Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Was 2016 the best year for music? Let yourself be convinced by James Acaster's Perfect Sounds

Plus, Jon Gabrus and Griffin Newman dig out of the pandemic and back into the the Fast & Furious saga

Comedian James Acaster and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke
From left to right: James Acaster in 2019 (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for eONE), Thom Yorke of Radiohead at the 2016 Austin City Limits Music Festival (Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images)

Depresh Mode
Joel Kim Booster Is In A Pit

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts
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“And now, when someone asks me what depression is like, I can say, ‘Well, I can’t quite describe it to you in words, but I did this one interview you might find helpful.’” That’s Depresh Mode host John Moe in the epilogue to his conversation with comedian, writer, and actor Joel Kim Booster, who’s on a professional hot streak this summer—teaming up with Bowen Yang for the Booster-written movie Fire Island, being cast in Maya Rudolph’s upcoming Apple TV+ show, ramping up to an hour-long stand-up special—but who’s also coming out the other end of a major depressive episode. Across a sometimes uncomfortable 52 minutes, Booster (who has bipolar disorder) details the writer’s block he’s encountered in the wake of COVID-19 and his father’s death, and how this particular episode has left him with the insistent feeling that he’ll never craft a joke again. Depresh Mode adjusts to meet Booster’s vulnerability and openness: Moe mentions the decision to not put too much editorial polish on the interview, and you can hear him reevaluating his approach in real-time, as the line of questioning gives way to the recognition of another person in need. It’s not only a clear and compelling illustration of Depresh Mode’s primary subject matter; it’s proof of the relatability and urgency of the podcast as a whole. [Erik Adams]


Geto Boys Reloaded
The J. Prince Episode

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Back in the early ’90s, Houston rappers the Geto Boys were the South’s answer to N.W.A. Coming with rhymes that were vulgar, violent, and downright visceral, they were as hardcore as you could get. Cut to today: Willie “Willie D” Dennis and Brad “Scarface” Jordan, the only living members of the original foursome (diminutive MC Bushwick Bill died of pancreatic cancer in 2019 and former DJ Ready Red died of a heart attack the year before), are now on the mike with this podcast, courtesy of Charlamagne tha God’s Black Effect Podcast Network. For their first episode, the pair talks to the man who made them Geto Boys to begin with: Rap-A-Lot Records CEO and hip-hop mogul J. Prince. It’s mostly a nostalgic lovefest, as they reminisce on their humble beginnings when Dennis and Jordan aren’t showing their former boss love for taking them out the ghetto and giving them another way to make money legally. If anything, this podcast shows how these boys from the ’hood have become quite the elder statesmen. [Craig D. Lindsey]


High And Mighty
Fast 9 (w/ Griffin Newman)

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Hollywood was doing a lot of bunting in 2020, and in the whirlwind of delays and cancellations and general release-date mayhem, the announcement that the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise was peacing out for an entire year may not have hit a lot of filmgoers as particularly noteworthy. For Blank Check cohost Griffin Newman, on the other hand, it was a real “oh shit” moment, another omen from Universal (who hours earlier had just pushed back Bond half a year) that the already exhausting pandemic slog was going to amble on. There’s a sense of celebration and catharsis, then, in this long-anticipated installment in a long-running series of meetups between Newman and comedian Jon Gabrus to chat all things F9. The two Fast & Furious enthusiasts, whose adult friendship has largely formed as a byproduct of the series, go deep about how much of the franchise’s magic radiates from Sung Kang’s Han; how a one-off $38 million movie organically led to one of the most diverse ensembles in blockbuster history; and how Vin Diesel’s arty-bro vision leads to creative decisions that, while often absurd, are original in ways that aren’t typical in the modern action genre. Listeners don’t even need to be fans of the Fast movies to appreciate this context-rich conversation, which notes how a movie that throws cars around in outer space somehow manages to have the restraint to avoid de-aging CGI. [Dan Jakes]


James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds
Rosie Jones and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts
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For many people, the year 2016 is not one to look back on with fondness. But according to James Acaster, 2016 was the greatest year for music ever. On every episode of James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds, the comedian tries to convince a guest of 2016’s musical supremacy by having them listen to an album released in that most infamous year. A huge music nerd, Acaster decided to kick off this latest series with one of his biggest blind spots: Radiohead. He readily admits that he finds the genre-defying band’s oeuvre a little intimidating, not least because of what he and guest Rosie Jones consider to be the over-serious zealotry of their fans. Even though both comedians liked the mournful A Moon Shaped Pool, they fully expect to be ripped to pieces by Radiohead fanatics for liking it the wrong way. Jones, who usually prefers a poppier sound, appreciated the beautifully sad lyrics but was less than enthused with many of the stranger sonic embellishments. Acaster, meanwhile, revels in those embellishments and couldn’t be happier that the first full Radiohead album he ever listened to comes from a year that has yet to fail him. [Anthony D Herrera]


Memory Lane
DON’T TRUST ANYONE

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts
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Memory Lane is a satisfying summer listen; think of it like a short, frothy audiobook. This beachy series is produced by Realm and penned by Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard, so you know it’ll be a good mystery. It follows the fictitious journey of Alex and her estranged, flaky mom, Cassie, as they join an experimental medical study on implanted memories. Alex is hoping that the study might give her insight into her mother’s mysterious past, but as the study goes on, memories that aren’t quite right keep surfacing. Mother and daughter soon take a road trip across the country to uncover lost memories, eventually finding themselves in a small lakeside town that might hold the secrets to Cassie’s past. In true PLL fashion, Memory Lane lets you think you know where the mystery is heading, and then you get got. “Don’t Trust Anyone’’ is the penultimate episode in which the whole mess Cassie has been hiding comes unraveled—a perfect listen for your own road trip, though hopefully you fare better than these two. [Morgan McNaught]