Well, here we are! Trapped in our homes, distancing ourselves socially, getting more “me” time than we could have ever hoped for. Events are getting canceled left and right, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still scratch our cultural itches. If you want to really lean in, there are lists aplenty like these from Vulture offering recommendations of the best books and movies about pandemics. Locally, Chicago Public Library card holders can stream TV shows, movies, audiobooks, and e-books, and if you don’t have a card you can get a temp pass online at chipublib.overdrive.com. But if what you’re really worried about is being alone with your own thoughts, we have some suggestions of podcasts and music to stream to drown out the deafening silence of self-quarantine while supporting local artists in the process.
Part of the joy of podcasts is never feeling lonely—your best friends are right in your earbuds ready to have a chat and cheer you up. It’s perfect to help keep you sane during quarantine, and you can support the comics, storytellers, journalists (you’re already listening to The Ben Joravsky Show
and Back Room Deal, right?!), and more who may be having gigs canceled during the pandemic. Be sure to check for Patreons or other means of financially supporting your favorites.
Crushes! with Deanna Ortiz: Stand-up Deanna Ortiz has her funniest friends on to talk about their biggest crushes, plan their ideal dates, and play “Hot or Just Tall?” stitcher.com/podcast/jazzfuzz/crushes-2
Musically Illiterate: Host Georgia Gove doesn’t know much about music so she invites guests to school her by listening to and talking about their favorite albums from start to finish. facebook.com/musicallyilliterate
We Still Like You: People share their most shameful moments on this storytelling podcast recorded at live shows across the country. It will make you feel better about yourself while you’re alone with your thoughts. westilllikeyou.com
Please Make This: The reigning Best of Chicago champ, this podcast features hosts Hobert Thompson, Spencer Blair, Laura Petro, and a guest writer pitching, writing, and performing a table read of a brand new movie every episode, complete with original poster art. machineculture.com/please-make-this
Desks and Dayjobs: What would Dungeons and Dragons be like if it was set in the boring real world? Pretty funny, according to this podcast! They recently recorded a live episode at C2E2, in case you want to pretend you’re in a crowd. machineculture.com/desks-and-dayjobs
Feast of Fun: With nearly 3,000 episodes under its belt, you can kill a lot of time binging this podcast that celebrates all things Chicago LGBTQ. Hosts Fausto Fernós and Marc Felion chat with local artists, musicians, actors, and more—most recently they sat down with comedian Jake Noll to talk surviving Corona. feastoffun.com
Rani Rage Radio: There’s no better time to be angry together! Comedians Meg Indurti and Sonal Aggarwal dismiss the idea that it’s unladylike to be angry and instead unleash their rage onto the world while trying to figure out how to turn it into purposeful action. facebook.com/ranirageradio
The Hood Nerds: Comedians and self-proclaimed nerds Ty Riggs, Jarrell Scott Barnes, and Matty Robinson get into it about which Batman was best, the best action movie of all time, XBOX vs. PlayStation, and more on their weekly podcast—you can also watch it live and join in on the conversation on Facebook. facebook.com/groups/thehoodnerds
What About Chicago?: Musician Rahim Salaam and producer Ben Maroney shine a light on arts and culture that fly under the radar in the city, interviewing the movers and shakers behind the events, exhibitions, parties, and more that make Chicago tick. soundcloud.com/whataboutchicago
The Ajumma Show: Korean-American comics Peter Kim and Eunji Kim (no relation) tackle current events, pop culture, and personal dilemmas from their often underrepresented and absolutely hilarious point of view, all while considering the judgmental glare of an Ajumma, an elder in the family who is to be respected and is full of opinions. stitcher.com/podcast/ajumma-show
Bud Buddies Potcast: Stand-up Julie Merica invites her stoner friends to swap stories and try a new strain every week on this cannabis-infused “potcast.” facebook.com/budbuddiespod
Bandcamp offers a better way to support local musicians than nearly every streaming site out there, because, well, you’re paying to download an entire album. (If you use the Bandcamp app, you can stream every song you’ve purchased through the site on your phone.) Those artists and labels who have vinyl, cassette, and CD versions of their releases sell them through Bandcamp too, though when person-to-person contact is kept to a minimum perhaps it’s best to stick to downloads for a few weeks. Regardless, here’s a list of local artists whose music you can purchase through Bandcamp and help out when shows and tours are getting postponed or outright canceled.
Impulsive Hearts, Cry All the Time: If you can’t make it to Midwest Action’s Sleeping Village showcase next Thursday, you can still listen to the surf-rock band’s latest album here. impulsivehearts.bandcamp.com/album/cry-all-the-time
Understudy, Without Sight, Without Sound: More brooding, unrelentingly strange industrial music from the Chicago Research collective. chicagoresearch.info/album/without-sight-without-sound
Various Artists, Housepit Chi EP #1: A too-brief compilation from local dance event booking organization Housepit Chi. housepitchi.bandcamp.com/album/various-artist-ep-1
Rookie, Rookie: This young six-piece has a deep affection for bygone eras of pop music and the hooks that appeal to people who were born long after 1960s and 1970s rock first got called “classic.” rookietheband.bandcamp.com/album/rookie-2
Nnamdi, Brat: OK, so this album doesn’t come out for a few more weeks, but you can still pre-order the album and stream the three new singles. In the past few days, Nnamdi’s music has gotten love from Moses Sumney, Neko Case, and Jamila Woods, so what are you waiting for? nnamdiogbonnaya.bandcamp.com/album/brat
Cashmere Pula$ki, Pula$ki Day: Possibly the greatest rap album made out of teeny shards of Sufjan Stevens samples. bitterherb.bandcamp.com/album/pula-ki-day
Poplife, “Warm Breeze” b/w “You’re Cool”: The inventors of “Bruce jazz” return with another couple relaxing tracks. poplife.bandcamp.com/album/warm-breeze-b-w-youre-cool
Ohmme, “3 2 4 3”: There’s a ton of great Chicago albums coming out in the next few months, and Ohmme’s forthcoming Fantasize Your Ghost is at the top of my list. This is the first single from the album. ohmme.bandcamp.com/album/fantasize-your-ghost