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Podcast Reviews

The AZ UFO NO

The AZ UFO Show is, according to the host Rich Giordano, “The Very 1st UFO Related Show created on Blogtalkradio”, in fact, have all of his words:

Since 2006 we have been morphing into the most original and most honest paranormal/UFO show and to this day actively creating and searching for a painfully truthful show. This is the show you listen to if you want real talk with real people. No sugarcoating here. If you want fluff then go somewhere else. The truth will set you free and hurt you in the process. Just give the show a chance. Who knows, it may be your guilty pleasure. Blah.

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Host Rich Giordano

 

If “original” and “honest” means “pathetic” and “egotistical”, that first sentence is accurate as it is indeed a painful show. If there were a show I did not want to listen to for “real talk with real people”, it would be this one. There is nothing real about the host or guests aside from their utter ignorance. Even the callers, who all seem to have some sort of mental disability, are treated horribly by the sad excuse for a host Giordano is. “Blah” in his words, is probably the best reaction you can hope to get from listening to this show. As a cast member and producer of a podcast, I do consider this my guilty pleasure. I listen to an episode once a month, in its entirety, to remind me that the hours I put into my show aren’t wasted, and that no matter how bad I think it is when it goes out to the cloud it’s not the worst thing on iTunes. This review blog has a format, so let me get back to that before I spend too much time in freeform hate mode.

The audio quality of this show is shit. It’s horrible. There is no attempt at any time to improve upon the poorly recorded audio. I doubt Rich would know what a filter was unless you were talking about cigarettes. Production? We don’t need no stinking production! Skype call drop-outs, coughs, dead air, leave it all in! The only thing that would lower the score in this section is if the entire show was static, but that would most certainly raise the score for likeability.

Content and Originality… let’s see… rehashing the same paranormal info that’s been gone over a million times and adding absolutely nothing new to it? Well I suppose that gives him one point for Originality as no one else I’ve heard on the internet has been able to do hours upon hours worth of recording without contributing at least one coherent thought to the subject. Bravo Rich, you win the award for being the best at generating content with no actual content.

I’d liken the consistency of this show, both in terms of episode output and quality, to the greasy movements one has after a Chipotle burrito and tequila shots binge.

The Likeability of this show is close to the likeability of a sledgehammer to the groin whilst your feet are nailed to the floor and all of your hair is one fire, which is to say, not very high for any sane or mildly insane person.

If The AZ UFO Show does indeed have a 5’th element, that “it” factor has to be that the show is so damnably horrible that it makes me happy to spread it. Do not mistake this as me saying “It’s so bad it’s good”, it is not good in any way, I simply feel sadistic glee when I convince someone to listen to it. If you don’t know me you don’t know that I’m a ginger, and that sharing this show is a great way to murder the souls of those I expose to it so that I may feed upon them to sustain myself due to a lack thereof. I am, of course, joking about the souls thing. The rest I am being entirely serious. Please, go listen, and tweet at me when you do.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 1
Content\Originality:           1
Consistency:                     1
Likeability:                         1
5’th Element: Feeding my Sadism:         7

Final Score:                       2.2

You can find The AZ UFO Show on iTunes and host Rich Giordano on Twitter.

Those Conspiracy Guys

“JET FUEL CAN’T MELT STEEL BEAMS!” may or may not be uttered during an episode of Those Conspiracy Guys, but it’ll be in an Irish accent, which makes everything better.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, Those Conspiracy Guys (hosted by Gordon Rochford and Paul Kelly of Ireland) is a conspiracy theory podcast. With topics ranging from 9\11 to Kurt Cobain to the Mothman, TCG covers all the tinfoil hatter’s favorites and a few that you may not have heard of. The latest release as of this review is a six and a half hour omnibus on Grimoires including H.P. Lovecraft and the Necronomicon.

The production value in the current season is comparable to many professional shows as far as audio quality goes, though this wasn’t the case early on. I’ve been listening to these folks go on about checking sources and allegedly alleging allegiance for a long time now, and I can happily say they have taken every step they could along the way to improve the show. From building a great website, to buying new microphones, to taking advice on how to improve the audio, TCG has spent every dime from their Patreon, and it seems every waking hour, either recording the show or improving the entire experience they provide.

If you know anything about conspiracy theories, you’ll probably be wondering why you should give TCG a chance. Fair enough, considering all the material out there already. What you get here is concise points with logic and laughs in between. It remains one of my greatest sources of both thought provoking theories and dick jokes in podcast form. If you have a sense of humor and intrigue, a love of mystery and masturbation goofs, this is for you.

The episode release schedule had been hit or miss during the first season, as many shows are, but after a few months off between season one and two TCG has been a reliable twice-a-month show. Season three, with its improved audio quality and longer episode lengths, seems to be the comfortable point for the show and I hope future seasons feel the same.

Some people may not like three to six hours of conspiracy talk at a time, and that’s fine. That’s what the pause button is for. For the rest of us, this long-form style of conversational inquisition is exactly what the internet has needed. Delving through all the meandering Youtube videos, blog posts, exposés, and docutainment so we don’t have to, TCG feels like the guys you meet at the pub and bullshit with for hours on end, yet never feel like you’ve wasted a minute.

The fifth element in TCG has got to be sincerity. The fact that Gordon and Paul, and any guests they have on, are honestly and truthfully discussing the topics without fear of reprisal or judgement leads to some great conversation. Sophomoric humor and outlandish theories aside, these guys are just great to listen to because they give true and honest thought to what they are saying, which is only made better by the fact that it’s sophomoric humor and outlandish theories. Whether you agree or disagree, you have to commend them on their sincere passion. Remember to check your sources, and get off the fence.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 8
Content\Originality:           8
Consistency:                     9
Likeability:                         7
5’th Element: Sincerity:         8

Final Score:                       8

You can find Those Conspiracy Guys on iTunes and their Website among other places.
If you love the show, consider supporting them via Patreon.

Last Podcast On The Left

Last Podcast on the Left is a show devoted to the strange and terrible things in our world, “both imagined and real.” Part of the CaveComedyRadio.com network, Lpotl has a definite professional vibe in format and voice talent. Hosts Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks all sound like they’ve done extensive voice work. That’s because they have, from TV to Radio to Podcasts. This might put off some listeners turning to podcasts to get away from that “radio morning zoo” feel, it did for me until I got about five episodes in. Once I got used to the fact that these guys sound like dozens of FM morning show voices across the country I could move on to appreciating that they are doing what FM morning show hosts wish they could do: a professionally produced, commercial free, no holds barred personality fest on the topic of their choice.

With topics ranging from serial killers to creepypasta and every morbid curiosity in between, the Last boys go to great lengths to make sure they cover anything spoopy enough to have a subreddit. Many, if not all, of the topics have been covered by other podcasts before. Certainly there has been a movie or History channel mini documentary on each of the subjects covered by Lpotl. Even with such a wealth of “knowledge” on the subject of Nazis and the Occult, or the Dyatlov Pass Incident, or Ghosts, there will always be an audience for an entertaining discussion on the matters macabre. Where this crew keeps it fresh is with their yes-and’s. Having three great comedians with a disturbing interest in the darker subjects of life host a show all but guarantees an entertaining episode.

Consistency is key in keeping a podcast audience engaged and Lpotl has it on lock. A huge episode drop mid-February 2015 leads me to believe the show switched servers or joined their network around that time, but according to itunes they’ve put out an episode every week at a minimum from then til now, march 2016. Not only is this hard to do just in terms of content generation, the length of the episodes being over an hour each, the show never drops in quality from an audio standpoint.

As said earlier, if you can’t get over the professional “radio voice” sound of the show, you won’t be able to get into it. This show is also not for sensitive people. If you can’t handle a dead baby joke on the internet, DO NOT listen to this show. This is no bastion of political correctness. The hosts are all likeable guys, but they leave nothing unsaid to the point that they actually cross each other’s lines on occasion.

While the subjects covered during the show are undeniably in the Horror genre, they branch out enough to be considered something more than a Horror\Comedy podcast. I compare them more to the likes of The Dollop, with the focus being more on the education and entertainment than the horror of the stories. That being said, the fifth element here is most decidedly horror of the underlying sort. Aside from the episodes that feature actual 911 calls from murderers during their crimes, there is always an air of creep that will get under your skin no matter how much funny is brought by the hosts. It’s this odd mix of skin crawling and gut busting that keeps me coming back for more. Much like Symphonic Black Metal music, love of the juxtaposition between beauty and atrocity is required to fully appreciate what is presented by the Last Podcast on the Left. Megustalations, fellas.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 9
Content\Originality:           8
Consistency:                     10
Likeability:                         7
5’th Element: Horror:         7

Final Score:                       8.2

You can find Lpotl on iTunes, Reddit, and at their Website.
If you love the show, consider supporting them via Patreon.

The No Sleep Podcast

If you know horror, you know The No Sleep Podcast. Or, in my case, you recently discovered it and have spent a month and a half catching up on its vast back catalog of episodes.

This may be the grandpappy of all horror podcasts available currently. With four and a half years and hundreds of episodes, I can’t see this being any less than the Number One podcast to listen to for any and all horror fans. NoSleep was spawned from the bowels of Reddit’s /r/nosleep subforum, a place for authors to submit their horror fiction short stories for review, critique, and the morbid enjoyment of all. It is a horror anthology show, taking the best stories submitted from that forum and turning them into mini audio plays. The cast, crew, and authors vary widely so I won’t bother trying to cite them all, but showrunner David Cummings seems to be the driving force as well as host of the show.

The audio quality and production is professional and fits the mood for each individual story, which is quite the undertaking when you think of just how many stories there are here. I wouldn’t say it’s as clean as Lore, or as immersive as SAYER, but it finds a balance that makes each story a unique piece and doesn’t overdo the bangs and creaks to the point that they detract from the fiction. I find myself constantly in the image-world of the featured story while I’m listening and working, a result that takes a good ear to produce.

All of the content is sourced from outside authors, and so the style of writing and subject matter varies as vastly as it would in a three tier bookstore. The real feat here is the selection process. I’ve been listening for about six weeks now, made it through three years worth of episodes, and only been disappointed by a story wholly one time. There was another, but that was just a plot hole and I hope I don’t find any more of those, for my own sake. There are tropes, many tropes, but the stories selected for the show seem to flip them on their heads or play cat and mouse with them, very rarely supplying the expected conclusion. Whoever is in charge of picking the terrifying tales is doing one hell of a job.

NoSleep started as a fully free show and has evolved into a free show with an expanded subscription model that nearly triples the content for about twenty bucks a year. I find absolutely nothing wrong with this and once I’m caught up I may actually go back to buy the season passes so I have a few years worth of listening to binge on, which should take about three months at the rate I consume audio. From what I see in my podcatcher, once the season starts it keeps going until it’s done with nary a late episode. There are also “full” episodes you would normally only get with a subscription, holiday, and other bonus episodes published every so often as a thank you for the free listeners.

The Horror element is inherent in the show. It drips from the intro, oozes in the cracks between stories, and creeps into your blood like an I.V. drip while you enjoy the dark fiction supplied. From psychological to scatological, Bela Lugosi to Eli Roth, Lovecraft to Lebbon, unless you just hate horror in all its forms, there’s something here for everyone.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 9
Content\Originality:           9
Consistency:                     9
Likeability:                         10
5’th Element: Horror:         10

Final Score:                       9.4

Everything you need to listen to, support, and connect with NoSleep is easily found on their website here.

SAYER

Extending the theme from Horror Month, since I didn’t have time to get to all the shows I wanted to, is a show I mentioned in an earlier review, SAYER.

SAYER is an original fiction Scifi-Horror show created by Adam Bash and hosted on the Geekly Inc Podcast network. Here we find a self-aware artificial intelligence construct, SAYER, controlling a space station and communicating with the residents within. This is typically to accomplish some sort of task and usually with great success, as long as you don’t include “Survival of the Resident” as a requirement for said success.

SAYER is a superbly well produced show. From the robotic vocal effects Bash uses to achieve the A.I.’s expressive voice to the music and sound effects, this one leaves no ess de-essed, no breath unmuted, and no opportunity for story enhancing audio is missed. On occasion a “Low Level Alert” catches my eardrums by surprise, but that’s all part of the fun. This is a Scifi-Horror show, after all.

The writing duties are split amongst an excellent writing staff of Jonah Gregory, Nika Howard,and Ashleigh Shadowbrook, with Bash penning the main story arc episodes. Many episodes follow the Monster-of-the-week format between advancement of the main plot, though there are elements even in these tales that tie in deeply with the main canon of SAYER. Some of these stories are better than others, but I have yet to hear one that I found less than entertaining. From start to finish as of the time of this review, Season one episode six is still my favorite.

If you’re a fan of scientifically accurate scifi (I’m not checking the science, but Bash says he is), Body/Psychological Horror, Puzzle solving, and Space Mystery, you’ll love SAYER. The Horror element with this show runs the gamut, from gore to simple implied consequence, and each different facet of it is done quite well. This is a fairly specific show given its genre, but I feel that the writing and production are good enough that even the mildest scifi or horror fan would enjoy it. The squeamish folk or listeners that don’t like being made to think by their entertainment may find SAYER over the top, but those would be few I’d say.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 10
Content\Originality:           9
Consistency:                     10
Likeability:                         8
5’th Element: Horror:         9

Final Score:                       9.2

Support SAYER via Patreon
Find all things SAYER at the Geekly Inc. SAYER page

The Black Tapes Podcast

Let me tell you about a podcast that changed the medium forever. What could be arguably held as the most immediately successful podcast since episodic audio via the internet became a thing. That show was called Serial.

With its fresh format mimicking TV magazine shows and indie documentaries, its subject matter, a true story of an accused and convicted murderer and the possibility of his actual innocence, Serial took the podcast world by storm.

Now let me tell you about a show that blatantly steals that format, replaces the subject matter with a story about an investigative journalist focusing on the paranormal, and captures the listening public’s attention in a way that hadn’t happened since Serial itself. That show is The Black Tapes Podcast.

True to it’s spiritual predecessor, The Black Tapes is a very highly produced and well written show. Season one is over now, and the entire run is available everywhere. When it was being published I never saw an episode go out late. The voice talent is very natural sounding for the most part. There was one moment where someone pronounced Nirvana “Nir-VAN-uh” when referencing the band, which took me out of the story for just a minute. That was early on, easily forgivable, and in my assumption due to the voice actor most likely being Canadian. Aside from that one admittedly minor and amusing hiccup I couldn’t find fault as the show went on. The acting sounds professional, and the talent truly commit to their characters making them eerily believable.

The horror factor for The Black Tapes comes in a very X-Files-ish way. With the main story arc playing through every episode there is a through-line that is easily followed, but there are also “Monster of the Week” episodes that restart the narrative from a different viewpoint. I won’t give away the end of season one except to say that the obvious conclusion of the various stories being connected is pursued and season two is all but announced. If there is no season two, this entire project falls flat no matter how good its setup was. That being said, the setup is exquisite and you should listen to it and hope for a future payoff.

I wish I could give this show a perfect 10. The fact that it does lean so heavily on the format of Serial takes away a fraction of a point, as obviously smart an idea as it was. The show does have its scary moments, but it’s less of a Horror factor and more of an underlying creepiness at work here. There isn’t “something for everyone”, but if you’re the one out of ten that isn’t at least marginally entertained by this show, go back to your 5 A.M. Farm report. These are the reasons I couldn’t give it a perfect 10, but I wanted to.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 10
Content\Originality:           9
Consistency:                     10
Likeability:                         9
5’th Element: Horror:         9

Final Score:                       9.4

Head to The Black Tapes Podcast Website for episodes and interaction

LORE

Time for the second review of podcasts to chill and entertain during Horror Month. This time I present Lore, “a bi-weekly podcast about true life scary stories.” Do you like Stuff You Should Know, but wish it was short and creepy? You’re in luck.

At first glance, with its short length (18-30 min) and simple titles, you may think that there couldn’t be anything worthwhile here. You’d be dead wrong. Lore is one of the best podcasts to come out this year, and that’s saying something. I’ve been recommending it since I found it a couple of months ago and I’ll continue to as long as it remains true to its tagline, “Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.”.

The creator and sole voice of Lore is Author Aaron Mahnke. He has three novels for sale on the Lore website and I plan on buying one based solely on his work in this show. If his fiction is anywhere near the quality of this historical horror podcast It will be 16 dollars US well spent for an autographed paperback, and I’m a cheapskate.

The audio quality is beyond reproach, being professionally recorded and produced. There’s not much more I can say about that, it’s top of the heap status.

As for the content, it isn’t the most original subject matter within the horror genre, with subjects ranging from Vampires to the Jersey Devil. However, as the episodes move on the topics start to vary in a much more wide sweeping arc, focusing on more obscure legends that many may not have heard of, while still touching back to the more mainstream now and again. The simple fact that a werewolf episode could hold my attention for eighteen minutes is testament to the quality and original format of this gem.

Being a bi-weekly podcast that is at 16 episodes as of the time of this review I haven’t yet seen a single late release. I also have not seen any signs of cracks showing in the production, editing, or any other facet of the show. This beast is about as regular as it gets.

The overall likeability of Lore, for me, comes from its simple single story narrative. The one negative thing I could say about the show is that I wish it was twice, even three times the episode length. That being said, I know what it’s like producing a bi-weekly hour plus long show and it’s near impossible by yourself unless it’s your full time job.

The horror comes in the production here. The stories, of course, are ghoulish and ghastly, but for fans of the paranormal as a matter of real life fact or anthropological curiosity, they serve more as horizon broadening than heart skipping. The simplicity of the show, paired with Aaron’s expert choice in soundscapes and minor audio accents keeps a clean feel to it, which pulls you even deeper into the stories than you probably should allow. That is what brings the BOO. The fact that you can be caught off guard with your earbuds in at work because you’re not really at work, you’re in the story.

I could go on for a lot longer, but I’ll let the scores give the final say. Be sure to give this one a listen.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 10
Content\Originality:           9
Consistency:                     10
Likeability:                         8
5’th Element: Horror:         8

Final Score:                       9

All of the Lore social media links, including donation pages, are Here in one easy place.

Shadowvane Podcast

The first review of Horror Month is Shadowvane Podcast, an anthology show in its first season.

The current storyline of Shadowvane, “Progenix”, is sci-fi horror original fiction. Produced in the vein of a radio play, “Shadowvane is a storytelling podcast of a similar format to the old radio dramas of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s.” says the about tab on their website. I agree with that sentiment. The writer\producer Andrew Lister does a solid job of making the show not only listenable, but well produced enough to draw you into his story.

The self description continues, “Think of the classic War of the Worlds broadcasts from 1938 or more modern podcasting examples like Welcome to Night Vale or Sayer.”. While I definitely find Shadowvane shares many similarities of both feel and substance with Night Vale and more so Sayer, I place its story closer akin to Eli Roth’s Netflix original series Hemlock Grove in its first season. Mystery, medical experiments, creatures more than hinted at, emotional trauma, the stories run a comfortable parallel without ever actually being similar enough to cry “Copy”, which Shadowvane is anything but.

Season one also includes bonus content. “Classic Tales of Terror” features short story readings of the works of Lovecraft, Poe, Phillip K. Dick, and Julius Long. There are also fan submitted stories, a poetry collection, and a behind the scenes episode. The show is faithfully released around the first and fifteenth day of every month with bonus episodes peppered between.

As far as the Horror element goes, this isn’t a jump-scare spookfest, but it is seated firmly within the horror and sci-fi sections. A welcome addition to both.

All in all, Shadowvane is a fun show in its first season, and I’m looking forward to the Progenix storyline conclusion and what’s in store for season 2. I recommend this to sci-fi, horror, and radio-play fans. If you would like to support Shadowvane follow the links below the scoreboard.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 8
Content\Originality:           8
Consistency:                     9
Likeability:                         8
5’th Element: Horror:         8

Final Score:                       8.4

In addition to the Shadowvane Podcast website, there is also a Twitter, Facebook, and Patreon page if you would like to support them.

Horror Month

Hello, and welcome to Podarazzi Reviews.

For the entire month of October I will be reviewing Horror podcasts of many sorts, original fiction, continuous storyline, docudrama, anthology, all available within the genre. As this is the inaugural themed month, I’ll explain first my process and give you a look into my head.

To be considered for review a show must have at least 3 episodes, fit the theme of the month if there is one, and be currently active on iTunes, Stitcher, or otherwise easily accessible via RSS.

All reviews are accompanied by an iTunes\Stitcher review from the Podarazzi account.

Review scores will be based on five categories:

  1. Audio Quality and Production. Is the show listenable and is there work done beyond the basic cleanup?
  2. Content and Originality. Does the show do a good job of providing original content within their chosen genre, or at least find a new way of presenting what’s out there already?
  3. Consistency. Does the show come out regularly and on schedule?
  4. Likeability. This is the catch-all that includes the hosts, format, ad-cuts, and everything else that effects a listener’s willingness to return for another episode.
  5. The Fifth Element. This is a genre specific category. This month it’s Horror, so the 5’th here is Spook-factor. Does the show creep, spook, scare, or morbidly entertain?

So now you have an idea of what I’ll be doing here. Look forward to reviews of these shows during Horror Month.

And possibly more, if Limetown and Scared? get up to three episodes by months end.

If you would like a review of a podcast, yours or one you listen to, email me at PodarazziReview@gmail.com

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