CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

Opium Traces

Monday, January 19 2015

This Dream of You: Selma. Selma, Alabama

How writers Civil Rights Movement Icon Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell's March: Book One push us to one, inescapable conclusion -- everybody needs to go to Selma. Now, more than ever.


The Chemistry Between Kevin Hart and Josh Gad Barely Keeps ‘The Wedding Ringer’ Afloat

The two lead actors of The Wedding Ringer make the film tolerable, saving it from the so-so work of the man behind the camera.


Recovery and Renewal: Showa’s Magnificent Epic History of Japan Continues to Deliver

The third and latest edition of Shigeru Mizuki’s acclaimed history of Japan chronicles the pivotal period of 1944-1953, in which a shattered Japan began its rebirth into the form we know today.


The ‘Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection’ Captures a Critical Period in the Director’s Career

Universal Pictures, distributors of the eight-film Steven Spielberg Collection on Blu-ray, is uniquely positioned to offer a long view of Spielberg's career.


The 2015 Grammys Get Jazz Mostly Wrong, a Little Right

Grammy nominations in jazz are rarely adventurous and usually confusing. Yet this year's slate is intriguing.


The Lesbian Sex Joke: Did You Get It?

Lesbians are willing to answer some of your questions, but their patience is wearing thin and it’s more enjoyable to mock the “ignorant shit” than to get angry about it.


Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Contrary to their twee reputation, Belle and Sebastian prove they don't shy away from taking risks with a techno-pop heavy new album.


On Chasing an Enemy That’s Too Small to See

Confronting Contagion tries to capture the 3,000-year history behind a modern scientific breakthrough: the discovery that tiny organisms invade our bodies and make us sick.


The Saints: King of the Sun / King of the Midnight Sun

King of the Sun and King of the Midnight Sun are both fine records, but not quite the Saints at their finest.


Various Artists: All Your Friend’s Friends

Putting the lie to the idea that all underground rap is good (or about something).


Spandau Ballet: The Story: The Very Best Of

The Story is a strong collection from a classic British '80s pop band. New subscribers could sign up here, but anyone with a passing acquaintance will find nothing new.


Kayo Dot: Coffins on Io

The avant-metal band's latest album: traveling in one big loop.


Friday, January 16 2015

Roger Ebert and Steve James Define and Transcend the Documentary Form in ‘Life Itself’

The insights of the late, great Roger Ebert shed light on how documentaries fit in the film world, as well as the myopic processes of Oscar voting.


‘Paddington’ Is a Practically Perfect Family Film

With one paw in the cinematic strategies of the past and the other in pure post-modern magic, Paddington is no run-of-the-mill kid's flick.


In ‘Blackhat’, Michael Mann Has Made an Impressionistic Action Movie

In this global thriller about digital terrorism, the visuals do not shape the story but rather are the story.


‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ Is a Bloody Good Gangster Epic

Gangs of Wasseypur is tumultuous, five hour gangster saga, stuffed with humor as bleak as the story is bloody.


It’s Not Easy Seeking Green: My Muppet Show

My Muppet Show is the Orpheus myth. You just have to swap out Orpheus for me; Eurydice for a frog; a lyre for a cartoon banjo; and Hades for the iTunes store.


Donald Hall’s ‘Essays After Eighty’ Is an Unsparing Look at Extreme Old Age

To presume to review works of this level is farcical; we can only be overjoyed by their continued existence.


Ideas Become Geographies: An Interview with Miss Lasko-Gross

It’s never about confidence, it’s about doubt, Lasko-Gross, the transgressively intelligent creator of Henni, reminds me.


The First Amendment Bubble: How Privacy and Paparazzi Threaten a Free Press

What legal and ethical restrictions exist, and should exist, in today’s privacy-interested yet over-exposure society?


The Extended Director’s Cut of ‘Nymph()maniac’ Is the Must See Version

The fully realized five hour version of Lars Von Trier's Nymph()maniac feels as worthy of revisits as your copy of Crime and Punishment or Ulysses.


The Decemberists: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

Although this isn’t the Decemberists’ best album, it’s a breathtaking effort that maintains everything that makes them so one-of-a-kind and vital.


Big Star: Live in Memphis

Live in Memphis is ultimately unassuming but effective, an honest account of Big Star's mid-'90s chapter and a reminder of the group's considerable talent and charms.


Eminem and Various Artists: SHADYXV

Shady Records compilation celebrating 15 years of the label; one disc of new material plus one "greatest hits" CD.


Trip Lee: Rise

With prudent messaging, excellent delivery, and slick production, there are plenty of reasons to smile while listening to Rise.


Thursday, January 15 2015

The Unending Saga of Internet Cops, Robbers, and the Rest of Us

Creative chaos may be the mother of Internet invention. But inventiveness is a threat to the Powers-that-be. Is crime-fighting just another handy euphemism for Orwellian consolidation?


Conquering the Leviathan: An Interview with Andrey Zvyaginstev

Fresh off his Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Film, director Andrey Zvyaginstev clears up a lot confusion about the political and sometimes religious undertones of his sweeping, grand new film Leviathan.


Reflections in the Wake of Destruction: Kent Avenue

The closure of several DIY music venues on Williamsburg's Kent Avenue pose critical questions about the identity of independent music in the present day.


‘The Sacrament’, ‘The Unbelievers’ and Religious Imperialism

From cult leader Jim Jones to scientist Richard Dawkins, once in a rare while, Hollywood gets a religious idea, or an idea about religion, right.


‘Pride’ Celebrates Unity Through Diversity

Pride is the rare crowdpleaser that gives audience members more to think about once they’ve wiped away their tears and stopped smiling after it's over.


Jon Hassell and Brian Eno: Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics

It doesn't matter who played or who produced. It doesn't matter if it's "classical" or "ambient". And it certainly doesn't matter that it was released in 1980. Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics is still an album unlike any other.


Glen Duncan’s Existential Horror Is So Good, It’s a Curse

These characters navigate a constellation of theological ruins and failed rationalizations, wherein existential nausea must do battle with the hunger of the werewolf Curse.


Fugazi: First Demo

First Demo proves what fans have long known, that Fugazi was brashly confident and fully formed from day one.


Rick Ross: Hood Billionaire

Rick Ross' second album of 2014 might've better served his fans as a mixtape but if you wanted more of exactly what you'd expect from him, here it is.


Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company

Tenth anniversary re-release for Ray Charles’ last album Genius Loves Company; glossy AOR and superstar duets.


Mathias Kunzli: Playground

Playground is a happy reminder that now remains the time, as always, to hear our world from a fresh perspective.


Wednesday, January 14 2015

September 11, 2001, Is Said to Be the Most Photographed Disaster in History

9/11 and the Visual Culture of Disaster examines the tremulous memory effects of the destruction of the World Trade Center.


We Are Charlie Brown

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, what I want more than anything is for art to be redemptive for any who view it, and for comics to be transformative.


Wanna Buy Some Old Bill Cosby Records?

In the face of mounting allegations against the beloved comedian, we are left to reconsider his artistic legacy.


Holidays in Hades: An Interview with the English Heretic

PopMatters meets the founder of the occult-influenced UK project to talk about its fascinating new album/aural mausoleum The Underworld Service.


A Great Cast Has Nothing to Do in ‘This Is Where I Leave You’

Even though the actors are given parts that suit their usual skills, they all bring extra self awareness to their work.


Guster: Evermotion

Guster takes a leap forward while remembering what makes them a strong band, working the best of then and now into Evermotion.


Sun Kil Moon: Third and Seneca EP

Sun Kil Moon closed 2014 with a quiet and unassuming reissue.


How Pioneering Blues Women Were All But Written out of “Official” Blues History

While industry gatekeepers were invested in a specific image of black performance, black performers themselves had different ideas.


Adrian Legg: Dead Bankers

In the hands of Adrian Legg, the guitar's limitations melt away, and in his mind, the music flourishes.


Sid Griffin: The Trick Is to Breathe

As one would expect, the best stories make the best songs. There’s the lovely “Elvis Presley Calls His Mother After the Ed Sullivan Show”, where the King’s legendary love for his Mama shows itself in all its sweetness.


The Legendary Pink Dots: 12 Steps Off the Path

A compilation that highlights all things Legendary Pink Dots. It’s dark and filled with esoteric mystique, it’s loud, it’s psychedelic, it’s synthy, it’s gothy, and it’s still more thrilling today than many of the most hotly praised albums of the year.


Tuesday, January 13 2015

A Larger Legacy: “Wolverines #1”

The death of Wolverine is not quite the same as the death of Kurt Cobain or Brett Favre’s retirement, but he’s a character that casts the biggest shadow in all of X-men.


Pop Like an Egyptian

Cairo's youth find meaning and identity in a genre that can't get any respect.


The Act You’ve Known for All These Years: Covering ‘Sgt. Pepper’

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band may be the most overanalysed, overexposed album in history. In light of the Flaming Lips' affectionate reimagining, can the inescapable masterpiece ever be surpassed?


Coolness and Connoisseurship in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive reimagines the vampire myth in the context of intellectual philistinism.


The Jokes and Michael Caine Impressions Are Still Fresh in ‘The Trip to Italy’

Even though it lacks the novelty of its predecessor, The Trip to Italy is nonetheless just as hilarious.


Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Pushing into a more electronic realm, the prolific Animal Collective member rips through his own conventions on his latest solo effort.


‘Ada’s Algorithm’ Dishes the Dirt and Makes the Case for the World’s First Programmer

With the enthusiasm of a celebrity journalist and the deep reading of an academic, James Essinger presents a flawed portrait of the flawed life of Lord Byron's daughter, Ada Lovelace.


The Pop Group: We Are Time / Cabinet of Curiosities

The legendary English post-punk band's live and rare tracks fill out their legacy and unravel bits of their mystery. They're also raw, wild and challenging.


Tetherball: Whimsy

Entertaining '90s geek-rock throwback features off-kilter but catchy guitar riffs and songs about Wile E. Coyote and Absinthe-fueled trips to outer space.


Le Common Diamond: Swedish Summer Dream EP

Second four-track EP from Le Common Diamond hits the beach for the summer.


Monday, January 12 2015

Hayley Atwell Gives the Male-Centric 1940s a Kick in Its Pants in ‘Agent Carter’

As the titular Marvel heroine, the smart and one-liner ready Hayley Atwell towers over Iron Man and his ilk in this contemporary take on post-WWII politics.


‘Frank’ Creatively Explores Social Media Solipsism

Frank uses Twitter and Tumblr without ever striking a false note in its depiction of an erratic indie rock band struggling through the artistic process.


Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 1: Zer0 Sum

Things are funnier when they go terribly wrong.


There’s More Than Just Magic in Neil Patrick Harris’ Clever Autobiography

What's most remarkable about Harris' freewheeling bio, Choose Your Own Autobiography, is that even with all its tricks and jokes, there's actual substance to be found here.


Reverted Meaning: “Avengers and X-men: AXIS #9”

An event comes to a solid end, but is too lacking to be anything more.


Trust Your Instincts: An Interview with Steve Gunn

Acoustic finger-picker left the archival folk behind to arrive at a psychedelic 1960s-influenced style on his 10th album, Way Out Weather. The trick, he says, it not to overthink things.


‘Collected Poems’ Captures the Vibrant Life of a Great Poet

Mark Strand's death in December 2014 casts a different light on his newest poetry volume, as it now carries the weight of summarizing a life in writing.


Listening Ahead: 15 Albums for Early 2015

Get an early glimpse of the best and most eagerly anticipated albums of the new year, including new efforts from Sleater-Kinney, Father John Misty, Belle and Sebastian, and Viet Cong.


‘The Facts of Life’ Is the Ultimate ‘80s Comfort Food Sitcom

Almost 30 years after its conclusion, putting The Facts of Life on the TV feels like hanging out with an old friend.


Saint the Boss, Intercede for us Sinners…

In attempting to distance Springsteen from his sainted reputation by humanizing him, Ryan White only manages to sanctify him all the more.


Ben Frost: V A R I A N T

A U R O R A has a little step-sister named V A R I A N T. And just like that, Ben Frost's discography is saddled with an attractive piece of filler.


Exit Verse: Exit Verse

One can’t help but being drawn in by the output, rather than the method, by the pure creative act, instead of the artistic potency


Sleaford Mods: Retweeted

Sleaford Mods deliver a burly compilation, filled with complaints and rabid rants.


Charlie Haden - Jim Hall: Charlie Haden - Jim Hall

An undiscovered duet concert between the two jazz musicians whose 2014 passing hurts the most.


Friday, January 9 2015

The Story Is Inside and Outside Joaquin Phoenix’s Mind in ‘Inherent Vice’

P.T. Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel is an atypical noir, where narrative freely flows in and out of the mind of Doc (Joaquin Phoenix).


The Letter

Back in 2012 we wrote Alex Segura an open letter. In the closing days of 2014, Alex wrote one of his own.


‘Safe’ Is Often Lost in a World of Ideas

Julianne Moore's evocative performance aside, Safe often feels designed specifically for film-studies interpretation, without its own soul.


The Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction

The truth may be stranger than fiction, but as the numerous nonfiction books of 2014 also attest, it's often the truest stories that are the most gripping.


‘It Happened One Night’ Is Graceful and Quick as a Magic Trick

Frank Capra's Oscar-dominating film is still funny, still romantic, and still quite beautiful to look at 80 years later.


Thursday, January 8 2015

The Best Books of 2014: Fiction

From postmodern latticework narratives to Booker prize winning epics, 2014 offers numerous fictional tales worthy of adding to your bookshelf.


‘Broad City’ Skillfully Juggles the Heartfelt and the Absurd

Broad City is funny, but it's also heartfelt in unexpected and strange ways.


Wednesday, January 7 2015

‘People of the Twenty-First Century’ Reveals Just How Invisible Our Clothes Make Us

Hans Eijkelboom’s approach to street style photography is effective because it parodies the unique-individual-who-stands-out-in-a-crowd trope.


‘Boyhood’ and the Transcendence of the Everyday

Boyhood returns to the view that originated with Italian Neorealism: documenting everyday life is the biggest spectacle one could capture on film.


Writing Something Complete: An Interview With Robin Guthrie

The guitarist/composer behind Cocteau Twins talks about his return to film soundtracks and the effects that technology has had on his own unique songwriting process.


‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Is Not Worth a Cowabunga

The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie will have longtime Turtle fans shouting “No, ninja, no, ninja, no!”, for this reboot is a mindless mess.


Micah P. Hinson: Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress

This record shuns cynicism. It is, rather, an honest, romantic exploration of heartbreak wherein, despite his many accompanists, Hinson lies exposed and raw.


‘How to Be a Good Wife’ Fits the Feminist Legacy of Stories About Misdiagnosed Women

Outwardly, Marta and Hector Bjornstad’s long marriage appears tranquil, harmonious, happy. So why is Marta having visions nobody else sees?


Matthew Ryan: Boxers

Despite attempts to disguise his voice behind a series of too-obvious influences, Matthew Ryan reveals in a whisper here and there his true, and worthy, vocal character.


World/Inferno Friendship Society: This Packed Funeral

If the term "punk rock cabaret" doesn't grab you, maybe the strong storytelling and creative musical arrangements will.


Tuesday, January 6 2015

‘Mr. Sloane’ Displays An Allenesque Dark Charm

Robert B. Weide's British period comedy Mr. Sloane was cancelled after just one season, depriving viewers of an engaging, wise and beautifully-made character study.


‘A Temporary Future’ Unpacks David Mitchell’s Nesting Doll Novels

Patrick O'Donnell's survey of David Mitchell's six novels dives into the labyrinthine, "screaming Russian doll" structures they all share.


A Blockbuster Turns 30: Alan Light Talks About Prince and ‘Purple Rain’

Music journalist and author of Let's Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain Alan Light talks with PopMatters about Prince's one-of-a-kind perfect album.


The Best Television of 2014

In 2014, we let Russian spies, biker gangs, Silicon Valley techies, and existentially frustrated detectives into our living rooms. As these 25 picks reveal, we had good reasons for doing so.


K. Michelle: Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart

For all the major moves she made this time around on her second album, K. Michelle still can't break away from the shackles of her contemporaries.


Githead: Waiting for a Sign

Githead were never ones to put a great deal of passion into their pop. But even by their standards, this album feels a bit cold.


‘A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin’ Tells of a Killer Hiding Amidst Mass Murderers

The way in which serial killer Paul Ogorzow turned his victims into his own playthings of wickedness is a small allegory of the corruption that seeped the entire Nazi system.


Queen: Forever (take 1)

Queen's Forever, ostensibly a greatest hits album, feels more like an album made up of its greatest misses.


Queen: Forever (take 2)

Yes, this is another Queen compilation, but it's not hard to make a good case for Forever.


Monday, January 5 2015

When It Really Could Be Worse: “All-New X-men #34”

The O5 X-men think their future is bad, but a trip to the decaying world of Ultimate adds some needed perspective.


‘Melancholy II’ Is a Poignant Novel That Lives Up to Its Name

This melancholic Norwegian masterpiece is a beautiful, albeit acquired taste, now finally available in an English translation.


Enough with the Biopic: A Re-Examination of Cinema’s Least Interesting Genre

Life-spanning biopics are still the ultimate Oscar bait in 2014. Here’s hoping that no one will be biting in the future.


Le Guess Who?: Utrecht - 21 November 2014

Utrecht's experimental music festival takes over the college town for a weekend in November.


The Best Hopes to Break Out in 2015

This vibrant gang of musicians is approaching 2015 from all different angles. Some are still quite new to the music game, while others take the new year on after rising from a breakup.


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