This week’s newsletter is a little longer than most as I make up for lost time. There’s thoughts on the new Bleachers album, first impressions of the new CHVRCHES album, thoughts on tracking TV show watching, articles I enjoyed over the past few weeks, and even more commentary on music, movies, and tv shows I consumed over the past two weeks. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.
A Few Things
It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve talked with all you beautiful people. Last weekend ended up having a few errands and commitments stacked on top of each other, and I didn’t ever find the time to sit down and write. For me, a big part of this newsletter is wanting to do it when I feel inspired versus just pushing out “content” because it’s on a schedule or to-do list. Anyways, this will probably be a little bit of a longer issue to make up for everything I didn’t get to write about last week.
Some of the articles and things around the internet I enjoyed the past couple of weeks include this article on climate change and how all the right words about it have been written, the argument is over. We either decide to do what is needed now, or future generations are in very big trouble. This piece about being an “over-thinker” also resonated with me. I try and avoid overthinking too much, but it’s difficult for me because my brain sees a scenario and immediately starts running itself down every single path possible. I thought this piece did a good job reframing the practice. And, with Ted Lasso coming back, IconFactory made their Ted Lasso wallpapers free. (IconFactory makes some fantastic icons and wallpapers for the iPhone, iPad, and Desktop.)
For the past few years, I’ve been using the app iShows to keep track of what TV shows I watch. I dunno why, but I like keeping a running list of all the things I watch and when I watch them. Part of it is for this newsletter and remembering what I consumed so I can write about it. Part of it is to have a running record of my history. Part of it is that I’ve been scrobbling music for so long I am used to being able to pull up stats and see habits. Ever since I started using Letterboxd, I realized how convenient it is when someone asks me, “what’s something good you’ve seen recently” - and I don’t have to rely on my memory to pull something out of thin air. The problem with iShows was that it was extremely flakey. I’d mark an episode as watched, and it wouldn’t sync. Or it would mark it as played twice. This became frustrating to manage. So, when Trakt released their own native iOS app, I decided to give it a try. The main thing is: It works! I can check in to a TV show, I can mark it as played, and I can easily see what the next episode up is for all the shows I am watching at any given time. It’s not as feature-rich as I would like, but it does do what I want it to do. So, I decided to go all-in on it. I spent some time fixing up all the data issues that I had with episodes being listed twice, and I’ll be using this going forward to keep track of what I am watching. I had been using it only for TV shows, but since I could, I also imported by Letterboxd movie diary into the service using this script. Now it has all my TV watching history, as well as my movie-watching history. I feel like going forward, I’ll probably still use Letterboxd to keep track of movies I’ve watched and “rate” them, and I love the service for finding recommendations of movies I haven’t heard about from my friends and follows. Still, I’ll also be using Trakt to keep track of film as well. So long iShows, I just needed something that works.
I’ve meant to check out the app Sofa as a way to keep track of things to watch, read, and listen to. The latest MacStories review is probably enough to convince me to dive in this weekend. It looks interesting enough to play around with.
Caroline Romano has released the music video for her latest single “PDA of the Mainstream.”
“PDA of the Mainstream” is an anthemic, punk-influenced pop number that gives the middle finger to the internet and all its toxicity. For the video, Caroline worked with director Justin Key to develop a visual concept that captures the familiar feelings of chaos, anger, joy, entertainment, and excess that the internet invokes in all of us. “The music video for ‘PDA of the Mainstream’ was my chance to yell directly at the internet,” Caroline says. “I wanted to visually create my own little version of the internet and how I see it, and I think I did that. There’s kittens and confetti and destruction, along with a whole lot of screaming. If that’s not representative of applications and the digital age, I don’t know what is. If I can’t beat it, I figured I might as well smash it with a hammer.”
Following the “PDA of the Mainstream” music video release, Caroline is also announcing her next single, “The Hypothetical,” set to release on July 30th. Pre-save “The Hypothetical” here.
In Case You Missed It
The big release around the website this week was the new one from Bleachers. I’ve been writing about Jack Antonoff bands since he and I were teenagers. I still remember the first time Richard from Drive-Thru Records emailed me about a little band he was thinking of signing called Steel Train. Now, all these years later and Jack’s one of the most prolific and polarizing producers in the entire world. And his musical choices and output has tracked along pretty well with my own throughout the years. I adored that first Bleachers record, and I still think it holds up as one of my favorite records in quite a while. There’s something so earnest about those pop songs that just resonate with me. The second Bleachers record was not as immediate for me. I enjoyed it and still listen to it, but I found it a little wandering—a tad repetitive. And I never had the same emotional connection with it that I did the debut. The third record is a downright enigma. It walks the line of Bruce Springsteen worship right up to the edge of theft while making baffling production choices that actively bury and hide the vocals and music. At times it sounds like the vocals are coming from a noisy neighbor’s stereo that you can just barely make out through the poorly insulated walls. And at the same time, it’s immaculately layered and intentional, and the songs are, at their core, extremely strong. To compare it to another artist’s latest album, Andrew McMahon’s Upside Down Flowers, I have similar and yet different complaints. With Andrew’s record, I thought the album’s sound actively made the song sound worse, but I also thought many of the songs on the album were relatively weak compared to his best at their foundational level. So, combine that with the way the music ended up sounding, and I think they never really had a chance to reach the heights of his best work. Here I see some of Jack’s best songs, actively great songs at their base level, being strangled by a decision to make them sound like a facsimile of another era. And yet live, they “pop” in a way they never do on record. They feel more alive and buzzing with that kinetic energy of the best of Antonoff’s work. That boils down to me not disliking the album. Quite the opposite; it’s undeniably good, but I also can’t shake from my head a feeling of disappointment at what feels buried within. One where one of the world’s most famous and undeniably brilliant producers trapped his songs in a bottle, and they’re bursting at the seams to get out.
My most played album of the last week was the new one from CHVRCHES. It’s due out next month, and it’s a delight of an album that begs to be sitting on repeat. My early favorites are songs like “Final Girl,” “Nightmares,” and “Violent Delights.” I think I replayed “Final Girl” four or five times in a row the first time I heard it. The last refrain is permanently lodged in my head. I’d go as far as to say this is my favorite album from the band since their debut (and I’ve liked all their releases). This just feels more confident, more realized, and cohesive. It never meanders, never strays far from just being a pitch-perfect pop album. Keep this on your radar.
Against the Current released their new EP last week, and it should be right in the wheelhouse for anyone wanting a new pop-punk release to throw on this summer.
Charli Adams released her full-length last week and it’s the kind of album that fits somewhere in with the Olivia Rodrigo or Katie Pruitt crowd. Stuff like “Didn’t Make It” are just downright well-written pop songs. If you’re looking for something breezy to walk you from the summer into the rest of the year, this should scratch that itch.
In my best Joey voice: New All Time Low song, “good.” New PVRIS song, “good.” New MxPx song: “goooood.” I like it.
I was going to check out that Chunk, No Captain Chunk album. But then I saw this post from Steve Klein and thought, “Nah, I’m good.” Bands and labels can choose who they want to work with, and I can decide to nope right the hell away. I had no idea this was the case, and now I am mad I gave them any kind of coverage over the past few months. Lesson learned.
The new ATL single got me back on my Pale Waves kick. Big ass fan of this album. It sat at number seven in my mid-year list, and it feels like a top 5 album for me at the moment.
I’ve had The Handmaiden on my “to watch” list for a long time, and we finally got to it last weekend. Well made erotic thriller with multiple twists. Maybe the reviews hyped it up a little too much, but I still thought it was quite good.
After the very bad Fear Street 1994, we watched the much better You’re Next. I laughed. I jumped. I enjoyed.
We’re just about done with the last season of Atypical, and my thoughts are the same as the past few weeks. Good season, but not their best. I’m glad everyone is getting an end.
First season of Loki, at its best, is everything I love about Doctor Who. When Doctor Who is good, it’s great. And Loki gives me similar feelings as those seasons of Doctor Who. Just enough silliness, just enough melodrama, just enough adventure, and a charismatic lead. A big step up from Winter Solider
Ted Lasso is back! We are going to make it our Sunday evening show. So I’ve only seen the first episode so far, and will be a few days behind everyone, but I want to watch it week to week. DID YOU HEAR ME? TED LASSO IS BACK!
Hm, so you know what I didn’t expect to spend all last Sunday watching on the couch? The new Masters of the Universe cartoon on Netflix. But you know what was shockingly good? The new Masters of the Universe cartoon on Netflix. It’s well crafted, walks between the nostalgia while taking itself just serious enough to build real characters, a real story, and I’m somehow completely in on this very silly show and ridiculous premise. It’s just a fun well-written show and I’m actively anticipating the second half.
Random and Personal Stuff
Not much here this week. Hannah has to work today, so I’m just hanging out at home for the moment.
The Delta variant of COVID is going to wreak havoc on the unvaccinated. If you have not yet gotten your shot, please, please, please, go do it now.
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.
All Time Low - PMA
PVRIS - Monster
Bleachers - How Dare You Want More
MxPx - Say Yes
Against the Current - Burn it Down
Charli Adams - Didn’t Make It
Billie Eilish - I Didn’t Change My Number
Spanish Love Songs - Phantom Limb
Chvrches - Good Girls
Hot Mulligan - Bleed American
The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:
The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by Anthony_ in the “Albums in Stores - Jul. 30th, 2021” thread.
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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.