Opium Traces
More Recent Features
Haroula Rose: Here the Blue River

Haroula Rose writes and sings about ways of escape on a record that doesn't offer easy answers but does give us hope.

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Socialist Solutions for America’s Problems

A growing array of America’s leading thinkers and activists have gone from critiquing the excesses of capitalism to charting the future of American socialism.

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5 May 2016 // 8:43 AM

All Saints: Red Flag

With their second comeback, All Saints have grown up. It's a welcome return with a touch of pop class.

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‘Investigating Lois Lane’ Is as Smart as, Well, Lois Lane Herself

Tim Hanley's book is a compelling read that reveals the ways in which Lois Lane has reflected cultural assumptions about gender.

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‘Expresso Bongo’ Is a 1959 Satire on the Music Industry With Contemporary Relevancy

It was a time when teenagers were old, Cliff Richard was young, and the beats were straight from the fridge, daddio!

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5 May 2016 // 2:30 AM

Drake: Views

Views is step backwards in quality, certainly, but it’s a step sideways in some ways.

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‘Paul McCartney: The Life’ Doesn’t Whitewash or Sensationalize

Philip Norman's latest biography is loaded with wonderful passages, fascinating stories and cracking humor.

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Portraiture in a Human Form: An Interview with Aesop Rock

Aesop Rock: "I think I'm always surprised at how much the musicians I meet put weight on things that aren't music."

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Josh Williams: Modern Day Man

Following a tumultuous road to recovery, Williams makes for a fine return to making country and bluegrass music.

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Clones, Drama, and Squirrels In ‘All-New Wolverine #7’

This is part buddy cop and part Disney movie. It's a strange combination that doesn't work on paper, but it works beautifully in All-New Wolverine #7.

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 21 - “Verdict”

The series' penultimate episode doesn't disappoint with its drama and intrigue. All that's left now is a series of questions we can only hope will be answered next week.

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‘A Bigger Splash’: Decadent Fools in Danger

Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, and Matthias Schoenaerts make for a dangerous trio in this talky love triangle from the director of 'I Am Love'.

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United Shades of America: Season 1, Episode 2 - “Behind the Walls”

What's so funny about prison? Turns out, not a lot. W. Kamau Bell goes behind bars.

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‘Danganronpa’ Considers the Consequences of Paternalism and the Horrors of Boredom

Danganronpa is a sometimes brutal, sometimes bizarre coming of age story, but sometimes the most graphic forms of representation are the most useful in exposing truths about growing up.

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‘Music and Capitalism’ Tunes in to Some Hardcore Numbers

Timothy Taylor gives us a sobering look at the history and state of the music business, through the lens of capitalism.

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Formulating ‘The Hunger Games’ Part 2: Evolution of the Mockingjay

From Death Race to The 10th Victim, may the odds be ever in your favour!

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4 May 2016 // 3:00 AM

“Previously on”: Recaps in the Age of Binge Watching

Recaps have long been a staple of serialized series, but is binge-watching making them obsolete?

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‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ Is Like a Melted Matryoshka in Spring

The Huntsman looks into the mirror and sees visual excess in place of story.

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Close to the Noise Floor: Formative UK Electronica 1975-1984

Four musicians reflect on the DIY culture that inspired the spread of electronic music, and on what’s changed in the intervening four decades.

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Moreland & Arbuckle: Promised Land or Bust

Blessed with an independent spirit and clear vision, Moreland & Arbuckle continues to walk the thin line between tradition and something yet to be defined.

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‘The Regional Office is Under Attack’ Suffers an Identity Crisis

There's something ugly at the heart of this story of superheroics, something that utterly conflicts with the book's sometimes better nature.

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Frightened Rabbit: Painting of a Panic Attack

Painting of a Panic Attack is Frightened Rabbit dressed up as the National for Halloween. It’s a nice change, but still very much the band fans have come to love.

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Danny Green Trio: Altered Narratives

Danny Green's exuberant trio prove that lightning can strike twice.

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3 May 2016 // 12:17 PM

Mark Erelli: For a Song

Seminal folk music from an artist so often compared to the seminal greats.

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Outlander: Season 2, Episode 3 - “Useful Occupations and Deceptions”

Both Claire and Jamie are struggling with their purposes, and their connection to one another.

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3 May 2016 // 10:00 AM

dvsn: SEPT. 5TH (take 2)

One of Drake's best-kept secrets finds a vocalist and heads out on his own. The result is essential R&B listening.

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You’re All Just Meat in Ben Wheatley’s ‘High-Rise’

In Ben Wheatley’s overly obvious take on J.G. Ballard’s 1975 satirical novel, a luxury condo tower degenerates into a capitalist abattoir.

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Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 3 - “The Stigmata of Progress”

There aren't any huge developments, but there are enough details simmering below the surface to make clear that much is still to be revealed

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Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown

Comics artist Chester Brown makes a provocative argument that Jesus’ underlying message was anti-authoritarian, pro-woman, and pro-sex work.

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‘Barcelona’ Sends Whit Stillman’s Usual Suspects After Love in a Hot Climate

The middle section in Whit Stillman's loose '90s trilogy showcases all his trademarks while moving his characters from college into the wider world.

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Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid

On his excellent new album, Aesop Rock plays with autobiography as a construction. Rock tells some version of his story brilliantly here, and it doesn't matter what is and isn't fact; it all rings true anyway.

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3 May 2016 // 2:30 AM

Curious Them: An Interview with Rogue Wave

With their best, freshest album just out, Zach Rogue talks '80s music, theremins, and fatherhood with PopMatters.

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Fictional Works of Ernest Hemingway Are Outed as Fiction

Verna Kale's Ernest Hemingway is a formidable counter argument to those who erroneously believe the Hemingway oeuvre is memoir masquerading as fiction.

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3 May 2016 // 2:15 AM

DJ Rashad: Afterlife

The first release from the new Teklife label is a loving, flawed tribute to the artist who helped put them and footwork on the map.

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Various Artists: Another Splash of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985 (take 2)

This is a thorough, satisfying, and surprisingly scholarly cross-section of British New Psych in the early '80s.

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Is ‘Madonna: Tears of a Clown’ a Laughing Matter?

In Madonna's bizarre one-off concert in Australia, she proved that she's still willing to push the envelope with a bold artistic statement. But what exactly was she saying?

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All India Radio: The Slow Light

Four years in the making, The Slow Light captures All India Radio in fully realized form.

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Romance With a Stiff Upper Lip in ‘Brief Encounter’

More than 60 years on, Brief Encounter, pitting love against conventions, continues to break hearts.

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Daredevil: Season 2, Episode 7 - “Semper Fidelis”

Daredevil's protagonist is becoming increasingly unlikeable as the Punisher's trial begins.

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2 May 2016 // 9:01 AM

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 1 - “The Red Woman”

The women of Game of Thrones drive this episode's narrative, and upend both expectations and reality.

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We Are Scientists: Helter Seltzer

We Are Scientists' most laid-back album since 2008 finds them doing catchy, interesting things with midtempo songs. Too bad the fast rockers are mostly uninspired.

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2 May 2016 // 8:51 AM

Seratones: Get Gone

Seratones are explosive when they seamlessly blend genres and switch their emotions to roll with the punches. They might have the power to stay and conquer.

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2 May 2016 // 8:42 AM

dvsn: Sept. 5TH

Daniel Daley's voice would fit well on most major hits, and Nineteen85 knows his way around a massive single; that said, dvsn's first full-length effort is less than the sum of its parts.

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‘Ahmedabad’ Is Characterized by Uncertainty and Suspicion

Ahmedabad is not a history or even a thorough study, but an unassuming glimpse at the forces that have most profoundly shaped the modern landscape of the city.

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2 May 2016 // 8:23 AM

Daredevil’s Meditations on Morality

Daredevil is the first live action comic book hero we have seen in recent memory with a strong religious conviction.

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2 May 2016 // 8:20 AM

Jameszoo: Fool

Jameszoo's debut album not only is the best jazz album since Flying Lotus' You’re Dead!, but it's also one of the best albums this year, period

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How to Save the Media (and Democracy)

The system of media and journalism on which our democracy relies is under threat. French economist Julia Cage surveys the scale of the crisis and proposes a unique solution.

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‘Éamon de Valera’: From Irish Rebel to Politician

This compact study of a man many worshiped and as many despised will serve readers wanting more facts, if less wit.

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Woodpigeon: T R O U B L E

Woodpigeon's lush, melancholy new album adds new textures to the band's already heavily orchestrated pop.

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Thanks to Key and Peele’s Powerful Sensibilities, ‘Keanu’ Is More Than a Meow Mix-up

By taking on expectations, both in comedy and in race, this movie becomes a smart, successful satire.

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A Mutant Breed of Christian Music? How Slow Dakota Reinvented a Genre in 22-Minutes

If Bürstner and the Baby's goal is to evangelize, one might ask why PJ Sauerteig spends so much time burying the Gospel and mutating his influences.

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29 Apr 2016 // 8:12 AM

PURSES: Obsess Much

This is entertaining indie rock from what amounts to a supergroup of young Athens bands.

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Seeing Through the Eyes of a Semiologist: A Tribute to Umberto Eco

Many of Eco's observations read true in our hyperkinetic era of the Internet, the experience economy, the Disneyfication of entertainment, and the mega blockbuster.

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29 Apr 2016 // 2:30 AM

Cluster: 1971-1981

A formative and furtive period for the Krautrock duo is the focus of the blessed box set Cluster: 1971-1981.

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Various Artists: Another Splash of Colour: New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985

This thorough three-disc history will make you an instant scholar of a movement that many don't know about, but should.

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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: PersonA

Edward Sharpe's bombastic hippie-folk utopianism takes a darker hue in PersonA

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29 Apr 2016 // 2:00 AM

Prince and Michael Jackson: The Rivalry and the Revolution

Deemed As polar opposites by the media, part of what made the Prince v Jackson rivalry so compelling was their similarities.

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‘Shot!’ Mick Rock Documentary at Tribeca + After Party (Photos)

Following the world premiere of SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, attendees were invited to an after party which featured the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and some special guests.

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Tribeca Film Festival 2016: ‘The Return’ + ‘Solitary’

Two excellent documentaries at this year's Tribeca Film Festival remind you of the terrible reality of the American prison system.

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Babyfather: BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow

Dean Blunt: "I think genre terms are really connected … to race and boundaries."

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The Flash: Season 2, Episode 19 - “Back to Normal”

Barry Allen's no longer the "fastest man alive". His return to normal allows focus to shift away from him and onto other members of Team Flash.

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28 Apr 2016 // 8:28 AM

Living Comfortably: An Interview With Dunes

Formed from the ashes of some of LA's best loved punk bands, Dunes changed their sound to embrace pop and create an album that they would want to listen to.

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28 Apr 2016 // 8:15 AM

Gallant: Ology

Even today’s newest artists find much value to be found in the Purple One’s music.

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28 Apr 2016 // 2:30 AM

Beyoncé: Lemonade

Lemonade is that rare work where you will remember exactly where you were and exactly who you were with the first time you hear it.

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25 Nights With Some Movies That Caused a Temporary Ripple in the Buzz-o-sphere

From the importance (or not) of the comic book movies to films with avant-garde concepts, some beautiful, some unbearable.

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Rogue Wave: Delusions of Grand Fur

Zach Rogue's namesake wash over us with tune after tune on Rogue Wave's first album in three years.

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Charles Bukowski’s ‘On Love’ and ‘On Cats’

Bukowski's voice and style swung wildly over his lifetime, and collections varied considerably in quality depending on the whims of editors

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 20 - “Party”

A family affair marks what has to be the final time we'll see some of our favorite The Good Wife characters.

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Smashing Pumpkins Deliver Sonic Tricks and Deep Cut Treats in LA

The acoustic-electro format is a triumph, with the In Plainsong tour representing a rare chance to experience the band in a more intimate sonic fashion.

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North Carolina’s Phuzz Phest 2016 Is a Music Festival Done Right

Festivals can and should be transactions, but not of capital or codified cool. They should bring people into a space so they can see what it's about and let them add something to it. NC's Phuzz Phest does this well.

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Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 2 - “Transgressive Border Crossing”

"Transgressive Border Crossing" jumps between the various characters and their individual issues, yet it also manages to frame their connectedness effortlessly.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, Episode 17 - “The Team”

Some characters have taken radically different paths than their comic book counterparts -- at least in this reality.

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It’s Okay to Change: A Conversation With David Brewis of Field Music

David Brewis discusses Field Music's new album, his parents' record collection, being in a band with family, and music nerd inside-baseball.

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Youth Code: Commitment to Complications

Youth Code breathe life back into the moribund electronic industrial scene.

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Kyle Craft: Dolls of Highland

Kyle Craft has no right to make a debut album this damn good.

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Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile: Continuum

Pianist Nik Bärtsch returns to the group he helmed before signing to ECM, assembling an album that will move your toes as it stirs your head.

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The Muscle Behind ‘Manga in America’

The domestication of manga means imposing one’s own identity on the product.

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27 Apr 2016 // 2:10 AM

Susanna: Triangle

While lyrically underwhelming, Susanna's latest album is an enjoyable showcase of her enviable talents.

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27 Apr 2016 // 2:05 AM

Se Delan: Drifter

Se Delan are back, and they waste no time in announcing themselves.

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27 Apr 2016 // 2:00 AM

We Have Never Been Human

Within our bodies, single-celled organisms outnumber cells that we identify as human DNA ten to one. We're merely a colony within a colony within a colony.

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On Going Preadolescent Batshit With Prince’s ‘Batman’

Prince was my chaperone away from the music of my parents’ generation towards something forbidden, dangerous, pleasurable, weird, and shockingly modern.

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Upholding and Underscoring a Legacy in ‘Action Comics #51’

An effort to preserve Superman's ideals falls surprisingly flat.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 19 - “Cape May”

Extreme tenebristic close-ups, cello-filled soundtracks, and cryptic dialog -- The Blacklist gets its pretense on.

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What Is the Robert Altman Vision?

If you want to get a complete understanding of Altman, his filmmaking style, and why his movies are so important to the history of cinema, Frank Caso’s book is a must read.

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Shame Bells, Dragons, Bodies: The Art of Suspended Justice and Season 6 of ‘Game of Thrones’

Game of Thrones offers a reality that's pleasurable to contemplate but terrifying to inhabit.

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ASAP Ferg: Always Strive and Prosper

ASAP Ferg takes a more serious and conceptual route on his sophomore album, and the change of pace pays off big time.

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Arbeit Schickert Schneider: ASS

Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit, and Dirk Dresselhaus come together for an album that, to their detractors, is conveniently named. Everyone else can feel free to bliss out.

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Terrace Martin: Velvet Portraits

With Velvet Portraits, Martin continues on his quest to become a modern jazz-fusion great while also giving a nod to his Los Angeles roots in the process.

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Laura Gibson: Empire Builder

Laura Gibson's excellent fourth album is the cathartic sound of someone starting over.

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Adult Books: Running From the Blows

Adult Books loves '80s new wave, but they're better when they play harder-edged, punk-adjacent songs.

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‘Guapa’ Is Much More Than Simply a ‘Gay’ Novel

Haddad makes a single day swell to encompass the powerful struggle to define one's own self and to come to terms with the consequences of autonomy.

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Formulating ‘The Hunger Games’ Part 1: When Books Catch Fire

Like The Hunger Games? There are a lot of similar books that you'll love. Think The Hunger Games stories are a rip off? Read on; the same applies.

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Full Frontal With Samantha Bee: Season 1

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee appropriates the format of the classic The Awful Truth to lampoon politicians and the media.

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United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell: Season 1, Episode 1

W. Kamau Bell travels as an outsider in his native America.

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Tribeca Film Fest 2016: ‘Fear, Inc.’ + ‘Always Shine’

Two movies at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, Fear, Inc. and Always Shine, want to explore audience expectations within the possibilities of the horror genre.

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Fear the Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 1 - “Monster”

Travis, Strand, and company deal with the emotional aftermath of Liza's death while navigating treacherous waters.

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Defining Spiritual Sequel in ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’

The powerful timing of Richard Linklater’s take on '80s competitiveness in Everybody Wants Some!!

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Prince: Something That You’ll Never Understand

Prince didn't care where you went. He didn't care what you did. And he couldn't take U with him.

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Daredevil: Season 2, Episode 6 - “Regrets Only”

Daredevil struggles to balance both Elektra and the Punisher in an unfocused episode.

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‘Under the Big Black Sun’ Tells of an L.A. Before the Kids From Orange County Arrived

They had the neutron bomb, The Masque, and all the youthful energy you'd ever want to muster. What became of the early L.A. punks, then?

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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