Celebration Rock

By Cumulus Minneapolis / KXXR-FM

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Category: Music

Open in iTunes

Open RSS feed

Open Website

Rate for this podcast


Rock Critic Steven Hyden ("Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me", "Twilight Of The Gods") talks with rock stars and the country’s biggest music writers about what’s happening in rock. Presented by 93X (www.93X.com) and Uproxx.com (http://uproxx.com/music/)

Episode Date
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 or the fact that, to me, 2018 felt like a "good, not great" year for music. As always, there were scores of albums that I really enjoyed. But in terms of records that felt like instant classics, or at least inspired me to get obsessed for a good week or two, 2018 seemed a little fallow. 

Nevertheless, the 10 albums on my year-end list did manage to strike a chord with me, and I was excited to talk about them with my friend Ian Cohen, who shared his own top 10 list. Surprisingly, there's not a ton of overlap on our lists –- listen to us debate the merits of the 1975, Arctic Monkeys, Boygenius, Father John Misty, and Kacey Musgraves in this special "best of 2018" episode. 

Dec 17, 2018
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 put out excellent albums as she entered her 40s. After a fallow period in the '80s, Mitchell forged a comeback with 1991's Night Ride Home, an album that nodded to the jazzy folk sound of 1976's masterpiece Hejira while also reflecting on the changes in her life as a middle-aged artist. 

For Walker, Night Ride Home is one of the best albums that Mitchell ever made, and for him the highlight "Come In From The Cold" is one of her best ever songs, with a sophisticated musical and lyrical structure that is communicated with simple, straight-forward grace. We both also confess our love of other early '90s albums by boomer-era rockers, including Jackson Browne's I'm Alive and Van Morrison's Hymns to the Silence. Are these late-career landmarks worth revisiting, or have Ryley and I slipped into an adult-contemporary coma? Step into the smoothness with us!

Dec 10, 2018
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 classic albums, Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory, along with a series of classic singles that included scores of B-sides beloved by fans and later compiled on The Masterplan. But what if Oasis' record company decided instead to take the best songs from the albums and singles to create a 14-track super album? What it would look like? How painful would it be to cut songs out of two '90s masterpieces in order to make it happen?  In this episode, I'm joined by fellow music critic and Oasis fan Stuart Berman to come up with our own "ultimate" mid-'90s Oasis album. Naturally, we intensely disagreed when it came to our choices, particularly when it came to which Morning Glory deep cuts to include. 

Dec 03, 2018
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 Robbie Robertson's ill-considered gold-plated guitar. 

This Thanksgiving, I decided to keep the tradition going, firing up The Last Waltz once more with another friend of the pod, Steve Gorman. As the drummer of the Black Crowes, he watched the movie repeatedly on tour buses throughout the '90s, and over time came to recognize the weariness on the faces of The Band after years and years of touring. We talked about the unspoken resentments that linger in the film's interview sequences, as well as the subtle power of The Band's performances, which have not been diluted by the passage of time or the many, many rewatches. 

Nov 19, 2018
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 commemorated with a pricey box set. But we're not interested in making "The White Album" even longer. Instead, we've posed the opposite challenge: What would a tight 12-track version of this classic look like?

To help me figure this out, I've invited my friend Rob Mitchum to play Fantasy A&R with me. To be clear: We both agree that "The White Album" is better as a sprawling experience, in which weird curveballs like "Wild Honey Pie" sit next to undeniable bangers like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." However, it's still fun to imagine what a shorter "White Album" would look like, if only because it's our chance to finally wipe "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" out of existence. Or is it? That song is kind of good, isn't it? Let's find out! 

Nov 12, 2018
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. But when those songs, subsequently dubbed The Lillywhite Sessions — after the band's producer, Steve Lillywhite — leaked on Napster, they were adored by DMB's hard-core fans. 

In this episode, I revisit The Lillywhite Sessions wth one of those fans, indie-rock artist Ryley Walker, for another installment of our Contrarian's Canon series. Unlike other albums discussed in Contrarian's Canon, Ryley and I disagree sharply on The Lillywhite Sessions — he loves the album so much that he covered it in its entirety for an upcoming record due out Nov. 16, whereas I ... can't stand this album or DMB in general. But I am willing to be persuaded! Can Ryley pull off the impossible make me actually like the Dave Matthews Band, the scourge of my late-'90s college years?

Nov 05, 2018
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 Evan Stephens Hall that prompted Hall to voluntarily push back the album's release and reschedule tour dates. Stacey and I explored whether it's possible to set that baggage aside when listening to the music — or whether it's even right to do that. 

In the second half of the episode, we talked about two of the most reliable legacy artists in indie rock. Chan Marshall, who has put out records since the mid-'90s as Cat Power, returned in early October with her first album in six years, Wanderer, which ranks among her very best. As for Kurt Vile, he's been putting out consistently strong albums on a regular basis for a decade now. While his latest Bottle It In doesn't radically reinvent his formula of languid and meditative guitar jams, it suggests that his craftsmanship and lyrical insight are only growing richer with time. 

Finally, Stacey and I share some recent recommendations: Robyn's pop confessional Honey for her, and Colter Wall's country throwback Songs of the Plains for me. 

Oct 29, 2018
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 TrenchI 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 Fleet is a conscious throwback to the classic-rock past. The group is shamelessly derivative of Led Zeppelin, but is it possible to be good at imitation? For this episode, I invited my friend and Celebration Rock producer Derek Madden to discuss these albums. Turns out that we don't quite see eye-to-eye: Derek likes Twenty One Pilots more than I do, and he also can't quite excuse Greta Van Fleet's "borrowing" of Zeppelin's sound. Who's right? Listen to us politely disagree!

Oct 22, 2018
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 1994's The Division Bell, which might very well be the least well-regarded Pink Floyd album ever. At the time, The Division Bell was controversial because it was made without Pink Floyd's long-time leader and principal songwriter, Roger Waters. Over time, it has come to be regarded as an afterthought in Pink Floyd's catalogue, an empty artistic shell made by a once-great band. But Ryley and I both really like this record! While it's true that The Division Bell doesn't compare with indisputable classics like Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall, it does a surprisingly good job of restoring Pink Floyd's classic sound, with extra emphasis on David Gilmour's majestic guitar playing. At the very least, we had fun revisiting the album recently while hanging out backstage and drinking Maker's Mark out of plastic cups.

Oct 15, 2018
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 episode, critic Ian Cohen joins Steve in remembering some of those post-Strokes bands, including Secret Machines, Longwave, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Hot Hot Heat, and The Bravery. 

Oct 08, 2018
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 appeared in SpinPitchfork and Buzzfeed, to talk about An American Treasure, and how our perceptions of Petty have changed (and in some cases improved) in the time since he passed. 

Oct 01, 2018
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 avant-garde music scene in the early '80s. But after he co-wrote Herbie Hancock's electro-jazz smash hit "Rockit," Beinhorn became an in-demand producer, getting his big break in rock by working with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their commercial breakthrough, 1989's Mother's Milk.  From there, he worked with some of the biggest personalities in alt-rock. Beinhorn is a warm conversationalist, and he was happy to tell stories about the making of some of his biggest projects. He discussed the struggles of making Superunknown, the awkwardness of dealing with drummer-related drama on Celebrity Skin, and whether the chaotic party atmosphere of Mechanical Animals ever got in the way of work. 

Sep 24, 2018
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 I had three picks of my own: The Lemon Twigs, Ruston Kelly, and Tomberlin. Between us, we came up with quite a variety of music, from a glam-style rock opera to confessional country to a mind-bending electronic to improvisational jazz. I guarantee you'll find something you love in this episode that you haven't already heard about.

Sep 17, 2018
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 tougher as music fans and geek out over a shared love of particular songs and albums. I also wanted to delve into a question I've long found fascinating: Given that pop music generally is dominated by liberal-minded artists, how do conservatives put that aside and enjoy the music? 

I figured a good person to discuss this was Jeff Blehar, host of the Political Beats podcast, which features journalists and pundits from the left and right expounding on their favorite artists, including MSNBC's Chris Hayes and National Journal's Charles C.W. Cooke. A "Never Trump" conservative, Blehar regularly listens to bands who don't adhere to his personal viewpoints, including Radiohead and the Clash. Given the struggles that liberals have had in 2018 reconciling Kanye West's apparent support of Donald Trump, is it really possible to "separate the art from the artist" in terms of politics? It's a hard question, and Blehar and I had a great conversation trying to figure it out. 

Sep 10, 2018
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 in greater detail, so I called Ryley up and did a deep dive into an album that doesn't get mentioned much in official histories of '90s alt-rock, even though it was a touchstone for millions of semi-rebellious, church-going kids.

Sep 03, 2018
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 out some well-regarded comeback records. While Ian and I disagree on the Interpol vs. Death Cab divide, we both concur that Mitski's Be The Cowboy and Foxing's Nearer My God are among the very best albums of the year.

Aug 27, 2018
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 editor and editor-in-chief since 2011.

Now that Richardson is no longer employed by Pitchfork — he plans to teach and write a new book — I figured I would invite him on the podcast for an exit interview of sorts. Thankfully, he agreed. 

Not only does Mark give an insider account of Pitchfork's early days, we also talked about the many ways that music writing has changed since the late '90s and early '00s. In short, social media changed everything — it was once possible to write something totally silly and brave (and even kind of brilliant) in a record review and have it come and go like the proverbial felled tree in the forest. Things are different now, of course — better in some ways, worse in others. But Mark was thoughtful about all of it.

Aug 20, 2018
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 Pink," because of the faded red siding. 

What happened at that house has since become rock legend — Dylan and the Band collaborated on The Basement Tapes, a trove of home recordings that included future classics like "I Shall Be Released," "Tears Of Rage," and "This Wheel's On Fire." The Band also started working on the songs that would appear on their first record, like "The Weight," which was written by guitarist Robbie Robertson. 

In order to delve deep into the album's creation, and celebrate the music that was created — which will be reissued Aug. 31 as part of a special anniversary edition — I figured the best person to speak with was Robertson, who fortunately agreed to share some of his favorite stories from that period. We discussed the brilliance of The Band's troubled piano player Richard Manuel, the identity of the real-life "Fanny" from "The Weight," how the Band evolved from a loud, bluesy bar band to a pastoral folk-rock outfit, and the way that the band members perfected their unique vocal blend, which Robertson's likens to "passing the ball around."

Aug 13, 2018
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. 

Aug 06, 2018
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 didn't really buy into this take on the record. Though she also didn't totally dispel it. A fascinating songwriter and powerful live performer, Barnett can be guarded in conversation. But during this podcast, she did manage to shed some light on her creative process and backstage life, as well reveal her ambitions to write a novel someday.

Jul 30, 2018
25 Years of 'Siamese Dream'

On July 27, one of the greatest rock albums of modern times turns 25. At least I count Siamese Dream as one of the best guitar records of the past quarter-century — it seems like the overall stature of Smashing Pumpkins has slipped a bit. The band's current reunion tour is underperforming in some markets, after a botched launch marred by in-fighting and the departure of original bassist D'arcy Wretzky. And then there's the head Pumpkin, Billy Corgan, who's always had an uneasy relationship with the press. In recent years, he's flirted with the far right, becoming a repeat guest on Alex Jones' show. Some fans have wondered whether it's actually immoral to listen to his music now. 

This is heady stuff for those of us who still admire the guitar symphonies of Siamese Dream. To talk about the record, and whether the Pumpkins missed their window for a triumphant comeback, I called up friend of the podcast Ian Cohen, a long-time music writer of Pitchfork and Stereogum, and one of the staunchest Smashing Pumpkins fans you'll ever meet. 

Together, we talk about Corgan's recent foibles, and argue about whether Siamese Dream falls off after an all-time great side one. (I say yes while Ian, a loyal "Spaceboy" defender, says no.) 

Jul 23, 2018
Shawn Everett Probably Recorded Your Favorite Album

Even if you don't know the name Shawn Everett, it's very likely that you've enjoyed an album that he's produced, engineered, or mixed in the past several years. In 2015, he rose to prominence for his work on Alabama Shakes' Sound + Color, possibly the best-sounding rock record of the decade, which garnered him two Grammys. Everett won his third Grammy earlier this year for The War On Drugs' A Deeper Understanding, an album he helped to construct with Adam Granduciel in some of the finest studios in Los Angeles and New York City. 

Everett's resume doesn't stop there — his recent clients run the gamut of indie rock, pop, and country, including Grizzly Bear, John Legend, Perfume Genius, Kesha, The Killers, Hinds, Mike Gordon, The Voidz, and Kacey Musgraves. But no matter who he works with, Everett applies a personal aesthetic that melds the best of traditional recording techniques with big-eared adventurousness that always feels modern. 

I invited Everett on the podcast to talk about his recent experiences in the studio, and to also help clarify the mysteries of record production. Fans love to talk about how records sound, do we really know what we're talking about? What exactly does a producer or engineer do, aside from simply pressing the "record" button and capturing what musicians perform naturally? Everett provides a lot of insight into his process, while speaking in terms that anyone can understand. 

Jul 16, 2018
After 25 Years, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows Is Still Here

This summer, Counting Crows will be back on the road for their "25 Years And Counting" tour, celebrating a quarter-century since the release of 1993's classic debut, August and Everything After. During that time, Counting Crows have maintained a sizable fanbase, even if the band hasn't always been fashionable or visible in the mainstream. According to singer-songwriter Adam Durtiz, people might feel differently about Counting Crows now if the band hadn't been so huge so early in its career — thanks to the success of the smash single "Mr. Jones," August sold seven million copies and made Duritz a fixture in the tabloids. But that notoriety also made Counting Crows a target for those who quickly tired of their earnest, emotional heartland rock. Nevertheless, great songs are great songs, and Duritz's work holds up as well as any artist from the '90s alt-rock generation. I've long been a fan of Duritz's songwriting, which stayed strong on subsequent albums like 1996's Recovering the Satellites up through Counting Crows' most recent album, 2014's Somewhere Under Wonderland. In this episode, Duritz opens up about his career, his beginnings as a songwriter, his feelings about how the media has covered his band, and the stories behind favorites like "Round Here," "Perfect Blue Buildings," and "A Long December."

Jul 09, 2018
Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes Isn't Interested in Fame

In the past decade. Starting with 2009's North Hills, the quartet has been distinguished by strong, understated ensemble playing and Taylor Goldsmith's earnest, narrative songwriting, which evokes the tenderness of Jackson Browne and the evocative storytelling of Warren Zevon. Dawes' latest album, Passwords, is the band's quietest, most austere effort, a marked contrast with 2016's adventurous and overstuffed (mostly in a good way), We're All Gonna Die. Reunited with producer Jonathan Wilson, who oversaw the first two Dawes albums before he went on to work with Father John Misty, much of Passwords is composed of shellshocked soft-rock tunes about the state of the world. I recently talked with Goldsmith about songwriting as well as the interesting place that his band has in contemporary rock — not quite mainstream, not quite indie. We also talked about what it's like to be engaged to the star of one of TV's most popular shows (pretty cool!), and whether it's ever awkward to work in the same business as your fiancee's ex-husband (sometimes but not really!). 

Jul 02, 2018
Our Favorite Albums Of 2018 So Far

Can you believe that we're already (almost) six months into the year? What better time to count down some of our favorite albums of 2018 so far. Joining Steve this week is friend of the pod Hanif Abdurraqib (They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us), who kindly took a break from a vacation getaway in New Mexico to give us five recommendations to match Steve's five choices.  

Jun 25, 2018
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 for its upcoming 20th anniversary, and the status of the two (!) MMJ albums currently in the can.

Jun 18, 2018
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 & Rhinestones is the best longform music podcast out there. 

I wanted to talk to Tyler about one of the great songwriters of the last 50 years, an enigmatic genius who endures 20 years after his death as the archetypal Texas troubadour, Townes Van Zandt. While his catalog of studio albums isn't large — he put out nine proper albums in his lifetime, over the course of about 25 years — Van Zandt is remembered as a foremost chronicler of romantic desolation, resigned fatalism, and profound loneliness. Since his death in 1997, his music has become a popular signifier of a kind of dusty southwestern noir, appearing in movies like Hell Or High Water and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. But in the popular consciousness, Van Zandt remains mysterious, known for standards like "Pancho And Lefty" and "If I Needed You" and but not usually celebrated with the likes Dylan, Cohen and Mitchell.

In this episode, Tyler and I talked about Van Zandt's career, and provide some tips for how to explore this man's rich, if also complicated career.

Support provided by:  Mack Weldon

Jun 11, 2018
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.

Jun 04, 2018
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 Homecoming Festival in Cincinnati. She told us about her Celtic folk past, and how studying Teenage Fanclub's 1991 classic "Bandwagonesque" helped her become one of contemporary indie's best writers of melancholy rock songs. 

May 28, 2018
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 end up arguing for 50 minutes? Tune in to find out!

May 21, 2018
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 paperback version of his recent compilation of magazine profiles, Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Definitely Incomplete History Of The Early 21st Century. One of my favorite pieces in that book is about Jimmy Page, a figure who also features prominently in my book. This lead to a conversation about how the "Led Zeppelin phase" remains a fixture in the lives of many young people. From there we talked about a variety of rock topics, from the value of rock mythology to Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile to whether the #MeToo movement will change the ways that past behavior by rock stars is regarded. 

May 14, 2018
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 writing a musical based on Cyrano de Bergerac and a collaborative album with another artist that they don't want to name yet. Matt and Aaron discussed those projects with me, as well as their feelings about their hometown, Matt's tendency to occasionally forget lyrics, and the greatness of their 2007 album Boxer. It's an essential listen for any National fan

May 07, 2018
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 about. And, really, how much of a debate is there anyway? If you like one band, there's a good chance you like the other, right? Yes ... but also no.  Not only do fans argue about these bands, the bands themselves have a legitimate beef.  Given that Morrissey was back in the news recently for saying some awful things once again in an interview, and the Cure also is back in the cultural conversation due to an anticipated 40th anniversary concert this summer in London, I decided to finally address this rivalry. I called up Elizabeth Bracy of The Paranoid Style, a huge Smiths fan, and I tried to convince her that the Cure might actually be the better band. Between you and me, I think I succeeded!

Apr 30, 2018
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 rock artists of the early '00s. But for all the talk about Is This It, White Blood Cells, Fever To Tell, and Turn On The Bright Lights, Yorn's early records are just as worthy of canonization.  One day, I decided to blindly reach out to Yorn on Twitter and ask if he would want to come on my podcast. To my surprise, Yorn responded and agreed to chat. Even better, he had new music to promote — a just-announced EP with friend Scarlett Johansson called Apart, the followup to their 2009 collaborative album Break Up, due out June 1. Thanks Twitter! I can't believe you were good for once!

Apr 23, 2018
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.

Apr 16, 2018
Gang Of Youths Are Slowly Taking Over America

Last fall I wrote about Go Farther In Lightnessthe 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 with Gang Of Youths' passionate singer-songwriter Dave Le'aupepe before a show in Minneapolis, he admitted that the band's previous gig in town drew just 20 people. But on Gang Of Youths' latest tour, things have dramatically shifted. Thanks to burgeoning support on streaming services and radio, as well as a recent appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Gang Of Youths played to packed clubs on the most recent leg of its tour. Le'aupepe seemed buoyed by the buzz around Gang Of Youths, though he insists that playing to 20 people can be just as inspiring. During our conversation, we talked about the band and the state of rock music, as well as his childhood and struggles with sobriety. It was a fun and emotionally intense conversation — just like Gang Of Youths' music.

Apr 09, 2018
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 just a few years prior, were basically over, paving the way for a new generation of artists. To help me revisit 1998, I called up Judy Berman, a fine critic who has written for the New York Times, Pitchfork, The Atlantic, and many other publications. We talked about our personal favorites, our "most 1998" albums, and the one 1998 classic that I feel is kind of sort of overrated. 

Apr 02, 2018
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? 

Mar 26, 2018
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 relationship with Gene Ween, his long-time partner in Ween. The state of their reunion is good but perhaps fragile. But Dean has plenty to say about this own music and his renewed passion for touring. I also talk with Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic.com about Ween's career and our favorite Ween albums. 

Mar 19, 2018
Robert Plant Is Still A Golden God

If Robert Plant had stopped making music after 1980, his legacy would still be eternal as the lead singer of perhaps the greatest rock band ever, Led Zeppelin. But Plant has spent the past nearly 40 years following his own path, building a solo career that matches the output of any of his contemporaries. In this special interview, Plant looks back on his career and discusses how his need for constant change has keep him vital artistically for so long. Also, Steve talks with friend of the pod Steve Gorman about his experiences touring with Plant and his ex-bandmate Jimmy Page in the '90s. 

Mar 12, 2018
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.," but it wasn’t until the '90s that I started to become a true hard-core fan and get deep into his catalogue. For fans of my generation, "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" were the first big “new” Bruce albums of our lives. And then there's "The Ghost of Tom Joad," which as a piece of writing stands with anything he has ever done.  To talk about '90s Bruce, I called up Tim Showalter of Strand Of Oaks, who over time has evolved, like Bruce, from being a moody folkie to the maker of widescreen rock reocrds like 2014’s excellent "Heal" and 2017’s "Hard Love." In early 2018, he put out a very good outtakes collection form that album called "Harder Love."

Mar 05, 2018
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 contemplative music inevitably sends the listener inward, evoking a sleepless night filled with various shades of blue poring through a bedroom window, the kind that a married person looks out as he or she wonders why in the hell their spouse still isn’t home at 2 a.m. To talk about "Tunnel Of Love," I called up John Darnielle, who started writing and recording songs under the moniker of the Mountain Goats in the early '90s. Since then, he’s earned a reputation as one of the best songwriters in indie rock, known for a literary style that, like Springsteen, touches both on autobiographical material and, more notably, fictional characters who are sketched out with flesh blood authenticity. 

Mar 05, 2018
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 about what the album signifies and how it impacted his career. Fortunately I was able to get hold of Patterson Hood, co-founder of one of the great American rock bands of the last 20 years, Drive-By Truckers.

Feb 26, 2018
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 Bridgers, an exciting 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. In 2017, she put out a very good debut album, "Stranger In The Alps." "Nebraska" had already been out for 20 years when Bridgers heard it for the first time, but she was still able to find something personal in this iconic reord. 

Feb 26, 2018
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. 

Feb 19, 2018
20th Century Boss Part 3: "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" with Julien Baker

Our Bruce Springsteen series continues with Julien Baker, a wonderful artist whose 2017 album "Turn Out The Lights" was one of my favorite LPs of that year. Even though she was born almost 20 years after it was released in 1978, Baker is a huge fan of the angry, musically ferocious "Darkness On The Edge Of Town," which spawned Springsteen classics like "Badlands," "Racing in the Streets," and "Prove It All Night." 

Feb 19, 2018
20th Century Boss Part 2: "Born To Run" with Jeff Rosenstock

In episode two of our special Bruce Springsteen series, Jeff Rosenstock dives into the first true masterpiece of Springsteen's career, 1975's "Born To Run." While Rosenstock was raised on punk and ska music, he was also drawn to Springsteen's most uplifting and spirited record, highlighted by classics like the title track, "Thunder Road," and the climactic "Jungleland," which boasts the greatest and most dramatic sax solo in rock history. How did Bruce pull off an album that walks the tightrope between poetic transcendence and potential self-parody? Jeff helps us figure it out!  

Feb 12, 2018
20th Century Boss Part 1: Early Boss with Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

Welcome to 20th Century Boss, our in-depth series on the albums that Bruce Springsteen released in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. In episode one, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem joins us to discuss 1973's "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.," and "The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle." In many ways, these are the "prequel" albums for Springsteen's peak era, which commenced with Born To Run. But Fallon remains a steadfast fan of "Greetings," the album that ushered him into Bruce fandom when he was a teenager in the early '90s. While Springsteen's songwriting was less refined on these releases, the sheer exuberance and invention of his wordy, image-filled songs are still plenty thrilling.

Feb 12, 2018
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 Strummer in the 2008 song "Constructive Summer," which includes the memorable lyric: "Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer / I think he might've been our only decent teacher." Finn actually met Strummer in 1999, a story he shares in this week's episode, along with his thoughts on Strummer's legacy and what it means so many years after his death.
Dec 18, 2017
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 carve out safe spaces for special things to happen.
Dec 11, 2017
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 URPOXX.com.
Dec 04, 2017
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 with Jeff and John backstage to talk about the band's early days, and how the band evolved dramatically between its 1995 debut, "A.M.," and 1996's "Being There." (Both of those records will be reissued in special expanded editions Dec. 1.) Steve also found out which song from "Being There" makes Jeff choke up each time he plays it.
Nov 27, 2017
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 Muslim who didn't grow up celebrating the holiday, has his own annual tradition tied up with "The Last Waltz," after watching the film in college with other kids who were stranded in the dorm over the holidays. Join us as we dig into the minutia of one of the great rock films ever made!
Nov 20, 2017
32: An American's Guide To The Tragically Hip
On Oct. 17, Gord Downie died from brain cancer, sparking widespread mourning in his native country of Canada. Across the country for days afterward, there were candlelit vigils in his honor. For Canadians, this wasn't just the death of a beloved rock star. It was the end of a universally respected national institution. For Americans, this might all seem a little hard to understand. The Tragically Hip had only a small cult audience in this country, briefly attaining a high profile in 1995 in the wake of a performance on Saturday Night Live, which booked the Hip at the insistence of the Hip's friend, Dan Aykroyd. Why did a band that was so huge in Canada, with a singer-songwriter who is essentially that country's equivalent of Bruce Springsteen, have such a minimal impact in the U.S.? And what have us Americans missed out on? I called up Stuart Berman, a writer for Pitchfork among other publications, to explain the Hip's significance north of the border, and offer a primer on how to get into the band. As a recent Hip convert myself, I had my own ideas in this regard. (Start with Day For Night!) The idea of this episode is to celebrate a great band with a one-of-a-kind frontman — even though Gord Downie is gone, he lives on in the enthusiasm of each new Tragically Hip convert.
Nov 13, 2017
31: How Jann Wenner Shaped Rock History In His Own Image
More than any other writer or editor, Jann Wenner has shaped the narrative of rock history from his perch at "Rolling Stone" and, later, as one of the gatekeepers at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. In Joe Hagan's new book, "Sticky Fingers: The Life And Times Of Jann Wenner And Rolling Stone Magazine," Wenner's life and career are contextualized in the cultural shifts in America from the '60s through the modern era, showing how Wenner ruthlessly engineered or capitalized on these changes for immense personal gain. In this episode, Hagan talks about his rocky relationship with Wenner, as well as Wenner's equally rancorous dealings with rock stars such as Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. Ultimately, Wenner and his political opposite, Donald Trump, have more in common than either man would care to admit, Hagan says.

With support from: Harry's and Brooklinen
Nov 06, 2017
30: Revisiting Ancient Teenaged Feelings About Weezer
For several generations of rock fans, Weezer's "Blue Album" and its follow-up, "Pinkerton", are foundational albums of adolescence. What is it about Rivers Cuomo's socially awkward anthems that connects with so many misfits? In the wake of a new Weezer album, "Pacific Daydream", Steve called up Vulture movie critic Emily Yoshida to discuss their mutual Weezer phases, and they wound up delving deep into the band's catalogue as well as the intensely emotional highs and lows of teenagerdom. Other topics include: the sorta-Weezer tribute band Ozma, the embarrassing video for "Beverly Hills," and the best Weezer songs to sing at karaoke. This episode, like that bottle of Steven's, is guaranteed to awaken ancient feelings.

Support from: ZipRecruiter
Oct 30, 2017
29: Julien Baker Will Make You Cry
On Friday, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Julien Baker will release her second album, "Turn Out The Lights," one of the most emotionally overpowering albums of 2017. A native of Memphis, Baker came up in the city's local punk scene, playing in the band Forrister before she started writing stark, confessional songs about on her own. Baker's 2015 debut, Sprained Ankle, was a critical favorite, but "Turn Out The Lights" ought to raise her profile. Earlier this month, I invited Baker on my podcast to talk about the record and her career. It was about a week after her 22nd birthday, and yet Baker immediately made it clear that she's wise beyond her years. Of course, you also get that impression from her songs. But Baker is the rare artist who can smartly analyze her own work, and articulate the thought process behind it. This makes for a great conversation, which also touches on her love of Bruce Springsteen, whether she would consider working with Jack Antonoff, and the secret to making people cry with a well-placed vocal quiver.

Support from: Blue Apron
Oct 23, 2017
28: The Five-Albums Test With Rob Sheffield
In 2011, back when I was a writer for The A.V. Club, I invented a game called The Five-Albums Test, in which I listed artists and bands that have at least five consecutive very good-to-great albums. Over the years, readers kept bringing up this column, and I was eventually inspired to write a sequel for UPROXX earlier this year. For this week's podcast, I decided to play the Five-Albums Test game with one of my all-time favorite music critics, Rob Sheffield. I figured someone with Rob's depth of knowledge would have an abundance of opinions on who does and doesn't pass the test. Fortunately, Rob did not disappoint — we wound up talking about everyone from Taylor Swift to Led Zeppelin. It's the nerdiest episode of Celebration Rock yet!

Support from: Brooklinen
Oct 16, 2017
Season 2 Episode 27: Automatic For The People At 25
On October 5, one of the great albums of the '90s turned 25 years old. R.E.M.'s "Automatic For The People" sold four million copies in the U.S. and spawned hits like "Man On The Moon" and "Everybody Hurts," even though the album's somber chamber-folk scene was utterly unlike the raging grunge sound that was in vogue in rock music at the time. For R.E.M., one of the most acclaimed bands of the era, "Automatic For The People" represented an artistic pinnacle that many fans believe the band has never topped. To help me pay tribute to this landmark release, I called up friend of the podcast Brian Koppelman, a passionate music fan who also happens to be a successful screenwriter and producer. Brian and I often disagree about music, but we happen to share the opinion that "Automatic For The People" is the best R.E.M. album In our conversation, we try to place "Automatic" in the context of the band's career, and R.E.M.'s overall place in the history of rock. After my talk Brian, I hopped on with podcast producer Derek Madden to talk about why younger music seem to underrate R.E.M. in comparison to contemporaries like The Smiths and The Pixies. Warning: There is a lot of finger-wagging in this episode!

Support from: Harry's
Oct 09, 2017
Season 2 Special Episode: RIP Tom Petty
In this special "emergency" episode we play tribute to the late classic-rocker.
Oct 03, 2017
Season 2 Episode 26: Dan Bejar of Destroyer Loves '80s Dylan and The Doors
For more than 20 years, Dan Bejar has been putting out albums under the name Destroyer, a moniker that hints at Bejar's habit of reimagining his music with each new release. The trend continues with Destroyer's forthcoming album, "ken," due Friday, in which Bejar sings menacing songs about class warfare and the apocalypse over seductive synth-rock grooves that hearken back to '80s groups like New Order and Depeche Mode. On the podcast, Bejar talks about the inspiration for "ken," which (sort of) includes the 1994 album "Dog Man Star" by the cult Britpop band Suede, and (perhaps, though not explicitly) nods in the direction of the disruptive blowhard currently in charge of the U.S. government. We also spoke about Bob Dylan's gospel period in the late '70s and early '80s and Bejar's mid-life embrace of The Doors, which he insists is sincere. At least I think it's sincere — Bejar is the driest wit all of in indie rock, as our often funny conversation shows.

With support from: ZipRecruiter, Brooklinen, and Harry's
Oct 02, 2017
Season 2 Episode 25: Are The Killers Good Or Terrible?
The Killers put out a new album last Friday called "Wonderful Wonderful." It's not very good. In my review for Uproxx.com, I tried to make sense of the band's career, ultimately suggesting that the Killers sound like a band on its last legs. Is that a fair assessment, or was I off the mark? I decided to call up friend of the pod and long-time Killers fan Larry Fitzmaurice, an editor at "Vice," to help me go over the band's career. Did the Killers truly peak early with "Mr. Brightside," or is there more to this band's legacy? We also attempted to answer the eternal question: Are the Killers good, terrible, or good because they're terrible?

Support from: SeatGeek, ZipRecruiter, Blue Apron
Sep 25, 2017
Season 2 Episode 25: Mike Gordon of Phish Is A Nice Guy
Last month I wrote about The Baker's Dozen, an historic run of 13 concerts at Madison Square Garden in which the long-running jam band Phish played more than 200 songs without any repeats. It was a blast to watch unfold. When I was offered an interview with Mike Gordon -- Phish's bassist and the cover model for my favorite Phish album, "Billy Breathes" -- I jumped at the chance. Last week, Gordon released a new solo LP, "OGOGO", that was produced by Shawn Everett, who also worked on recent albums by The War On Drugs and Grizzly Bear. We also talked a lot about The Baker's Dozen and "metaphysical" experience of playing music.
Sep 18, 2017
Season 2 Episode 24: The National Is Back With "Sleep Well Beast"
Last month I wrote a profile for Uproxx.com that detailed the making of The National's latest album, Sleep Well Beast, which came out on Friday. The band worked at guitarist Aaron Dessner's studio in upstate New York. What else is there to say about yet another great National album? Plenty, in fact. I reached out to Jayson Greene, formerly of Pitchfork and Wondering Sound, to talk about how The National manages to evolve within the relatively narrow confines of a fixed identity. We both agree that Sleep Well Beast extends the band's run of first-rate albums, but what exactly makes this record different from the others, while also reiterating the National's established themes and sound?

Sponosored by: SeatGeek
Sep 11, 2017
Season 2 Episode 23: The Rise and Fall and Rise Of LCD Soundsystem
On Friday, LCD Soundsystem released its "comeback" album, "American Dream." My feelings on it are mixed — I love the music, but James Murphy can be a prickly, even annoying presence. To get to the bottom of LCD Soundsystem, I called up someone who knows a lot more about James Murphy than I do, author and critic Lizzy Goodman, whose recent book "Meet Me In The Bathroom" is an oral history of the NYC rock scene in the '00s. We talked about Murphy's background as a failed indie musician who found fame in his 30s by co-founding DFA Records, refashioning himself as a skilled architect of dance-rock records. We also cover Murphy's decision to revive LCD Soundsystem, and how "American Dream" fits with the rest of the band's catalogue.
Sep 05, 2017
Season 2 Episode 22: How The War On Drugs Became The War On Drugs
On Friday, The War On Drugs' released their fourth LP, A Deeper Understanding, and it's one of my favorite albums of the year. How did The War On Drugs get to this point, with a brilliant new LP that has many critics calling them America's next great band? I called up Dan DeLuca, long-time music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, to talk about the band's career, its roots in Philly, and the formative influences on frontman Adam Granduciel. We also discuss whether A Deeper Understanding is even better than the band's 2014 breakthrough, Lost In The Dream.

Sponsored by ZipRecruiter, Blue Apron and SeatGeek
Aug 28, 2017
Season 2 Episode 21: A Short History of Queens Of The Stone Age
Originally formed in 1996, QOTSA has been an anomaly in the past few decades: A smart, critically acclaimed hard-rock band that's not really indie, not really metal, and nowhere close to mainstream rock groups such as Nickelback and Five Finger Death Punch. I invited super-fan Zoe Camp — a writer for Pitchfork, Spin, and the Village Voice, among other places — to help me assess QOTSA's various incarnations, all of which are anchored by the band's eternally cool frontman, Josh Homme. We debate whether Rated R or Songs For The Deaf is QOTSA's best LP, whether "middle period" records like Lullabies To Paralyze and Era Vulgaris are underrated, whether Eagles Of Death Metal can hold a candle to Them Crooked Vultures, and if this band belongs with the very best rock acts of the modern era.
Aug 21, 2017
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 Stone to talk about our favorite records of 1987, and determined which albums have proved most influential. What we found was surprising - for a long time, Fleetwood Mac's Tango In The Night and Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel Of Love were derided for their dated "very 80's" production, but now they sound practically like contemporary indie-pop records. Plus, Steve shares his crackpot theory about how years that end with "7" are historically great.
Aug 14, 2017
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 albums that exhibit all of the things we love — the energy, the rawness, the rhythmic clapping by thousands of drunk people.
Aug 07, 2017
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 UPROXX.com, 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 one of the year's most anticipated -- and disappointing -- rock albums and try to figure out where Arcade Fire went wrong.
Jul 31, 2017
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.
Jul 24, 2017
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 Surface."
Jul 17, 2017
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 music been so popular and yet also so obnoxious to those who didn't get it. Looking back, however, my feelings about nü-metal have changed somewhat. Do I feel ... affectionate? No, that's not quite right. But I do feel grudging respect. To talk about nü-metal, I called up friend of the pod Ian Cohen in order to define what exactly nü-metal is, as well as discuss the impact that it had and whether being innovative (which nü-metal was) is the same as being good
Jul 10, 2017
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 similar sentiments. So I invited Derek back on the pod to debate OK Computer vs. In Rainbows. We also talk about whether Kid A has aged well, Derek's experience seeing Radiohead open for Alanis Morissette in 1996, and how we would try to convert a Radiohead skeptic.
Jun 26, 2017
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 Fleet Foxes stan Caitlin White from UPROXX to figure it out. We chat about Fleet Foxes, discuss the so-called "Bon Iver Conundrum," and pick which bands we're most excited to see have a resurgence.
Jun 20, 2017
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 Yeah Yeahs, Paul Banks of Interpol, and Jack White. Tillmann's unique perspective — he was an insider with just enough perspective to take note of the party-addled insanity that many of those bands were living in — comes in handy in Meet Me In The Bathroom, particularly when it comes to funny/sad backstage anecdotes that helps to humanize the book's subjects. Because I loved his stories, and knew him a bit as a fellow resident of the Minneapolis area, I invited Tillmann on the podcast to talk about Meet Me In The Bathroom and his memories of the era. He did not disappoint.
Jun 12, 2017
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.
Jun 05, 2017
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 indelible lyrics to Brent Mydland's soft-rock pre-Dead hit single. We had so much fun that we spoke for about as long as the "Dark Star" from 12/6/73.
May 30, 2017
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 what exactly makes "Boxer" so special, as well as its ultimate place in the pantheon of National records and 21st century indie-rock overall. Join us as we walk through this album, and measure it against the other albums in the band's discography.
May 22, 2017
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.
May 19, 2017
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 others' throats. To help make sense of this tumultuous, criminally underrated band, I invited my friend and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman on the podcast. We talked about the band's feisty interactions with Rick Rubin, the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, the time they spent $1 million on an album they didn't even put out, and Steve's almost-fistfight with Liam Gallagher at Glastonbury in 1995. Stories abound in this episode!
May 15, 2017
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 lot of ground in this pod: We talk about the scuttled "Pure Comedy" musical, the controversial "Total Entertainment Forever" video, his next record, the video-game habits of his former band, Fleet Foxes, and (of course) the madness of mass media.
May 08, 2017
Season 2 Episode 6: We Finally Talk About The Beatles with Rob Sheffield
This is a rock podcast, so it's about time we finally get around to talking about perhaps the greatest rock band of all-time, The Beatles. Our excuse is a great new book called "Dreaming The Beatles" by venerated rock critic (friend of the pod!) Rob Sheffield. The prospect of writing another Beatles book is pretty daunting, given that the Beatles might be the most written about band ever. But Rob — a staff writer at Rolling Stone whose other books include "Love Is A Mix Tape" and "Talking To Girls About Duran Duran" — is able to find fresh angles on the Fab Four, starting with the idea that the Beatles have transcended the '60s and become a band that's truly stands outside of time. Steve and Rob have plenty of Beatles opinions to share — this pod could've gone on for four hours but we assure you that we were merciful and capped it at one.
May 01, 2017
Season 2 Episode 5: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Is Still Trying To Break Your Heart
This past weekend, one of the most revered rock records of the past few decades turned 15, which seemed like a good excuse to revisit Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." Back in the early 2000s, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was celebrated for many reasons — as a statement about 9/11 America, as an emblem for integrity in a corrupt music industry, and as a major leap forward artistically for one of the era's top rock bands. Since then, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" has taken on the stature of a classic rock LP. But even if you love the album, when was the last time you actually played it? Steve decide to delve back into "YHF" with his friend and fellow critic Rob Mitchum to see if the magic is still there.
Apr 24, 2017
Season 2 Episode 4: Don't Look Back In Anger At Britpop
In the mid 90s, some of the best and most exciting rock records came out of U.K., thanks to a generation of bands with tremendous style, spirit, and smarts. This movement was dubbed Britpop, and it was spearheaded by bands such as Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and Suede. In March, the music website Pitchfork compiled at list of the Top 50 Britpop Albums Of All-Time, for which Steve was asked to vote in. Are there really 50 great Britpop albums that are still worth revisiting? How does the era hold up? Steve talks it out with Pitchfork's associate feature editor Stacey Anderson, who spearheaded the website's Britpop list.
Apr 17, 2017
Season 2 Episode 3: Brann Dailor of Mastodon
For 15 years, Mastodon has been one of America's most consistent bands, whether they're making concept records based on "Moby Dick" or catchy hard-rock anthems in the mold of classic bands from the 70s and 80s. It hasn't always been easy — the making of the band's latest LP, "Emperor of Sand," was marred by personal tragedies and hardships suffered by all of the members. Steve talks with the band's drummer and lyricist, Brann Dailor, about how Mastodon has thrived and survived for so long in this special bonus episode.
Apr 12, 2017
Season 2 Episode 2: Is Father John Misty A Genius Or A Charlatan (Or A Bit Of Both)?
Last Friday, Josh Tillman released his third album as Father John Misty, "Pure Comedy," a sprawling fire-and-brimstone sermon about the state of Trump's America. Steve thinks it's a work of genius — but he also understands if people find it exhausting. To get to the bottom of one of the most provocative singer-songwriters working today, Steve called Jillian Mapes of Pitchfork, who recently spent four hours interviewing Tillman for a story.
Apr 10, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 7: Pearl Jam's Legacy Band Years
We wrap up our series on Pearl Jam by looking at the band's three most recent albums — 2006's "Pearl Jam," 2009's "Backspacer," and 2013's "Lightning Bolt." For a band whose career often teetered on the brink of dysfunction and chaos, Pearl Jam has settled into a period of stability and relaxed comfort in recent years. Looking ahead, Pearl Jam seems poised to go on forever like the Rolling Stones. To figure out how we got here, Steve talks with Mark Wilkerson, co-author of "Pearl Jam Twenty."
Apr 05, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 6: Pearl Jam's Binaural and Riot Act
The alternate title of this episode is: "Pearl Jam: The Lost Years." Many PJ fans stopped following the band in the early '00s, leaving a core of diehards who continue to support Pearl Jam to this day. But has the rest of the world been missing out? Steve revisits two of Pearl Jam's most underrated albums with journalist and fan Jessica Letkemann.
Apr 03, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 5: Pearl Jam's Yield
Is the fifth Pearl Jam album the beginning of an era, or the end of one? Actually, it's probably a bit of both. Steve delves into one of the most underrated Pearl Jam albums, which was both the last PJ album to go platinum and the marker of a new era of stability for the band. Our guest is the poet and critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib.
Mar 29, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 4: Pearl Jam's No Code
Our series on Pearl Jam continues with possibly the most fascinating record in the band's catalogue, "No Code." Released in 1996, "No Code" competed on the charts with a host of poppy alt-rock rip-offs by artists such as Alanis Morissette, Live, Bush, and Matchbox 20. In spite of being a figurehead band of 90s rock, Pearl Jam's popularity receded greatly in this period. But the band drew on the turmoil for "No Code" and produced an album that holds up decades later. Joining Steve is Derek Madden, the producer of Celebration Rock and a long-time radio veteran who's been following Pearl Jam for most of its career.
Mar 27, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 3: Pearl Jam's Vitalogy
The third Pearl Jam record is a favorite for many Pearl Jam fans, even if it is a chaotic document of a chaotic time in the band's history. To help make sense of this willfully scattershot but frequently brilliant LP, Steve called upon Chuck Klosterman to discuss how Pearl Jam made one of the weirdest LPs of its career at the height of its fame.
Mar 20, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 2: Pearl Jam's Vs.
Our series on Pearl Jam continues with the band's second album, Steve's personal favorite PJ record. This was the album that truly heralded Pearl Jam's arrival as one of the biggest bands, selling nearly 1 million records in its first week. But does it hold up? Steve digs deep into Pearl Jam circa 1993 with Dave Hartley of The War On Drugs and Nightlands.
Mar 20, 2017
Vitalogy-ology Part 1: Pearl Jam's "Ten"
Our seven-part series on Pearl Jam begins at the most obvious point: The band's wildly popular 1991 debut, "Ten." Is it possible that one of the biggest selling rock albums of the 90s is actually underrated? Steve delves deep into very early 90s Pearl Jam with Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone, and then chats about the iconic video for "Jeremy" with the video's director, Mark Pellington.
Mar 13, 2017
Season 2 Episode 1: Japandroids
Celebration Rock makes its triumphant comeback from a long paternity leave with none other than the band that inspired our name. Steven sat down with Brian King of Japandroids at the start of the band's latest tour to discuss its great new album, "Near to the Wild Heart of Life," and the weirdness of touring in Trump's America as an Canadian band. Do we have to quit now that we've achieved singularity? Never!
Mar 06, 2017
2016 Year In Rock Holiday Special
Steve takes a hiatus from his hiatus to talk with Ian Cohen about 2016's best rock albums and worst "is rock dead?" thinkipieces, and Rob Mitchum about the science of year-end-best-of-albums lists
Dec 29, 2016
Episode 38: Alex G and Ryley Walker

Season 1 finale! Before Steve takes off for the rest of 2016, he talks with two great young singer-songwriters. Alex G has made his name as an indie-pop tunesmith via his Bandcamp releases, but he's making in-roads toward the mainstream, including a recent cameo on Frank Ocean's "Endless." Ryley Walker is a Chicago guitarist who was raised on punk rock, and then took a left turn into jazzy, enigmatic folk music. His latest LP, "Golden Sings That Have Been Sung," is one of Steve's favorites of 2016.

Oct 10, 2016
Episode 37: Joyce Manor
One of the sharpest bands operating in the punk realm at the moment is Joyce Manor, a SoCal outfit that specializes in succinct songs that delve insightfully into the minutia of daily life. But as Steve learned when he talked to the band's singer/songwriter Barry Johnson, Joyce Manor's influence extend far beyond punk. Johnson is actually a huge fan of Guided By Voices and Oasis, two of Steve's favorites. So, both guys spent a lot of time geeking out in this episode.
Oct 03, 2016
Episode 36: An Inside Look at Rolling Stone

As a profile writer for Rolling Stone, Brian Hiatt has interviewed virtually every musician of consequence, from Bruce Springsteen to Mick Jagger to Prince to Adele. Steve invited Brian on the podcast to talk about his process of "getting the story" when he's dealing with very famous people. They also talked about the history of Rolling Stone, and why the magazine has endured for nearly 50 years.

Sep 26, 2016
Episode 35: Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers
For almost 20 years, Drive-By Truckers have been one of America's best bands, known for melding cinematic lyrics to riff-heavy arena rock. As one of the band's primary songwriters, Patterson Hood has established himself as one of the finest stylists in all of southern rock. Ahead of DBT's latest album, American Band, Hood talked about how the group has survived its many ups and downs, as well as the challenges of inserting political messages into songs.
Sep 19, 2016