In an ideal world I’d have all the time in the universe to listen to every bit of music there ever was. But life being what it is, I’ve had to choose. Yes, you read correct. I’ve had to choose! Damn you, universe!
Joking aside, after over half of a year of honing and refining, I’ve narrowed down the list of music podcasts to which I subscribe at work. I listen to podcasts at the office because (a) it saves me carting my iPod back and forth to work every day (oh, what a burden, you reply) and also because (b) they are all perfectly legal and thus there is no content of questionable copyright on my employer’s machine. At one point I had subscribed to nearly twenty different music feeds, but in the last couple months it has slowly whittled to just three, and three that I download each week and usually listen through at least once each.
Additionally, the whittling process took account of a number of not-so-conscious criteria. Each of these seems to be (at least to my mind) (i) consistently solid, awesome music, (ii) music to which I can listen, work, read, write, and be productive to — simultaneously — if necessary, (iii) enduring, in that they have each been around for years and hundreds of episodes, and (iv) thus-far well-aligned with my personal tastes. (Very objective criteria, don’t you think?)
The Chillcast with Anji Bee
Down-time, down-tempo, chill-out music with a passionate host.
From her website: “Anji Bee is a Southern California vocalist, lyricist, podcaster and vidcaster. She is one half of the indie band, Lovespirals, as well as the hostess and producer of the chillout music podcast, The Chillcast, and Chillcast Video, as well as the co-hostess and producer of the Chillin’ with Lovespirals podcast.” But I only really listen to her podcast. I can’t comment on the other work, though I should really track some of it down and have a closer look. That’s what you do when you become a fan, right?
I could probably go on and on about how she has an awesomely-smooth perfect-for-radio voice, or her selections slide together with a practiced elegance and a classic blur, or about the how the intensity of her genuine interest in the product and process comes through in the cast, but I’d just be gushing. I listen over and over each week because it’s solid work, polished music, and a great podcast. Each spans roughly an hour in duration, and this is just long enough for me to get into to zone, get some things done, and then sneak off to a meeting or something, fairly chilled and ready to do business.
Chill-out tracks with a philosophical host mixed in with the music.
I think I listen to Dave’s Lounge because had I the inclination, talent, or time to put a music podcast together, it is almost exactly the heights to which I’d aspire. From his website, Dave doesn’t seem to say much of himself but he writes that he is “Podcasting the best in chillout, trip hop and downtempo electronic music.” And I’m not in a position to argue. I listen to his podcast every week and have never really had reason to bail: again, consistently smooth and mellow tracks, perfect for getting things done and tuning out the drone of the office with my headphones on and fingers set to keyboard.
I also think what I enjoy about the podcast is that each week there is a bit of spoken commentary meshed in amongst the music. And not just the announcements of the songs and artists, either. It’s personal, heart-felt chats with the audience. Just there, hung out as if to say, hey, this is what I’m thinking about. It’s rarely controversial, but usually mildly philosophical, as if the host is just, off-the-cuff, talking about things that are bobbing about his mind. Like a blog, but not in-your-face nor the reason to download the episode: just there. Like icing. And I’ve started listening for it almost as much as I would with reading any blog I enjoy.
The Gareth Emery Podcast
Professional DJ and more up-tempo trance selections, great for working, walking, or zoning.
From what I understand this is a different beast altogether: Gareth Emery is relatively more established, Wikipedia claiming that he “has emerged in the last few years as one of the world’s major trance DJs.” Based in the UK, he seems to have a little more elaborate career in the music industry. In fact, not only do I listen to his podcast, but I’ve bought a couple of his albums and quite enjoy those too.
I say that the podcast differs from the other podcasts listed above largely in two ways: (a) it is far more commercial, not only with regard to production values, but in that I do very much get the sense that Emery is pitching his own work and albums as he plays a lot of his own mixes, and is looking for listeners to buy his stuff or attend his shows — though the passion for the music remains evident — and (b) it is far more upbeat, not so chill as the other two, and usually what I listen to when I’m drilling into something a lot less thinking-dependent and more grunt-work-ish. It’s still very good, though, and like all these podcasts a terrific value for great music at the el-cheap-o price of free.
Take it or leave it. My opinions, my two cents.