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8 Podcasts We’re Excited to Listen to This Fall

A fitting mix of the light and the heavy, of the political and the everything else.

Photo-Illustration: Vulture/Courtesy of the podcast
Photo-Illustration: Vulture/Courtesy of the podcast

As we get ready for an intense fall — a pandemic and what is very likely the most consequential presidential elections in our lifetimes — one thing is for sure: There will be podcasts covering all of it. And while the best ones often come as out-of-the-blue surprises, we do already know about plenty of notable entries coming out in the next several months. Here’s a list of some of those upcoming podcasts, a fitting mix of the light and the heavy, of the political and the everything else.

No Compromise (Guns & America)

It’s hard to imagine a gun rights movement even more absolutist and right-wing than the NRA, but there is one, and furthermore, it’s been gaining momentum within the gun rights world. Produced by the public radio reporting collaborative Guns & America, No Compromise is a limited-run investigative series that examines the origins and rise of this movement, centering it on the story of Aaron, Chris, and Ben Dorr, three brothers whose extreme advocacy tactics, largely facilitated over the internet, have been replicated by a wide number of anti-government groups, including anti-quarantine and white nationalist movements. Out September 8.

365 days with mxmtoon (Talkhouse)

A peculiar project that might be worth keeping an eye on. Building off 21 days with mxmtoon, the exclusive Spotify podcast documenting the independent multihyphenate artist’s three-week process of producing her first full-length album, 365 days is a daily podcast where each episode will pair a general piece of history — Sandra Day O’Connor being appointed to the Supreme Court, say — with a specific piece in music history that happened on that day. There are strong performance art vibes with this, and there’s also an impressive amount of ambition: As the title suggests, mxmtoon intends to publish new installments for 365 consecutive days. Out September 14.

Women Belong in the House: Season 3 (Wonder Media Network)

Given that it’s an election year, and an exceptionally crazy one at that, you don’t have to look too far for a decent elections chat podcast. But if you’re looking for something a little more documentary-oriented, you might want to check out this upcoming season of Women Belong in the House, which sees host Jenny Kaplan taking you on a virtual road trip of key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Arizona through the lens of one woman’s run for the House — and examines how a pandemic, an uprising, and a recession will cast long shadows over the elections. Out September 15.

Brainwashed (CBC)

In the mood for true crime with a side of governmental conspiracy theory? Brainwashed is the latest investigative series from the CBC, and it will explore how the CIA and Canadian government funded secret experiments to find out whether people’s brains can be rewired and controlled. Remember Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats? This is that, but Canadian, and probably less amusing and more intense. Out September 23.

Sway (New York Times)

The highly prolific Kara Swisher has been leaning more into podcasting over the years to deepen her influence (see: New York’s own Pivot podcast, hosted by Swisher and Scott Galloway), and this fall will see the launch of yet another audio project toward that end. Sway marks Swisher’s podcast debut for the Times, and the show will feature her interviews with people in power — some of whom are big names, some of whom are less known but no less powerful — and will explore how they hold power, how they use it, and why they yield it. Out September 21.

Lost Notes: 1980 (KCRW)

KCRW’s music documentary podcast series is a true delight, and its second season was so genuinely remarkable that we considered it to be the best podcast of 2019. When the show returns this fall, it will be led by the acclaimed poet and essayist Hanif Abduraqqib, who appeared on the standout “To Chan Marshall” episode from last season. Abduraqqib has assembled an entire season’s worth of stories dedicated to 1980, a monumental year in popular music that kicked off a truly wild decade, ranging from how the Sugarhill Gang’s first full-length album set the stakes for an entirely new genre of music to how Stevie Wonder delivered on the comeback he was due. Out September 24.

In Strange Woods (Atypical Artists)

Described as a “fictional documentary musical with an original folk-pop score” — lots going on here — In Strange Woods follows the story of teenager Peregrine Wells, who, following the death of her brother, seeks out survivalist skills from an enigmatic recluse. Set against a sleepy northern Minnesotan town, the podcast is said to explore themes of grief, adolescence, and our precious relationship with the wilderness. So if you like YA with a side of mourning, this project, which will be distributed by the team that brought you The Bright Sessions, you’ll probably like this. Out in November.

Resistance (Gimlet Media)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the launch of a new Gimlet title. Inspired by the racial justice uprisings that have bubbled up across the country over the past few months, Resistance will feature the voices of young activists marching on the frontlines today as they get advice from elder states people who were part of the civil rights movement. It’ll be interesting to see how the podcast will manage to navigate the portrayal of a remarkable social movement. Out this fall.

8 Podcasts We’re Excited to Listen to This Fall