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Celebration 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.

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.




37: Raising A Toast To St. Joe Strummer With Craig Finn

On Dec. 22, 2002, Joe Strummer of The Clash returned home after walking his dogs and died suddenly at the age of 50. The cause of death was a defective heart artery — who would've thought that Joe Strummer of all people would have a defective heart? A humanitarian whose commitment to antiracist and antifascist ideologies fueled his passionate music, Strummer remains an inspiration for new generations of musicians. One of those people is Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, who paid tribute to...

Duration: 00:49:58

36: Mac McCaughan Explains How Superchunk Has Stayed Great For Decades

As the leader of Superchunk and the co-founder of Merge Records, Mac McCaughan is a key player in the history of American indie rock. He tells Steve about how hardcore inspired him to start his own band in the '80s, and how it also informs Superchunk's new politicized album, "What A Time To Be Alive," which will be out in early 2018. He also talks about how the Internet affected the uniqueness of underground culture — basically, it ruined everything, he says, though it's still possible to...

Duration: 00:50:09

35: Our Favorite Albums Of 2017

This one is self-explanatory — Steve counts down the best LPs of 2017 with his colleague and friend Caitlin White from

Duration: 01:06:47

34: Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt on How Wilco Became Wilco

Wilco is now recognized as one of the best and most beloved American rock bands of the last 25 years. But once upon a time, Wilco was a burgeoning project started by Jeff Tweedy in the aftermath of Uncle Tupelo's acrimonious breakup. Teaming up with John Stirratt, who had initially joined the Uncle Tupelo crew as a guitar tech just a few years prior, Tweedy set about forming a new band that would eventually transcend the alt-country label. Before a recent show in St. Paul, Steve met up...

Duration: 00:57:44

33: How To Celebrate Thanksgiving With "The Last Waltz"

Every year at Thanksgiving time Steve tries to watch "The Last Waltz," Martin Scorsese's classic 1978 documentary about the final concert performed by the original incarnation of The Band. It's his favorite Thanksgiving movie: Other films have used Thanksgiving as a backdrop, but "The Last Waltz" IS Thanksgiving. This week, we invited another "Last Waltz" fan, the critic and poet Hanif Abdurraqib, to talk about the film and why it has extra significance at Thanksgiving. Turns out Hanif, a...

Duration: 00:53:18

Season 2 Episode 20: 1987 Is One Of Rock's Best Years

You might have recently noticed a surge in anniversary stories about albums that came out in 1987: U2's The Joshua Tree, Guns N' Roses Appetite For Destruction, Prince's Sign Of The Times, Michael Jackson's Bad, George Michael's Faith, and Def Leppard's Hysteria are some of the blockbusters that came out that year. What was it about 1987 that allowed for this thriving eco-system, in which superstars and up-and-comers seemed to be peaking at the same time? I called up Brian Hiatt of Rolling...

Duration: 00:49:38

Season 2 Episode 19: Top 10 Best Live Albums Ever

Given how commonplace live recordings have become online, the traditional live album has become somewhat of a dying format. But I've always had affection for live albums like The Who's Live At Leeds and Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York and dozens of other classics and semi-classics. I decided to call up my friend (and friend of the pod) Rob Mitchum, as he's one of the only people I know with strong opinions about live records. Together, we came up with a list of our 10 favorite live...

Duration: 01:09:32

Season 2 Episode 18: The New Arcade Fire LP is one of 2017's Biggest Disappointments

Last week, Arcade Fire released its fifth album, Everything Now. In my review for, I called the LP "cranky" and "condescending." Was I too harsh? I solicited a second opinion from Jeremy Gordon from Spin and found ... that he basically agreed with me. We both see Everything Now as one of Arcade Fire's weaker albums, a surprisingly sour commentary on contemporary online culture from a band that is known for wide-eyed earnestness. In this episode, Jeremy and I do a post-mortem on...

Duration: 00:50:29

Season 2 Episode 17: How Does Mitski Write Such Great Songs?

One of the best artists working in indie rock today is Mitski Miyawaki, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter who released her breakthrough LP, Puberty 2, in 2016. Mitski recently played at the Pitchfork Music Festival as part of her summer tour. The day after Pitchfork, I caught her show in Minneapolis, and then met up with her for an interview. We discussed her childhood, her approach to songwriting, and the orchestral album she wants to make a little later in her career.

Duration: 00:45:58

Season 2 Episode 16: Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra Was A Teenaged Rock Star

By the time Andy Hull was 19, he was known among teenaged music fans as one of the scene's most admired singer-songwriters. But being the frontman of the venerated emo band Manchester Orchestra hasn't been all smooth sailing. On this week's pod, Hull talks about the growing pains he suffered as a rock and roll prodigy who had played Radio City Music Hall before he could legally drink. Hull also discusses how Manchester Orchestra reinvented itself on its latest album, "A Black Mile To The...

Duration: 00:52:29

Season 2 Episode 15: Have I Finally Come Around On Nü-Metal?

Lately there's been a lot of nostalgia for 90s alt-rock and early '00s indie rock from New York. However, there was another music movement that took place between the early '90s and the early '00s that people aren't talking about, even though it was just as popular as alt-rock and way more popular than those early '00s bands. Of course, I'm talking about nü-metal. When nü-metal dominated mainstream rock 20 years ago, I couldn't stand it. And maybe that was the point: Rarely has a genre of...

Duration: 01:06:39

Season 2, Episode 14: Radiohead's "OK Computer" Is The Best LP Of The Last 20 Years ... Or Not

Last week I wrote a column about how I believe that Radiohead's OK Computer is the best album of the last 20 years. One person who did not agree with me is my friend and Celebration Rock podcast producer Derek Madden, a longtime Radiohead fan who's been on board with the band since Pablo Honey. For Madden, OK Computer isn't even the best Radiohead LP — he prefers 2007's In Rainbows. He's not alone in this opinion — numerous people reached out to me on Twitter after my story ran to express...

Duration: 01:08:06

Season 2 Episode 13: The Return Of '00s Indie Rock in 2017

Last week, Fleet Foxes became the latest band associated with '00s indie-rock to make a long-awaited comeback in 2017. Earlier this year there were new albums from Dirty Projectors, Spoon, and Phoenix, and later this summer there were will be new LPs from Arcade Fire, The National, LCD Soundsystem, Grizzly Bear, and The War On Drugs. What should we expect from these records? And why are all of these bands coming back at around the same time. I called up my friend, colleague and big-time...

Duration: 01:09:18

Season 2 Episode 12:Har Mar Superstar Was Julian Casablancas' Bodyguard

No book about rock music in 2017 has generated more conversation than Lizzy Goodman's Meet Me In The Bathroom, a wildly entertaining and unrepentantly gossipy oral history of the New York City music scene from 2001 to 2011. Among the dozens of interview subjects in Goodman's book is Sean Tillmann, a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar, the tongue-in-cheek R&B singer who became a tour mate and confidante for many of the scene's kingpins, including Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Karen O of the Yeah...

Duration: 01:02:12

Season 2 Episode 11: The Best Albums Of 2017 So Far

I talked about the year in music so far with critic and author Dan Ozzi of Noisey. In this podcast, we debate the merits of 2017's offerings from Japandroids and Cloud Nothings (I love the former and he loves the latter), we touch on the weird Diet Cig controversy from the spring, and sing the praises of Girlpool, the Menzingers, Big Thief, and Craig Finn, among others. I also try to talk Dan into giving Father John Misty a second chance.

Duration: 01:16:17

Season 2 Episode 10: The Grateful Dead Are Alive!

Perhaps the greatest cult band in rock history is the Grateful Dead, a band that somehow keeps on trucking along more than 20 years after the death of Jerry Garcia. Coming up on Friday, June 2, an incredible four-hour documentary on the Dead, "Long Strange Trip," will premiere on Amazon Prime. To discuss this film and the Dead's enduring legacy, I invited critic, author, and Dead scholar Jesse Jarnow on the podcast. We proceeded to geek out on all aspects of the band, from Robert Hunter's...

Duration: 01:05:36

Season 2 Episode 9: The National's "Boxer" Just Turned 10

Last week, I wrote a piece for Uproxx weighing the strengths of 2007's "Boxer" against the other albums in The National's formidable catalog. In spite of strong contenders like 2005's "Alligator," 2010's "High Violet", and 2013's "Trouble Will Find Me," I ultimately decided that "Boxer" is the best album The National has yet made. I had so much fun delving into the minutia of The National's career that I decided to call up another super-fan, Chris DeVille of Stereogum, in order to discuss...

Duration: 00:59:59

Season 2 Bonus Ep: R.I.P. Chris Cornell

The rock world lost one of the best frontmen of the last 30 years this week, so Steve decided to record a special emergency episode to memorialize the great Chris Cornell. Joining him are Celebration Rock producer Derek Madden and critic and poet Hanif Abdurraqib.

Duration: 00:35:08

Season 2 Episode 8: The Black Crowes Were The Most Rock 'n' Roll Rock 'n' Roll Band of the '90s

A crucial touchstone in '90s rock that's often overlooked is Shake Your Money Maker, the 1990 debut by the Black Crowes. Thanks to singles such as "Hard To Handle" and "She Talks To Angels," Shake Your Money Maker became a multi-platinum smash right before grunge took over. What happened next is one of the more fascinating stories in '90s rock. The Black Crowes were essentially the American version of Oasis — a brash, hard-partying group led by two brothers who were constantly at each...

Duration: 01:32:26

Season 2 Episode 7: Father John Misty DM'ed Me And Then We Talked For 80 Minutes

About a week ago, Steve received a DM on Twitter from none other Josh Tillman, better known as Father John Misty. This was not the first time he reached out to him — Josh also messaged Steve after last month's episode on "Pure Comedy" with Pitchfork's Jillian Mapes. After that conversation, Steve asked Josh if he would appear on the podcast. Josh said "yes," and because he's a man of his word, he took some time out of his busy schedule to reach out for an impromptu conversation. We cover a...

Duration: 01:31:48

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