Celebration Rock-logo

Celebration Rock

Music Podcasts >

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.
More Information


United States


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




Our Favorite Albums of 2018

Every year of my professional life as a music critic, I've made year-end lists. Sometimes it was because I simply had to do it, but more often (especially when I was younger) I did it because I thought it was fun. Making a year-end list was like saying, "Here I am, this is what I think, and here's why I believe you should actually care." But now that I'm a little older and wiser, list-making feels more like work. In 2018, it was practically a job. I don't know if that has to do with my age...


Contrarian's Canon: Joni Mitchell's "Night Ride Home"

This week we return with another installment of Contrarian's Canon, our semi-regular series with Ryley Walker where we talk about great albums that for some reason have been maligned or forgotten about in the course of music history. This time, we explore an under-appreciated should-be classic by one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever, Joni Mitchell. While Mitchell is rightly celebrated for landmark '70s albums like Blue, Court & Spark, and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, she continued to...


Fantasy A&R: The Ultimate Mid-'90s Oasis Album

Last month, we started a new game called Fantasy A&R, where we take a classic album and attempt to improve/mutilate it by making our own stupid suggestions, such as adding or subtracting songs, swapping in alternate versions, and other probably ill-advised ideas. The first time we played Fantasy A&R, it was with the Beatles' "White Album." This time, we decided to play with a band who's even bigger than the Beatles, at least in their own minds: Oasis. Between 1994 and 1996, Oasis put out two...


The 2nd Annual "Last Waltz" Holiday Special

Back in 2016, I wrote a column in which I declared that The Last Waltz is the best Thanksgiving movie. "It affirms the faith in the power of ritual to heal — at least temporarily — whatever is awkward or unresolved or plain broken about your familial bonds," I wrote. "Sometimes, that belief is just enough to make things okay for a little while." Last year, I invited friend of the pod Hanif Abdurraqib to revisit the film with me, and marvel at the majesty of Van Morrison's purple suit and...


Fantasy A&R: How To Make a 12-Track Version of the Beatles' "White Album"

In the week's episode of Celebration Rock we introduce a new game called Fantasy A&R, where we take a classic album and attempt to improve/mutilate it by making our own stupid suggestions, such as adding or subtracting songs, swapping in alternate versions, and other probably ill-advised ideas. The first album up for discussion is ripe for editing: The Beatles self-titled 1968 double-record, popularly known as "The White Album." This masterpiece turns 50 on Nov. 22, a milestone recently...


Contrarian's Canon: Dave Matthews Band's "The Lillywhite Sessions"

In the late '90s, the Dave Matthews Band was one of the biggest bands in the world. Each of their first three albums went multi-platinum, and their improvisational live shows made them a stadium headliner. And yet this hippie-friendly collective couldn't just put out any album that it pleased. In 1999 and 2000, they gathered at a house outside the band's hometown of Charlottesville, Va. to record songs that were eventually shelved in favor of a much poppier record released in 2001, Everyday....


October's Top Indie Albums by Kurt Vile, Cat Power, and Pinegrove

On this week's episode of Celebration Rock I invited Pitchfork senior editor (and now friend of the podcast) Stacey Anderson to discuss this month's most notable indie-rock albums. Our discussion began with Pinegrove, who's latest album Skylight is an affecting alt-country-leaning album that's a worthy follow-up to the band's 2016 breakout Cardinal. But much of the discussion of this band — or conspicuous lack of discussion — stems from the charges of sexual coercion levied against frontman...


Twenty One Pilots vs. Greta Van Fleet

In the past few weeks, two of 2018's most anticipated rock albums have been released: Trench by Twenty One Pilots and Anthem of the Peaceful Army by Greta Van Fleet. In my review of Trench, I noted that Twenty One Pilots have created a deep and fascinating mythology that extends over several albums, while also creating mild, kind of bland music that's been hugely successful on streaming platforms. If Twenty One Pilots epitomize the trends that dominate pop in the current moment, Greta Van...


Contrarian Canon: Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell"

Last month, I invited great indie-rock guitarist and hilarious Twitter user Ryley Walker on the podcast to talk about an album that impacted both of our lives as teenagers, dc Talk's '90s Christian-rock opus Jesus Freak. It was so much fun that it inspired a new semi-regular series that I'm calling Contrarian Canon, in which Ryley and I will discuss an album that we love that hasn't gotten a ton of love critically over the years. The latest record that we're adding to the Contrarian Canon is...


A Tribute To The Stills and Other Overlooked Bands of the Post-Strokes Boom

This month is the 15th anniversary of Logic Will Break Your Heart, the debut album by Montreal quartet The Stills, one of many scruffy, post-punk bands that followed in the wake of the Strokes in the early '00s. For a while, any band that sort of looked like the Strokes or sort of sounded like the Strokes had a shot at a major-label record deal. Many of those bands are now forgotten, but there are a handful of groups, like the Stills, that had at least one really good album in them. In this...


The Status of Tom Petty's Legacy

Last Friday, a career-spanning box set called An American Treasure was released delving into the work of Tom Petty, in time for the one-year anniversary of the venerable rocker's death on Oct. 2. Unlike most retrospectives, An American Treasure largely eschews hits in order to illuminate some of the lesser known corners of Petty's music. But does this approach serve the man who wrote some of the best rock singles ever? I called up Steve Kandell, a writer and journalist whose work has...


How Michael Beinhorn Shepherded "Superunknown" and "Celebrity Skin"

If you've spent any time reading the liner notes of classic '90s rock albums, there's a very good chance you know the name Michael Beinhorn. As one of the era's top record producers, his credits include some of the best and most popular records of the decade: Soundgarden's Superunknown, Hole's Celebrity Skin, Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals, Soul Asylum's Grave Dancers Union, and many more. In a way, it was all a happy accident for Beinhorn, who got his start in New York City's...


Recent "Under The Radar" faves by Low, the Lemon Twigs, Ruston Kelly, and more.

Last month, I did a Celebration Rock episode on my favorite sleeper albums of 2018. This week, I figured that the need to talk about lesser known records is so great that it could sustain a semi-regular series of episodes. So, I called up my friend Jeremy Larson, the reviews editor at Pitchfork, and asked him if there were three albums from the past month that he thought could merit some extra conversation. Fortunately, he came up with three great choices: Low, Yves Tumor, and The Necks. And...


Can Liberals and Conservatives Still Bond Over Music?

There used to be an old saying about how you should never talk about politics or religion in friendly conversation, because those are the topics guaranteed to make any interaction decidedly un-friendly. However, in the past few years, it's been seemingly impossible to avoid the most pressing social issues of the day, even in traditional sanctuaries like sports and pop culture. For this episode, I wanted to explore whether it's still possible for people who disagree ideologically to come...


DC Talk's "Jesus Freak" and The Peak of '90s Christian Rock

Back in May, I interviewed the hilarious and talented singer-songwriter Ryley Walker about his very good recent album, Deafman Glance. But one of the most memorable parts of the conversation was a tangent about Christian rock, which had been a part of both of our lives as teenagers growing up in the midwest. Ryley mentioned an album I hadn't thought about in years but had heard a lot in high school, dc Talk's 1995 double-platinum smash Jesus Freak. Clearly, this was a topic worth exploring...


New Albums By Interpol, Death Cab For Cutie, Mitski, and Foxing

In this episode, we review some of the most notable rock albums from the month of August, including the latest from two legacy acts and recent highlights by two of indie-rock's brightest young acts. Joining me is "friend of the pod" Ian Cohen, whose name you surely recognize from his many bylines at Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin, and many other outlets. On the legacy end, we have Interpol and Death Cab For Cutie, two indie-rock favorites that have weathered some recent hit-or-miss albums to put...


Former Pitchfork Editor Mark Richardson Discusses The Site's Rise

If you have read any music writing at all online in the past 20 years, there's a very good chance you have encountered Mark Richardson in some way. As a long-time writer and editor for Pitchfork, Richardson has been reviewing records for one of the internet's top music sites for two decades. But he's arguably had more impact as a mentor to countless music critics, many of whom paid tribute to Mark when he announced earlier this year that he was departing Pitchfork after serving as executive...


Robbie Robertson On 50 Years of "Music From Big Pink"

Fifty years ago this summer, one of the greatest debut albums in rock history was released. Though when The Band put out 1968's Music From Big Pink, they weren't exactly unknown. Two years prior, they had backed Bob Dylan on his first "electric" tour, supporting the iconic singer-songwriter as he faced hostile audiences all around the world. When the tour ended and Dylan retreated to upstate New York, the members of The Band joined him, setting up camp at a large house they dubbed "Big...


Favorite Sleeper Albums of 2018 So Far

Throughout the year, really good albums come and go with minimal attention. What happens to those records once they are sucked into the black hole of bottomless content? Are they gone forever? In this episode, we try to rescue some worthy recent releases that might have slipped your attention in the past several months. We guarantee that you will discover at least a few records that you didn't know about already. The guest this week is Chris Deville, a staff writer at Stereogum.


Courtney Barnett Tells You How She Really Feels

One of the best things about being a music critic with a podcast is being able to ask an artist you've written about to confirm or deny opinions and theories you have about their music. For instance, when I reviewed Courtney's Barnett latest album Tell Me How You Really Feel, I suggested that her latest songs hint at a certain exhaustion from constant touring and weariness over her growing indie fame. But when I met up with Barnett recently before a large outdoor show in Minneapolis, she...