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
12:25 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Taylor Swift: The Peppiest Pop Star We Have Right Now

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 9:52 am

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
1:00 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

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

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 1:12 pm

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
12:23 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Art In The Age Of Prince

If you've been wondering where Prince has gone, he's re-signed with Warner Brothers Records after spending the last few years of sporadic independent releases. Now Prince has released two new albums simultaneously: Art Official Age appears under his own name, and PlectrumElectrum is the debut record of a Prince back-up band called 3rdEyeGirl, but it includes Prince's vocals, guitar, and production style throughout. Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker has a review of both albums.

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Music
12:20 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Blake Mills' Restless 'Heigh Ho' Is A Roundabout Journey

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 9:01 am

Blake Mills has done a lot in his 28 years. As a guitarist, he has accompanied singers including Lucinda Williams, Neil Diamond, Kid Rock, and Lana Del Ray. He's produced songs for acts such as Fiona Apple and Alabama Shakes. His new album, his second, is called Heigh Ho, and Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker says it's notable for the diversity of its sound.

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Music
1:43 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 3:39 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
12:27 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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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Music Reviews
11:45 am
Tue August 26, 2014

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

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

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Music
12:34 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Benjamin Booker Is Raw, Yet Disciplined On Debut Album

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 1:51 pm

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
1:55 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

At 74, Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver Is Still An Outlier

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
1:52 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Spoon Wants Your Soul

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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