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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9:14am

Wed October 10, 2012
Music Reviews

Iris DeMent's Emotionally Complex 'Sing The Delta'

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 2:21 pm

Sing the Delta is Iris DeMent's first album of new songs in 16 years.
Courtesy of the artist

Iris DeMent possesses one of the great voices in contemporary popular music: powerfully, ringingly clear, capable of both heartbreaking fragility and blow-your-ears-back power. Had she been making country albums in the '70s and '80s and had more commercial ambition, she'd probably now be considered right up there with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.

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2:10pm

Wed October 3, 2012
Music Reviews

Low Cut Connie: The Self-Deprecating Bar Band

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 8:47 am

Low Cut Connie's Call Me Sylvia is as raucous as its debut, though it's a bit more self-conscious.
Courtesy of the artist

Low Cut Connie is one of an increasingly rare breed: a party band, a bar band, a band with a sense of rock 'n' roll history that isn't weighed down by nostalgia or the foolish feeling that music was better way back when. Positive fellows, for the most part, even when they're in their cups, these guys "say yes," as the title of one song goes, to a life in music. Oh, and they're also trying to get women to say yes to their craven come-ons.

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10:16am

Mon September 24, 2012
Music Reviews

Aimee Mann: The 'Charmer' And The Disciplined Id

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 1:16 pm

Ken Tucker says Aimee Mann's latest album, Charmer, is a song cycle about getting rid of a cynical frame of mind.
Sheryl Nields

If you listen to the music on Charmer, hearing Aimee Mann's vocals as just another lilting instrument, you'd probably think the album was just what the title suggests: a charmer. The melodies have an airy quality, at once floating and propulsive, and even without fixing on the words, you can hear that they're metrically precise, with carefully counted-out syllables and tight rhymes.

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1:04pm

Wed September 19, 2012
Music Reviews

Dwight Yoakam: Weary And Wary On '3 Pears'

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:06 pm

Dwight Yoakam recently released his new record, titled 3 Pears.
Courtesy of the artist

Dwight Yoakam persists in mixing genres in a way that may leave him out of the country mainstream, but puts him in a good position to make a personal album with some of his best music.

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10:22am

Tue September 11, 2012
Music Reviews

Bob Dylan's Baffling And Sometimes Beautiful 'Tempest'

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 1:48 pm

Bob Dylan's Tempest features 10 new songs with many feisty, baffling, sometimes beautiful moments.
Courtesy of the artist

Bob Dylan made the rare mistake of talking about his creative process shortly before the release of Tempest. He told Rolling Stone that he'd originally wanted to write a collection of what he called "religious songs," saying, "That takes a lot more concentration to pull that off — 10 times with the same thread than it does with a record like I ended up with." Which means that either his powers of concentration failed him, or he became distracted by other themes, topics and moods.

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