Opium Traces
More Recent Features
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert: Season 2, Episode 14 - “Bruce Springsteen”

Springsteen's interview with Colbert emphasizes the politics of space and reveals how we should truly judge his forthcoming memoir.

READ more
On Friedrich Nietzsche’s Early Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual Development

The Making of Friedrich Nietzsche is a carefully considered and well-paced biography that knows exactly how much it intends to say and doesn't aspire to take on any more than is necessary.

READ more
The Personal Accounts of The Beach Boys Make This Documentary Worthwhile

Classic Albums: Pet Sounds expands the mythos of one musician to an entire group, and in doing so, allows us to see the project in a different, equally compelling light.

READ more
Racializing Rock: The ‘60s and the White Sounds of ‘Pet Sounds’

Pet Sounds is not a racist text, but its impact was racist because it further encoded rock as a white genre, perpetuating the institutionalized prejudice that relegated African Americans to the margins of rock.

READ more

27 Sep 2016 // 2:30 AM

Opeth: Sorceress

This third entry in Opeth's newest phase doesn't quite match Pale Communion, but it's still a wonderfully multifaceted journey.

READ more
The Frightnrs: Nothing More to Say

As though phoned in from another era, the Frightnrs bring the Daptone aesthetic to rocksteady, in the process creating one of the best albums the genre has to offer.

READ more

27 Sep 2016 // 2:15 AM

Mr. Oizo: All Wet

Collaboration ends up as both vice and virtue on Mr. Oizo's sixth album, rendering one half of the album a lot of fun.

READ more
A Queer Alliance: Dame Margaret Rutherford and Dawn Langley Simmons

Rutherford, an actor famous for playing spinsters and quirky aunts. Simmons, an author infamous for changing sex and marrying outside her race.

READ more
Alien Ensemble: Alien Ensemble 2

A seven-piece band from Germany mistakes influence for style.

READ more
Various Artists: Abrazo: The Havana Sessions

An essential collection for any enthusiast of fine instrumental music or anyone who wants to peer further into the previously elusive Cuba through it.

READ more
‘Planetes’ Should Be Required Baggage on the First Mission to Mars

This space drama aboard a garbage collection ship makes for first-rate sci-fi.

READ more
‘Supernatural’ Season 11 Is a Battle Between Good and Lackluster

As the Winchesters fight an all-powerful yet boring villain, the show is redeemed by its stand-alone episodes.

READ more
La Notte della Taranta: Celebration and Solidarity

The "big concert" of Italy's biggest folk festival was almost canceled after a devastating earthquake. But the show went on -- as a benefit for relief and reconstruction.

READ more
‘Queen of Katwe’ Both Lapses Into and Transcends Formula

Queen of Katwe offers a way to see into another world, a way to expand your own understanding.

READ more
‘Fade To Gray’ Is an Insightful Study of Aging in American Cinema

Timothy Shary and Nancy McVittie’s rewarding, accessible study explores representations of aging and older characters in American film from early cinema to the present-day.

READ more
‘Goat’ Is a Terrifying Cautionary Tale of Bro Brutality

As gut-wrenching and savage as advertised, Goat is an imbalanced but powerful examination of the ugliest of all campus traditions.

READ more
To Seek Out New Star Trek Fans and Form New Star Trek Civilizations

As the most well-studied fandom, Star Trek fans have shaped the way that seminal concepts in fan studies have emerged.

READ more
Regina Spektor: Remember Us to Life

It is exciting to see what Regina Spektor can do when she conceives of an album as a holistic unit, rather than a collection of idiosyncratic parts.

READ more
Mourning in America: Remembering ‘Twin Peaks’

Frustrating expectations was part of Twin Peaks modus operandi.

READ more

26 Sep 2016 // 2:20 AM

Negură Bunget: ZI

Negură Bunget returns with the second installment of its Transylvanian Trilogy.

READ more
Doyle Bramhall II: Rich Man

Bramhall does plenty of good things, but ultimately Rich Man lands as a solid but slightly frustrating release.

READ more
August Wells: Madness Is the Mercy

If you have a soft spot for subtly baroque songs with a deep well of empathy and passion, this is for you.

READ more
Neil Gaiman Takes on a Different Perspective

Readers of Gaiman's blog or Twitter feed know his schedule is always full of interesting projects. Here's proof that he's just as busy, and interesting, on the nonfiction side.

READ more

26 Sep 2016 // 2:05 AM

Jim Snidero: MD66

A veteran alto saxophonist looks back 50 years at the revolutionary approach of the Second Great Miles Davis Quintet.

READ more
Beware of Darkness: Are You Real?

The second album from Beware of Darkness is as much a pump-up playlist as it is a follow-up to their 2013 debut.

READ more
Saddle Up for a Bloody Good Ride With ‘The Magnificent Seven’

Antoine Fugua’s re-imagining of the Western classic is a glorious orgy of machismo and mayhem.

READ more
Smokin’ Gov’t Mule Tour Rocks Sonoma

Warren Haynes dives in on the hot groove, tearing it up while keyboardist Danny Louis brightens the sonic landscape with some great organ work.

READ more
Bloody Revenge Never Looked This Good: ‘The Dressmaker’ Sways and Slays

Kate Winslet paints the town red in this scrambled but wildly entertaining outback folktale.

READ more
Fear the Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 12 - “Pillar of Salt”

Information about what happened to Ofelia is revealed; Strand is stabbed unexpectedly; and Madison learns she may be closer to Nick than she realized.

READ more
Wandering Still: An Interview With the Album Leaf

It's been six long years since Jimmy LaValle's last full-length as the Album Leaf, but as Between Waves proves, the wait was worth it.

READ more
Soccer96: As Above So Below

Soccer96 are excellent at their individual instruments, and this set proves they can link up to make some excellent music, too.

READ more

23 Sep 2016 // 8:27 AM

El Perro Del Mar: KoKoro

Sarah Assbring injects her trademark Brill Building aesthetic with a traditional Eastern flair on KoKoro, arriving at a sound that is both startlingly unique and warmly familiar

READ more

23 Sep 2016 // 8:24 AM

Touché Amoré: Stage Four

Touché Amoré's fourth album is its most confessional to date, and arguably its most powerful.

READ more
Randy Newman: The Randy Newman Songbook

Randy Newman is a national treasure, and this lavish vinyl box set is a fitting showcase for his many musical and lyrical gifts.

READ more
Film Forum Marx Brothers Festival: Unassuaged Desire

The Marx Brothers are polymorphously perverse: they find pleasure everywhere.

READ more
Less Story, More Play: All Aboard for Planet Marlys!

Legendary cartoonist Lynda Barry's most iconic character takes center stage in this large-format hardback.

READ more
Infighting With Underdogs in ‘Civil War II: X-men #4’

The X-men battle each other, but leave a minimal impact.

READ more
Stranger Things: Season 1, Episode 5 - “The Flea and the Acrobat”

Stranger Things pivots toward its eventual conclusion, as each character responds to the "primal frequency" undergirding the narrative action.

READ more
Diane Arbus: “Happiness Perplexed Her”

Arthur Lubow is a meticulous researcher whose writing on Diane Arbus never devolves into the prurient or pedantic.

READ more
Lucy Dacus’ Rising Star Shines Bright

The singer-songwriter's debut record No Burden is getting a second wind on Matador Records, having figured out the recording/performing process from scratch.

READ more

22 Sep 2016 // 7:49 AM

Oddarrang: Agartha

The ingenious Finnish quintet find the overlap between post rock, prog, ambient and jazz.

READ more
The Warlocks: Songs from the Pale Eclipse

Songs from the Pale Eclipse will surprise few fans of neo-psychedelia, but it can stand in until the next bold psych release.

READ more
Jóhann Jóhannsson: Orphée

Orphée is the first album by Jóhann Jóhannsson not associated with a film since 2009’s Fordlandia, and from the opening track, it shows itself as a work to be heard on its own terms.

READ more

22 Sep 2016 // 7:21 AM

Forma: Physicalist

Brooklyn's instrumental trio are back in rare form with a new label, a new band member, and an expanded sonic palette.

READ more

22 Sep 2016 // 7:03 AM

How to Dress Well: Care

How to Dress Well's first album since 2012's Total Loss emerges as a sign of optimism in our all-too turbulent times.

READ more
Two ‘Women in Love’ Prove to Be a Force to Be Reckoned With

In spite of its somewhat obnoxious characters and episodic narrative structure, Women in Love works incredibly well.

READ more
Make It Quick: The Art of the One-liner

Some may dismiss the one-liner as an easy gag, but a good one requires real skill. Luckily, there are comedians out there who have mastered the art.

READ more
On Very Visceral Mysteries: ‘The Woman in Cabin 10’

Much of what happens to the protagonists here and in the comparable The Girl on the Train evades their control.

READ more
The Persistence of Vision: The Radical Liberalism of ‘Star Trek’

Star Trek speaks across cultures, emphasising tolerance, equality, freedom and fraternity; in doing so, it has never been more necessary.

READ more
More Sound and Fury Than Clarity in ‘Against Ambience’

While Kim-Cohen's writing can be cynical and unforgiving and uncompromising. If he's right, none of that matters.

READ more
Making a Sene: The Rise of Brian Marc

Brian Marc, AKA Sene, manages a minimal but heavy discipline of turntablist groove; his dream-washed music appropriates the rhythms of a casual stroll through city streets.

READ more
Wilder in the Heart: An Interview With Butch Walker

He's a Top 40 pop producer by day, '80s rock solo kingpin by night. Butch Walker's back with charm (and stories) to spare.

READ more
The Past and Future of ‘Sin City’ ‘Deadpool’, ‘Alien’, ‘Predator’ and ‘Halloween’

Flops, superheroes, monsters and noir in The Next Reel.

READ more
Beach Slang: A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

These teenage feelings boldly claim their space and assert their relevance, as vital now as ever.

READ more
Clipping.: Splendor & Misery

If any group were to succeed in making a rap opera in outer space, it would be Clipping.

READ more

21 Sep 2016 // 2:15 AM

God Damn: Everything Ever

God Damn return with their sophomore album, Everything Ever, a roaring and visceral record that suggests the band has a broadening vision and growing ambitions.

READ more
Alex Cameron: Jumping the Shark

Alex Cameron’s album, Jumping the Shark, is unnerving. Basically, you’re stuck in a David Lynch fever dream.

READ more
Race Mixing in ‘Absalom’s Daughters’

This is not an attempt to rewrite Faulkner as much as it's a cogent effort at bringing women and people of color to the forefront of a Faulkner-inspired work.

READ more

21 Sep 2016 // 2:05 AM

Vulture Whale: Aluminium

Better than steroids were for baseball and OJ was for Ford Broncos, beautifully exotic yet weaving the basket between perfect indie pop and obtuse punk funk.

READ more
Too Real for Reality Dating: ‘Coupled’ - Season 1

Crystal blue waters, colorful drinks, and attractive bodies abound, but Coupled also delivers content that goes beyond the stock characters, conventions, and situations of other dating shows.

READ more
‘Tastes Like Chicken’ Will Have You Wanting Seconds

All the great information in Emelyn Rude's Tastes Like Chicken is distractingly indulgent and at times appears to lack direction.

READ more
Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words

A portrait of a woman who succeeded in the film industry despite playing by her own rules.

READ more
Cymbals Eat Guitars: Pretty Years

With Pretty Years , Cymbals Eat Guitars have delivered their richest and most accessible music yet.

READ more
‘Inside’ the Lie of Ambiguity

Inside is too literal to be expressionistic, but too vague to be a narrative. It's so ambiguous that it fails to be anything.

READ more
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry: Shine a Light: Field Recordings From the Great American Railroad

Bragg and Henry’s latest is a resounding statement on the foundation of one of the greatest achievements of American backbone.

READ more
Graveola: Camaleão Borboleta

With a new experiment every track, Graveola's latest charts a psychedelic journey through Brazil.

READ more
‘High Dive’ Balances the Momentous Event With the Human Experience

Despite the story's smoldering core about the 1984 Brighton Hotel Bombing, Lee concerns himself mostly with the periphery.

READ more

20 Sep 2016 // 2:10 AM

Sex Stains: Sex Stains

The first song on Sex Stains is so effective that the rest of the album has a hard time matching its combination of catchy and harrowing.

READ more
Legacy and Oblivion: 25 Years of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’

Nevermind, while containing most of the hits for which Nirvana is celebrated is, of the four primary releases, the least emotionally and aesthetically complex.

READ more
The Power of the Mythic Medusa in Deborah Levy’s ‘Hot Milk’

An intelligent exploration of myth, memory, and the monstrous in the feminine.

READ more
The Ontology of the Story in ‘The Immortal Story’

A story is told, not lived. It's experienced as a sort of opiate, a momentary deferral of lived experience.

READ more
Abandoned: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Ghost Mall”

McCrank's a likable host, but the first episode focused too much on him and not enough on the episode's subject.

READ more
‘Red’ Is at Once Surprising and Soothing

The story of early red dyes reveals everything about agriculture,the development of international trade, and fashion and class distinctions.

READ more
All a Put-On, Man: Six Weird Things About ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’

This story's milieu is a special mythical corner of The Establishment, and yet it's weird as hell.

READ more
How Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor Found His Inner Adele

Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor goes solo and goes stark, with a sparse, voice-and-piano album that is unlike anything he's ever done.

READ more

19 Sep 2016 // 2:30 AM

Warpaint: Heads Up

Warpaint may have crafted their best album yet, one that adroitly harnesses and alchemizes genres, moods, and sounds to suit their many purposes.

READ more
Robert Glasper Experiment: ArtScience

When we last left the Robert Glasper Experiment, it stood knee-deep in star power with the Black Radio series, featuring everyone from Erykah Badu to

READ more
James Vincent McMorrow: We Move

While 2014's Post Tropical showcased McMorrow's fondness for hip-hop's rhythms and R&B's sensual spaciousness, We Move marks a definitive step toward full-fledged pop.

READ more

19 Sep 2016 // 2:10 AM

Michael Rank: Red Hand

Porter and Dolly. Johnny and June. Gram and Emmylou. Michael Rank and Heather McIntire. This is not an overstatement.

READ more
NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories by NOFX with Jeff Alulis

Offensive and obscene in all the best ways, The Hepatitis Bathtub is a wild and crazy ride through punk, addiction, kinky sex and noise.

READ more
To Explore Strange New Worlds: ‘Star Trek’ and Its Pornographic Parodies

Pornographic productions created with mindful attention to the source material and fandom may well be considered as transformative works of fan art.

READ more
‘Snowden’, Screens and Secrets

Cameras and media can increase transparency or magnify performances, security might be a function of privacy or the opposite of freedom.

READ more
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes: It Is What It Is

In blues, the music speaks for itself -- and this is good blues music.

READ more
‘Motown: The Sound of Young America’ Over-promises and Under-delivers

A Motown book that largely recounts the career of its head salesperson can’t really be seen as a definitive history of an enterprise that changed music, culture and commerce in America.

READ more
The Dreadful ‘Blair Witch’ Casts a Boring Spell

This unnecessary sequel lacks the novelty and ingenuity of its predecessor.

READ more
Fear the Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 11 - “Pablo and Jessica”

Madison and Alicia hatch a plan to clear the hotel of walkers, and impress their rival faction at the same time; meanwhile, Nick and Luciana draw closer.

READ more

16 Sep 2016 // 2:30 AM

Mndsgn: Body Wash

Mndsgn takes us a on a mind-bending, psychedelic soul and funk trip through the stars.

READ more
The Devil Makes Three: Redemption & Ruin

A collection of lived in and loved covers made undeniably their own. The Devil Makes Three wrestle hellfire and holiness each to a draw.

READ more
Daniel Lanois: Goodbye to Language

Veteran producer Daniel Lanois frees his music completely on the appropriately-named Goodbye to Language.

READ more

16 Sep 2016 // 2:14 AM

Everyone’s a Polymath on the Internet

The concept of polymath has become a pop culture meme. But what is a polymath, really?

READ more
Looking for ‘The Stranger’: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic

Camus's classic has finally earned its very own biography.

READ more
7urn.up.th3.t3n5i0n: An Interview with ‘Mr. Robot’ Composer Mac Quayle

"I think if you compare the volume of the music on Mr. Robot with some other shows it is just way louder, which is kind of a composers dream."

READ more
Twists, Turns, and Burns in ‘Superwoman #2’

Lois Lane's loss is not Lana Lang's gain.

READ more

15 Sep 2016 // 9:32 AM

See Gulls: Curtain Call

See Gulls offer up another impressively expansive EP with Curtain Call, one that stretches out both its sound and its emotional impact.

READ more
Jerry Lewis Shines, but the Bloom Is Off ‘Max Rose’

Jerry Lewis slips easily into this curmudgeonly role; he understands bitter sarcasm and stifling silence like he understands a good pratfall.

READ more
‘In Search of Lost Films’ Leaves One Imagining the Possibilities

Film critic Phil Hall searches out the stories behind the deletion of films that could be as important as those that were saved.

READ more
A Chicago Soul in Transit: An Interview with Ryley Walker

On Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, folk-jazz sound-poet Ryley Walker makes a strong case for singer-songwriter status, distancing himself from the "fingerstyle guitarist" moniker that has followed him around for some time.

READ more
A Sensitive Cinematic Look at the Life of a Working Class English Girl

Shelagh Delaney was a rare female voice among the “angry young men” of '50s and '60s British literature, and wrote the play based on her own experiences growing up in Salford.

READ more
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree

Much of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' 16th album was created before tragedy struck Nick Cave's family, but that loss permeates through every track.

READ more
Domestic Infelicity: ‘Way Out’ Is Lost and Found on YouTube

Roald Dahl's short-lived anthology feels like a merging of Rod Serling's horror and sci-fi with Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with unhappy marriages.

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

20 Questions: Rachael Yamagata

// Sound Affects

"After a four year break since her last album, Rachael Yamagata reveals a love of spreadsheets, a love for Streisand, and why it's totally OK to suck at playing guitar.

READ the article