I came across something pretty cool and I thought I would share.
First off, a smidgen of background. Back in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, radio was it. No television, no internet, no mp3's, no Playstation Vita. Want to be entertained for an hour or 3, and you tired out your collection of novels, read the day's New York Times? Radio was it - whether it be the music of the time, or something called radio drama. Reaching it's height in popularity in the 1940's right before the advent of the television, radio drama was THE SHIT for the general population. Basically soap operas, or Jersey Shore, for the American public. I remember my grandma telling me about radio shows a long time ago when I was a kid, even playing a couple for me. These were scripted and acted shows, just like a normal television show would be, except over the radio, obviously, it was for ears only; just like a silent movie was for 'eyes only'. They incorporated anything and everything they could utilize to make everything sound real, effects, dramatic soundtracks, all of it. I was definitely intrigued. Even today, most people still know the legendary story about the 1938 radio drama broadcast of HG Wells' "War Of The Worlds" and much of the American public actually thinking there was a Martian invasion happening, and they were hearing it on the radio. That's some crazy stuff; and just like with any good entertainment medium, if the performances and material are treated the right way, it'll seem genuine and you'll 'buy' it.
Apparently with the increasing popularity of the 'podcast' medium (and a bit from satellite radio as well) there's been a quiet resurgence of the radio drama. I, for one, had no idea. Although I'm not going to be interested in old-timey versions of The Shadow or War Of The Worlds, this little show called We're Alive caught my attention and I curiously jumped in to test the waters. So far I really like it.
Basically We're Alive is a story of survival set in a post-apocalyptic zombie world, much like The Walking Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, and so forth. It's a horror radio drama; 100% audio, nothing more. It's written, directed, designed, and run by one man, KC Wayland; but features an impressive number of voice actors as well as sound engineers, designers, etc. For a show that is entirely free on iTunes and relies on advertising to keep it going, that's amazing. Now normally I'd be skeptical. "Um, it's 2012. Why the fuck would I download this when I can just watch a damn Walking Dead episode. Come on man, I have Mass Effect 3 to play. Are you serious? a radio drama?!" Let me tell you why this is worth your time. #1, because this Wayland guy can write a scene. There's some damn cool material in this so far, and I'm only up to Episode 6 (the chapters are 3 episodes each, each 'episode' is anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes long). #2, and perhaps most importantly, I learned a long time ago that your imagination is way more powerful than anything that a show or a movie can come up with. Your imagination will scare the hell out of you, and the pictures that your mind paints are many times, way more effective. It's the reason why many times during well-made horror movies, they don't show the 'monster' until the very last scenes. They want you to freak yourself out by imagining WHAT it is.
Now, We're Alive takes this concept and runs with it. Yes, it's 2012 and zombies are cool. Even cooler than Twilight made vampires. The Walking Dead is the most-watched show since fucking Oprah, games like Dead Alive and Resident Evil sell insane amounts of units. They are definitely jumping on the bandwagon a bit with the concept. But if you can look past a slight amount of cheese (the zombie noises are 'ehh', some of the acting, while not terrible, also might not be Academy Awards material) it's definitely worth checking it out. I listened to the first 6 episodes in one night and kept myself up until 2am.
So if you're looking for a new experience, I highly recommend it. In an age of sensory overload, it's nice to sit back with an updated version of some old school entertainment. Sit back for an hour, the audio track will let your imagination run wild. Check out their website at www.zombiepodcast.com and download it free on iTunes (where else? years from now you'll be downloading your dinner from iTunes).
as a heads up, you can stream the full new shins record, port of morrow via itunes right now until it comes out next tuesday. i am feeling pretty good about it. it hasn't completely overwhelmed me just yet, though listening to the record made me feel a bit better than what the single told me i had in store. i've always somewhat related this band to very stripped down, threadbare indie tracks with a very smart almost 50s pop sensibility to them. wincing the night away dropped in 2006 and ended up being my favorite record of that year, and i reapproached it later last year and it still held itself up in an incredible place for me. this record fleshes itself up a bit more, adding more layers and harmonies and body all-in-all but still maintains a signature tone to it. there is no doubt that this is the shins, though maybe with a bit more gusto. i'm not sure that i can link you to the itunes stream, but open your program up and go to the store. it should be somewhere on the front page.
Sifting through the heap of dubstep which has formed on the landscape, I've managed to find a few artists worth mentioning. Kill The Noise bring some interesting things to the mix, as well as Excision and Subvert, who I learned about when they did a remix of one of my favorite songs of all time, "Zombie" by The Cranberries.
One of my more recent finds is a group called Broken Note which manages to appeal to my industrial inner-workings. They have an extremely heavy sound, with drum-and-bass-style rhythms that break up the usual formula of dubstep (step 1: build it, step 2: drop it). Their video has some great, hypnotic imagery:
On the other end of the production spectrum, there's a guy called ThePeteBox who is doing some quality stuff in the world of beat-boxing/looping. He has an album coming out April 11th called Future Loops which I might be checking out. Here's him doing a mind-blowing, one-man cover of "Where is My Mind?" by The Pixies, the song you might know from the final frames of the Fight Club film.