The Dissect Podcast Is My New Unexpected Obsession

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“I didn’t know there’d be such a mass audience for this level of nerdy analysis.”

That’s Dissect podcast host Cole Cuchna on the strength of his original idea for the show. And it’s him in a nutshell. Geniune surprise that he’s been able to garner such an audience for a show that does such deep dives.

Instead of creating something made for the masses, podcast creators can dive into something niche, self-described as “nerdy”, and still become a hit. Chances are if you’re incredibly interested in a particular subject others likely are as well.

We tend to find our tribe. That’s why everyone should consider having a podcast.

What Makes the Dissect Special?

The Dissect Podcast is a master class in music exploration.

Essentially, it’s the format coupled with a host that bleeds music. More important to the success of the show is our host bleeds music analysis.

If you’ve ever sat at a bar in college, or gone to a party, the topic of your favorite music is likely going to come up. The discussion will be wide-ranging and dive deeper than you thought possible. At least that’s been my experience.

That’s what makes the Dissect Podcast so important to a devoted audience.

Cuchna grew up loving music. Having seen Jimmi Hendrix light his guitar on fire at the impressionable age of 12, the seeds for what this show would become were planted early.

As a self taught guitarist (a man after my own heart), Cole would spend hours learning by playing music he loved. After spending his formative years playing in rock bands, touring around, and sleeping on dirty floors near dive bars, Cole hit a wall. A creative wall. A musical wall.

So, he did the natural thing. He quit the band and enrolled in at San Jose State University to study music theory. Years of classical music is an eye opening experience for a dirty punk rock kid.

But that experience informs the show’s format. Pairing the love of music with the proper bona fides is what makes the Dissect podcast such a hit.

The Dissect Podcast Format

The Dissect podcast seasons are a breakdown of an entire album. Each song on the album is taken apart in an individual episode that is roughly 45 minutes to an hour long.

That is impressive unto itself. Spending an hour teasing out what makes a particular song is no easy feat, but Cole does a fantastic job. This is also impressive because he was creating part-time when the show started.

“I was binging these Great Courses series. Every episode is a lecture and a full course would be sixteen to twenty of these lectures to download and listen to. I thought, ‘Oh I’ll just do that, but surround it around an album where one song would be an episode.’”

Of course, he doesn’t do it alone. As the years have gone on, and the show has gained more steam, Cuchna has been able to master his craft by bringing on subject matter experts to flesh out the project.

His growth from rock to a genuine appreciation and love of all things musical jumps out at the listener.

As a rock background person myself, it wasn’t until I went on a similar journey into classical and hip-hop that I was able to see the unifying bonds that music provides. Getting out of your silo helps broaden your horizons.

Cole Cuchna’s experience is much the same. And it’s what allows the Dissect Podcast In Rainbow’s season to gel with Season 6’s focus on Beyonce’s album Lemonade. These are two artists that know a thing or two about breaking out of a genre silo.

Our Favorite Dissect Seasons

No discussion of this podcast would make sense if you didn’t know where to start. I mean, you are committing to a season long album dissection. That’s 10 or so hours.

So, we thought we’d get you started with our favorite seasons. Let us know what you think.

Season 1: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

You have to go back to the OG season of Dissection to really understand the project as a whole. It was the first iteration of the show, and it resonated with listeners right off the bat.

“Serial helped inspire the format too. The whole serialized music analysis came from that podcast, and I wanted to do mini cliffhangers at the end of every episode, trying to replicate that feeling you get with Serial. It’s not ever going to be like Serial, but some of the structure came from that podcast.”- Cole Cuchna

The serialized nature allowed Cuchna to add the historical context that helped shape the respective albums, including the history of Compton for To Pimp a Butterfly and the ostracism of Kanye West after his interruption of Taylor Swift that led to MBDTF.

And this album certainly has some history behind it. After Lauryn left the Fugees, this album was her debut. It was controversial and sparked a ton of discussion among music nerds. Cole was no exception.

Season 11: Dissect Podcast Tackles In Rainbows

Radiohead is one of the best bands of this generation. From the raw early alternative rock to the electronic work, they are a dynamic, genre hopping band.

It’s hard to pick a favorite Radiohead song simply because they are so eclectic.

In Rainbows was ahead of its time in how it was released and distributed. It was a “pay what you want” model that was certainly a gamble, but one that I think ultimately paid off.

Episode 1 is naturally where to start. Cole covers the history of the band and what makes them special. In later episodes, he has Dr. Brad Olson, who is a legitimate Radiohead scholar to discuss the album and all things Radiohead.

This later episode caps off the season. This was a fun season from beginning to end.

The Lyrical Masters Mixtape Season

Remember mix tapes?

They were a staple of listening to music for most Gen X and Millennials. Music nerds could spend hours working on the perfect mix to share with friends. So this season is a fun departure into that most important of projects.

Sadly mix tapes are a relic of the past now that streaming has taken over. Now the main place to discuss music seems to be reddit.

The nice thing about this lyrical masters run of episodes is the ability to skip around. Jay Z, MF Doom, Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne are all featured on this ode to hip hop.

I also like that Cole didn’t simply feature all the big names. The songs themselves had to be the best. If you’re a hip hop fan, this season does not disappoint. If you’re a fan of pure lyrical analysis, you will not be disappointed.

Last Song Standing (Both Seasons)

This is another slight departure from the standard format of the show. In fact, it might be classified as another show altogether. That said, I think it belongs on this list.

Charles Holmes of The Midnight Boys joins Cole Cuchna on Last Song Standing which changes the dynamic completely.

The first season had the guys figuring out which Kendrick Lamar song is his best. Since it’s debate and competition of sorts, I won’t spoil the winning track.

Season 2 has Charles and Cole come together to deconstruct Frank Ocean’s catalog to determine which song is the artist’s best.

The back and forth banter is fun and enjoyable. It feels somewhat looser, and a nice change of pace.

Bo Burnham’s Inside

Deconstructing a comedy album?

Released in 2021, this is more an art project than a pure comedy album. There are songs and sketches, sure, but shot, completely alone during the pandemic lockdown, it has a lot of drama as well.

And that’s why it’s titled “Inside.” Just about everyone was stuck inside during the pandemic, and this was how he expressed some deteriorating mental health issues. It’s a wonderful concept film that tackles some deep topics.

Start with the introductory episode. Hasan Minhaj talks with Cole about how creative people express themselves no matter the medium. Bonus points for a Kanye West reference getting in there are Hasan’s favorite album.

Season 9: Mac Miller – Circles

This is another tragic story of the expression of pain and suffering. The album was released after Miller’s passing.

The album covers some heady themes and motifs. It’s the perfect album to listen to with headphones on. Cole’s breaking it down and exploring the concept that pain can be expressed so beautifully was a welcome interpretation.

This season is chronological and worth a listen from start to finish. I’d listen with headphones on though. Just as I would the album.

There You Have It – The Dissection Podcast in a Nutshell

As of this writing, Cole is still at it full time. We cover so many defunct podcasts here on the site that were wonderful expressions but ran out of steam. It is nice to see Cole succeeding.

Currently, in season 12, he’s breaking down the “life and legacy” of MF Doom. Another rough story and tough subject. Episode 1 covers Villain’s Mask, and Episode 2 tackles Operation Doomsday’s themes that would set the stage for the entire character universe Doom developed.

He had an interesting mind. I’m excited to see where this season goes. The ability to break out of genres and do so with high quality episodes is a little bit like Joe Rogan’s ability to have a conversation with just about anyone. I’m enjoying the “renaissance” nature of shows just like this one.

You don’t always have to stay in your lane.

As time has passed, Cole has been covering some heavy topics, but that has produced some of his best work. The Dissect podcast is simply a great show and a 4.9 rating on Spotify with 15,000 reviews supports that conclusion.

Editors Note: This podcast covers several artists who struggled with mental health. If you’re having trouble, reach out. There are resources available.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also call, text or chat 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/988/faqs

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