Opium Traces
More Recent Features
        Jay Z: The Blueprint

“Fo’Shizzle my Nizzle.” These were the words the dribbled out of the mouth of the Rev. Jesse Jackson as he “graced” the stage at

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Jamiroquai: 2001: A Funk Odyssey

Jamiroquai’s fifth album, 2001: A Funk Odyssey, is an intergalactic break dance across a lighted disco floor. Dipping and spinning, it flirts with Bootsy Collins,

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

        JJ72: self-titled

There are plenty of reasons not to like JJ72’s debut album, which appeared everywhere else last August but just being released here now, if

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Roy Haynes: Birds of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker

It would seem an odd choice for a drummer to be paying tribute to a saxophonist, but that odd prejudice flies out the window when

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	John Hiatt: The Tiki Bar Is Open

Ferocious as it is, the acoustic strumming which opens John Hiatt’s latest does not prepare for the onslaught that quickly becomes “Everybody Went Low”.

READ more
	Stefon Harris and Jacky Terrasson: Kindred

Bruce Lundvall is a very intelligent man. He has single-handedly revived Blue Note Records to its former position as the most interesting label in jazz

READ more
	Ben Folds: Rockin’ the Suburbs

For most of his career, Ben Folds has thrived on examining those things that needle and surprise us from within -- even in his fictional narratives, you can sense very real experiences whispering from the shadows. Beneath the versatile Tin Pan Alley flourishes and Randy Newmanesque pop sheen of his songs, Folds's attitude ranges from heartfelt to smirking to unforgiving (sometimes all three at once).

READ more
	Dead Kennedys: Bedtime for Democracy

“Alternative Tentacles will not carry these CDs in our mail order. I will not sign them. I don’t even want them in my collection”.—

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	The Derailers: Here Come the Derailers

A happy marriage would move these guys from Saturday Night to Sunday Morning. But with the bride running from the altar, well, that means the Derailers are back in the honky-tonk, right where they belong.

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Johnny Carson: On Comedy

It’s right there in the liner notes. I’m referring to the problem with Johnny Carson On Comedy, a new CD from Laugh.com.

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	The Chemical Brothers: It Began in Afrika

Boy, do I feel like an idiot. After enjoying the hell out of 1999’s rock-electronica opus Surrender, I jumped when a new Chemical Brothers disc

READ more
	Joyce Cooling: Third Wish

Having had some unpleasant encounters with rock guitars lately and a blazing row with a “real” jazz fan—who was mortified by a deep house

READ more
	The Charlatans UK: Wonderland

The Charlatans have never been the most original band, but their combination of every cool-sounding musical style ever approaches an original sort of derivativeness.

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Jack Bruce: Willpower: A Twenty Year Retrospective

It was with John Mayall’s Bluebreakers that Eric Clapton first accrued status as Britain’s premier guitar hero. His groundbreaking electric blues playing made

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Beulah: The Coast Is Never Clear

Undoubtedly the oldest adage offered to writers is the trite “write about what you know”. San Franciscans Beulah seem to have taken the phrase to

READ more
	Babyface: Face 2 Face

First there was the banging introduction. Clearly them Neptunes were up to their usual brew of post-millennial digitized funk. I’m thinking Mystical, who they

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	The Apes: Fugue in the Fog

You can see ‘em creepin’ out of the swamp. Dragging their wet, murky feet through the mud and onto the abandoned dirt road just on

READ more

10 Sep 2001 // 12:00 AM

Criticism is product too, absorbed and deployed by the machine, as a sign of genius and innovation (like Cobain or Biggie Smalls), and also as a product to be sold, to be sucked back into the ever-envelope-pushing machine. Aaliyah is part of it, yes.

READ more

6 Sep 2001 // 12:00 AM

Dan Hicks is to music what Philip K. Dick is to Sci Fi, what R. Crumb is to comics, what The Dude is to bowling: a true original in a world of copies.

READ more

6 Sep 2001 // 12:00 AM

Dan Hicks is to music what Philip K. Dick is to Sci Fi, what R. Crumb is to comics, what The Dude is to bowling: a true original in a world of copies.

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

Apparently, I’d heard correctly—and the critic was the gangling boy behind me, piping up shortly after lead singer Polly Jean Harvey joined her

READ more
        Various Artists: The Best of Sessions at West 54th: Volume 1

Public television’s Sessions at West 54th series has spent the last few years providing healthy doses of high quality, intelligent music in an intimate

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Various Artists: Yoyo a Go Go 1999

For over 60 years, citizens of Olympia, Washington, have gathered at Lakefair, a city carnival that takes place during the second week in July. Since 1994, Yoyo

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Vibrolux: self-titled

I suppose if the title of this review caught your eye, then you’ve come here expecting something special. Well, I’m happy to say

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	3 Mustaphas 3: Play Musty for Me

The 3 Mustaphas 3 concept can be most readily comprehended by listening to “Radio Szegerely”, the first cut on Play Musty for Me. Imagine it’s the

READ more
        Space Ballerinas: If Goth Was Pink

The musical texture of that opening story-song, “Ballerina Fell…”, is supplied by keyboards and a powerful voice that is both angelic and eerie. Both that

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Erik Sanko: Past Imperfect Present Tense

From the opening moments of “While You Were Out”, Erik Sanko’s Past Imperfect Present Tense is a quiet exercise in nervous melancholy. His music

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Mike Stern: Voices

I was sitting with Carl, who isn’t a music enthusiast, but who is interested in these music reviews I write, and the strange and

READ more
        Michael J. Sheehy: Ill Gotten Gains

Beautiful LosersEver tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better —Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho After a year that became, in his own

READ more
        Ursula Rucker: Supa Sista

No doubt jaws dropped as the poetess proceeded to document the retribution of a young woman who was gang raped. The poem, “The Unlocking” was

READ more
	Rube Waddell: Hobo Train: Deluxe CD

Rube WaddellBound for the Gates of Hell(Vaccination)US release date: 14 November 2001 by Mark DesrosiersPopMatters Features Editor rubewaddell-hobo.jpg :. e-mail this article:. print this article:.

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Bruce Robison: Country Sunshine

Back in the mid-‘90s, a friend of mine was a regular in Austin’s honky-tonks. This was when it was easy to catch Dale

READ more
	Mazarin: A Tall Tale Storyline

I must say that A Tall Tale Storyline is rather a delightful pop record—as intelligent and whimsical as its title. Like its brother in

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Ming & FS: The Human Condition

Truly an album for those who appreciate eclectic sound-mashing, Ming & FS’s The Human Condition is an enjoyable romp through junkyard territory. And in

READ more
	The Murder City Devils: Thelema

There’s no accounting for taste. So why do people write and read reviews? One answer may be an implicit belief in the commonality of

READ more
        MC Lyte: The Very Best of MC Lyte

Nearly a decade before Eve would become the “belle” of the Ruff Ryders, Flatbush born Lana Moorer, then still in her teens, was dropping lines

READ more
        Jeff Kelly: Indiscretion

The title song is a blazing rock anthem about feeling guilty for sexual relationships outside of marriage. Kelly expresses regret and lust at the same

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Hot Little Rocket: Danish Documentary

I’m sitting here trying to decide once again what to write about an album that could easily be summed up in one or two

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Wayne Hancock: A-Town Blues

Wayne Hancock walks a very fine line exceptionally well. If he were to stumble even a bit, his style of no-frills classic country and his

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Margo Guryan: 25 Demos

Hindsight and nostalgia are the faulty prisms through which we see the 1960s as simpler and better times. Far from the musical worlds of the

READ more
	Garmarna: Hildegard von Bingen

Garmarna may add more fuel to the ongoing dialogues about authenticity in musical presentation with their latest endeavor, Hildegard von Bingen . This album is an

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Fugu: Fugu 1

Stepping into Fugu’s world for the first time feels like crawling into a hidden corner of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club

READ more
	Duane Eubanks Quintet/Sextet: Second Take

There always seems to be space these days for a good Hard Bop outfit. It was rather different 30 years ago when it seemed that Art

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Converge: Jane Doe

A lot has been said about the whole “math rock” genre. But no one ever seems to apply the label to any type of music

READ more

3 Sep 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Bows: Cassidy

Atmospheric and unrestrained, Bows’ sophomore album Cassidy incorporates a trip-hop vibe with jazz and drum and bass influences. Not wanting to be limited to any

READ more
	The Best Friends Group: When Everyone’s Around

The Best Friends Group is exactly what it sounds like: a group of friends getting together to play music. These friends are gifted indie-pop musicians

READ more
	Hydroplane: The Sound of Changing Places

As members of The Cat’s Miaow, Kerrie Bolton and Andrew Withycombe help create pretty, smart pop music. With their other band Hydroplane, they do

READ more
	Pine Mountain Railroad: Knoxville Train

Let’s talk Tennessee cuisine. Folks in the Volunteer State are fiercely loyal to their native brands. For example, a blackberry cobbler would be ruin’

READ more

Music aficionados and classic soul listeners are also likely up in arms at 'Music', Eric Sermon's digitized duet with the late Marvin Gaye, who was murdered by his father on April 1, 1984.

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 11:03 PM

Björk: Vespertine

Vespertine is the best album of Björk’s career.

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Muddy Waters: The Anthology: 1947-1972

Born in 1915 in rural Mississippi, McKinley Morganfield had an early childhood that differed little from those of most African-Americans growing up in the thick of

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	U-Roy: Now

In terms of influencing the way music sounds today it is not too fanciful to accord the Jamaican sound systems of the 1960s and ‘70s

READ more
        Phil Upchurch: Tell the Truth

It is hard to believe that there is only one Phil Upchurch. His name appears with such frequency on so many records that you would

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Glenn Tilbrook: The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook

When you first set this one spinning, you realize how good it is to hear that most distinctive voice again. It’s the unmistakable voice

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Truby Trio: DJ Kicks

Truby Trio embody everything that is sleek and polished about the European jet-set lifestyle. It’s rather sickening, actually. First of all, there’s Rainer

READ more
        Stereolab: Sound-Dust

By now, after eight albums and a hard-to-map path of singles and EPs, Stereolab has written their own musical language. It’s one built in

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Adam Schmitt: Demolition

A long time ago, or so it seems, I had Adam Schmitt’s first album, World So Bright that I found in a bargain bin

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Earl Scruggs: Earl Scruggs and Friends

One of the great things about Earl Scruggs—besides, of course, the fact that he’s a musical genius whose three-finger picking style revolutionized the

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Quiet Riot: Metal Health

When Quiet Riot released Metal Health in the spring of 1983, it was an instant success. By November the record had sold millions and became the

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Phamous Phaces: New Pop City

New Pop City is populated with highly competent, melodic jangle-pop and is easily the best effort yet from this Eugene, Oregon quartet, so why do

READ more
        Bud Powell: The Amazing Bud Powell—Vols 1 and 2

That each generation of jazz pianists still marvels at and learns from Bud Powell is proof that these are so much more than historically interesting museum pieces.

READ more
        Roger McGuinn: Treasures from the Folk Den

When Roger McGuinn was a member of The Byrds—one of America’s most influential rock ‘n’ roll bands—he brought to his band an

READ more
        The Mavericks: The Best of the Mavericks: 20th Century Masters—The Millennium Collection

Though they enjoyed a modicum of success in their 10-year run, in the end the Mavericks outgrew their audience with an ever-expanding musical palette that

READ more
        The Mamas & the Papas: All The Leaves Are Brown: The Golden Era Collection

“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grayI’ve been for a walk on a winter’s dayI’d be safe and warm. . . .” —“

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Sunny Ledfurd: The White Disk

“SL you guys rock, i love guys and i just wanted to say when you guys get big PLEAZ dont chang cuz most singers, groups,

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        B.B. King: Here and There: The Uncollected B.B. King

BB. King once said that “the blues is an expression of anger against shame and humiliation”. Given the source of this definition (that amiable gentle

READ more
	The Ivory Coast: Clouds

Clouds is one of those albums that frustrates the listener’s critical capacities. You spend half your time trying to decide if you actually like

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Heavenly: Heavenly Versus Satan

Heavenly obviously recalls an earlier era in independent rock since Heavenly Versus Satan is the domestic re-release of the band’s 1990 album. Still, a bit

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Club 8: self-titled

Club 8 have the elements that mark the most memorable pop music, from Astrud Gilberto to Stephin Merritt: a sense of style, a remarkable vocalist, atmosphere,

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Circulatory System: self-titled

If the eponymous debut from Circulatory System looks like an Olivia Tremor Control CD, it’s because it almost is. The first thing you might

READ more

27 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Butthole Surfers: Weird Revolution

Gibby Haynes began the Butthole Surfers’ 1987 masterpiece Locust Abortion Technician with an exchange between father and son in which (before ending with a bombastic exhortation

READ more
Madonna Live: Drowned World 2001

The difference between Em's lyrical violence against women and Madonna's battered video self-portraits is that in Em's songs, violence against women is always nasty, ugly, and despicable (contrary to those who would claim he 'glorifies' it), unlike the video-screen Madonna of 'Drowned World', who is bloodied and bruised but nevertheless glamorous.

READ more
        J.J. Johnson: The Eminent, Volume One

When trombonist J.J. Johnson died in April of this year, the obituaries were respectful, his place in jazz history was duly acknowledged and his

READ more
        Rodney Jones: Soul Manifesto

Who’s got the funk? Well, this month’s answer to that age-old question is Blue Note. Not jazz-funk, mind you, or any new-fangled variant,

READ more

26 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Five: Kingsize

For such a good pop album, it’s a shame the band is no longer. You heard right. The superboy band Five has disbanded. Here’

READ more

26 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Eric’s Trip: The Eric’s Trip Show

In the rush to sign bands in the wake of Nirvana and Teen Spirit, many mediocre nouveau heavy metal bands signed major label deals and

READ more
	City High: self-titled

I thought I would hate City High when I first read about them. Look at the ingredients—an over-hyped, MTV-driven, debut set from a teen-oriented

READ more
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)

In his latest film, Woody Allen moves in slow motion. Actually, the whole of The Curse of the Jade Scorpion appears to be creaking and shuffling, like it's been made by zombies.

READ more

22 Aug 2001 // 12:00 AM

This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of J.D. Salinger's classic novel of adolescence adrift, 'The Catcher in the Rye'. Rob Maitra, 'PopMatters' critic and high-school teacher, brings us a report from the field that confirms that, even after half a century, Holden Caulfield is still very much alive -- and kicking.

READ more
        The Mockers: Living in the Holland Tunnel

Fans of pure pop often act like they’re a tiny breed of specialist music lovers, obscured by mainstream commercial acts and forced to justify

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Various Artists: Space Jazz

Labeling something jazz or rock or rap or blues or anything else is a tad arbitrary. It’s been a long time since genres of

READ more
        Shannon Wright: Dyed in the Wool

As a singer, songwriter and musician, Shannon Wright has an extreme intensity about her at all times, whether she’s playing a rock song with

READ more
        Velvet Crush: In the Presence of Greatness / A Single Odessey

Sometimes, when I close my eyes and wish real hard, I enter another world. There, things are pretty much the same as here, but everything

READ more
        Uriah Heep: The Best Of - The Millennium Collection

In rock’s long and illustrious history, there has never been a band greeted with more critical hostility than the UK progressive rock act, Uriah

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Seven Channels: self-titled

While popular music may be an important cultural force, no rock band has saved the world. Even groups who incorporate socially conscious messages into their

READ more
        Surface: The First Time / The Best of Surface

One of the mysteries, among many, about the Reagan-Thatcher years is why anyone thought that a certain cheap synth sound was a good idea. You

READ more
        The Shams: Take Off

The Shams have a lot going for them on the surface—namely, a sense of style that cannot be denied. The cover of the group’

READ more
        Quasi: Early Recordings

I often imagine Quasi to be the best sort of side project, one that allows a certain freedom that the more self-conscious main gig may

READ more
	Quasi: The Sword of God

The liner notes of Quasi’s fifth album begin with a lengthy screed about an unspecified primate named Omar. Sam Coomes, who writes the duo’

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Pram: Somniloquy

I was dreading writing this review, dreading it. Like many other people, I’ve been at a loss for words since the World Trade Center

READ more
        Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes: Ultimate Blue Notes

The Blue Notes got their start in 1954 as a Philadelphia-based doo-wop act fronted by vocalist Harold Melvin. Two years later the group signed their first

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Maxwell: Now

He is without question the crown-prince of the Neo-Soul movement. Blessed with bohemian good-looks, with the requisite wild hair and an enigmatic and self deprecating

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

        Moviola: Rumors of the Faithful

Defining a band’s sound is a tricky, complicated area. My usual first instinct, when the subject comes up, is to dismiss the idea entirely,

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	Mink Lungs: The Better Button

When a band’s record label touts a band as “cohesive”, you can be pretty sure they’re covering something up. In the case of

READ more
        Lupine Howl: The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of Lupine Howl

In a sense, Lupine Howl are in something of a no-win situation since they have the albatross of Spiritualized around their necks.

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

Nathan Larson: Jealous God

There are plenty of artists out there with spiritual leanings, but very few willing to deal with God—with a capital ‘G’.

READ more
        Charles Lloyd: Hyperion with Higgins

I wonder how many of the one million people who bought Forest Flower back in the hippy era will check this release out. Probably precious

READ more
	The Isley Brothers: Harvest for the World / The Heat is On

Eternal, the most recent release by the famed Isley Brothers, is easily one of their strongest since their classic “3+3” era. Almost four decades before “Mr.

READ more

20 Aug 2001 // 3:00 PM

	His Name Is Alive: someday my blues will cover the earth

The release of His Name Is Alive’s new album was held up, according to the 4AD website, by “near legendary” problems with the cover.

READ more
	Dave Holland Quintet: Not for Nothin’

If Dave Holland ever tires of being mentioned only as the young English bass-player recruited by Miles Davis in the late ‘60s, then he does

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

Double Take: 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1969)

// Short Ends and Leader

"The two Steves at Double Take are often mistaken for Paul Newman and Robert Redford; so it's appropriate that they shoot it out over Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

READ the article