Opium Traces
More Recent Features
‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ Is in Pursuit of Brains

Lizzy and her sisters spar in the basement while debating the merits of one suitor or another, slamming one another into walls and bearing posts.

READ more
Muse Commandeer Barclays Center for Drones World Tour (Photos)

Resistance is futile. Muse's walloping Drones World Tour forces the audience to confront Big Brother.

READ more
The Magicians: Season 1, Episode 3 - “Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting”

Stella Maeve's performance is the bright spot in an episode that suffers from the same issues as the pilot.

READ more
The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 12 - “The Vehm (No. 132)”

Last year, much of The Blacklist felt like 3 pounds of sausage in a 5 pound casing; hopefully, "The Vehm" is an aberration rather than an indication of rest of the season.

READ more
‘Hail, Caesar!’ Is a Comedy Without Laughs

The Coen brothers’ artfully conceived but strained satire of '50s Hollywood gets the look right, but little else.

READ more
Game Theory: Lolita Nation

The most critically acclaimed masterpiece of the '80s that you’ve never heard finally sees re-release. Time having been kinder to this long lost album than the music industry, it remains fresh, exciting, and essential for any fan of good pop songwriting.

READ more
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: An Interview With Dave Stewart

With his new memoir Sweet Dreams Are Made of This in mind, Stewart joins PopMatters for an in-depth discussion about his new book and his influential catalog of music.

READ more
Chaos Does Not Mean Despair in Bowie’s Soundscapes

What Bowie's music describes, again and again, is that we were endlessly, relentlessly killing ourselves.

READ more

5 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

Mass Gothic: Mass Gothic

Noel Heroux crafts a genre-blending record of infectious creativity in debut as Mass Gothic.

READ more
Bert Jansch: Avocet (Special Edition)

To say Avocet is representative of Bert Jansch’s other work would be missing the mark because it’s so individual and unique.

READ more
Venomous Concept: Kick Me Silly: VCIII

Grindy little supergroup bringing together members of Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, etc. gives the people what they want with 20 tracks of whack.

READ more
‘The New Mutants’ Is Rooted Both in Scholarship and in the Rich History of Superhero Narratives

Books about comic books, even scholarly ones, should be fun; The New Mutants certainly is.

READ more
Benji Hughes: Songs in the Key of Animals

The beauty of the stream of consciousness that bleeds into both Hughes' lyrics and his melodies is that while it feels sporadic, it doesn’t ever become disjointed.

READ more

5 Feb 2016 // 2:00 AM

Jamie Woon: Making Time

Jamie Woon’s Making Time is a diligently watched pot that, predictably, refuses to boil.

READ more
The X-Files: Season 10, Episode 3 - “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

Even if the remaining three episodes don’t live up to the standard set by “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”, there’s no doubt that it'll stand as a new classic.

READ more
Tradition Meets Innovation at the Fifth Annual Maqam Fest

In a city with an abundance of smartly conceived and adventurous music events, Maqam Fest stands out for its unique vision and its broad and expanding constituency.

READ more
The Flash: Season 2, Episode 12 - “The Fast Lane”

The Flash is one of the best family dramas on TV today.

READ more
iZombie: Season 2, Episode 11 - “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter”

At this point, the larger story that looms over the entire series is so intricate and the characterizations so spot-on that watching the show never disappoints.

READ more
‘Spider-Man #1’ Shows That Adolescence Is Everybody’s Kryptonite

Give any teenager superpowers and they'll still struggle with just being a teenager.

READ more
Arrow: Season 4, Episode 11 - “A.W.O.L.”

Arrow takes a breather from the fight against H.I.V.E., and instead turns the focus to Felicity and Diggle.

READ more
On the Meaningful Nonsense in ‘Jottings From a Far Away Place’

Formally inventive, beautifully written and thematically dense, Brendan Connell's latest collection is a multi-layered anthology that compels multiple readings.

READ more
August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Gets a Vibrant National Theatre Revival

Charismatic performances from O-T Fagbenle and Sharon D Clarke ignite Dominic Cooke’s major revival of August Wilson’s play at the National Theatre.

READ more

4 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Bloc Party: Hymns

Over a decade since their classic debut Silent Alarm, Bloc Party's fifth album does nothing to change the downward trajectory of each album they've released since.

READ more
Bruce Springsteen, ‘The Ties That Bind’, the Working Class, and Authenticity

As we use the term today, authenticity allows no truth from art, only from artists. It visits art the way one visits a subway station or an airport: to get to somewhere else.

READ more

4 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

nonkeen: the gamble

nonkeen's the gamble is a really impressive release given its context. Strip the album out of it and the listener will have something more humane and approachable.

READ more
Jason Collett: Song and Dance Man

A versatile assemblage of roots and country-influenced singer/songwriter pop, with splashes of '70s AM soul.

READ more
Ane Brun: When I’m Free

Ane Brun is capable of making strong records, maybe even great ones. But this isn't one of them.

READ more
Takashi Murakami’s ‘Jellyfish Eyes’ Smacks of Derivative Pastiche

Famed Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami earnestly attempts to translate his innovative Superflat aesthetic to the world of film.

READ more
Wadada Leo Smith and John Lindberg: Celestial Weather

A titan of trumpet, a titan of double bass come together and give us a record that is undeniable in its ability to blow winds and minds.

READ more
Is It Always Better to Think Things Through Twice?

Columnist Stanley Fish's collection of works has readers reconsidering how they form their opinions.

READ more
The Resolution of a Lifespan: James Dean in ‘Giant’

In Giant, James Dean plays a character so desperate to belong that he winds up becoming a perverted reflection of it.

READ more
‘Madoff’: That Smirk Seen Round the World

With a smirk, Dreyfuss as Madoff invites you to feel as though he's granting exclusive access to the mechanics of the biggest Ponzi scheme in US history.

READ more
Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 12 - “Bizarro”

A version of the Silver Age comic book villain, Bizzaro, makes a first appearance on CW's Supergirl.

READ more
The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 5 - “Back to the Butcher”

While several key mysteries move forward, this episode is bogged down by an uninteresting protagonist.

READ more
Rock Pioneer Lloyd Price Has a Couple of Stories to Tell

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and rock pioneer Lloyd Price’s life has been much more interesting than yours or mine, from writing hits with Fats Domino to playing an influential role in the Rumble in the Jungle. Yet Price still has many more yarns to spin even now.

READ more
Stacking the Rolling Stones’ Best Shows

The From the Vault series adds infinite layers of the Rolling Stones' performances for diehard and casual fans alike.

READ more
Lucinda Williams: The Ghosts of Highway 20

On her superb new album, Lucinda Williams takes the wheel for a memory trip down Highway 20.

READ more
As Al Jazeera America Dies, the News Dies, Again: An Open Letter to the Liberal Media

Liberal-leaning American TV news is hopelessly lost in a Manichean tug-of-war with right-wing infotainment.

READ more
John Cale: Music for a New Society / M:FANS

Rather than merely reissue his classic 1981 album, John Cale reworks and rerecords the majority of the album, showing the thematic through line that connects the two.

READ more
The Pines: Above the Prairie

The Pines give us a record that is artful and imaginative and in many ways defies easy classification. In others, it's pure joy Americana.

READ more

3 Feb 2016 // 2:10 AM

Lemaitre: 1749 EP

1749 EP finds Lemaitre approaching the top of their pop-slinging game

READ more

3 Feb 2016 // 2:05 AM

MONEY: Suicide Songs

A Manchester band who create some beautiful music. But the singing is not on the money.

READ more
Peter Pál Pelbart’s ‘Cartography of Exhaustion’ Is Exhilarating

This is a sunny, revitalizing book, despite its ostensible focus on exhaustion and nihilism.

READ more
The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 13 - “Judged”

The inevitable has finally come to fruition in so many ways, and now, we can resume our regularly scheduled The Good Wife programming.

READ more
Coming-of-Age Within the Exquisite Eccentricities of Europe

A precisely refined blend of unique and hypnotic people, places, and philosophical phrasings make Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs wondrously impactful and artistic.

READ more
Is Miles Jupp On Your Guest List?

Miles Jupp excels at many things, but he earns special top marks for his ability to be both an engaging guest and host of comedy panel shows.

READ more

2 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Field Music: Commontime

David and Peter Brewis dexterously bend funk, R&B and Top 40 radio to fit their distinct regional post punk dialect.

READ more

2 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

Your Friend: Gumption

Gumption is a pop album and an experimental work, with all of the deep charms of both.

READ more
Nothing But Thieves: Nothing But Thieves

Ever wondered what Adele would sound like fronting a middling rock band? Nothing But Thieves has the answer!

READ more
Mose Allison: American Legend: Live in California

Idiosyncratic, unclassifiable jazz/blues/etc. singer and pianist Mose Allison delivers a fine set of live performances spanning the whole of this career.

READ more
‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ TV Series Still Has the Cool Factor

Before there was Sam and Dean Winchester, before there was Mulder and Scully, Starsky and Hutch, there was Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

READ more
Loss and Selfishness, Isolation and Pleasure and Other Themes in Italian Literature

Tim Parks' A Literary Tour of Italy is no tour guide of the haunts of famous writers; it's an informative choice for readers seeking the best that Italian writers can offer.

READ more
Stephen Kellogg: South West North East

True to the sprawling designs implied in its title, it comes across like an epic effort, thanks to the memorable melodies etched in every one of its 20 songs.

READ more
Fame, Faith, and a Meaningful Life: An Interview With Ruth Pointer

Why is Ruth Pointer so excited? Her new memoir celebrates three decades of sobriety and a lifetime of survival.

READ more
‘No Más Bebés’: Sterilized Without Consent

As the struggle for reproductive rights continues, we might look back on history in order to understand the consequences of denying women sovereignty over their own bodies.

READ more
Beware Strangers Bearing Literary Quotes

In Mojave, an effective thriller struggles under the weight of its intellectual pretensions.

READ more
Agent Carter: Season 2, Episodes 1-3

In its second season, Agent Carter's brightly colored world continues to be well worth visiting.

READ more
Rock ‘n’ Roll Needs Secrets: Talking Music’s Essence as Art with Dean Fertita

Dean Fertita, the incendiary strike force alongside rock titans Joshua Homme and Jack White (among others) and solo artist, discusses creativity, music, and art.

READ more

1 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Sia: This Is Acting

As a pop songwriter who can bend her style into many different forms, This Is Acting is the most compelling when Sia decides to simply be herself.

READ more

1 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

DIIV: Is the Is Are

The Brooklyn-based band seems either unwilling or incapable of taking the artistic steps to make music that isn't just more of what they've done before.

READ more
Intersystems: Intersystems

This is one of those great lost recordings (three of 'em actually) that comes from the lysergic era. Get your weird on presently.

READ more
Jeremih: Late Nights: The Album

Jeremih knows how to make sex a powerful force, but it's a shame that the rappers he features don't

READ more
Resnais Explores Fear and Memory in Je t’aime je t’aime

In slow, hypnotic ellipses, director Alain Resnais draws out the moribund inner world of a suicidal man haunted by a series of disturbing memories.

READ more
Cass McCombs: A Folk Set Apart: Rarities, B-Sides & Space Junk, ETC.

This sturdy collection of rarities provides a glimpse behind the curtain of McCombs’ prolific career.

READ more
‘The Record Store of the Mind’ Is a Memoir Worth Spinning

Josh Rosenthal's book is filled with robust details, larger than life personalities, a fine balance of tongue-in-cheek humor and impassioned perceptions.

READ more
Buried Bowie: 25 Deep Cuts

For all of the imagery that dominated the religiosity of Bowie  --  the fashion, the characters, the hairstyles --  what matters most are the songs. Here are 25 killer deep-cut Bowie originals, album by album.

READ more
The Story Is In His Eyes in ‘The Finest Hours’

Ray's (Casey Affleck) eyes tell their own story, more hauntingly and more urgently, than any of the plot's clunky machinations.

READ more
American Crime: Season 2, Episode 3

As the second season's story finally gets moving, the complicated makeup of American Crime's architecture reveals its good and bad spots.

READ more
Living in a (Fleeting) Moment With ‘All-New, All Different Avengers #4’

A new era of Avengers brings a new and fitting narrative.

READ more
More Po and His Pals Are Not A Bad Thing With ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’

Kung Fu Panda 3 contains a lot of those necessary beats to keep fans happy. It also does so in a way to keep things from feeling stale.

READ more

29 Jan 2016 // 9:27 AM

7 Year Bitch: Live at Moe

Newly discovered live album reveals the best of 7 Year Bitch's pioneering punk power

READ more

29 Jan 2016 // 2:45 AM

Our Insatiable Techno Zombie Love

The popularity of zombies indicates that powerful techno-social forces have ramped up our fear of joining -- or just being surrounded by -- George A. Romero’s mindless zombie herd.

READ more
Christianity’s Crisis in Medieval Japan Says a Lot About Cultural Dialogue Today

Shusaku Endo’s classic novel of faith, doubt, and intercultural communication, Silence, readies itself for a timely big-screen debut by Director Martin Scorsese.

READ more

29 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Rihanna: Anti

Rihanna has released some of the smartest and sexiest pop of the new millennium. Unfortunately, on Anti she seems lost and unsure about what she’s trying to do and where she’s trying to go.

READ more
Cian Nugent: Night Fiction

On Night Fiction, guitar maestro Cian Nugent navigates the world beyond the blues.

READ more
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Let Me Get By

Marrying the rural and the urban, the old and the new Tedeschi Trucks Band finds its groove and delivers a record filled with memorable songs and even more memorable grooves. Best listened to after midnight.

READ more
The Cactus Blossoms: You’re Dreaming

The Cactus Blossoms fill a unique niche in revisiting the early days of country music with Everly Brothers-like harmonies.

READ more

29 Jan 2016 // 2:05 AM

Fred Hersch: Sarabande

A reissue of an early trio recording by the sparkling jazz pianist -- featuring the late Charlie Haden as well as Hersch's marvelous "Child's Song", written to Haden.

READ more
The Flash: Season 2, Episode 11 - “The Reverse-Flash Returns”

The Flash's been running, in one form or another, for 75 years: to save the world, to save the universe, to save the multiverse, to save us all; he's still running in this episode of The Flash.

READ more

28 Jan 2016 // 10:35 AM

Sam Means: 10 Songs

A charming collection of gentle pop songs from the quieter half of the much-missed desert pop group, the Format.

READ more
Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Pilot, Part 1”

It's not perfect by any stretch, but the first episode of Legends of Tomorrow lays the groundwork for what should be an incredibly fun season of time-traveling superhero hijinks.

READ more
The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 11 - “Mr. Gregory Devry (No. 95)”

After two and a half seasons, will The Blacklist finally get around to answering one of its central mysteries?

READ more
PJ Harvey and the Inherent Ambiguities of Music Video as a Genre

One of Abigail Gardner's PJ Harvey and Music Video Performance main strengths is its impressive command of the scholarly literature.

READ more
Arrow: Season 4, Episode 10 - “Blood Debts”

Following the events of the mid-season finale, a rage-filled Oliver makes one of his worst decisions ever.

READ more
Kayaktivists’ Colorful and Effective Protests in 2015

The most elaborately staged spectacle of 2015 was performed by the “kayaktivists”, a group of environmentalists that successfully stopped oil giant Royal Dutch Shell from drilling in the Arctic.

READ more
Opeth: Deliverance & Damnation

Thirteen years after their release, two of Opeth's most important albums have been reissued in this essential new package.

READ more
Should Hideo Kojima Just Go Make a Movie, Already?

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima uses the language of cinema in ways that are only possible in a virtual game.

READ more

28 Jan 2016 // 2:20 AM

Wet: Don’t You

Wet. Wet? Wet! Rarely has a band been so aptly named.

READ more
Miranda Lee Richards: Echoes of the Dreamtime

Richards has created an album to ponder and savor, one that finds questions more interesting than answers and celebrates the journey of the spiritual seeker.

READ more

28 Jan 2016 // 2:10 AM

Ches Smith: The Bell

A versatile "jazz" drummer proves well beyond category in this essential, gorgeous trio with viola and piano.

READ more
‘The Dressmaker’s War’ Is a Tangled Mess of Threads

Mary Chamberlain's skilled seamstress finds herself in an impossibly snarled plot.

READ more
Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill (Collector’s Edition)

They only made 30,000 of these, and if you were a fan of the original, the atypical rerelease bells and whistles here are a must.

READ more

28 Jan 2016 // 2:00 AM

How Sia Kept Breathing and Became a Formalist

Although there are for Sia 1,000 forms of fear, if you will, there are only two formal conventions in her manual of pop songwriting.

READ more
Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 11 - “Strange Visitor From Another Planet”

Supergirl hits its stride in an episode about immigrants and aliens.

READ more
The X-Files: Season 10, Episodes 1 and 2 - “My Struggle” and “Founder’s Mutation”

Duchovny and Anderson have an undeniable chemistry, and the world of The X-Files, imperfect though it may sometimes be, is a welcome diversion from our real-world paranoias.

READ more
Sundance 2016: ‘Manchester by the Sea’ + ‘Certain Women’

Two exceptional films at this year’s Sundance Festival resist the typical character arc, and instead follow individuals who either have no interest in changing or are powerless to do so.

READ more

27 Jan 2016 // 8:30 AM

The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 4 - “CQB”

Excellent storytelling, intelligent world-building, and stunning visuals mark The Expanse’s continued improvement.

READ more
Is Eli Roth’s Quest for the Real in ‘The Green Inferno’ Successful?

Cannibal movies such as this question whether the protagonists are any better than those who are eating them.

READ more
Anthropology’s Storyteller-Shaman-Sorcerer Strikes Again With ‘The Corn Wolf’

Michael Taussig’s work both attracts and angers other anthropologists. It also re-enchants a discipline that is in desperate need of it.

READ more

27 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Suede: Night Thoughts

Night Thoughts has all the elements that make Suede one of the most important bands of the last 25 years.

READ more
More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Supernatural: Season 11, Episode 12 - "Don't You Forget About Me"

// Channel Surfing

"In another stand-alone episode, there's a lot of teen drama and some surprises, but not much potential.

READ the article