Category: Music

No more heroes anymore

Disgraceland review

Rating –

Disgraceland logo

I am becoming aware that recently I’ve been giving every podcast the maximum 5 brain rating. I’m worried that if I just keep saying “yes, this is great ” then there’s no benchmark. Not everything can be perfect all the time can it? So in the interest of balance and not giving everything top marks, here is one that is something of a problem child. I hope you’ll understand my reasons here and give it a go anyway. Well as much as you can. Read on and I’ll explain this rather cryptic introduction.

So what’s it about?

Disgraceland is a podcast covering the various scandals and misdemeanors of music’s great and good (and bad). Each episode covers a different story and they run the whole gamut of decades and genres. There are some wild tales to be found here, and also some heartbreaking ones too, but each is told with the amount of respect deserved. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t make them an exhibit to be held up for public amusement does it? Or maybe you think it does. Maybe you like to read the paparazzi infested gossip magazines. Whatever, I’m not your dad. I can’t tell you what to do.

The show is narrated by Jake Brennan. He also writes, produces and composes the music, so the credits list is rather short. I first heard Jake on his other podcast Dead And Gone, about people who disappeared following The Grateful Dead around the country. This true crime podcast is on my “to review” list, and will be getting 600 or so words dedicated to it very soon.

Jake has the kind of achingly cool American voice that you would expect someone who narrates rock music podcasts to have. His voice sounds like sunshine, surf wax, petrol and pot (at least to a Welsh nerd anyway). I don’t mean any disrespect here. He’s not just someone who sounds the part. He has a deep knowledge of musical history and he has a real talent for bringing any story to life, regardless of the era. This is purely down to his skill as a writer, and he avoids the usual cut and paste from Wikipedia problems that other shows on music history (by much more well known presenters) have fallen into.

Is it any good?

Yes and no. 

Now, I’m a massive music fan and I’m not really fussy about what I listen to. The playlist on my phone runs from Dixieland Jazz, to Death Metal, Psy-trance to 1970s Japanese Funk with some traditional West African music and Musique Concrete thrown in for good measure. There aren’t many stories told that I’m not familiar with, although there are a few. Because of this, I could rate it low and say “well, there aren’t any new stories here, I’ve heard them all before”. That’s not how I do things though. Just because I know something doesn’t mean that you will, so I keep powder dry and save my penalties for other things.

Want to hear about the time Jerry Lee Lewis wanted to murder Elvis? Or maybe you want to learn about Syd Barrett’s psychological fall from grace. Maybe you’re interested in the sorry story of Britney Spears’ lost childhood and subsequent mistreatment. If so, this is the show for you. Unfortunately, this is about all you’ll learn because this podcast seems to be subscription only. Or rather, you can listen for “free” on subscription based platforms. You can get the full thing on Amazon, or Apple podcasts, but I dont use them. There are very few episodes that are truly freely available, and the ones that are are brilliant. This makes the situation all the more annoying because I really want to rate this show higher.

Jake’s style of writing is like a (much) better version of the journalist Mick Wall. He puts himself in the situations that occur, and that really makes for an exciting story. For my money, Jake is a way better writer than Mr. Wall anyway. I’d love to read a full length biography written by him, or even better an audiobook narrated by him.

Final thoughts

As you know, and are probably bored of me telling you now, I only like to review podcasts that are freely available to everyone. This is certainly a good show, and very interesting, but I feel I can’t rate it higher purely because of the lack of available episodes. Even some that show up in my podcatcher won’t actually play.

The more cynical of you may well think that I’m picking on this podcast just to give it a poor rating, but I’m really not. I love this series and it’s a real shame when a new episode shows up in my list and it won’t play. Jake has his reasons and I’m not going to be all millennial (apart from the fact I’m too old) and expect everything for free all the time. It’s just disappointing that I get teased with such good content, and not get the whole shebang.

This is unfortunately a fatal flaw in an otherwise brilliant series. 

You can get disgraceland here:

https://www.disgracelandpod.com/

Or a few episodes from your usual podcatcher.

Well y’know, thats just, like, your opinion man.

Your Favorite Band Sucks review

Rating –

your favorite band sucks logo

I first heard about Your Favourite Band Sucks from the “recommendos” on The Lovecraft Tapes (another favorite series of mine, and one I’ll be reviewing soon). Being quite the contrarian it appealed to me immensely. However, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. So without further ado, here is my review of the Your Favorite Band Sucks podcast. Prepare to have your mind changed, or have an aneurism, it’s up to you.

What’s it about?

Your Favourite Band Sucks does exactly what it says on the tin. Every episode the presenters Mark and Tyler dismantle a famous band with extreme prejudice and great humour. For example, the very first episode was about The Beatles, so they really came out swinging.

The guys pull no punches in describing why the bands you grew up with, or your parents grew up with, or are constantly praised as musical colossi are not only undeserving of your respect, but are completely unworthy of any praise whatsoever. Their comments about Slipknot (who I like) and BTS (who I don’t) are equally true, and really I think if you are a true music fan you need to stop being so precious about it. Incidentally, I’d be interested to know if they really did get death threats from the BTS army after “that” show.

I could relate to the BTS episode in particular. Being the father of a BTS fan (although she listens to goth and metal now. Teenagers eh?) I knew exactly what they were talking about. Although the whole “battery farm” method of producing talent was a revelation, and a rather upsetting one at that.

It’s a constant source of amusement to me that people say bands are good because of album sales, but as pointed out here, Nickelback, Coldplay and Taylor Swift have all outsold the venerable old guard of classic rock, so supposedly they should get as much respect. Not only that, but they write better songs too. Now I know that that statement is deliberately provocative, but that doesn’t make it untrue does it?

A show like this could easily drift into the realms of cliché if they just went for the low hanging fruit of modern pop or rap music, but nobody is safe from their scorn. They will just as happily tear down the likes of Aerosmith or Pink Floyd, as they will Johnny Cash, Madonna, Daft Punk or Blink 182.

Is it any good though?

The early shows had a weird problem with the way the audio was recorded and edited. You could frequently hear talking in the background. There were also times when they seemed to splice different takes of the conversation together, but bleed from the other mics was still audible. Also, i think they edited all the gaps out between sentences. Combinethat with their almost hyperactive delivery it was like some ADHD info dump by Beavis And Butthead. Thankfully they’ve calmed down a bit and improved the production of the show no end.

It’s all too easy to make a podcast that deliberately pours scorn on a popular topic, and from what I gather there are a surfeit of shows that do just that. Mark and Tyler have both worked in the music business for years. What they say may be provocative, but it comes from a knowledge of how the system works. This is something that will no doubt cause a bit of cognitive dissonance with the more devout music fans out there, which is of course why they do it. It also sets it apart from some guy in his basement bitching about things he doesn’t like, with nothing but vitriol to back his statements up.

Final thoughts

I’m a massive music fan. I’ve played in numerous bands, released many albums and even run a netlabel for a few years. My tastes are varied and I have lots of favourite bands. I’ve never really been such a fanboy to get annoyed if someone doesn’t like a band that I do. I do have friends that would foam at the mouth listening to their opinions of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or even Black Flag (you know who you are!). Thankfully I am just as likely to laugh at their comments on Metallica as I am about Destiny’s Child. In fact I think the episodes I enjoy most are when they destroy a band that I do like. As I said, I’m a contrarian! As you scroll through the episode list, you’ll realise that nothing is sacred here, and some of the choices have been a real surprise (albeit a welcome one).

The only reason that this isn’t a 5 brain podcast is for the aforementioned audio weirdness early on. Its a highly recomended podcast, and one I think you’ll love if you like music. Even if you don’t like music, it’ll give you plenty of ammo to annoy the music fan in your life. Here’s to Mark and Tyler having many more years pissing people off.

You can hear Your Favourite Band Sucks here:

https://www.yfbspod.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

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