S is for….

Superfly for a white guy?

 

Nope.  Because this isn’t 1998 and we are definitely not a bunch of unadorned women in the buffola.

 

S then is for sidestep.  Because for this article we’ve decided to move briefly away from comics and movies to take a look at other forms of media that are just as awesome and that have been tickling our old lugholes in the most delightful of ways.

 

Also in a strange confluence of events, all the things we’ve enjoyed recently seem to begin with the letter S so there’s that too.  The universe is telling us to bring these things together.  To bring them to your attention.  And who are we to argue with the Great Beyond.  So listed below are five things we’ve been overwhelmingly impressed by and that we’d like to share with those of you that appreciate talent, regardless of the medium…

 

Hold on to your hats then guys because here’s number one….

stown 2

 

  1. S-TOWN (podcast, iTunes) – or as listeners to this incredible podcast will know it, SHIT TOWN, to give it its full name. To get the negatives out of the way this Podcast has been accused by one article (published by Rolling Stone of all places) of whitewashing the story of this town, of failing its black listeners but to be honest that seems a little unfair to us.  Since the real story at the heart of S-Town didn’t reveal itself to host Brian Reed until long after he had gone down to Alabama, he really couldn’t have actively whitewashed the plot if he wanted to.  Hell, he didn’t even choose the narrative, the narrative basically chose him so we don’t put much stock in that particular criticism; sorry Rolling Stone.  Some others we’ve seen have also accused the podcast of being way too male centric.  s town 3But honestly knowing now what we know about its central character, the inimitable John. B. McLemore, and his unusual proclivities we sincerely doubt he would have been anywhere near as open or honest with a female journalist that came to visit so we’d also advise you to take that indictment with a grain of salt too.  However, leaving all that pessimism aside if you are looking for a tragic and heart-warming podcast that ends up in a place you never saw coming, that is the absolute definition of unpredictable then give this one a go.  Oh and if you don’t cry at episode three then no offense, then you are dead inside.  s town 1We have to add that caveat.  For legal reasons, you understand.

Sarah Kendall 1

  1. Sarah Kendall’s Australian Trilogy (BBC Radio 4 iPlayer)– to be fair, we hadn’t heard of this female comedian before and we basically listened to this on a recommendation from a friend who works for the BBC. But what a recommendation it was!  Because this three part series (each episode roughly an hour long) is hilarious storytelling at its best- real, heart-breaking, witty and due to the fact that each instalment ends with a line that will punch you in the gut (and rewrite everything you just heard), it’s quite unforgettable too.  sarah kendall 2 Seriously, this is a narrative delivered with a unique voice at its centre, something the BBC hasn’t always excelled in offering lately.  So if you’ve ever wanted to listen to a unique snapshot of small town life in the land of Oz then this stand up show is right up your alley.  And given Kendall’s previous (it turns out she has performed solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and pops up regularly on BBC2 and BBC4 comedy programmes), you can expect more wonderful narrative theatrics from her in the future.  Which we are more than excited about.

swerve 2

  1. Swerve (Webseries, YouTube)– once again we have to say, Canada (and Skeleton Key films) has managed to drop a thought provoking and mesmerising webseries in our collective laps with little to no fanfare. Directed with flair (on a pretty tiny budget) by J S Armstrong and acted impeccably by a trio of women (Sharon Belle, Emily Amatalo and Kat Inokai) this is a fascinating look at three random lives that become inexplicably intertwined by an impromptu visit to an isolated cabin in the woods. swerve 3 Currently crowdfunding for a season 2 (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/swerveseries-season-two-going-home-youtube-series#/) with a number of new actors/characters announced should it reach its goal, this series is refreshing in its use of a female voiceover/narration and intriguing both in its visuals and plotting.  For our part, we were mesmerised by its stripped down script and hints at darker themes.  swerve 1We get the feeling there is more quality to come.  And so if the idea of a webseries focusing on a group of lost women intrigues you as much as it does us, then check this out post haste.  You’ll thank us in the long run.

serial 1

  1. Serial (podcast, iTunes)– Yes, we know you’ve probably heard of this one given that its already dropped two series to critical acclaim and no we haven’t been paid by the producers who make both Serial and S-Town. We wish.  But we had to put it on the list you see because goddamn is it well made.  Looking into a different legal case each season (Season 1: Adnan Syed’s arrest for the murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore 1999, Season 2: Pfc Bowe Bergdahl’s desertion from his military post in Afghanistan and subsequent capture by the Taliban in 2009) this podcast combines wonderful music, an incredibly likeable and discerning host in Sarah Koenig and a languid expansive approach to these stories to make their telling both inexplicable and mesmerising. serial 2 The fact that there are also extra behind-the-scenes details to unearth online for those of you who want (and need) more shows just how collaborative and welcoming the makers are.  And because the series is so well researched and open-minded and its production is run with such consummate skill and passion, this podcast deserves every accolade it gets.  We are currently waiting on tenterhooks for season three to be released y’all.  And we don’t even know what tenterhooks are.  But we’re on them.  We are so on them.

John Stewart 1

  1. California Bloodlines by John Stewart (Spotify)- it seems weird to recommend an album to you as number five, we know. But since this collection of songs has a narrative at its core and offers up a look into a small piece of American history we kind of feel justified in placing it on this list. Truth be told, Stewart is a massively underrated figure in the American Folk/Pop music scene.  After a great career with the Kingston Trio he struck out on his own and recorded this masterpiece of an album in 1968 with Capitol Records.  Of course Trio fans at the time didn’t know what to make of it but in terms of musical ability this album is a slice of fried gold. john stewart 2 And if that isn’t enough to convince you then maybe the fact that this is the same guy who penned tracks ‘Daydream Believer’( for the Monkees) and ‘Gold’ (which was covered by Stevie Nicks)  will give you a nudge in his direction.  You won’t regret it.  We certainly didn’t. His mellow folksy tones provide the perfect languorous background to your day.  And if they don’t, we’ll give you your money back.*

 

Disclaimer- *we will definitely not give you any money back.  Sorry.*

 

Anyways, these are the five recommendations we have for you this month from the downtime  moments in our crazy lives.  Let us know if you manage to check any of them out or if you’ve already given them a try.  The first to comment gets a mystery prize…^

 

Disclaimer- ^we also have no mystery prizes.  Oops.^

 

 

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