Opium Traces
More Recent Features
Even IMAX Can’t Make Marvel’s ‘Inhumans’ Impressive

ABC/Disney’s IMAX debut of its newest series does nothing but emphasize the series' considerable flaws.

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Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ Signaled That Comic Book Films Had Become a Pillar of Blockbuster Cinema

A faithful adaptation of Marvel's flagship character was inescapable in the spring of 2002.

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Amadou & Mariam: La Confusion

A euphoric swirl of nostalgic synths and warm Afropop, La Confusion is a breath of fresh air from the ever-masterful duo of Amadou & Mariam.

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The Clientete: Music for the Age of Miracles

England's favorite pop dreamers awake from a seven-year slumber, giving us more of what made us like them so much in the first place.

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Mount Kimbie: Love What Survives

Mount Kimbie returns with Love What Survives, introducing post-punk elements to its electronic core, and in the process producing its finest record to date.

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Hype Williams: Rainbow Edition

To listen to Rainbow Edition is to constantly be waiting for the next thing.

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Are You Experiencing Any Difficulties?: An Interview with Graham Reynolds

Celebrating the release of Richard Linklater's landmark sci-fi film A Scanner Darkly, composer Graham Reynolds guides us through the soundtrack's casually thrilling creation.

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‘Mr. Robot and Philosophy’ Tries to Grasp an Elusive Subject

How do you dive into philosophy with a show that so deeply relies on style? For many of the essays contained within Mr. Robot and Philosophy, the answer is to ape that style.

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The Characters in ‘Every Kind of Wanting’ Are Caught in a Messy Web

How three unique families and assorted loved ones deal with modern love, desire, and family.

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The Slits: Return of the Giant Slits

The post-punk pioneers' second album gets a reissue/remaster, but its anarchy and tumult still sounds one step too beyond (just as it did in 1981).

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Paul Weller’s Impossible Idea

One of UK's most revolutionary rock figures isn't showing any signs of slowing down. His insatiable thirst for the new leads to the creation of A Kind Revolution. Weller talks with PopMatters about his new music and career.

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Gary Numan: Savage (Songs From a Broken World)

In the age of climate science denial, synth legend Gary Numan offers up a bleak dystopian landscape as a cautionary tale.

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The Western and Melancholy: On Arturo Ripstein’s ‘Time to Die’

Time to Die suggests that love and values are the existential gambits of the melancholic attempt to reconcile oneself with the irreconcilable indifference of the world.

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Wolves in the Throne Room: Thrice Woven

Wolves in the Throne Room return in blazing fashion with Thrice Woven, a work that defines the very substance of the black metal band.

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Eilen Jewell: Down Hearted Blues

Jewell and company offer pristine versions of wonderful blues tunes from America’s past.

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‘Eye Chart’ Is About Much More Than Just Identifying Objects Near and Far

The "Object Lessons" series continues with this brief but rich exploration into why we see, when we see, how clearly we see, and what we understand about the things we see.

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‘Gotham’ Season Three’s Unique Take on Batman’s Origin Continues to Ramp Up the Crazy

Gotham relies on its fast pace and embrace of the insane to work as the diverse and bizarre show it wants to be, but occasionally the show is too surreal for its own good.

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‘The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature’ Opens Doors Hitherto Closed to Us

Yunte Huang grapples with some monumental subject matter, and the results are spellbinding.

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Jack Kirby’s Influence Is Felt on Nearly Every Page of ‘Marvel Year By Year’

All of the important in-continuity events are here: the death of Gwen Stacy, the Kree-Skull War, the death of Jean Grey, Civil War.

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‘Band Aid’ Serves as a Plaster for What Ails the Jaded Movie Lover

This winning indie comedy-drama splits those two genres as neatly as an atom but gets the most energy out of the comedy side.

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18 Sep 2017 // 2:30 AM

Boombox = Life

Woofers on blast up the jam block rock: A fragmentary history of ghettoblasting.

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Foo Fighters: Concrete and Gold

Veteran rockers Foo Fighters join forces with pop producer Greg Kurstin, and the unexpected result is the finest album of their long recording career.

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Luna: A Sentimental Education / A Place of Greater Safety

True to his predilections, Dean Wareham moves the band and song, in covers and instrumentals, and usually away from too much volume.

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Chris Hillman: Bidin’ My Time

The former Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers member revisits classic musical pathways on the sturdy Americana release Bidin’ My Time, his first effort in more than ten years.

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F.J. McMahon: Spirit of the Golden Juice

Available once more, F.J. McMahon’s stark and sobering assessment of the decline of ‘60s idealism and impending introspective ‘70s is the rarest of rarities: a true lost masterpiece.

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Never Settle, Never Rest on Your Laurels: Activist Catherine Hernandez on Her Book, ‘Scarborough’

Theatre practitioner Catherine Hernandez reveals the complexity of representation and responsibility in writing fiction.

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‘The Violins of Saint-Jacques’ Is a Lush Portrait of a Lost World

This only novel from Patrick Leigh Fermor, a master of travel writing, is a culturally astute depiction of a Caribbean island's lavish, last Mardi Gras.

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‘mother!’ Is Poignant and Powerful, and Not At All Pleasant

This is a grotesque, two-horned beast of a marital drama, a nightmarish vision of emotional abandonment and psychological abuse, all for the sake of art.

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The Trials, Battles, and Victories of a Pussy Rioter

Maria Alyokhina, one of the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, relates her saga of protest, imprisonment, and advocation for human rights in Riot Days.

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Aronofsky’s ‘mother!’ of All Head Trips

Bold, pretentious, and divisive, Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller is an exhilarating (and exhausting) cinematic experience.

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We Good: An Interview with The JuJu Exchange

Dropping his stage name of Donnie Trumpet, Nico Segal is moving from being one of Chance the Rapper's chief artistic collaborators to exploring the way we communicate through jazz.

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Back to Blue Bayou: An Interview With Linda Ronstadt

In her exclusive interview with PopMatters, Linda Ronstadt revisits Simple Dreams just in time for Rhino's 40th anniversary edition of her classic number one album.

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Hundred Waters: Communicating

Hundred Waters' third album has many appealing parts, but a core that feels unstable or even nonexistent.

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Nothing But Thieves: Broken Machine

On Broken Machine, Nothing But Thieves have crafted a hook filled modern rock album that matches the ambition and intensity of any guitar band around today.

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Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton: Choir of the Mind

Emily Haines’ sophomore effort is a bold, if somewhat depressing, feminist statement.

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The Waterboys: Out of All This Blue

Yeats? Dylan? Cohen? Kanye? The Waterboys embrace hip-hop and things get... interesting

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Walter White, Heisenberg, and Time Out of Mind: The Legacy of ‘Breaking Bad’

An examination of how AMC's Breaking Bad played with the conventions of time, character, and attitude.

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Titles, Legacies, and Basics in ‘Generations: Captain Marvel & Captain Mar-Vell #1’

Carol Danvers gets back to basics on what it means to be Captain Marvel.

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‘How I Became a North Korean’ Is Not Just About Borders and Identity

Author Krys Lee's novel about three characters escaping North Korea resonates with pain, longing, and possibilities.

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14 Sep 2017 // 10:00 AM

TIFF 2017: mother!

While Aronofsky’s artistry is at an all-time-low, it's his misogyny that makes this film abhorrent.

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Good, Bad Place: Season One of ‘The Good Place’ Upended Expectations

Michael Schur's sinister community design used the ideals of the American Dream to fool its characters and its audience; what sort of critique will be built into season two?

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Sci-Fi Author Ursula LeGuin’s Stories of Class War, Religious Dissension, Identity Politics and More

No matter what ignites the dynamic fusion of thought and action in her Hainish fictions, Le Guin generates provocative and intelligent considerations of complex forces.

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Such an Internal World: Matthew Sweet Discusses Kickstarter and Collaborations

Power pop icon Matthew Sweet's latest album, Tomorrow Forever involved some hard labor -- but he'd probably say that, like all his projects, it brought some powerful lessons.

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The New Jazz of the 21st Century: A Case Study in Kate Gentile and ‘Mannequins’

Drummer and composer Kate Gentile's debut recording is making a New Jazz splash. PopMatters interviews her to get behind this new direction in improvised music.

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14 Sep 2017 // 2:30 AM

Mike Gordon: OGOGO

The Phish bassist unleashes another solo album and, to no one's surprise, it's an odd, idiosyncratic slice of catchy rock and funk.

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14 Sep 2017 // 2:20 AM

Big ‡ Brave: Ardor

The Montreal-based experimental rock outfit Big ‡ Brave presents the next chapter of its sonic evolution, further diving into a realm of abstract compositions and free form drone rock.

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Various Artists: Sweet As Broken Dates - Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa

Sweet As Broken Dates showcases a golden age of pre-civil war Somali pop music -- and it's a new kind of groovy.

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The Electric Grandmother: Cancelled

The Washington, D.C.-based sitcom-core outfit throw their fans a stimulating if somewhat troubling curveball with Cancelled.

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Lose Yourself: Dir. Benjamin Barfoot and Writer Danny Morgan on Comedy-Horror Flick, ‘Double Date’

"...[My] theory is people do their best stuff when they lose themselves. So I hold on really tight and then let go because that’s when an interesting chemistry starts to happen."

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It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature: ‘Against the Anthropocene’

Scientists have been arguing for a new period in Earth's geological history, the Anthropocene. Cultural critic T.J. Demos offers a critical take on the concept, pro and con.

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Garbage Biography Captures One of the Best Science Experiments of the Alt-rock Era

This beautiful combination of coffee table/art book and band biography is as much a hodgepodge of styles as the band Garbage itself, among the best cut-and-paste experiments of '90s alt-rock.

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LCD Soundsystem’s ‘American Dream’ Live: James Murphy Assures You It Is OK Not to Be There

A decade and a half on, James Murphy hasn’t lost his edge one bit, just like the greats never do. However, not only is he more mature and less concerned with all of us -- he is also successful in his own eyes, on his own terms

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‘All Eyez On Me’ Suffers From Near-sighted Hero-worship

This long-awaited biopic focuses too much on the minutiae and too little on Tupac Shakur's riveting life.

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13 Sep 2017 // 8:29 AM

Wild Cub: Closer

On Closer, Wild Cub emphasize their ear candy qualities on a collection of emotional arena anthems, but get caught following many of the clichés of modern indie rock.

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Expect the Unexpected: A Conversation with Sparks

For nearly half a century (and a new album to boot), the Mael brothers Ron and Russell have been confounding listeners' expectations with their ever-changing, stylistically broad brand of artfully rendered pop.

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13 Sep 2017 // 2:30 AM

Alvvays: Antisocialites

Antisocialites is chock full of sly, honest assessments of the misery -- or, at best, the ambivalence -- inherent in so much of dating, especially when toxic masculinity enters the frame.

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Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan

Trio Da Kali and the Kronos Quartet are musical soulmates on collaborative album Ladilikan.

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‘Soul Survivor’: On Al Green, Coming to Terms With His Powers

This book is a compelling and exhaustively detailed account of a man at peace with his life, a man who may... be pleased with a final exit that sees him keeling over dead in mid-sermon.

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‘Caca Dolce’, or, Self-indulgent Solipsism for the Facebook Generation

A collection of 18 personal essays charting the writer's sexual, delinquent, family, and substance abuse journeys.

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TIFF 2017: ‘Faces Places’ (Visages Villages)

Agnès Varda's usual cinematic beauty and charm come through, with her subjective experience creating a wonderfully delightful film about art.

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‘I’m Not Here’ Is One of the Richest and Gently Disturbing Graphic Novels I’ve Read in Years

We travel with the protagonist, suffering the same confusions that define her life.

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‘The Gang’s All Queer’ Challenges Simplistic Assumptions About Gang Members

Vanessa Panfil seeks to complicate the popular narratives surrounding gang members and the hypermasculine, hyper-heterosexual lives they lead.

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Twang to Trombones: Top 20 Picks for AmericanaFest 2017

When Wynonna and Lee Ann Womack drag queen impersonators are NOT the highlight of the night, you know you need to be at these shows. AmericanaFest has something for every music fan.

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On Passing Gas and the Time in Yasujiro Ozu’s ‘Good Morning’

Ozu’s Good Morning demonstrates that platitudes such as “hello” and “good morning” are not merely pleasantries, they are acts of reconnaissance.

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The Next Hot Music Scene Can Be Found at Twin Peaks’ Bang Bang Bar

One of the most heartening and compelling aspects of David Lynch's approach to this new season of Twin Peaks is his widened musical palette.

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Queens of the Stone Age: Villains

More energetic than 2013's ...Like Clockwork, Villains finds QOTSA teaming up with super-producer Mark Ronson to emphasize their grooves as much as their riffs.

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12 Sep 2017 // 2:20 AM

Lunice: CCCLX

CCCLX is an album that works best when experienced front-to-back, as the simply-built tracks effectively build upon one another toward a common end.

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12 Sep 2017 // 2:15 AM

Lizz Wright: Grace

There is a Southern elegance to the music. One can almost touch the Spanish moss. The songs are frequently languid and sensual.

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Andrew W.K. Breaks Out of His Shell

Andrew W.K. talks about making life choices, his "life-force", the yearning to connect with fellow humans, the church, and some of the early rock gods.

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‘The Bold Type’ Blends Political/Social Issues With Good Female-Centered Action

The Bold Type still needs work, but watching women portrayed as smart and competent and funny and flawed is undeniably refreshing.

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TIFF 2017: Le Redoutable

Blinded by love for Godard, Le Redoutable is an uncritically sexist bore.

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‘Stephen Colbert’s Midnight Confessions’ Runs Hot in the Show, Cold in the Book

Reading Colbert's Midnight Confessions cover to cover is a little like watching Peter Pan’s shadow run around the room -- you can't nail it down.

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O Brother, How Art Thou? Grayson Perry’s ‘The Descent of Man’

The Descent of Man is a spider's web of a book: fine, delicate and strong, catching and highlighting the trappings of modern masculinity without force.

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Bresson and Ray on Money and Its Corruptions in ‘They Live by Night’ and ‘L’argent’

Nicholas Ray's debut and Robert Bresson's farewell to cinema may be split by decades and operate in different genres, but they come together in examining the fatalistic implications of money changing hands.

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The Brill Building, Broadway, and Beyond: R&B and Soul Singer-songwriter Joshie Armstead

Original Ikette and Northern Soul legend Joshie Armstead retraces her journey from Mississippi juke joints to revered music royalty.

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Midnight Sister: Saturn Over Sunset

Though thoroughly steeped in the ‘60s and ‘70s music that influences them, Midnight Sister’s sound is indeed now -- a timeless effort for the duo’s first time together.

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CYMBALS: Light in Your Mind

On their third album, the artsy UK synthpop outfit CYMBALS have matured, but have they gotten better?

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11 Sep 2017 // 2:15 AM

Neurosis: The Word As Law

Out of print since the 1990s, The Word As Law show the evolution of Neurosis from straightforward hardcore to a more thoughtful, but nonetheless aggressive, outfit.

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Lal and Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus

Once considered too weird for the folkies, this long-out-of-print 1972 album featuring Ashley Hutchings, Martin Carthy, and Richard Thompson in addition to Waterson siblings is a long-lost masterpiece.

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You Must Do What You Love to Survive: ‘Rock in a Hard Place: Music and Mayhem in the Middle East’

Rock in a Hard Place is a sober chronicling of music in some of the most conservative countries on the planet.

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The Realpolitik of Wildlife Conservation is Explored in Documentary, ‘Trophy’

Trophy pits emotionally unsettling images against a sophisticated blend of practical justifications which compel a more mature outlook on the correlation between big game hunting and wildlife conservationism.

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‘The Teacher’ Shows That Communism’s Impact Still Resonates

Director Jan Hrebejk uses a Bratislavan high school to explore abuse of power and the effects of group complacency endemic to the time.

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A Bullied Nature Nerd Falls Victim to His Own Deep-rooted Revenge in ‘Outburst’

Coudyzer's visual narration suggests that even though many children can be inhuman in their cruelty, even the worst eventually grow into human beings.

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8 Sep 2017 // 8:30 AM

The Flipside #6: Spectre

Spectre attempts to unify classic Bond camp with the grittiness of the Daniel Craig 007 films. Can anything be salvaged from the resulting mess?

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Tori Amos Finally Lets Her ‘80s Flag Unfurl and Reissues “Y Kant Tori Read” After Three Decades

As she prepares the high-profile release of her new studio album Native Invader, Tori Amos sneaks out her almost forgotten '80s debut that has been officially unavailable for three decades: Y Kant Tori Read.

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‘Television Antiheroines’: Wherein Women Stake Their Claim to Darkness and Desperation

An examination of the changing political/ sexual/ power roles of women in international television crime and prison drama, from The Sopranos through Orange is the New Black.

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The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here?

Nearly 30 years on, the Dream Syndicate sound even more revelatory and energized than when last heard from them.

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8 Sep 2017 // 2:20 AM

ODESZA: A Moment Apart

ODESZA demonstrate their natural ability to write tight, late summer floor fillers on mixed third album.

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8 Sep 2017 // 2:15 AM

Living Colour: Shade

Funky hard rock veterans still own the block and knock socks off.

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8 Sep 2017 // 2:10 AM

Adam Rogers: DICE

Jazz guitarist Adam Rogers makes a record drenched in rock and funk but not without complexity and melodic invention. Strong brew.

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The Pleasure Is in the Hunt: Tomas Leach, Director of Documentary ‘The Lure’

"There’s a beauty... about the fact that we can wholeheartedly throw our selves into something, even if we think the end thing might be impossible, futile or non-existent."

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Just Flying Through: ‘Generations: Iron Man and Ironheart #1’

A chance for Riri (Ironheart) Williams to expand her appeal fails to take off.

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Stephen King Adaptation ‘It’ Hurts

Director Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror classic is a hodgepodge of tones and genres that begs the question, “Who is the audience for this movie?”

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No Spoons are Bent in ‘Spoonbenders’ But the Laughs Make Up for It

Daryl Gregory's wry tale of psychics deftly intermixes a family saga, a mob thriller, and high-concept storytelling.

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Bond on Valium? This Game of ‘Hopscotch’ Is a Low-key but Entertaining Affair

A slow first act can't keep Walter Matthau from soaring as an opera-loving agent with no more license to kill.

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Zen Champ: An Interview with Iglooghost

Defying the very limits of genre (as to be expected when signed to Flying Lotus' label), Iglooghost's eclecticism is primed for a breakthrough.

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Tori Amos: Native Invader

On her 15th studio album, Tori Amos dispenses wisdom and evokes complex, unspeakable emotions with inimitable skill.

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Mogwai: Every Country’s Sun

Every Country’s Sun certainly has some very lovely, dense, and poignant moments borne out of creative and unpredictable arrangements, yet the majority of it fails to leave any impression.

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Paul Simon and the Flipside of “Feelin Groovy”

This is why Paul Simon's songs of darkness, bridges, and boxers still matter in these troubling times.

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Patti Smith Is Some Messed Up Kind of Saint

Perhaps what Smith's Devotion teaches us most easily is the virtue of hubris.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

TIFF 2017: 'The Shape of Water'

// Notes from the Road

"The Shape of Water comes off as uninformed political correctness, which is more detrimental to its cause than it is progressive.

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