Tag: Humour (Page 2 of 2)

A murder of Crowes

Wormwood review

Production company – Habit Forming Films

Rating –

Wormwood Logo

This venerable old series was one of the first that I discovered, and was instrumental in turning me into the podcast addict I am now. I call it “venerable”, because I’m not sure how else to describe a podcast that ended ten years ago, yet still holds up today. I haven’t heard another podcast quite like it, so it is high time I give Wormwood a review.

So what’s it about?

Wormwood is a mystery series that owes a massive debt to the old style radio theatre productions of the 30s and 40s. As soon as you hear the theme, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Surprisingly, despite this vintage patina, the series is set in the modern day.

Dr Xander Crowe is a rather unorthodox man. He’s a disgraced psychologist and cursed occult investigator. He’s also on the run from the mafia, after a botched attempt at an exorcism. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also sporting a hand that is only ever described as “Oh my god, what happened to your hand?” Imagine if you will, the classic British actor Terry Thomas with a dash of the Duke De Richleau from Dennis Wheatley’s books and you’re getting close.

The series starts with Crowe receiving a beating at the hands of a local mafia boss’ henchmen. He manages to escape with the help of his friend Sparrow, the tech-savvy and sarcastic foil to Crowe’s (usually) drunken ranting.

During the escape, Crowe tells Sparrow about a vision he had. He saw a woman being drowned, and a child’s hands holding her under. The woman looked at Crowe and said one word “Wormwood”. Crowe has no idea what any of this means, but he trusts his vision enough to know it’s important. After some diligent research by Sparrow, they discover that it’s the name of a small town just outside Los Angeles. Crowe heads off there without any real clue about what to do, and in the words of a great detective “the game is afoot”.

Is it any good?

OF COURSE IT IS. Forgive my hyperbole, but it is a truly ripping yarn, and one of THE GREATEST fiction podcasts ever made. It is funny, horrific, violent and weird in equal measure and just generally amazing. If you’re a fan of old style radio, classic mystery films, hammer horror, or H.P. Lovecraft, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. The whole thing has a strange anachronistic quality. You can easily forget that this tale of the mafia, the occult, and small town America is set in modern times. If you happen to miss the references to the internet (and Jimmy Details’ music tastes) you could easily believe it was set in the 30s.

Having said that, there are a few things that people used to the newer podcasts will find annoying. The audio quality isn’t great. That really can’t be helped due to the age of the series, and the limitation of file size and streaming speeds from “all those years ago”. Listen kids, I remember the world without an internet, never mind fibre optic cables, lossless streaming and broadband. Because of this, there are some really noticeable edits in the audio. At some points it sounds like the actors all recorded their parts at different times (which they may well have done).

To be picky, some of the acting isn’t always up to snuff. Personally (and somewhat hypocritically) I don’t actually care in this case. I’m happy to overlook any scenery chewing or wooden performances because it’s exactly like the old time radio shows. Whilst the actor who plays the aforementioned Jimmy Details, does a sterling job as a stoner metalhead, his portrayal of hobo philosopher Jonesy isn’t quite as good. In fact the few other characters he voices are all very similar. Also, the actor who plays Sheriff Tom Bradley fluffs his lines occasionally (something I only noticed on this, my third complete run through).

There are lots of little puns hidden in the script too, like little Easter eggs for the “eagle eared” (if that’s a thing). I won’t tell you what they are, but they are there, I promise. If you’re like me you’ll have a little smirk when you catch them. I love things like this, I mean I once wrote a biography of a band in which all the members through history had names of British places.

Final thoughts

This is easily in my all time top 5 podcasts. Any production blemishes can be easily overlooked, and they really should be. This isn’t a mega budget audio drama from a huge production house with an A-List cast. Just press play and enjoy the retro goodness of this excellent mystery series. I’d love to know if Arthur Russell has done any other work. I did have a look years ago when I first finished the show, and I couldn’t find any trace of him. As it says on the wormwood website, he truly is a mystery.

You can find Wormwood here:


Or wherever you get your podcasts 

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:


Or wherever you get your podcasts.

I want to believe…

Monster Talk review

Rating –

Monster Talk Logo

The Monster Talk podcast was actually recommended to me by my first proper subscriber, and the first guy to reach out and message me, so thanks for that Mr. Vincent!

Truth be told, I don’t really listen to any science podcasts. I know that people go on about the Infinite Monkey Cage and shows like that, but for some reason I always gravitate towards audio drama. This isn’t because I’m some science denying luddite, I just like some bang for my buck during work hours. Monster Talk has plenty of bang for your buck thankfully.

What’s it all about then?

Monster Talk is a bi-monthly podcast that promotes critical thinking and skepticism in the field of cryptozoology and the paranormal in general, which sounds kind of stuffy and long-winded but is surprisingly good. Every week, the hosts Blake Smith and Dr. Karen Stollznow examine a different topic and interview people in the relevant fields.

This is like the anti-Coast To Coast AM. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of love for the late Art Bell. In fact I spent an inordinate amount of time in the early 2000’s downloading mp3’s of his show from P2P sites. My point here is that while Mr Bell would have pretty much anyone on his show that had a good story to tell (Mel’s Hole or the legendary phone call from Area 51 spring immediately to mind), there were a few occasions where he must have felt like Peter Venkman hosting “World Of The Psychic”.

Monster Talk isn’t like that. All of the guests are experts in their fields, and (so far) they are charming and witty. The conversation bounces back and forth with ease and is very entertaining to listen to. As I said in my review of Mark Rees’ show, I believe that you are more likely to retain facts if they are presented in an engaging manner. Hopefully if more people listened to this show then more people would question pseudoscience despite the buzzword of “cognitive dissonance” (yes it does work both ways all you conspiracy theorists).

Is it any good though?

I’d have to say yes, it is very good. I’ve started from the beginning, as I always do, and there are a few niggles. You have to remember that the first episode was 12 years ago, so the audio quality here is pretty low. This isn’t so bad though, and gives these early episodes a cosy feeling that takes me back to those halcyon days of illegally downloading the aforementioned Art Bell shows over a dial up connection (ask your parents, kids). There’s only been one episode so far that’s been close to unlistenable, but that was due to the phone connection with the guest rather than the overall audio quality. 

Blake is very funny, as are the other hosts, but knowledgeable enough not to fill each episode with inanities and pointless jokes just for the sake of it. The questions they ask are also just at the right level for me. I’ve had an interest in a lot of this stuff for many years, but I’m by no means an expert. I certainly learn something new in every episode without having to resort to googling strange jargon and esoteric terminology so beloved of experts in niche fields.

Final thoughts

This has instantly become one of my all time favourite podcasts, easily in my top 5. Seriously, I’d give it an 8 or 9 brain rating if I could. Like Hypnogoria, I’ll be listening to this all day every day for a while yet, and loving every minute.

At the time of writing, there are 242 episodes! I’m on episode 27, so I’ve got some catching up to do. Thankfully this is a totally binge-worthy podcast and I can really see myself having to make an effort to listen to other shows just to keep this blog going.

The paranormal seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance in the last decade or so that it hasn’t had since the 1970s. Unfortunately the modern shows seem to lack any sense of balance. They will always side with extraterrestrials or demons rather than more mundane explanations. I understand that, I mean if you don’t get the ratings, you don’t have a show. And we all know nothing will get ratings than saying “it was aliens”, you’ve seen the memes.

This is a refreshing change to all the crazy haircuts, shaky cameras and huge leaps of imagination. It’ll be a real shame when I eventually catch up and have to wait 2 weeks for a new episode.

You can get Monster Talk here:


Or wherever you get your podcasts.

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