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Reintroducing the ‘Sound Only’ Podcast

Justin Charity and Micah Peters invite you into the weeds to have a different kind of cultural conversation

Justin Charity and Micah Peters discuss the popular web video series Verzuz, which pits two musical acts against one another in a livestream cipher. Charity and Micah break down the recent 2 Chainz vs. Rick Ross matchup and then discuss the larger significance of Verzuz reinvigorating hip-hop during an otherwise dismal, restrictive year.

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Justin Charity: Several months ago, The Ringer launched Sound Only as a Recappables miniseries dedicated to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Netflix bought the streaming rights for the series, and so me and Micah Peters set out to overanalyze … Evangelion—a classic series, a rich text—as the series reemerged in the streaming era.

We recorded six episodes, which each ran three or four hours, edited down to two hours for the listener’s sake. We wrote copious notes and lost our voices by the end. It was fun. We meant to produce a second season of Sound Only about Cowboy Bebop, pegged to Netflix’s planned live-action series, but then John Cho injured his knee on set and Netflix postponed the project. So we regrouped.

The coronavirus pandemic further complicated our plans to relaunch Sound Only. But the lockdowns got me and Micah thinking about the wider potential—and the wider audience, we hope—for a podcast which expands our critical mandate.

The original Sound Only discussed … Evangelion, Achievement Oriented discussed video games, On Shuffle discussed new music. Going forward, Sound Only will assemble these subjects and others into a millennial singularity. Now you get to hear The Ringer talking about Twitch.

We want Sound Only to be eclectic but nonetheless essential. We’ll resist the common urge among weekly chat podcasters to obsess over Twitter ephemera. We want to be smarter than Twitter ephemera. We want to go deeper.

Micah Peters: What Charity is saying is: We want to push the limits of what critics would normally engage with. As a for-instance, say there’s a new Event Album by Such-and-Such artist. There’s a version of that album review that appraises the album purely on aesthetics—does it sound good, is it worth your time, does it build on that artist’s previous body of work—and then there’s one that places the album in the larger context of that artist’s career, that participates in the shifting and ongoing conversation about said artist, perhaps the industry as a whole. We want to do both. But for movies and video games, and, if it comes to this, YouTube personalities too.

There are so many discussions about mainstream millennial culture that are too agile for longform and too essentially 21st century to explore anywhere else but on a podcast. So that’s what this is. An ongoing series of hour-long expeditions into the weeds.

Each episode will go something like this: We’ll take a simple question about a person, place, or thing on the internet, and complicate it until we find some answers. This is Sound Only, which—and we cannot stress this enough—is not an anime podcast.

We do, however, reserve the right to change our minds about that later.