Ken Tucker http://iowapublicradio.org en For Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sometimes Sanity Is The Better Option http://iowapublicradio.org/post/jessica-lea-mayfield-sometimes-sanity-better-option <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meHGilIpCbE</p> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:44:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 39579 at http://iowapublicradio.org For Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sometimes Sanity Is The Better Option A Duo's Debut Album: A Collaboration From 'The Both' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/duos-debut-album-collaboration-both Transcript <p>DAVE DAVIES, HOST: <p>The Both is the name for the duo formed by veteran singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. "The Both" is also the name of their debut album. The two began performing together in 2012, when Ted Leo was Mann's opening act. Mann began joining Leo onstage during his set. They liked the sound their voices together and started collaborating. Rock critic Ken Tucker has this review of "The Both."<p>(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GAMBLER")<p>THE BOTH: (singing) The ball dropped in the cold like dawn on a cold eastern morning. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:57:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 39298 at http://iowapublicradio.org Carlene Carter Carries The Heavy Burden Of History Lightly http://iowapublicradio.org/post/carlene-carter-carries-heavy-burden-history-lightly <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbdrFYYgn3k</p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:53:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 38625 at http://iowapublicradio.org Carlene Carter Carries The Heavy Burden Of History Lightly Jon Langford Sings Our Impulse To Destroy http://iowapublicradio.org/post/jon-langford-sings-our-impulse-destroy <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJO6KR5A9wg</p> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:54:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 38510 at http://iowapublicradio.org Jon Langford Sings Our Impulse To Destroy Sara Evans: Country Power Ballads With A Punch http://iowapublicradio.org/post/sara-evans-country-power-ballads-punch <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lexeFtDREPg</p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:35:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 37872 at http://iowapublicradio.org Sara Evans: Country Power Ballads With A Punch Angel Olsen: A Voice Of Confounding Power http://iowapublicradio.org/post/angel-olsen-voice-confounding-power <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/245998397/angel-olsen" target="_blank">Angel Olsen</a> begins the song "Hi-Five" by paraphrasing <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15199726/hank-williams" target="_blank">Hank Williams</a>, admitting she's so lonesome she could cry. She goes on to say she just wants someone who believes in love as urgently as she does. The twanging guitar throbbing beneath these sentiments suggests that it's going to be a long, lonely search. Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:31:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 37385 at http://iowapublicradio.org Angel Olsen: A Voice Of Confounding Power Pharrell Williams: Just Exhilaratingly Happy http://iowapublicradio.org/post/pharrell-just-exhilaratingly-happy Pharrell Williams, who frequently goes by just his first name, is the sort of pop star whom many people would like to view as a friend. Emerging from hip-hop, he makes charming recordings that suggest a deep appreciation of pop, soul and R&B music extending at least as far back as the 1960s. To hear Pharrell on his new album <em>G I R L</em>, you'd think his world consisted of grooving on catchy beats and flirting with women. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 19:38:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 37176 at http://iowapublicradio.org Pharrell Williams: Just Exhilaratingly Happy Chuck Mead: Gleefully Sinister Country Serenades http://iowapublicradio.org/post/chuck-mead-gleefully-sinister-country-serendes In "Reno County Girl," Chuck Mead serenades us with a tale about a young woman with whom his narrator fell in love. It's a loping country song, Mead's version of cowboy music, but as its pretty melody unfurls, you realize that its scenario is bleak: Mead's character urged her to leave home despite the objections of her father, and it turns out Daddy was right — this guy leaves her all by her lonesome much of the time. Mon, 03 Mar 2014 18:35:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 37011 at http://iowapublicradio.org Chuck Mead: Gleefully Sinister Country Serenades Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry http://iowapublicradio.org/post/vertical-scratchers-slashed-chords-fractured-poetry The members of Vertical Scratchers don't have to pretend: They are free spirits, making music that is at once tightly composed, whimsical and anarchic.<p>The vocals on a Vertical Scratchers song tend to be high-pitched and yearning. John Schmersal creates harmonies from his vocal tracks that have a keening romanticism. His guitar lines are a series of slashed chords — vertical scratching, and thus the band's name. Mon, 24 Feb 2014 19:15:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 36708 at http://iowapublicradio.org Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry Lake Street Dive: 'Portraits' Of Heartache http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lake-street-dive-portraits-heartache Lake Street Dive is powered by the voice of Rachael Price; it's what hits you first when you listen to this quartet. It's a ringingly clear, strong voice, a sound that's at once beseeching and in control. Price regularly harmonizes with the other members of Lake Street Dive — bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese and Mike Olson, who also plays guitar and trumpet. Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:13:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 36191 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lake Street Dive: 'Portraits' Of Heartache Hangin' Tuff: Eric Church Takes A Chance On 'The Outsiders' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/hangin-tuff-eric-church-takes-chance-outsiders <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15397601/eric-church">Eric Church</a> is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch. Now, one of the things I mean by that is that Church is willing to take big chances such as "The Outsiders," the title track from his fourth album, and clearly a manifesto he's proud of. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 18:41:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 36067 at http://iowapublicradio.org Hangin' Tuff: Eric Church Takes A Chance On 'The Outsiders' Don't Pigeonhole Me, Bro: New Country Albums On The Borderline http://iowapublicradio.org/post/dont-pigeonhole-me-bro-new-country-albums-borderline <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqrktVBto4s</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp9gKMU4TJU</p> Wed, 29 Jan 2014 19:54:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 35515 at http://iowapublicradio.org Don't Pigeonhole Me, Bro: New Country Albums On The Borderline On 'Hard Working Americans,' Songs For The Ordinary Joe http://iowapublicradio.org/post/hard-working-americans-songs-ordinary-joe <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0yWTr2mGUk</p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 19:45:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 35230 at http://iowapublicradio.org On 'Hard Working Americans,' Songs For The Ordinary Joe Uneven But Vital, Bruce Springsteen Has 'High Hopes' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/uneven-vital-bruce-springsteen-has-high-hopes <em>High Hopes</em> is a different sort of release for <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14837922/bruce-springsteen">Bruce Springsteen</a>. It features original and cover songs that had been performed live over the years, some never recorded in a studio setting, as well as a few older songs reconceived with new arrangements and musicians.<p>Springsteen first recorded the title track in the '90s; it's a cover of a song he's long liked, by the band The Havalinas. It's a good, rough-sounding piece of music, with a rousing chorus that sounds both joyful and determined. Tue, 14 Jan 2014 17:55:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 34850 at http://iowapublicradio.org Uneven But Vital, Bruce Springsteen Has 'High Hopes' Rosanne Cash: Seeking A 'Thread' Through Southern History http://iowapublicradio.org/post/rosanne-cash-seeking-thread-through-southern-history For the past two decades, <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15009017/rosanne-cash">Rosanne Cash</a> has lived with her family in Manhattan, but in 2008, she was asked if she wanted to help with a project to restore the childhood home of her father, <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15165794/johnny-cash">Johnny Cash</a>, in the small town of Dyess, Ark. She agreed and went down there to do some fundraising — and in the process, she and her husband, producer-songwriter-guitarist John Leventhal, took some car trips throughout the South, soaking up history and music. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 17:29:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 34687 at http://iowapublicradio.org Rosanne Cash: Seeking A 'Thread' Through Southern History Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2013 http://iowapublicradio.org/post/ken-tuckers-top-10-albums-2013 <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUqHEzgFRoA</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCP0y-mbaFo</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUxkZreYiQs</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C02bCT6telc</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLx11xq6X7Q</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e9NSMY8QiQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uFjXd9trQE</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypJ3dP7qCpE</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij0Vg0jQJks</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEsEUpk5rU8</p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 20:09:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 33655 at http://iowapublicradio.org Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2013 A Former Girl-Group Singer Goes 'All Or Nothing' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/former-girl-group-singer-goes-all-or-nothing A half-century on, La La Brooks still sings about boys and girls falling in love. At an age when other veterans of first-generation rock movements are thinking about retirement or oldies tours, Brooks has come up with a fresh, energetic collection that doesn't deny her past, but also refuses to succumb to mere nostalgia.<p>Brooks has a strong, surging voice that has deepened over the years, as can be heard in "Mind Made Up." But it's not as though the teenager who sang The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me" was a cooing puppet for Phil Spector. Mon, 16 Dec 2013 18:40:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 33590 at http://iowapublicradio.org A Former Girl-Group Singer Goes 'All Or Nothing' Two Sides Of Holiday Cheer From Kelly Clarkson, Nick Lowe http://iowapublicradio.org/post/two-sides-holiday-cheer-kelly-clarkson-nick-lowe <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMimVRA1hRo</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks4xy_HVD9I</p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 17:08:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 32193 at http://iowapublicradio.org Two Sides Of Holiday Cheer From Kelly Clarkson, Nick Lowe Brandy Clark Tells The 'Stories' That Are Tough To Hear http://iowapublicradio.org/post/brandy-clark-tells-stories-are-tough-hear <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCP0y-mbaFo</p> Thu, 31 Oct 2013 16:06:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 31429 at http://iowapublicradio.org Brandy Clark Tells The 'Stories' That Are Tough To Hear It's A Family Affair On Linda Thompson's 'Won't Be Long Now' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/its-family-affair-linda-thompsons-wont-be-long-now <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15394091/linda-thompson">Linda Thompson</a> is probably best known for the albums she recorded with her husband <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14960080/richard-thompson">Richard Thompson</a> in the '70s and early '80s. They divorced, and Thompson has maintained a sporadic solo career. Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:22:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 30950 at http://iowapublicradio.org It's A Family Affair On Linda Thompson's 'Won't Be Long Now' 'The Blow' Puts An Artsy, Electro-Pop Spin On Attraction http://iowapublicradio.org/post/blow-puts-artsy-electro-pop-spin-attraction Transcript <p>TERRY GROSS, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. Our rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of the new album, "The Blow" by the music and performance are duo called The Blow which was conceived by its singer, Khaela Maricich. Melissa Dyne plays a more behind the scenes role, arranging, mixing and co-producing much of this new collection. The music made by The Blow can be broadly labeled as electro pop, but Ken says it goes further than that.<p>(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A KISS")<p>KHAELA MARICICH: (singing) The kiss was just some thing to do with my tongue until you kissed me. Mon, 14 Oct 2013 16:03:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 30547 at http://iowapublicradio.org Two Bluegrass Truths From James King And Alan Jackson http://iowapublicradio.org/post/two-bluegrass-truths-james-king-and-alan-jackson <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s-k8Q_40cA</p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 15:14:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 30394 at http://iowapublicradio.org Two Bluegrass Truths From James King And Alan Jackson On 'Days Are Gone,' Three Sisters HAIM It Up http://iowapublicradio.org/post/days-are-gone-three-sisters-haim-it <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TffpkE2GU4</p> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 16:57:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 29985 at http://iowapublicradio.org On 'Days Are Gone,' Three Sisters HAIM It Up Don't Feel Too Bad For Sad-Sack Bob Schneider http://iowapublicradio.org/post/dont-feel-too-bad-sad-sack-bob-schneider <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q7Angi3d6g</p> Mon, 30 Sep 2013 17:40:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 29863 at http://iowapublicradio.org Don't Feel Too Bad For Sad-Sack Bob Schneider Lucy Schwartz Is In Love With Her Own Voice, And That's OK http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lucy-schwartz-love-her-own-voice-and-thats-ok The first thing you notice about Lucy Schwartz's <em>Timekeeper</em> is the singer's voice — both her physical voice, which is at once ringing and adroit, and her writer's voice, which is precise yet elusive. When Schwartz sings "Ghost in My House," the production renders her tone in an echoing manner that signifies spookiness. It also suggests a metaphor — memory as a ghost, the haunting of someone who's no longer in her life. Tue, 24 Sep 2013 16:34:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 29578 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lucy Schwartz Is In Love With Her Own Voice, And That's OK Robbie Fulks: Exhilarating And Bitter On 'Gone Away Backward' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/robbie-fulks-exhilarating-and-bitter-gone-away-backward <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15664998/robbie-fulks">Robbie Fulks</a> has been recording since the mid-'90s, making music that's difficult to categorize. He's written country songs about how compromised most country music is, and while he's fond of folk and bluegrass, he pleases concert audiences with covers of hits by Michael Jackson and Cher. Thu, 19 Sep 2013 15:16:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 29334 at http://iowapublicradio.org Robbie Fulks: Exhilarating And Bitter On 'Gone Away Backward' Bob Dylan's 'Self Portrait,' Now In Vivid Color http://iowapublicradio.org/post/bob-dylans-self-portrait-now-vivid-color In the late 1960s, it wasn't just that <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15193203/bob-dylan">Bob Dylan</a>'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 <em>Self-Portrait</em> arrived in 1970 with a resounding, moist flop. I don't mean it was a commercial flop; it sold well. Tue, 10 Sep 2013 18:36:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 28855 at http://iowapublicradio.org Bob Dylan's 'Self Portrait,' Now In Vivid Color On Its New Album, Superchunk Makes The Downtrodden Sound Upbeat http://iowapublicradio.org/post/its-new-album-superchunk-makes-downtrodden-sound-upbeat "I hate music, what is it worth? / Can't bring anyone back to this earth," the band <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/103879634/superchunk" target="_blank">Superchunk</a> 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, <em>I Hate Music</em>, is dedicated to a close friend who died last year. Thu, 05 Sep 2013 17:57:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 28625 at http://iowapublicradio.org On Its New Album, Superchunk Makes The Downtrodden Sound Upbeat Robin Thicke: Smirky But Sincere On 'Blurred Lines' http://iowapublicradio.org/post/robin-thicke-smirky-sincere-blurred-lines <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/214471182/robin-thicke">Robin Thicke</a> 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. Thu, 22 Aug 2013 14:49:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 27878 at http://iowapublicradio.org Robin Thicke: Smirky But Sincere On 'Blurred Lines' Valerie June Wants To Be On Your Mind http://iowapublicradio.org/post/valerie-june-wants-be-your-mind <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/211653867/valerie-june">Valerie June</a> 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. Tue, 13 Aug 2013 16:39:00 +0000 Ken Tucker 27390 at http://iowapublicradio.org Valerie June Wants To Be On Your Mind