Opium Traces
More Recent Features
Ennio Morricone: Morricone 60

Ennio Morricone stops to take stock in his career, though only for a brief moment.

READ more

10 Nov 2016 // 8:42 AM

Oval: Popp

Popp goes beyond the cerebral and scattered surface that it first projects to become something far more affirming, revelatory, and perhaps even joyful.

READ more
Queen: Queen on Air - The Complete BBC Radio Sessions

An early collection of BBC radio sessions show Britain's glam rock kings taking their painstaking technique to a looser environment, with often winning results.

READ more
‘The Blacklist’ Continues Its Slow Decline Into Mediocrity

In "Dr. Adrian Shaw (No. 98)", creator Jon Bokenkamp seems dedicated to throwing ice water on our suspension of disbelief.

READ more
All Acoustic Instruments and Kitchen Utensils: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band History With Jeff Hanna

With half a century of music and friendship, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band continues forward with Circlin' Back.

READ more

9 Nov 2016 // 8:30 AM

Spam, Burns, and Bourdain

The Ramones are dead. Black Sabbath is playing their farewell tour. Anthony Bourdain is a doting father. We're getting old. But not too old to cook a great meal.

READ more

9 Nov 2016 // 3:00 AM

National Sweeps: The Merger of TV and Presidential Elections

Beyond reality stars and dynasties, TV can influence what we accept in our political leaders.

READ more
Romare: Love Songs: Part Two

“Love” is a wide word, having many different meanings in many different contexts, so these song collages take inspiration from all over the spectrum of audio love.

READ more
Alejandro Escovedo: Burn Something Beautiful

Alejandro Escovedo's latest release is easy on the ears and surprising in-between them.

READ more
Sun Ra and His Arkestra: The Space Age Is Here To Stay

Sun Ra soars into space on his latest album.

READ more
Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ Is No Less Shocking in This Graphic Adaptation

Miles Hyman implicitly connects Jackson's stoning ritual and the reaping of grain; illuminating, perhaps, the interconnection of life and death in both.

READ more
The Wedding Present: Going, Going…

More than 30 years on, David Gedge and the Wedding Present remain a vital voice in the world of noisy indie pop.

READ more
Daniil Trifonov: Transcendental: Daniil Trifonov Plays Franz Liszt

Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov plays the part of the Transcendental-Liszt with alarming ease.

READ more
Mia Dai Todd: Songbook, Vol. 1

As understandable as it might be for some to feel tired of a revered songwriter performing other people’s songs for the second consecutive album in a row, she does deliver the goods.

READ more
The Yin and Yang of the Universe: Conversations With Max Bemis and Chris Conley

Max Bemis and Chris Conley discuss the new Two Tongues record, family matters, and connecting to the rock and roll muse.

READ more
‘Songs My Brothers Taught Me’: Coming of Age on the Reservation

Chloé Zhao and her team have created an emotionally compelling neo-realist portrait of a family and their community experiencing the stresses and pressures of post-colonial life.

READ more
The Strength of “Anatomy of a Song” Is Found in Its diverse and Impressive Group of Interviewees

A self-described “oral history jukebox” gives behind-the-scenes details about popular songs and the historical circumstances that shaped pop culture as we know it.

READ more
An Unwitting Anthem: How Fergie Moves the Cultural Needle With “M.I.L.F. $”

As a piece of pop culture "M.I.L.F.$" alludes deftly, cheekily, and authentically to three aspects of one’s induction into the club of mothering.

READ more
Are Vikings Even Real?: A Conversation With Sadie Dupuis

While many know Dupuis as the bandleader of Speedy Ortiz, the angles of her new project, Sad13, are provocative, unexpected, and maybe just what we need right now.

READ more

8 Nov 2016 // 2:25 AM

The Pretenders: Alone

Chrissie Hynde returns with the Pretenders and a renewed collaboration with Dan Auerbach to reflect and rebel with confidence and loss.

READ more
STRFKR: Being No One, Going Nowhere

Being No One, Going Nowhere attempts to explore intellectual themes while still retaining the band’s vivacious dance pop.

READ more

8 Nov 2016 // 2:15 AM

Slaves: Take Control

The English punk duo's bark lacks bite on this sophomore effort.

READ more

8 Nov 2016 // 2:10 AM

Darkher: Realms

Darkher is neither metal nor folk, post-rock, or gothic. It's a single cohesive vision, dark music with shading and light.

READ more
David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp: Live in Sant’Anna Arresi 2004

David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp have made beautiful music together for 17 years, but chose this occasion to make a lovely racket.

READ more
‘Remaking the Rust Belt’, Remaking Society

This well-researched historical study examines how the Rust Belt cities of Pittsburgh and Hamilton, Ontario made the transition from the industrial to the postindustrial economy.

READ more
The FAQ On Frank Zappa Gives It To Us Quick and Dirty

If you don't have time to scour every corner of the internet seeking the answers to these questions, Joe Corcelli will do it for you.

READ more
‘Harmonies From Heaven’ Gives a Breakneck View of the Everly Brothers

A little too fast at times for the viewer to fully absorb, this BBC4 doc nevertheless reminds us of the power the Everlys wielded in their heyday.

READ more
Communication Becomes a Lifeline and a Death Knell in the Newest Episode of ‘Divorce’

Just as things seem on track for an amicable divorce, the specter of money threatens to throw everything off the rails.

READ more
Worth Within Unworthiness in ‘The Unworthy Thor #1’

An overdue insight into Odinson's unworthiness sends him down a refreshing new path.

READ more
John Bullard: Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art

John Bullard is not out to make classical music sound different. He just wants the banjo to enjoy a rightful place in the genre.

READ more
King Creosote: Astronaut Meets Appleman

Kenny Anderson, the mad pop genius behind the King Creosote moniker, begins his sixth decade of existence with this loosely cohesive, moderately trippy, and deeply enjoyable record.

READ more
John Scofield: Country For Old Men

The guitarist serves up some country tunes with a quartet of old friends. But he is reliably swinging on everything.

READ more
‘The Contender’: The Last Film of the First Clinton Era

Sex, lies, and red tape: Should private lives matter in politics?

READ more
Common: Black America Again

Chicago veteran returns with his 11th album, a record that sees Common reinvigorated and at his most potent and inspired, marking another entry into one of the most consistent discographies in hip-hop history.

READ more
Moby and the Void Pacific Choir: These Systems Are Failing

Moby crafts an electropunk dystopian manifesto, but struggles to convey his vision of reality convincingly.

READ more
Jacuzzi Boys: Ping Pong

Jacuzzi Boys' new album, Ping Pong, enters swinging. This little garage rock band of boys might have matured a bit.

READ more
Harry Belafonte Fights Racism in ‘Odds Against Tomorrow’

By the late '50s, some Hollywood filmmakers were producing films that reflected changes in public attitudes and addressed the concerns of the nascent Civil Rights movement.

READ more

7 Nov 2016 // 1:30 AM

Are We Gon’ Be Alright?

Crises abound in America, but while complacency won the day before, these times feel different.

READ more
‘Doctor Strange’ Stakes a Claim as Marvel’s Best

Long on imagination, fun, and interpersonal drama, director Scott Derrickson’s ethereal adventure also warps enough space-time to terrify Stephen Hawking.

READ more
“Horizons” Is a Cluttered But Charming Introduction to ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’

There's a lot of a lot in the first episode of BBC America's crack at Douglas Adam's Dirk Gently.

READ more
Enthusiastic Dispassion in Eve Babitz’s ‘Slow Days, Fast Company’

Whether these tales are intentionally remote or the projection and appropriations of Babitz’s own afflicted desires, her ability for sagacious detail is never obscured.

READ more
Jim James: Eternally Even

My Morning Jacket's enigmatic leader releases his sophomore effort, which is a less formal, more groove-oriented effort than anything he's attempted before.

READ more
‘Star Trek’ and the Evolution of “The Kiss” Controversy

From its first interracial kiss on TV in 1968 to the interspecies relationship in the reboot, Star Trek wants viewers to understand what it means to be mixed race and have interracial relationships.

READ more
‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Is All Guts, No Glory

Mel Gibson’s directorial return is a celebration of violence and viscera that will leave you in serious need of a shower.

READ more

4 Nov 2016 // 1:30 AM

No Quarter: The Three Lives of Jimmy Page

In this excerpt of Martin Power's biography, Jimmy Page learns guitar, thanks to the skiffle, and makes his first television appearance as a young teen.

READ more
L’Orange and Mr. Lif: The Life and Death of Scenery

North Carolina and Boston team up to save the world from overlords set to rid the world of art and culture, Star Wars meets Style Wars.

READ more
Jamie Lidell: Building a Beginning

Like most of Lidell's discography, Building a Beginning seems simultaneously old and new, retro-minded and attuned to contemporary R&B trends.

READ more
Van Morrison: Keep Me Singing

The Irish singer draws on a variety of vocal traditions from Celtic folk to contemporary jazz, and he combines them through the sheer force of his being.

READ more
The Radio Dept.: Running Out of Love

Running Out of Love is an exceptional political document that takes on the current state of the world.

READ more
Adam Torres: Pearls to Swine

This world-traveled, organic music has the potential to be as gorgeous as the prettiest places on Earth.

READ more
“They’re All Just Fantastic”: An Interview With Jade Eshete of ‘Dirk Gently’

Dirk Gently's Farah Black talks being a bad-ass and heading to Comic-Con for the first time

READ more
Mitch Hedberg’s Legacy Shines at New York Comedy Festival

In advance of the limited vinyl collection of Hedberg's work, friends and loved ones honored the late comedian with anecdotes and tributes.

READ more
‘13th’ Is a Powerful Entreaty for Americans to Get to Work on Fighting Racism

"We have more African Americans under criminal supervision than all the slaves back in the 1850s."

READ more
‘Village Atheists’ Engagingly Explores a Persecuted American Minority

Nonbelief in America has enjoyed a certain amount of social progress, thanks to the three men and one woman profiled in Village Atheists.

READ more
I’ve Waited Ages: An Interview with Wire’s Colin Newman

With the influence of rock group Wire still ringing large, Colin Newman talks about the haphazard, almost casual way that his first three solo albums emerged (now finally re-released).

READ more
The Voice of the Demagogue and American So-Called Democracy

Gabriel Over the White House seriously asks a question that should only be asked as satire or farce: what if the best solution for the US is to have a fascist dictator in charge?

READ more

3 Nov 2016 // 1:30 AM

Illum Sphere: Glass

Illum Sphere makes his boldest statement yet with a restless, uneasy album allowed the space and time to slowly unravel.

READ more
Empire of the Sun: Two Vines (Deluxe)

The extravagant duo are back again, announcing themselves in exactly the manner you'd expect.

READ more

3 Nov 2016 // 1:20 AM

Mandolin Orange: Blindfaller

The duo of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz enlist the help of a quartet of instrumentalists to help flesh out their acoustic-based bluegrass/folk on their lovely fifth album.

READ more
Art, Journalism and War in Sarah Glidden’s ‘Rolling Blackouts’

Glidden's use of watercolors is beautifully rendered, creating a consistent visual language throughout that is a pleasure to look at.

READ more
Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Cuban Rare Groove

The new, the old, and the timeless meet, seamlessly joined in their intent to keep Cuban styles alive across the diaspora.

READ more

3 Nov 2016 // 1:10 AM

Crushed Out: Alien Ocean

This duo provides a heady, garage-influenced take on surf rock that's heavy on aesthetic pleasures, but sadly light on songwriting heft.

READ more
The Westerlies: The Westerlies

This all brass quartet has pulled off what few all brass quartets can pull off -- a highly artistic double album of mostly original material.

READ more
The Sublime Marriage of Music and Image in ‘Fandango’

The 1985 cult-favorite is a textbook example of how to use music effectively in film. Yet, there was never an official soundtrack release.

READ more
‘Don’t Call Me Son’ Remains Perpetually on the Edge of Insight

In this story of child abduction, identity, and sexuality, Anna Muylaert seems interested in themes, like doubling or performing, more than the development of her characters.

READ more
Dualities, Glitches, and Playing God: Just Another Week in Westworld.

Here lies the Creator's plan for his world, overtly displayed and covertly ambiguous at the same time.

READ more

2 Nov 2016 // 8:30 AM

‘In a Valley of Violence’ Is More Like a Plateau of Platitudes

Is violence a tragedy or an existential condition? Is this a Western or a dark spoof on one?

READ more
There Are a Lot of Loose Ends to Tie-up in Season 4 of ‘The Blacklist’

There's potential for The Blacklist to get back to greatness. It has all the raw materials.

READ more
The Power of Created Stories in Ivan Coyote’s ‘Tomboy Survival Guide’

Ivan Coyote's Tomboy Survival Guide is full of well-told tales about growing up transgender in the Yukon.

READ more
‘Thumper’ Requires Only One Word to Describe It: Brutal

The Dark Souls of rhythm games? Kinda, yeah.

READ more
Get Clowned: Donald Trump, the Insane Clown Posse, and Nathan Rabin’s Family Dispatch

"I feel like Trump and his ideology are about punching down... Whereas Insane Clown Posse, they're about punching up."

READ more
Jonathan Finlayson and Sicilian Defense: Moving Still

Moving Still is the most gorgeous, enticing, classic album of 2016 in jazz so far.

READ more

2 Nov 2016 // 1:25 AM

Johnnyswim: Georgica Pond

Johnnyswim's Georgica Pond situates catchy refrains across many different genres and moments of intimacy, honing their rich hooks with more sophisticated musical accompaniment.

READ more

2 Nov 2016 // 1:20 AM

Mono: Requiem for Hell

Mono's main strength is their ability to make one realize how infinitesimal they are in the universe.

READ more
S U R V I V E: RR7349

The perils of nostalgia notwithstanding, many listeners will find the foggy atmospheres and neon-lit cityscapes of RR7349 irresistible.

READ more

2 Nov 2016 // 1:10 AM

Usher: Hard II Love

Despite a handful of stellar tracks, Usher's latest album tries too hard to stay current and gets lost in the process.

READ more

2 Nov 2016 // 1:05 AM

Dexter Wansel: Stargazer

Stargazer compiles all of Dexter Wansel’s Philadelphia International recordings, but the collection’s sequencing leaves something to be desired.

READ more
Former Cure Man Finds Peace On the Road to Recovery

This volume is more than a day-to-day account of life inside the band: It's the story of how Lol Tolhurst came back from the brink and emerged a fuller man.

READ more
‘Captain Fantastic’ Sheds Light on the Travails of Parenting Outside the Box

Like Aesop's fable of the eagle and the jackdaw, Captain Fantastic struggles with the difficulty of raising intellectually engaged children.

READ more
The Weirwolf Revisits Cowboy Roots in Marin County with Explosive Results

The new album is truly a throwback to Bob Weir’s roots, making “The Campfire Tour” a rare and special chance to see a rock legend turn the clock back to show his fans how it all started.

READ more
‘Kevin Hart: What Now?’ More Scattershot Comedy, That’s What

Far from wearing out his welcome, Hart the comedian must battle Hart the superstar for some of his stage time -- and he doesn't always succeed.

READ more
Heritage, Identity, and Idols in ‘Ms. Marvel #12’

Kamala Khan does some soul searching and reminds us why we love her.

READ more
Guy Clark Biography ‘Without Getting Killed or Caught’ Is Worthy of the Late Singer-Songwriter

Anecdotes that peel back the curtain from Clark’s neatly arranged processes really add value to his story.

READ more
In ‘Syndrome’ a Promising Slow Burn Introduction Leads to Poor Pacing

Syndrome does a damn fine job setting the mood. It just can’t follow through.

READ more

1 Nov 2016 // 2:00 AM

The TV Gothic: When Horror Came Home

Fetish dolls, freak outs, and feminism (really scary) all played their roles in '70s TV horror.

READ more
Making Music Out of Uncertainty: A Conversation With FaltyDL

FaltyDL: “The more I think about what people are going to understand, the more convoluted my art gets.”

READ more
American Wrestlers: Goodbye Terrible Youth

Gary McClure's power punk combo manages to combine the rich musical landscape of his native UK with the sophisticated pop songcraft of his adopted US, with excellent results.

READ more

1 Nov 2016 // 1:25 AM

Powell: Sport

Powell has matched his high-concept buffoonery with a fittingly wacky record that tiptoes the line but never oversteps it.

READ more

1 Nov 2016 // 1:20 AM

NOFX: First Ditch Effort

What initially sounds like a scattered album ends up feeling more like a revue of NOFX's 30-year career. For better and for worse.

READ more

1 Nov 2016 // 1:15 AM

Joyce Manor: Cody

Joyce Manor’s fourth album, Cody is their most elegant effort yet.

READ more
IAN SWEET: Shapeshifter

While Shapeshifter phases in and out of being great, the musical ability and connection between the band members is undeniably strong.

READ more
What Is ‘Star Trek Beyond’ Trying to Accomplish?

Can the rebooted film franchise keep what is special about Star Trek, but boldly go where no director has gone before?

READ more
The Head and the Heart Get to Both at the Fox Theater

Even without frontman Johnson, The Head and the Heart host a soaring communal sing-along worthy of the price of admission.

READ more
Kenji Mizoguchi and the Cinema of Obfuscation

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum invites us in, then makes us uncomfortable. This is the cinema of denial.

READ more
Tama Janowitz’s Memoir, ‘Scream’ May Leave You Grumbling

You know you're in trouble when the author has eight dogs and isn't a vet tech.

READ more

31 Oct 2016 // 2:00 AM

Unlock Yr Heart: An Interview with Psychic Twin

Erin Fein handled a brutal divorce in a way few of us could imagine: by digging into herself to create a powerful, evocative album.

READ more
Nutty Professors? The Case for Scientist-Humorists in the Culture Wars

It's time for the personalities of the science community to emerge from their labs and to get into the ring.

READ more
Ulrich Schnauss: No Further Ahead Than Today

Big, busy, melodic statements from an architect of populist electronic music.

READ more

31 Oct 2016 // 1:25 AM

Purling Hiss: High Bias

The Philadelphia-based garage rockers try to broaden their psychedelic edge but cover too much of the same old territory.

READ more

31 Oct 2016 // 1:20 AM

Alabama 3: Blues

Alabama 3 show once again why they're the sheriffs of this two-bit blues-rock town.

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

"Rock Never Dies" Takes Shots at Celebrity Culture In a Surprisingly Effective Episode

// Channel Surfing

"Season 12's best episode yet isn't perfect, but well-done, with an excellent swan song performance by Rick Springfield.

READ the article