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.

Pages

12:36pm

Tue September 10, 2013
Music Reviews

Bob Dylan's 'Self Portrait,' Now In Vivid Color

Bob Dylan in 1970, the year he released his 10th studio album, Self Portrait.
John Cohen Courtesy of the artist

In the late 1960s, it wasn't just that Bob Dylan's music was eagerly anticipated — it was music that millions of people pored over: for pleasure, for confirmation of their own ideas, and for clues as to the state of mind of its creator. In this context, the double-album Self-Portrait arrived in 1970 with a resounding, moist flop. I don't mean it was a commercial flop; it sold well.

Read more

11:57am

Thu September 5, 2013
Music Reviews

On Its New Album, Superchunk Makes The Downtrodden Sound Upbeat

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 11:53 am

Superchunk's new album is titled I Hate Music.
Jason Arthurs Courtesy of the artist

"I hate music, what is it worth? / Can't bring anyone back to this earth," the band Superchunk sings. It's the kind of sentiment you'd imagine someone blurting out with bitter spontaneity, but it's not really music the band hates; it's the despair and grief to which their music bears witness. Superchunk's new downbeat-but-upbeat album, I Hate Music, is dedicated to a close friend who died last year.

Read more

8:49am

Thu August 22, 2013
Music Reviews

Robin Thicke: Smirky But Sincere On 'Blurred Lines'

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 11:57 am

Robin Thicke on the cover of Blurred Lines.
Courtesy of the artist

Robin Thicke exudes a kind of oily charm that is, with the right material, by no means off-putting. A prime example is the single "Blurred Lines," which gives you the complete Robin Thicke Experience. The song is a come-on, because basically all Thicke does in his music is try to put the make on women. What prevents him from being too creepy is that he's also genial, even gentlemanly and debonair, when the object of his lust shoots him down.

Read more

10:39am

Tue August 13, 2013
Music Reviews

Valerie June Wants To Be On Your Mind

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 11:32 am

Valerie June.
Susan Riddle Duke Photography Courtesy of the artist

Valerie June wants to be on your mind; to get inside your head. She writes or co-writes songs that mix blues, gospel, folk and soul, and which describe emotional isolation, financial deprivation and insecurity about her place in the world. She's unafraid to proclaim her neediness — perhaps because, possessed of a powerful voice, she knows that her vulnerability isn't likely to come off as passive or self-pitying on Pushin' Against a Stone.

Read more

11:35am

Mon August 5, 2013
Music Reviews

Vince Gill And Paul Franklin Ain't 'Foolin' Around' With Bakersfield Sound

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 12:21 pm

Vince Gill (left) and Paul Franklin.
Courtesy of the artist

Country-music star Vince Gill and steel guitarist Paul Franklin have teamed up to record a new concept album called Bakersfield. Their idea is to cover hits from the 1960s and '70s by two artists who helped define the Bakersfield, Calif., country sound: Merle Haggard and the Strangers and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. But this is no nostalgia-fest — it's a vital testament to music that retains energy and innovation.

Read more

Pages