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What I'm Listening To: Lore

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"Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction."

The Podcast

If you're at all interested in the world of podcasts, you've likely heard of Lore. Unless you've been living under a rock. I don't know what defines a podcast as a 'hit', but Lore certainly qualifies after becoming an absolute runaway success in a very short time. The show is hosted by Aaron Mahnke, who was able to turn the podcast into his full-time job after only five months. Lore reached 10 million downloads just ten months after it launched and went on to win "Best of iTunes 2015".

Just six months after the show went live, Aaron was approached about creating a television series based on Lore. There's so much talk about how 'podcasting is blowing up right now' that it's becoming a bit of cliché, but holy crap. A TV series based on a podcast? That's huge.

Ok, enough accolades, what's the show actually about? Lore is a show about real-life scary stories and folklore. Every other week, Aaron introduces a myth or folktale and then dives into the story behind it. As Aaron says, "Our fears have roots." Lore uncovers those roots by digging through historical events, traditions and local myths. Lore is incredibly well researched and the foundations of the stories that it tells scratches my history nerd itch. It's fascinating how small, unexplained events can grow into haunted legends. And how, often, the truth behind those legends can be more disconcerting than the myth itself.

The retelling of these events will often leave you with that uncomfortable, "If they had only known then, what we know now" feeling. Aaron doesn't shirk away from the idea that fear combined with ignorance often leads to terrible consequences. The fact that people often turn out to be the real monsters in these scenarios is a recurring theme of Lore.

Don't let the creepy topics dissuade you; the true strength of Lore is Aaron's writing and his ability to weave a compelling, interconnected tale out of often disjointed scraps of history. And who doesn't love a good story told well? Aaron's tone and polished narration fit the subject matter perfectly. He is always able to uncover the characters within the story and creates an emotional connection. These are real events and as real people understood them and often the consequences are jarring.

When it gets right down to it, Lore is at the top of the charts for very good reasons. If you're in looking for creepy tales or ghost stories, Lore is a no-brainer; best of the genre. If you just love a good story and want to be entertained, I can't think of a more engrossing podcast. If you appreciate audio-narratives as an art-form, it's hard to beat Lore's delivery, polish and style. Lore is one of the podcasts that I get most excited about when there is a new episode.

Aaron is also a great follow on twitter where he gives updates on what going on with Lore as well as thoughtful commentary on the podcasting landscape and glimpses into his everyday life.

The Cover Art

Lore Cover Art
Lore Cover Art

I'm not sure if Aaron created the Lore cover art himself, but it is no surprise that the design is exceptional given his background as a graphic designer and the attention to detail that goes into every other aspect of the show.

The podcast title is the absolute central focus of the design, standing out nicely against and an nearly-black background. If you don't stop to take a second look, you could easily miss the subtle 'spooky trees' background imagery that help set the mood almost subconsciously. The custom typography fits the mood of the show wonderfully and makes the cover quite unique while the unnaturally stretched letterforms maintain the eery tone of the podcast. The way the "LORE" text forms a square to mirror the overall shape of the cover art brings a welcomed cohesion to the composition.

The Lore cover art is a great example of leveraging simplicity to make a very impactful layout that still fits the tone of the show perfectly. We've all heard that less is more, but 'simple' is not always easy in concept or execution. When a designer is able to pull it all together in such an elegant solution like this it can be a real boon to the success of the podcast.

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ReviewsZach Magnuson