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Rock Critic Steven Hyden talks with rock stars and the country’s biggest music writers about what’s happening in rock.

Rock Critic Steven Hyden talks with rock stars and the country’s biggest music writers about what’s happening in rock.
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Rock Critic Steven Hyden talks with rock stars and the country’s biggest music writers about what’s happening in rock.




Jim James Wants To Purify Himself

On June 29, Jim James will release his third solo album, Uniform Distortion. It's a loose, raw collection of guitar-heavy songs that rail against the darkness of modern times. James is trying to fight that darkness in his personal life, too. In our interview, he talks about going on a silent retreat in order to purify himself, how it felt to recently turn 40, and why believes in fighting the Trump Administration with kindness. James also gives an update on My Morning Jacket, the ban's plans...


Rock 101: Intro To Townes Van Zandt

The best part of having a podcast is that it gives me an excuse to reach out to people who I think are smart or interesting, and talk to them about topics that I find fascinating. Last month, when I was holed up in a Nashville hotel room for several days (I'll explain later), I had the chance to pick the brain of Tyler Mahan Coe, who you might know as the host of Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History Of Country Music. If you don't know Tyler, rectify that immediately, because Cocaine &...


Kanye Hot Takes, Plus Father John Misty and Parquet Courts

On June 1, big albums dropped by Kanye West and Father John Misty, and one of them was much better than the other. I talked about both records with Jeremy Larson of Pitchfork, who also shared his thoughts on how both artists' careers have evolved this decade. Jeremy and I also talked about Parquet Courts, who released the solid Wide Awake! in May, and whether they should be considered one of the best indie bands of the '10s.


Let's Talk About Hockey And Guitar Shredding with Snail Mail's Lindsey Jordan and Alvvays' Molly Rankin

Recently, I had the chance to talk with two of the leading lights in contemporary indie rock. First, we visit 19-year-old phenom Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail, whose full-length debut due next month, "Lush," is one of the most anticipated indie releases of 2018. But when we spoke, Jordan was eager to get past the hype and talk about two of her great loves: hockey and guitar shredding. Next, we met up with Molly Rankin of the delightful fuzz-pop group Alvvays in late April at the National's...


Let's Talk About New Albums By Courtney Barnett, Arctic Monkeys, and Beach House

May has been a good month for notable rock releases, including albums by Arctic Monkeys, Courtney Barnett, and Beach House. For this episode, I contacted friend of the podcast Ian Cohen, whose writing has appeared at Pitchfork and Stereogum, to go over our thoughts on these records and more. Does Ian agree with me than Arctic Monkeys' Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is one of the year's best albums? Does he like Courtney Barnett's Tell Me How You Really Feel as much as I do? Or do we just...


Chuck Klosterman On The Rise And Fall Of Classic Rock

Last week, I released my new book, Twilight Of The Gods: A Journey To The End Of Classic Rock. It's about the generation of rock stars from the '60s and '70s that is currently in the process of either retiring or passing away. (You can check out an excerpt here.) For this week's podcast, there was one person who I wanted to discuss this topic with, and that is Chuck Klosterman. Fortunately, when I invited Chuck to come on the podcast, he said yes. Chuck has his own book out right now, the...


Matt and Aaron from The National, live from the Homecoming Festival

In late April I visited Cincinnati to attend the first ever Homecoming, a festival headlined and curated by The National that also featured Father John Misty, Feist, Alvvays, The Breeders, Julian Baker, Moses Sumney, and many other great acts. I had a really good time! When I was there, I also had the chance to sit down with Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner in their tour bus, and talk about the band's future. Lately, the band members have been involved in various activities, including...


Who is Better: The Smiths or The Cure?

In 2016, I published my first book, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life. For all of the famous rivalries that I wrote about — The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones, Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift, Tupac vs. Biggie — there is one rivalry that I didn't cover that readers have continually asked me about over the years: What about the Smiths vs. the Cure? To be honest, I thought this was only a debate that fans of '80s alternative rock cared...


Pete Yorn Has Endured Well Past "The Morning After"

A few months ago, I was on a serious Pete Yorn kick. The singer-songwriter, whose best-known album is his 2001 debut Musicforthemorningafter, has put out several quality LPs over the past two decades, including 2003's Day I Forgot and 2006's Nightcrawler. In 2016, he released a really good (and largely unheralded) comeback record, ArrangingTime, which arrived after a six-year hiatus. Because Yorn himself is unassuming and workmanlike, he's often been overshadowed by some of the flashier...


It's Our 100th Episode!

Way back in January 2016, I launched a podcast. Over the course of 99 episodes, I've interviewed musicians, writers, and lots of other interesting people. It's been a blast. For the 100th episode, I invited one of my favorite guests ever, Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield, and we answered listener questions. Our conversation touches on the secret links between Pavement and Taylor Swift, Rob's experience covering Woodstock 99, and of course The Five-Albums Test.


Gang Of Youths Are Slowly Taking Over America

Last fall I wrote about Go Farther In Lightness, the second album by Australian indie band Gang Of Youths. At the time, Gang Of Youths had a low profile in the United States in spite of great success at home. While the band plays arenas, tops the albums chart, and wins ARIAs (the Australian version of the Grammys) back home, they couldn't fill small clubs state-side. Nevertheless, I loved Go Farther In Lightness, and eventually put it at No. 5 on my year-end list. When I met up recently...


What's Your Favorite Album Of 1998?

Let's go back 20 years to a fascinating time in music history. In 1998, the internet had not yet become the hub of how we listen to music — Napster was still one year away from taking over college campuses, and listeners were still required to fork over $18 for a CD to hear that one Barenaked Ladies song they heard on the radio. And yet 1998 was in many ways the beginning of what music would become in the 21st century. Alternative rock and gangsta rap, which had dominated youth culture...


Is Jack White's New LP A Good Trainwreck Or a Bad Trainwreck?

"Boarding House Reach" is an utterly unique Jack White album — made with the assistance of ProTools, it's as layered and overstuffed as the White Stripes were austere and straight-forward. Unsurprisingly, some people love it and some people hate it. Steve falls on the love side, while his guest, Pitchfork senior reviews editor Jeremy Larson, definitely leans to the not-love side. So is this record a fun curveball or a confused mess? Could it possibly be both?


Dean Ween Continues To Wave The Ween Flag

Of course Dean Ween is one of the founders of Ween, a band that has been putting out albums since 1990, though they haven’t had any new albums in a while. But he's also the leader of the Dean Ween Group, which just put out a new record, called "Rock 2." Now, my conversation with Dean is interesting. This was my second time talking to him, and I think he’s generally a friendly, funny, and gregarious guy. But I think you’ll notice that he’s also a little wary about delving too deep into his...


20th Century Boss Part 8: '90s Bruce with Tim Showalter

The '90s are easily the least well-regarded decade of Bruce’s career. If people make note of this period, it’s to illustrate how far he fell without the E Street Band, who finally reunited with Bruce at the end of the decade to great acclaim and popular excitement, and have remained with the Boss ever since. And yet I’ve always had a soft spot for '90s Bruce. This period coincides with my coming-of-age years as a music fan. Bruce had been a fixture in my life since "Born in the U.S.A.,"...


20th Century Boss Part 7: "Tunnel Of Love" with John Darnielle

Released on Oct. 9, 1987, "Tunnel Of Love" has a reputation among some Springsteen fans as his “soft rock, baby boomer divorce record.” It’s true that "Tunnel Of Love" doesn’t exactly rock, and it’s definitely not guitar-heavy. Instead, it’s dominated by synthesizers, drum machines, and Springsteen’s weary, mature croon.If you care about lyrics, "Tunnel Of Love" is every bit as gut-wrenching as "Nebraska." And the music suits those lyrics — this is an introspective record, and the...


20th Century Boss Part 6: "Born In The U.S.A." with Patterson Hood

After the stripped-down "Nebraska," Bruce Springsteen went in the opposite direction for 1984's "Born In The U.S.A.," one of the most popular rock albums ever made. Springsteen was so popular at this time that he was inevitably commodified and turned into a caricature. As much as "Born In The U.S.A." made him beloved, it also instilled overwhelming dislike in his detractors. I was curious to talk to someone who loves Bruce and loves "Born In The U.S.A." but still retains some skepticism...


20th Century Boss Part 5: "Nebraska" with Phoebe Bridgers

In 1982, Bruce Springsteen released "Nebraska," a stark collection of acoustic songs recorded at home on a four-track in one marathon session. It's an album about criminals and economic hardship and flawed father figures, with lots of spooky echo and heavy shadows. While it was considered at the time his least accessible record, "Nebraska" now stands as one of Springsteen's popular releases, particularly with younger audiences raised on indie rock. To discuss "Nebraska," I called up Phoebe...


20th Century Boss Part 4: "The River" with Patrick Stickles

For Bruce Springsteen 1980 double-album "The River," I spoke with Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus, whose latest album, "A Productive Cough," comes out March 2. I met up with Stickles at his apartment in Brooklyn right after my plane landed, and there's a definite late-night vibe to this episode that suits the album. "The River" is a fulcrum in Springsteen's career, summing up what he had done on his other albums up to that point, and also providing some clues as to where he was headed.