Liner Notes (May 29th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter has my early first impressions of Phoebe Bridgers’s new album, Punisher. You’ll also find more thoughts on all of the best of lists that hit the website this week and my plans for their future, and my usual commentary on music and entertainment I enjoyed this week. And, of course, there’s a playlist of ten songs I liked as well. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • Quite a few fun things around the website this week. On Wednesday, I posted about bringing all of the old AbsolutePunk “end of the year” lists back into our database for posterity. I had been piecing these back together for a while and finally had enough of them that it made sense. And, then, because of the magic of the internet and the help of various readers, I was able to put together the pieces I was missing to complete every staff compiled list from 2005–2015 (so now we have 2005–2019 in our database). These are a real nostalgia trip to read back through. There’s some glaring omissions, some hilariously misplaced albums, but they do act as a fascinating snapshot in time for the early days of this music scene. While I was building out the missing spots in the 2012 list, a reader let me know that they had saved all of my personal lists from 2005 onward as well. I thought these were all lost to time. This was before I was keeping backups or making sure all my writing was in flat text files on my computer, and I assumed they no longer existed. But they do! And now they’re also back in our database. Now there is once again internet proof of some hilariously lousy ranking that I will need to re-defend. My goal is to write some kind of longer-ish article/feature each Wednesday, and now that these exist again, I think a fun weekly feature will be going back through each year and explaining what was going on in the music scene at the time and why the staff lists look the way they do. Maybe talking about what we fucked up, and then doing the same for my personal lists before doing a re-ranking of how I would put them together now. There’s going to be some awkwardness around some of the bands, but I think this could be a fun feature for a few weeks. I have some excellent stories from behind the scenes of putting the lists together and figure I need somewhere to explain why The Spill Canvas was above Thrice in 2005. If all goes to plan, look for 2005 next Wednesday.

  • Speaking of weekly articles, this week I shared some photos and the process behind putting up some large canvas prints in our home. I did this when I first moved in like eight years ago, but the article I wrote about it was on my old Tumblr blog, and I figured having something on Chorus to link to would be a benefit in the future. I’m obsessed with the latest Hayley Williams addition to the main wall. This feels like the adult version of putting up posters on the wall, but while all my friends have their fancy “art” or landscapes or whatever, I’ve got my favorite bands.

  • I’m still working my way through some of the smaller bugs on the website, and I have a few more I need to tackle. There’s a new Twitter bug in the forums that is driving me absolutely insane, but that’s my main focus for the foreseeable future: bug fixes and putting out new content on the site.

  • I’m a big fan of this Service Station app for the Mac. It lets you better customize the right-click menu for files, folders, etc., and because it also lets you run custom scripts, you can easily access stuff that used to be all the way down under Services. For example, I have a bunch of custom scripts for manipulating images, cropping them in various ways for the website, uploading to the Chorus CDN. With this app, everything is nice and organized.


MxPx have once again sponsored the newsletter this week. They recently released the new song “Worries” and it’s out now on all digital platforms. There is also a video for the song and some limited merchandise in their webstore.

Also, Mike Herrera will be doing weekly livestreams every Friday on the MxPx Facebook page throughout all of May. Make sure you check that out each week at 6pm PT.

(Note from Jason: As many of you know, my first website was a MxPx/Blink–182 fan-page. When this whole pandemic started, MxPx reached out to me to see how I was doing and wanted to sponsor the website for multiple weeks knowing how crazy the online ad market and the economy were acting. It was an incredible gesture, and so I want to give my personal pitch: Check out “Worries” and if you’ve never dived into the band’s discography before, this weekend is a perfect time to do it. I fell in love with Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo as a kid, and if you’re looking for pop-punk perfection, they have an incredible catalog to experience. There’s never a wrong time to discover great bands, and this is a great band, full of great people.)

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Two full weeks with Phoebe Bridgers’s new album, Punisher, and two full weeks of just letting this behemoth of a songwriting opus wash over me. These are songs that I want to hold up as examples of how an artist can paint a picture with words. There’s little turn of phrases, tiny flourishes, that are so stupid good they make me angry. They make me actually angry that someone is this good of a writer and was able to put these words, these feelings, these emotions, into the world this well. It’s the ease of storytelling, of placing the listener into her world, and then guiding them through a song that I find mesmerizing. And it’s done with a shocking emotional clarity that it’s virtually impossible not to burn with the emotion emanating from the speakers. While her previous album had more of a wistfulness at times, to combine with some devastatingly haunting tracks, this feels like a cohesive spiritual pummeling. Early highlights include “Halloween,” a harrowingly eerie number with guest vocals from Conor Oberst. “Chinese Satellite” with one of my favorite lyrical moments of, “Took a tour to see the stars, but they weren’t out tonight, so I wished hard on a Chinese satellite. I want to believe; instead, I look at the sky, and I feel nothing.” And the closer, “I Know The End,” which is as epic and grandiose as you may expect. To me, this is an album that builds upon what she started with Stranger in the Alps, but better ties her themes together throughout. Here we have a singular talent capturing the disaffected millennial with songs that search love, acceptance, and shared communal loneliness. Songs that have obvious ties to Elliot Smith, and I’d even say at times Bob Dylan, but go beyond melancholy guitar rock to turn the sketches of life in 2020 into vivid musical watercolors. The edges bleeding, the paper wrinkled and wet, the shapes morphing and molding together with shaking beauty. It’s an achievement album and one of the best things I’ve heard all year.

  • I’m continuing to enjoy the new album from The 1975. It’s a difficult album to listen to all in one sitting, however. I find myself stopping it in weird places, forgetting I was listening, and then being back in the middle hours later. I still think it’s too long, too wandering, and yet still completely wonderful. I haven’t had an experience with an album quite like this in a while. One where the obvious flaws stand out so prominently, and yet my enjoyment of the album is still resolute.

  • The Night Game’s new single is just what the doctor ordered. This wistful nostalgia rock is so very much my shit. I’m going to need to hear this full album sooner rather than later, please, and thank you.

  • I spun the new Lady Gaga while posting news this morning and was pleasantly surprised with how much I was enjoying it. She’s always been a little hit or miss for me, and this was more in the former category. Some excellent pop songs that I can see myself enjoying the hell out of as the weather starts creeping north of 80. “Fun Tonight,” “911,” and “Replay” all stood out to me on first listen.

  • Christian Lee Hudson released his new album today and I’ve only had the time to listen to it once, but I enjoyed my first listen. It’s a laid back singer-songwriter kinda thing with some great storytelling and Elliot Smith vibes.

  • I plan to check out the new Chain Gang of 1974 album, and the new Seer Believer album, next.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • The Lovebirds is an entirely passable and fun evening watch. It doesn’t reach the heights of other movies in this genre, but for being the kind of movie to watch on a Friday night and not have to think about anything besides laughing a little, it does its job. The perfect sort of Netflix film.

  • I ended up enjoying The Last Dance for what it was. I don’t think it’s the best sports documentary ever, but I do think it’s a good glimpse into the Bulls-era of basketball, and I enjoyed watching it each week.

  • I continue to absolutely adore Harley Quinn.

  • We have only two more episodes left on our The Leftovers re-watch. Season three doesn’t have the same highs as two for me; however, it’s still damn good. After we finish this, I’m making Hannah watch the first season of Dark so we can watch season two (and soon, three) together.

  • I read One of Us is Next, and while it’s not quite as good as the first book, it’s still a fun teenage mystery that reminds me a little of Veronica Mars. I like the whole “first-person for various characters” conceit and think it works. Because I enjoyed her Truly, Devious series so much, I started reading the earlier series, The Name of the Star, and you can see a lot of the seeds planted here for what Maureen Johnson would do next. The first book was good, I’m almost done with the second, and I see no reason why I won’t then read the third.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This was an extremely tough week with everything going on in the world. 100k people are dead, a number that I don’t think most can fathom. And yet we’ve somehow decided that not having a plan is strategy enough, so whatever guess we gotta open things back up. Somehow the very act of wearing a mask to protect yourself, and others, has become political. And everything happening in Minneapolis is heartbreaking. And, of course, all of this is exacerbated by the absolute worst person being President. His tweets this week have ranged from deranged, to shockingly stupid. His rants about Twitter labeling his fucked-up-bullshit as fucked-up-bullshit have now turned into calls to revoke Section 230. Just to be as clear as I can: If this happens, I can’t run my website. This law makes running our community possible. So, the most powerful man in the world now actively campaigning to put me out of a job is really fucking awesome. It’s been a very stressful last few months, and I feel like everyone is running thin on every emotion. I’ve been trying not to write too much about this sort of stuff in these newsletters and even on the website; instead, I’ve been trying to focus on some stuff that’s a little lighter, more fun, more nostalgia, because I want to offer some places of escape from the hell surrounding us. Not only for you, the reader, but for myself as well. I’ve tried to limit myself to Twitter and the political thread only for a few moments each day, to keep myself working on other things, distracted and busy with different work, because if I don’t, I don’t know how I’d make it through the day. I hope everyone is doing alright out there, and you’re finding your ways to power through. Just know you’re not alone, we’re all trying to find any answer to our path. Stay strong.

Ten Songs

Here are ten songs that I listened to and loved this week. Some may be new, some may be old, but they all found their way into my life during the past seven days.

  1. The Night Game - Magic Trick

  2. Badly Drawn Boy - I Need Someone to Trust

  3. Lady Gaga - Fun Tonight

  4. Carly Rae Jepsen - Solo

  5. Goldfinger - The Innocent (Live)

  6. Alex Lahey - Let’s Go Out (Bedroom Version)

  7. The 1975 - Playing on My Mind

  8. The Airborne Toxic Event - Everything I Love is Broken

  9. Christian Lee Hutson - Lose This Number

  10. Fionn Regan - Dogwood Blossom

This playlist is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Community Watch

The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:

The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by St. Nate in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. The weather’s starting to get really nice and there’s a beautiful courtyard that’s starting to bloom in our building. I plan to order some pizza tonight and have a beer outside in the courtyard with many, many slices. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next week.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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