, and the shoppers are left trapped with the armed robber.

Where the writing really shines is when the same event is told from multiple perspectives. For example, right at the beginning of the siege, the schoolgirl Naomi puts her headphones in and listens to music, quietly singing along. “Aunty” Kemi is busy praying, sees Naomi and thinks she’s praying too, and is even speaking in tongues. This opens the way for the two of them to connect with each other without actually understanding each other completely.

One of the points of the story is that a disparate group of people get stuck together and their prejudices and misunderstanding get put to one side, although the interviews give an insight into their real feelings about the various events of the story.

As the interviews continue, certain masks start to slip and you realise that people’s lives are never as perfect as they’d like you to think at first. Penny’s story is particularly well written, and well acted.

Is it any good?

This is a masterclass in how to make a gripping series with very limited resources. There’s no over the top sound effects, or big musical scores. Just five brilliant voice actors telling a story for the most part (towards the end of the series, a new character, Derek the security guard gets to tell his story).

In fact, the only thing I didn’t really like was the glitchy music that got played between each “scene”. It was jarring and unnecessary, in my opinion at least. As I write this though, I wonder if there was some meaning that I’ve missed for it, although I have gone through the whole thing twice. Maybe I’m not paying as much attention as I should be!

Final thoughts

This series is well worth your time. You can easily get through it in a day should you wish. The story is very well written, and brilliantly acted. It’s a refreshing take on a crime drama, even with the obligatory twist at the end.

You may find the characters somewhat “tropey”, and they are. I don’t think you can really escape that in a drama such as this though. The story demands it. They are so well portrayed though, that it’s easy to overlook this.

You can get Siege here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Drymru Am Byth!

Drum For The Song podcast review

Rating –

drum for the song logo

If ever there was a podcast made for me, surely this would be it. Welsh? check. Metal Bands? check. About Drums? check. Despite being a Welsh metal drummer myself, I will do my best to cast an objective eye, and be as neutral as possible.

I only heard about this podcast in the last week or so (depending on when this gets published). The newest episode cropped up on my YouTube playlist for some reason. Thankfully it’s also available in audio only, so I downloaded a few episodes and pressed play. Of course, as is usually the case, this jumped immediately to the top of my “to review” list leaving other, more established podcasts wondering what it was that just flew past leaving a big cloud of dust.

So what’s it about?

I think I may have pretty much covered the content of the podcast in the paragraphs above, but that would be a bit of a cop out to end there wouldn’t it? So let me elaborate.

Dane Campbell is a Welsh drummer, and son of Mötörhead’s guitarist Phil Campbell. He is also the drummer Straight Lines, and in his dad’s band Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons. Each episode Dane interviews a different rock drummer, ranging from Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats, to Charlie Benante of thrash legends Anthrax and Chris Fehn who was in Slipknot.

This series started during lockdown, and therefore a lot of the conversations discuss the difficulty of playing live, and what the future will hold for musicians. Having come out the other side of the pandemic now, it’s strange to listen back to hear people discuss what we were all thinking at the time. I think it’s also why there were loads of episodes early on. That output has slowed somewhat now that gigs and festivals are back on and as a consequence, Dane’s band is now playing again.

Is it any good?

The way I’ve described this podcast so far might well have you already deciding not to give this a go. I mean, why would someone who isn’t a rock drummer want to listen to a show consisting exclusively of interviews with drummers? The show is more than that though. While there is obviously some gear nerd type stuff (any musician loves talking about their gear), there are also some really interesting stories.

For the most part, the sound quality is really good. There was only one interview that I had to turn off because it was so bad (it was Dirk Verbeuren from Megadeth if you’re interested). It sounded like he was on speakerphone from across the other side of a bathroom. It may well have been easier to understand if I was watching on YouTube, but the audio only version was unfortunately unlistenable.

Dane comes across as a really humble guy, and he has a really laid back interview style. Even though I could listen to drum talk all day, I really like the fact that he’s trying to appeal to a wider market. While cymbal and stick manufacturers are only of interest to drummers, the opinions on how to deal with auditions, or working with professional musicians and producers will surely be of value to anyone trying to start in the industry.

As I write this, he’s 50 episodes down, and while I haven’t listened to every episode yet, I have listened to a lot of them. My only real complaint so far was that the Chris Fehn interview was only 40 mins long. Seeing as it was his first interview since he left Slipknot, it would have been good to have had a regular length episode. Maybe that’s just me being greedy though.

Final thoughts

I’m really growing to like this show, and it’ll be interesting to see who’s upcoming on the podcast. I have a list of people I’d like to hear, but I won’t bore you with those, it would probably fill his schedule for the next three years!

If you’re a drummer, then this is a must listen. If you’re a musician of any type, you may well like it too. Particularly Russell Gilbrook’s interview. There’s some invaluable info for anyone wanting to get session work.

And for those of you who think I typed the title of this post by rolling a tennis ball across my keyboard, I suggest you look up the phrase “Cymru Am Byth”, and then you’ll get the rather tenuous pun.

You can get Drum For The Song here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Variations on a Themis

Who Is Aldrich Kemp? review

Production company – BBC

Rating –

Who Is Aldrich Kemp logo

Well folks, it’s been a weird few weeks with all these big release day reviews hasn’t it? Now my release schedule seems to be back to the usual Sunday mornings again, you can enjoy your morning coffee (or tea), and wonder just what the hell I’ll be banging on about today.

Ploughing through the Limelight series of audio dramas by the BBC is something of a mixed bag. You have the excellent, and the not so. So how does Who Is Aldrich Kemp hold up? Well dear reader, you will find out the answer to that very question in the next 600 or so words.

So what’s it about?

Who Is Aldrich Kemp? is a rip-roaring, grab-bag (and possible other hyphenated hyperbole, oooh, alliteration) of shadowy organisations, criminal masterminds, and wise cracking secret agents. A fair dose of Double crosses, unlikely assassins, and plots for global domination get thrown in for good measure.

Clara Page works as an analyst for a government agency that would rather remain off the radar. When the body of a French secret agent gets hauled out of the water in Lake Tanganyika, connections are found to an even shadier group of scoundrels called the Themis Group. The leader of this organisation is a mysterious individual known as Aldrich Kemp.

With nothing more than a name and a (literally) blank piece of paper, Clara soon finds herself on a mad dash across Europe dodging assassins and digging up secret societies. Along the way she will find friends that are enemies, and enemies that are friends.

Is it any good?

I like this more than I thought I would. I bounced between irritation at some of the dialogue (and accents) to a great fondness for the characters and their oddball ways. It’s an interesting take on the espionage genre explored in other podcast dramas, including the previously reviewed Splinter Cell: Firewall. In fact, while that was all American gung-ho action and gadgets, this is far more British in feel. I mean, because it is British.

Aldrich Kemp as a character is more Doctor Who than Blofeld, his puppy like eagerness and sense of humour set him apart from the more traditional crime bosses in fiction. This comes as something of a surprise, as his reputation precedes him in this series, but it’s a nice touch that adds to the whole offbeat feel of the story.

Plucky protagonist Clara Page, has a penchant for fencing (the sport, not DIY) and fish and chips. As the main character, her worldview suffers the biggest change. I’ll say no more than that, but for an already strong (if not somewhat cliched) female character, she really does get the short end of the stick. How will she fair in this? Well, again, I’m not telling you.

Podcaster Kennedy Fisher also makes an appearance too, a name you’ll no doubt remember from The Lovecraft Investigations. It was really nice to see that the character is keeping herself busy, still on the trail of tracking her partner Matt down (even if it is only in podcastland). I think I’ll probably go back and listen to the final series of that, just to see how much leaks through into this show.

Regarding Kennedy Fisher, it blew my mind that the same actress voiced three characters in this series. I honestly thought she was American, so either she’s got her American accent absolutely dialed, or she’s got her British accent absolutely dialed.  There’s no slipping evident, or weird pronunciations as is so often the case with voice actors.

Final thoughts

The problem with shows like this (for a reviewer anyway), is that the story is so cunning and twisty that it’s very hard to talk about it without giving anything away. That is my way of apologising for my rather superficial review. I just don’t want to spoil anything for you.

Looking through the list of dramas in the Limelight series, I see there is a second series featuring Mr Kemp. Therefore, this has jumped very high up my “to listen to” list. I would have listened to it already were it not for the offer of advanced episodes of new series’ to review.

Julian Simpson is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers. I was just scrolling through his Wikipedia page and I see there’s a whole load of audio dramas set in the “Pleasant Green” universe (including this and the Lovecraft Investigations). Looks like I’ve got a lot of listening to do, should I actually be able to track them down. They seem to all be unavailable everywhere. So dear readers, if you know where I can get them, please comment below and accept my gratitude in advance.

You can get Who Is Aldrich Kemp? here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Keeping me in the loop


The Lesser Dead review

Production company – Echoverse

Rating –

The Lesser Dead logo

I know, another weird day for a post. I couldn’t pass on another opportunity for an early listen of a new podcast though (despite my misgivings). So here we are. It’s a Friday and you’ve just noticed the little icon on your browser, or had your phone make a noise. Maybe you forgot it was Friday, and thought it was Sunday. Maybe not.

I mentioned I had misgivings with this show, and that’s because it’s about vampires. I’m sorry, but vampires make me cringe. They aren’t scary (not since Max Schreck anyway), and the current penchant for sparkly, emo, monobrowed heartthrobs (or was that the werewolf?) grinds my gears. But here we are. I’m reviewing a podcast about vampires. So is it any good? Well read on and I’ll tell you.

So what’s it about?

The Lesser Dead is set in 1978, a year dear to my heart. You see, that was the year I left the warm sanctuary of my mother’s womb and arrived kicking, screaming, and hairy into this cruel world. It’s also set in New York. This is not dear to my heart, seeing as I’ve never been there, but I digress.

Joseph “Joey” Peacock is a 19 year old vampire. As part of the community of vampires called The Family, living in “The Loops”, an area of unlit tunnels off the main subway. He gets tasked somewhat reluctantly by Margaret, The Mayor of The Loops, to find someone who has been “peeling” people (vampire slang for killing victims). You may think that vampires are supposed to kill people. In this universe, they use people more like drink dispensers. I guess there’s less hassle if you keep your victims alive.

As Joseph and his friends start searching for the killer, he also discovers that someone has been turning children into vampires, an unspoken rule that should never be broken (Vampire children are always creepy). So with his friends, he sets off to uncover just who is doing these unspeakable things.

Is it any good?

Surprisingly, yes. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. There is none of the usual clichés that are so beloved of this particular branch of horror recently. 

Jack Kilmer as Joseph is somewhere between a young Henry Hill in Goodfellas, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can. He has that youthful charm and exuberance that verges on being cocky, yet stays just the right side of annoying. You know that every word that comes out of his mouth is delivered with a smirk.

Minnie Driver as Margaret is also well played, and a perfect “Yang” to Joseph’s “Yin”. Her no bullshit, foul mouthed Irish firebrand attitude seems like quite the departure from her usual oeuvre (not that I’m really up on her body of work). But she rules The Family with an iron fist, or to be pedantic, an iron spade. She is all too aware of the trouble that this rogue “peeler” will bring to The Family, so is keen to end this mess and return to anonymity asap.

The supporting characters are very good too, from the older and wiser Cvetko played by Saul Rubinek, to Margaret’s spooky henchmen Oldboy and Ruth. Mysterious kingpin The Hessian, played by Danny Huston is also a good brooding presence in the few episodes he appears in.

I can’t really pick holes in this series at all. The acting is top notch, the sound design is great, and the story is brilliantly written and engaging. And not to go too far along and spoil anything, but the series ends EXACTLY how I like.

I love the music too, from the weird reimagining of “Rapture” by Blondie at the end of episode 1, to the timeless Disco Inferno by The Trammps in Studio 54. There’s also a melody that reminds me of Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in parts that adds to the dreamy atmosphere of the vampire’s night world. I’m surprised though, that there is so little music in the series. For it to be set in New York in 1978, disco and punk at their height, and the birth of hip hop, I feel that there could have been a bit more made of this without detracting from the scene setting.

Final thoughts

If you’re a fan of modern vampire fiction then you’ll absolutely love this. Vampire stories tend to be very trope led, which is why I don’t like them, however this is a nice change. It’s part gangland thriller, and part murder mystery. Even if you are somewhat cynical of the genre, then I’d still encourage you to give it a go. It really is a brilliant show.

Has this changed my opinion on vampire stories? No, not really. Although it has made me think about not being quite so judgemental about new podcasts, so there is that. I was going to give it a four out of five rating, just because of the vampire aspect, but I can’t. It’s a five brain podcast all day (or rather, all night) long, and one of my favourite fiction podcasts of the last 12 months. I never thought I’d say that.

Again, thank you to GreatPods and Echoverse for giving me the opportunity to get the whole lot in advance for this review. I really do feel like a professional blogger now! (You were right Imran!)

You can get The Lesser Dead here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Gang spill their guts

The Always Sunny Podcast review

Rating –

The Alwyas Sunny Podcast logo

Let’s get one thing straight. I love It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Actually, I love it apart from the first series, but the guys themselves will admit that that was the weakest of the lot. When I heard about this podcast I went all giggly with anticipation about what paint sniffing, rum ham, toe spoon hilarity would ensue. This opening paragraph probably has enough fanboy fawning for the whole review, but please read on, dear subscriber.

So what’s it about?

For those who don’t know, It’s Always Sunny… is a sitcom following five truly awful human beings who run an Irish pub in Philadelphia. Brother and sister Dennis and Diandra (Dee) are from a wealthy family and are shallow and arrogant. Mac is a confused macho “bro” and Charlie is an illiterate dogsbody who gets all the “Charlie work”. The fifth member of the group is Frank who appears from series 2, played by Danny DeVito, he’s Dennis and Dee’s philandering father.

This podcast however is only slightly about all that. Charlie Day (Charlie), Rob McElhenney (Mac) and Glenn Howerton (Dennis) get together to talk about every episode of the sitcom so far. Think of it like a director’s commentary on a dvd. They admit from the outset that they don’t really know what they are doing, and I don’t think there’s been an episode so far where they’ve actually followed this premise. Joined by writer Megan Ganz, who acts as an arbiter of sorts, and tries to keep them in line. They get sidetracked, go off on tangents and try to make each other laugh with outrageous and offensive comments.

Is it any good?

Amongst all this chaos, there are some very interesting little nuggets of trivia though, which makes me wonder whether the guys are truly being themselves, or being some kind of mixture of the actors and the characters and the whole thing is very carefully planned indeed. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit and they just really are very close to the characters they created. There are a few moments that stand out to me immediately. Charlie singing a song that made everyone cry, Rob recounting how when he was a kid, his mother would coat him in vinegar before he went to the beach, and Glenn’s uncanny CCH Pounder impression. The last one is mind blowing, and should have been the exclamation when he got to live his childhood fantasy of kicking a door in.

This podcast is as much an autobiography of the actors as it is an analysis of the show. Some of the stories of their childhood could really have been written for the show, especially one about Glenn accidentally hanging himself at church camp for a joke.

The humour here is very broad, and crude. A lot of people will find it offensive. I’m a mucky pup though so I find it hilarious. It’s also a treat when guests show up. Kaitlin Olson (who plays Dee, and is also Rob’s wife) shows up for a few episodes as does Charlie Day’s wife (The Waitress) and David Hornsby (Rickety Cricket). These episodes breathe even more life into the series, as there are more options to digress into hilarity.

Final thoughts

Having waxed rather lyrically about the genuis of this podcast, this is only really recommended for fans of the TV show. I mean, it’s literally a podcast discussing the TV show, so if you’re not familiar with that then it’ll be a pointless exercise. What I would do though is recommend you go and watch the TV show first. Then listen to the podcast. That’s a two for one offer I’m sure you’ll love (unless it turns out you hate the TV show).

You can get the Always Sunny Podcast here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts

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