May 15, 2015

Podcast Portal: Trends Like These

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Trends Like These
HOSTS: Travis McElroy and Brent Black
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "Ep. 001: Jem and the Holograms, Leroy Jenkins, AOL, Hugh Jackman..."

If you are at all familiar with popular podcasting culture, you'll likely be familiar with the Maximumfun Network. More specifically, you'll be familiar with the unlikeliest of empire-building families known as the McElroys. While their flagship series My Brother My Brother and Me and consistently ranked among crowd favorites, the three brother hosts have split up to make a wide array of arguably even more interesting programs dealing with subjects such as medicine (Sawbones), the apocalypse (Bunker Buddies), and Dungeons and Dragons (The Adventure Zone). However, the latest show from Travis McElroy is one that felt the most inevitable and comes as a welcomed surprise to the podcasting community.
The premise of Trends Like These is simple. As the title suggests, they will be discussing popular culture on a weekly basis. Joining Travis is first time podcaster Brent Black of Brentalfloss fame. The premise from there is rather simple and most of the subjects discussed will likely be in the title. In this episode, there's discussion of the Jem and the Holograms trailer backlash, the anniversary of the Leroy Jenkins video, and the statistics for how many people still pay for AOL services. There's also a segment called Wi-Five, which highlights someone who did a noble deed. Other than that, the show is the familiar riffing in ways that the McElroy brothers have expertly been able to pull off.
There isn't much else to really discuss about the show other than it's going to cover news. The one benefit is that the duo, at least for the first episode, don't give a familiar answer worthy of an eye roll. When they dislike something, there's usually strong reasoning for it. When they have exhausted the story, they usually go into joke riffing, which can be hit or miss but usually rather interesting. It is a show that feels the equivalent of two friends getting together to talk about whatever they want. Thankfully, whatever they want can be rather interesting. 
It is likely that my initial fondness for the show comes from being a casual member of the McElroy cult. While I don't listen weekly to any of their shows, I still rank most of them very highly and find when I do listen to be delightful (Sawbones is a clear favorite). Their drowsy voices and ability to mix fact with humor so casually is probably their biggest draw and explains why I will pop on Bunker Buddies, even if I don't care about post-apocalyptic culture. It has been interesting to watch them build their own empire with friends and relatives in ways that seem unprecedented if you're not someone like Kevin Smith, Adam Carolla or Bill Simmons. They know comedy and I am thankful that they have branched out in recent years.
Trends Like These, provided that it remains consistent, is a show that will make McElroy fans proud. It has all of the charm that you'd expect from Travis everywhere else and Brent brings a nice energy to the show. While it will be likely that their topics will be discussed to death by others, they still bring a fresh approach that keeps you entertained and laughing the entire time. It is definitely worth listening to not for the expert opinions, but the expert riffing that they can achieve with the right material. Bravo on another solid show.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: If you like the McElroy Brothers' other work, I don't see why this wouldn't be. As someone who may be somewhat of an apologist at times, I am definitely putting this in regular rotation.

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