Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for Fresh Air. He is a cultural critic who has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications.

Tucker is the author of Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About Television.

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Music
1:32 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Collapses Years, Genres

D'Angelo has built a considerable reputation on the basis of three albums: 1995's Brown Sugar, 2000's Voodoo, and now Black Messiah, unexpectedly released early Monday morning. The singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist has been widely praised for connecting many decades of different rhythm & blues styles, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says Black Messiah is as adventurous as any fan could hope for.

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The Best Music Of 2014
2:24 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Ken Tucker's Top 9 Albums Of 2014, Plus A Book

Elizabeth Grant is better known by her stage name, Lana Del Rey.
Neil Krug Courtesy of the artist

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Music
4:19 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

A Punk Memoir That Makes The Ordinary Seem Transcendent

Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says that one of the best books he's ever read about punk rock is a new memoir by Viv Albertine, one of the founding members of the British punk rock band the Slits. The book, titled Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. chronicles Albertine's life with punk legends such as Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and Mick Jones of the Clash, on through subsequent careers as a film director and mother.

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Music
2:42 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Four Holiday Goodies, Including 'Christmas At Downton Abbey'

In the record industry, it's not too early to be releasing Christmas albums, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker has been listening to a lot of them. He's narrowed down his list of goodies to these four: A Merry Friggin' Christmas soundtrack, Christmas at Downton Abby, Earth Wind and Fire's Holiday and the Living Sisters' Harmony is Real.

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Music
1:48 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Bob Dylan's Atmosphere Captured In New Basement Tapes

A batch of lyrics that Bob Dylan wrote in the late 1960s were given by Dylan to producer T-Bone Burnett, who came up with the idea to have some contemporary musicians set the words to music. Burnett gathered Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, and Rhiannon Giddens from the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and they recorded an album over the course of two weeks in L.A. It's called Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, and Showtime will air a documentary about the making of the album on November 21.

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Music Reviews
1:26 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Lee Ann Womack Scales Back And Goes Traditional And Moody

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music
11:52 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Taylor Swift: The Peppiest Pop Star We Have Right Now

Taylor Swift's fifth album is called 1989, the year she was born. For the past few years, she's been the young queen of country music, by far its biggest-selling artist. But 1989 sidesteps country music entirely to become Swift's first pure pop album. Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker has a review.

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Music
3:12 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Ex Hex's 'Rips' Does What It Says On The Cover

Punk rock lives on the debut album by a new trio, Ex Hex. The album is called Rips, and it's at once a throwback to bands like the Ramones and the sound of something new. Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says the three women who make up Ex Hex have created an exhilaratingly energetic piece of work.

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Music
3:43 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Pere Ubu's 'Carnival Of Souls' Is A Dreamscape That's Never Dreamy

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 5:39 pm

Pere Ubu's new album, Carnival of Souls, is a reference to the 1962 cult horror film. But as Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker hears it, the band, led since the late '70s by co-founder David Thomas, has created something far more rich, experimental, and emotional than spooky, horror-movie music.

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Music Reviews
2:27 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

The New Pornographers Return With A 'Celebration Record' That's Fun To Figure Out

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music Reviews
1:45 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

At 71, Elvin Bishop Is Still Vigorous, And Can Do Wrong Right

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Music
3:51 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Benjamin Booker Is Raw, Yet Disciplined On Debut Album

There's something about a rapidly strummed guitar chord followed quickly by an urgent vocal that is one definition of an effective rock song, and Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker thinks he's found quite a few examples of this on Benjamin Booker's self-titled debut album. The 25-year-old guitarist-singer-songwriter has already served as an opening act on Jack White's recent tour, and he may be ready for headliner status.

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Music
3:34 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

At 74, Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver Is Still An Outlier

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 3:55 pm

In 1973, Waylon Jennings released an album called Honky Tonk Heroes that consisted almost entirely, with one exception, of songs written by Billie Joe Shaver, a then-unknown Texas songwriter.

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Music
3:31 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Spoon Wants Your Soul

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 3:52 pm

Spoon has just released its first new album since 2010's Transference. Fresh Air critic says that "They Want My Soul is another fine Spoon album in a career that has now come to display a remarkable consistency."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music Reviews
2:45 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Jenny Lewis' 'The Voyager' Is An Album To Spend Time With

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 3:30 pm

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