Liner Notes (March 27th, 2020)

The Vast Spoils of America

At this point, the only way I know a week has passed is because I’m writing this newsletter. In this week’s edition, I share some articles, podcasts, and other things that have gotten me through the week, as well as do a rundown on music and entertainment I’ve consumed. Not sure what we’d do without streaming services right now. Dua Lipa’s pop-goodness and the absurd Harley Quinn cartoon are powering me through. Oh, and there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • Well, another week is in the books, and another newsletter is coming your way from the era of social distancing. At another time, “Social Distancing” would actually make a pretty good newsletter name. This week has been shockingly productive here. I’ve been working nonstop of the new version of the website because there’s nothing else I can be doing right now. My mindset is: this is the time to build it and go all in, and then when all the dust settles after the virus and the economic ramifications, I can sit back and look at everything. But, right now, what I can do is use my time as productively as possible and work my ass off while I’m stuck in this situation. It is what it is, but I’m pleased with the results so far. I think the new website is a culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted my website to be. The best parts of AbsolutePunk with my current thoughts on design, usability, and style. I’m a fan, and it’s keeping me busy, so that’s good at least. The best two things I read about the virus this week include:

    • fantastic interview with Larry Brilliant, who helped fight smallpox. This is practically a must-read.

    • A breakdown of what we know about how COVID–19 impacts different age groups.

  • In non-virus related reading, I enjoyed this comic series on creativity from The Oatmeal, and this essay on fear and uncertainty.

  • Two podcast episode recommendations this week: First, the episode of Reply All about the “Case of the Missing Hit” was fantastic and comes highly recommended. Second, the latest episode of Connected is an excellent conversation about the new iPads and, specifically, cursor support in iOS 13.4. But it also includes a shoutout to this very newsletter at the end. I wasn’t expecting it and heard it while cooking dinner and, look, this sounds corny, but it was exactly what I needed to hear right at the moment. It made me oddly emotional, and then I started smiling just knowing Myke is going to listen to that Lauv album. It was a tiny moment of happiness and joy that came when I needed it most. So, yeah, great podcast, definitely worth your time.

  • I got desperate in my need to do some kind of workout from home and purchased some resistance bands on Amazon (which now look to be sold out, so I guess I wasn’t the only one). Going from a daily gym routine to nothing was just not working for me, I needed some kind of physical activity and release. I’m making fun of myself for being that guy now, so it just is what it is. So far, after a week with them, they’ll do fine for the time being. FitBod works well to come up with daily workouts using various bands to target muscle groups, and combining that with bodyweight workouts works well enough. The first time I was doing tricep dips off the side of a stepladder, I realized, for the billionth time over the past few weeks, that things are really fucking weird right now. This doesn’t even feel real.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Dua Lipa moved her album release up to today, and we should all be thankful. It’s pretty much all I’ve been listening to for the past week and a much needed boost of pop energy in these weird-as-fuck times we’re currently living in. I think the album’s a massive leap forward, and coming in at just under 40 minutes, it wastes no time packing infectious melodies into every nook and cranny it can find. From the intoxicating rubbery beat in “Don’t Start Now” to the pulled from the 80’s “Physical” to whatever you wanna call it when my feet just start moving around out of my control while working in “Love Again” – this is a great pop album that should jump right to the top of your summer playlist.

  • I was impressed with the last 5 Seconds of Summer album and thought it showed impressive growth in the pop-rock realm. And when they dropped “Teeth,” I started paying attention to this new album, CALM. Unfortunately, it’s just not quite all there. There are some excellent songs on here, but it also suffers from sequencing problems and too many tracks falling into the same routine and predictable rut. The highs are high, and “Teeth,” “Easier,” “Old Me,” and “No Shame” show what the band can do, but the middle section of the album is all over the place while middling through too many ideas with lackluster execution. I’ll keep giving this a few more spins to see how it settles for me, but I’ve heard too many stronger pop and pop-rock albums already this year for it to turn my head.

  • It was all the way back at the end of January when I first wrote about the new album from Brian Fallon. That feels like an actual lifetime ago at this point. Well, it’s out today, and I stand by basically everything I wrote there. It’s an album that feels perfect for a night when you just want to get lost in something and are looking to pull yourself back from the day. It’s a snapshot in time from an exceptionally talented songwriter.

  • I never got an advance, so I don’t have thoughts on Half Waif’s new album yet, but that’s the first thing I’m going to listen to when I finish up this newsletter.

  • All Time Low released another new song this week and the activity in the band’s thread in our forums it looks like the album leaked early and is getting rave reviews from fans. That doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s been one of my most played albums of the year and is an absolute home run from the band. Catchy, fun, sunny, and just enough uniqueness to keep it fresh and interesting. It virtually defines “the album I needed to hear right now” for me.

  • I continue to adore this Lauv album. It’ll make a play at a high spot on my end of the year list, that’s virtually guaranteed with how much I’ve played it the past few weeks.

  • I liked the Kelsea Ballerini album well enough, but it felt far more like something that I’ll listen to a few times in passing and then never come back to. Strong singles, not so strong an album.

  • Abby Gundersen (Noah’s sister) released an instrumental album this week that comes just when I’m looking for more music in this vein to pop into the headphones while adjusting to working from home with another person in the house. This is getting added to my regular rotation for my mid-day coding sessions.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • The Invisible Man was shockingly good. I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I did, but thought the twist on the story was clever, the creepiness factor was great, and it walked the line between scary and entertaining in just the right way. God damn did I hate the villain in this.

  • I’m not a Pete Davidson fan, and yet I adored Big Time Adolescence. I found the movie charming, heartfelt, and a new take on the coming of age story (which you all know I am a sucker for). Hannah and I looked at each other after the movie ended almost slack-jawed in our “Woah, that was good, right?” reactions. This is worth your time if you’re looking for something to watch while stuck inside.

  • Onward is the first Pixar movie I can remember being outright bored by while watching. The last ten minutes are pretty good, but the rest of it I found at best to be sequel quality from a worse studio.

  • So, um, this is weird to write, but Birds of Prey was … really fun. This is another thing I absolutely did not see coming. Suicide Squad was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, and it was morbid curiosity alone that convinced Hannah to give this a try. And she ended up liking it more than me! Entertaining, funny, good action scenes, and just the right amount of camp and over the top. We ended up liking it so much that afterward, Hannah asked if there were any other Harley media out there we could consume, so we flipped over to DC Universe and started watching …

  • … the Harley Quinn cartoon. It’s very R-rated, it’s extremely over the top, and I kinda love it. It helps that one of my favorite Twitter follows, TheDweck, is involved in some of the writing, but the show is way better than it has any right being. It’s absurd, offensive, bloody, and yet kind of exactly what I want to waste time with right now at the end of the night. We’ve watched a couple of episodes every night this week, and I’ve been cracking up at all the inside Batman-related jokes they throw into the show, and Hannah said it’s one of the first times she’s actually “gotten” comic book characters and my enjoyment of them and how they work for escapism and fantasy. So, yeah, this is yet another show from DC Universe that I’ve liked. They’re batting an absurd percentage at this point. Oh, and Kite Man! Hell yeah.

  • We’ve been making our way through Star Trek Picard, and I’m enjoying it. Not as much as Discovery, but still to the point where I’m excited to finish it up this weekend. I made Hannah re-watch Star Trek: First Contact with me over the weekend. It … uh … kind of holds up. In that “oh god, this is such a 90’s movie” kind of way.

  • We finally watched the Netflix documentary on Taylor Swift, Miss Americana, and I thought it was well done. I think it did an outstanding job of explaining who and what motivates Taylor, and I liked seeing these glimpses behind the scenes of her writing her last album. Now she just needs to let me in the studio right at the end to trim up the sequencing and tighten up the album. I don’t come back to Lover very often these days, and I think a big part of that is because it flows so awkwardly. Still a damn good documentary, however.

  • I have a thing for sports movies, I have a thing for basketball movies, and I miss sports and basketball right now. The Way Back was a pretty decent to ok sports movie. It’s a pretty paint by numbers version, with a good Ben Affleck performance, and my desperation for anything sports-related probably let its tricks work on me more than they usually would.

  • Sword of Trust has one great scene with all four characters in the back of a van talking. The rest was take it or leave it, and it dragged on too long.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Life at home has been interesting. We’re getting more used to the swing of things. We’ve been inside virtually the entire week besides a half-hour run to the grocery store this morning. All of this is extremely weird, and I’m ready for it to be over.

  • Seeing “Opening Day” in my calendar yesterday made me really sad.

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. Ben Gibbard - Life in Quarantine

  2. Dua Lipa - Don’t Start Now

  3. All Time Low - Melancholy Kaleidoscope

  4. 5 Seconds of Summer - No Shame

  5. Fake Names - Brick

  6. Glacier Veins - Everything Glows

  7. Butch Walker - Pretty Crazy

  8. Bright Eyes - Persona Non Grata

  9. Abby Gundersen - Surfacing

  10. Brian Fallon - Vincent

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 popdisaster00 in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy out there. Thanks for taking a brief moment during the weirdness that is our lives right now to share a little time with me.

Thank you for subscribing to the Liner Notes email newsletter. If you’re not a supporting member, please consider becoming one. For just $3 a month or $25 a year, you can help keep this newsletter, website, and community running. It’s only because of the support of members like you that we can continue to exist. If you like the newsletter, please feel free to tell others about it, share portions on social media, or forward it along.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

Liner Notes (March 20th, 2020)

Keep Your Chin Up

Well, this is going to be a week I think I remember for a long time. This week’s newsletter looks at the weirdness of the past week, includes a variety of articles I found interesting and helpful, and then has some thoughts on music and entertainment I consumed while doing the whole “stay inside” thing. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Five Things

  • For the time being, I expect the top of this newsletter to be pretty focused on the current state of the world and dealing with the new realities that are facing us. I’m going to try and keep track of the best and most informative things I read throughout the week and share them here as well. This week was a very strange one. Wednesday was my birthday, and, damn, I’m feeling old. I turned 37, and it’s the first birthday in a while that really made me feel the age. In a “yeah, I’m not in my twenties anymore” kind of way. In a “yeah, you’re actually an adult” kind of way. Couple that with everything else going on, and I’ve got a good feeling this will be a birthday I remember for quite a while. We planned a little FaceTime meet-up with some of our friends and just sat around chatting and having a few drinks for an hour. That was definitely the best part of my night, and I highly recommend it. It helped everything feel a little more normal, even for just an hour. We made a store run yesterday to try and stock up on everything we’ll need for a couple more weeks, and we plan to continue to stay bunkered down for the foreseeable future. I predict a lot of pasta. I’m certain I’m going to gain quarantine weight and my workouts all week sucked. I never thought I’d be the “I miss the gym” guy, but I miss the gym. Anyway, the most interesting, or informative, things I read this week include:

    • This slidedeck by a doctor outlining everything we know about the virus. I found it very helpful and one of the better easy-to-digest resources about all of this.

    • This Twitter thread talking about the virus and food and why takeout/delivery is still safe for consumption.

    • This Medium post about what we should, and could, be doing in the short and medium-term to help get this shit all under control.

    • Ed Yong’s piece in the Atlantic about what we know about the virus so far.

  • I found out yesterday that a Facebook friend passed away from the Coronavirus. I knew Jeff because of his love for music and the fact that we went to the same college, just three years apart. He was a huge fan of the music that we wrote about on AbsolutePunk, and he was active in the music scene. However, the thing that broke me was when I clicked the little “show friendship” thing on Facebook and saw the multiple years in a row that he had written something nice on my wall for my birthday. I read a wonderful note from his college roommate on Facebook, and it hit me extremely hard. My heart goes out to his friends and family during this extremely trying time.

  • I ripped Hayley Williams acoustic version of “Leave it Alone” if anyone would like that for their collection.

  • I continued my work on the redesign of the Chorus homepage this week, and it’s coming along nicely. I’m a big fan of how easily everything transitions from desktop to mobile now and quite a few of the other little feature additions I’m putting in. I’ve put basically all of my efforts into this throughout the day because letting my mind work on these kinds of problems have been just about the only thing I can do to keep myself from succumbing to anxiety. The past few days have been working on the big “category” pages, like the Features page that shows all of the various features on the website. I’m trying to highlight the more recent features in bigger ways instead of it just being a list of text, and I think it’s coming along well. My big battle this week was with infinite scroll and our browse album review page. I won the war.

  • Lastly, with all the weirdness in the world right now and the uncertainty of the future and the ad market, I’ve got to plug our shop and our membership program. March is usually a time where ad sales start to pick up, but with the state of the economy, that doesn’t look like it’s happening. So, if you’re not a supporting member yet, now’s a great time to become one because this is going to be a really weird year. And a huge thank you to everyone that is currently a supporting member, you all are literally the people making me feel somewhat secure about the future. Thank you.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I listened to the new The Weeknd album this morning while posting news and there’s quite a bit I like here. I’ll give this a few more spins. A few songs had melodies that reminded me of some of the 2000’s emo scene, and that was not something I was expecting.

  • Next up on my list is to check out this new Kelsea Ballerini album.

  • Alkaline Trio released a three song EP this week. I enjoyed “Minds Like Minefields,” but the other two didn’t do a whole lot for me. Probably just not in the mood for this kind of thing right now, so I’ll have to make a mental note to come back to it in the future.

  • I’ve seen lots of love for the new All Time Low song, and the best part is, I don’t even think it’s in the top third of the album for me. This album, along with Lauv, continues to be my mainstays over the past few weeks. They’re the ones I keep turning to and actively want to listen to during the day.

  • I think Hayley Williams just keeps knocking these new songs out of the park. I’m now in the “only listen once” phase with the latest tracks, however, because I want to hear the album as a whole and don’t want to overplay any of the singles.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • We finished The Outsider on HBO, and by and large, I thought it was a pretty decent version of the book. If I’d never read the book, I think I would have liked more, but knowing the story, and seeing the changes made, it’s hard to separate the two. I’m glad we watched it.

  • I think that Ford v Ferrari would have made a great mini-series. As a movie, however, it was way too long, and we got bored in the middle and had to turn it off to finish over two nights. It felt like something I would have liked to see a few episodes of or something, but I couldn’t find myself getting into it at all.

  • I am not sure why this was even on our radar to watch but, The Night Clerk, wasn’t very good.

  • I got to choose what to watch this week because it was my birthday, so I picked Star Trek: Picard, and I’m delighted I did because it’s been great and a helpful distraction this week. It’s pretty telling that I had the most recent Star Wars as a possibility to watch again, and I decided to go with this instead. I’m just not excited to return to it, and that makes me sad.

  • I am over halfway through The Stand and have been trying to make it a habit to read for at least an hour every day after I finish work.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much here this week. Hannah got me a really cool looking art of Into the Spider-Verse book that I’m excited to dive into. My favorite social distancing snack so far has been those Halos oranges.

  • Damn, I mean, things are just really weird right now. Even putting together this newsletter just feels … strange … to me this week. Everything feels off, a little skewed, and I hope we can all find a way back to normal soon. I hope everyone is staying safe out there. I know that times like these can be tough. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.

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. All Time Low - Getaway Green

  2. Kelsea Ballerini - The Other Girl

  3. The Wrecks - Out of Style

  4. Hayley Williams - Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris

  5. The Weeknd - Hardest to Love

  6. Caitlyn Smith - Put Me Back Together

  7. The Bombpops - Sad to Me

  8. Lauv - Lonely Eyes

  9. Shoffy - Tricky

  10. Maya Hawk - By Myself

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 iCarly Rae Jepsen in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

Thank you for subscribing to the Liner Notes email newsletter. If you’re not a supporting member, please consider becoming one. For just $3 a month or $25 a year, you can help keep this newsletter, website, and community running. It’s only because of the support of members like you that we can continue to exist. If you like the newsletter, please feel free to tell others about it, share portions on social media, or forward it along.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

Liner Notes (March 13th, 2020)

Pandemic! At the Disco

This week’s newsletter looks at the crazy week we just had. There’s some thoughts on music and entertainment as well, but honestly, my mind’s been pretty preoccupied this week with everything else. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • At this point, there’s pretty much only one thing on everyone’s mind, right? I can’t quite think of a week like the one we just had in my lifetime. The closest thing was 9/11, but this week has had such a feeling of uncertainty and this piling on effect. The news coming out, the administration bumbling like morons, and then everything starts to get canceled at once. The NBA suspending the season, baseball canceling spring training and pushing back opening day, and then Tom Hanks has the virus, and the March Madness is gone, and then schools are closing, and then there’s no large gatherings, and the stock market is in free fall, and it went from zero to sixty real fucking fast. At this point, we’ve decided we’re going to do our best to do the whole social distancing thing. Not because we’re worried about being sick, but because we don’t want to be part of possibly spreading it to others, especially older or immunocompromised people. We plan to make one last run to the grocery store today to pick up some extra things (my birthday is next week and I want some candy dammit) and then spend some time here, inside, for a while to see how things all shake out. We’ve been slowly building up a stash of things the last three weeks when we did our grocery run, so we are pretty well stocked and feel prepared to do our part in flattening the curve. I hope everyone out there is doing what they can to prepare and I think one of the more important things is to do what you need to for your mental health. This is scary, and for some that means reading up about it, for others that means trying to distract yourself with other things. Whatever works for you: do it. And know there are countless others feeling the same way. If you’re looking for community, our forums are a great place to talk with others feeling the same kind of stresses. The supporter Q&A thread has been a really lovely outlet for the past few days. Things are going to be weird for a while, that much is pretty well certain, so I hope we can all do what we can to be kind to each other right now, and look for the places we can help. Think about your older neighbors and those in your community most vulnerable and if there’s anything you can do to make their lives just a little better. Oh, and we have to vote this incompetent moron out of office in November, we just have to. I’ve put together a few links of things I read this week that helped me understand everything that’s been going on a little better because I’m the kind of person that just needs to dive headfirst into everything, so if you’re like me you may find these helpful:

  • The Wash Your Lyrics website is a clever little tool that lets you create graphics for proper handwashing with the lyrics to any song. I made one for Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” and have been humming that to make sure my hands stay nice and clean.

  • It’s going to take some adjustments with Hannah also working from home over the next few weeks as we all do some good ’ol self-isolating. I’m not used to the extra sounds around the house while I’m working. This morning, as I sit here in the office and write, it’s the little noises from the kitchen, or the cat clearly confused, meowing, that make everything feel a little off. My current balm is noise-canceling AirPod Pros and the excellent Dark Noise app. It’s tough for me to write and listen to music at the same time. The lyrics mess with my flow and I find it hard to get into a rhythm. Dark Noise is an app full of various background sounds, white noise, and things of that nature. I currently am a huge fan of the thunderstorm sound. It’s comforting and helps pull out the rest of the world. Highly recommended.

  • I also recommend the Serenilite gel stress ball. I’m, by nature, a fidgety person. Who could have guessed? But all the little desk/fidget toys have never caught on with me. They make too much noise or are oddly weird to pick up and put down while typing or in the middle of other tasks. However, the little squeeze ball is perfect. It’s satisfying.


E.R.I.E have released their new album, Don’t Wanna Live, Don’t Wanna Die, on Bandcamp. The album is for fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Frank Turner, and Frightened Rabbit and is lush with addictive progressions and alternative undertones; the record boasts the aesthetic of pop-rock anthems befit for basements and festival stages alike.

The Upstate New York based songwriter/producer birthed the project out of a tumultuous experience, which resulted in an unexpected three-day stint at the hospital. Late one night, after Foster’s heart stopped for 15 seconds on his bathroom floor, he found himself on a hospital bed preparing for emergency surgery. Both before and after his surgery, the artist fought through existential thoughts and difficult questions. Though he left with many of them unanswered, there was one thing he knew for sure – a burning desire to play music again had returned.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • This week was a weird music listening week. I didn’t listen to a lot of music because I was either following the news or deep in my redesign of Chorus coding project. But, the [Lauv album](’ m+feeling~) got a whole lot of love when I needed a pick me up.

  • My album of the morning was the new release from Niall Horan, Heartbreak Weather, and it’s pretty much just the kind of pop album I needed this morning.

  • The Killers’ new song gives me a Sam’s Town vibe and I like it more than anything on their last album.

  • The new Dogleg album that came out today, Melee, is sure to be right up a lot of your alleys.

  • I have been listening to the new The Bombpops album while writing the newsletter this morning and really enjoying it. It’s one that’ll be getting more time throughout the next week. And next on my list to listen to is the new one from Caitlyn Smith that I’ve heard good things about.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Sonic the Hedgehog was surprisingly silly and fun for what it is. For a movie that by all accounts should have been an absolute trainwreck, this was completely watchable, kinda fun, and mindlessly watchable.

  • With everything else going on in the world, why not add a little more intensity, right? We watched 1917 last night, and I thought it was a good movie that wasn’t quite great. It’s very well shot, and it’s quite intense, but it didn’t quite get elevated into the upper tier for me.

  • We plowed through the second season of Ugly Delicious in no time. Hannah and I like watching food shows together and talking about all the places we want to go, and all the cookbooks we have in the kitchen full of fun things we just promise we’re going to try and make one of these days. I swear, one day I really am going to make those dumplings. This show makes me just wanna sit around, talk about food, and eat with friends.

  • McMillions was a wild ride. I enjoyed every part of this mini-series. What an absolutely insane story.

  • We’ve started watching Barry and the first four episodes have us hooked. I think this will be what we’re going to watch this next week while we’re isolated from the rest of the world.

  • For those that are sitting at home and wondering what they should binge-watch over the next few weeks, some under the radar gems I’d recommend giving a go: Cobra Kai11.22.62You’re the WorstThe Bold Type. And there’s always my list of favorite TV shows in my blog.

  • Yep, still reading The Stand during all this. It’s starting to pick back up again after a little lull in the middle. Good book.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Hannah’s college jobs are all going on extended hiatus due to the virus, so she’ll be at home with me for, at least, the next two weeks. All of this is going to be a fucking mess for the economy. I’m worried about what it’s going to do to all of the reader-supported businesses out there (like mine!) and how we’re going to be impacted.

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. Alice Phoebe Lou - Witches

  2. Niall Horan - Black And White

  3. The Bombpops - Double Arrow Down

  4. Lauv - El Tejano

  5. The Districts - Velour and Velcro

  6. Porches - Do U Wanna

  7. Snarls - Twenty

  8. Dogleg - Bueno

  9. Vundabar - Petty Crime

  10. Vasudeva - Stockmar

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 dylan in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Stay healthy out there!

Thank you for subscribing to the Liner Notes email newsletter. If you’re not a supporting member, please consider becoming one. For just $3 a month or $25 a year, you can help keep this newsletter, website, and community running. It’s only because of the support of members like you that we can continue to exist. If you like the newsletter, please feel free to tell others about it, share portions on social media, or forward it along.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

Liner Notes (March 6th, 2020)

Endless Summer

This week’s newsletter has me looking at a bunch of the great releases and songs out this week, offering thoughts on staying focused while working from home, and has my usual media diet rundown as well. Plus, there is a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • I saw this question from hermanthehermit posted in the supporter Q&A thread last night, and I figured I might as well answer it here. They asked, “how do you keep focused and not get stir crazy when working from home full time?” The easy answer is that I’ve been doing it so long it’s become a habit. I’ve virtually always worked from home, or before that, a dorm-room, so I’ve never really known anything else or any other way. But when I look at from the outside, what works best for me is setting up various systems that act as bumpers, or guide rails, to keep me on track. To stay focused, I make sure that I know what it is I will be working on each day. That involves a task manager and weekly reviews each Saturday. I have a good idea of what each day will look like and what I’ll be focused on working on during it. Repeating tasks keep me on track for the things I know I have to do each day, and then I sprinkle in the other projects throughout. What has always worked for me is to have a dedicated office or place in the home that I go to for “work.” I’ve never been one to be able to work from a couch or bed; it helps me to focus when I’m at a specific place more removed from the normal part of my home. In college, it was just a desk with a computer on it, but that was very much ‘the place to work.’ The habits and routines I’ve created for my day to day life ends up taking a bunch of the risks of not focusing on what I should be working on out of the equation (although everyone’s seen my spend way too much time in the forums goofing around, so it’s not like they always work). This year I’ve been asking myself when I feel I’m drifting, “is what you’re doing right now in service to your business?” – and that’s been the guiding light to asses and stop scrolling through Twitter. For me, a big part of focus is setting yourself up in a way that gives you the best chance at success, and then putting in little things into the system to keep you on track constantly. Repeating tasks, little reminders to myself to check in on what I’m doing with my time, etc. As for the ‘stir crazy’ part, I try and structure my day and week in ways that I know what I have to look forward to, and I make sure I do extra things besides just sit inside on the computer all day. Things like making sure I have a stopping point where I call it an evening, even if Hannah isn’t home yet, and go read or do something just for me. I also go to the gym in the middle of the day, every single day. Instead of waiting until the day is over, I split my day up with a workout and shower for about an hour. It helps me retain focus on the next task when I return. And lastly, I listen to when my body is telling me I’m going a little stir crazy, and I use various release valves. I go run an errand outside from my list, or go for a walk with a good podcast, or take a little break to work on a personal project on my list. I let myself have breaks when I feel my body and brain get to that point. I trust myself that if I need to lay down for a nap, or even to watch a TV show to decompress from something, that I’ll be able to get back to work soon after and it won’t become something I do every day. I suppose that trust comes from doing it for like 15+ years at this point. In short, I recommend looking at ways to structure the day to remove the pain points and to evaluate your start and stop times and what you’d ideally like to be doing during that period before you even sit down to start doing it. That way, you have a guide as to what your ideal and the most efficient day could look like, and then let yourself drift and be flexible when needed. Hopefully, this somewhat helps!

  • I saw this article over at MacStories talking about turning Newsletters (Like this one! Thanks for the shoutout Federico.) into RSS feeds so that you can read them in your trusty RSS reader. It’s a cool little trick, and if you use NewsBlur instead of Feedbin, you should be able to do the same thing following these instructions. Substack, which is what I use to power this newsletter, also has an RSS feed that I believe was recently updated to show the entire article. I’m a big proponent of RSS for catching up on news and the blogs you like the most; I wish more people still used it. (For most people, I recommend the app Reeder.) I feel like the algorithms deciding what you see each day in Facebook or Twitter feeds is so much less fun than following a specific writer or blog and wanting to read their stuff each day. I guess that’s why I still do what I do every single day.

  • I loved this interview with Hayley Williams in the New York Times. There’s a whole lot of great news bits in there, but it’s the genuine openness and raw honesty from Hayley that really spoke to me.

  • This week I continued my redesign of the new Chorus homepage and I’m getting excited about how it’s coming along. The design is virtually done, and a huge portion of how the homepage itself should be put together is complete. I have a few more things to do on the homepage before moving into the next few sections, but getting my new little sort feature to work this was extremely satisfying. Less satisfying was spending a day wanting to throw something through my screen for not working correctly only to wake up the next morning and realizing I could do what I wanted with flexbox in less than ten seconds. It’s hilarious and deeply depressing when that happens.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • The description of Lauv as kind of a one-man boyband works surprisingly well, and that’s readily apparent on the new album that’s out today. It’s an album dripping in candy-coated pop with instantly hummable choruses and laser-tight production. Where it suffers is in its length, 21 tracks over an hour of music, is a lot to take in. But there’s a whole lot here to like and a whole lot here I’ll be throwing on summer playlists for the next few months. Early favorites include “Canada” and “El Tejano” (mostly because any song with a Friends reference gets my love) and “I’m So Tired.” This feels like the kind of album I’ll end up throwing on at a gathering with friends, and people will come up and ask, “hey, who is this?” – instantly accessible but seemingly still just under the radar of the masses.

  • There’s a new Cassino album out today. It goes by fast, clocking in only a little over 30 minutes, but it’s damn nice to hear his voice again (it’s the solo project of the former singer of criminally underrated Northstar). Early favorites include “Tacoma” and “Corvette.”

  • Fickle Friends continue to crank out great singles. This may be their best of the latest batch, and if you’re a fan of what Paramore was doing on their last album, this is absolutely a band to watch.

  • Press Club’s new single, “Insecurities,” is a nice little punk track full of energy and maybe a tad The Distillers feel.

  • The Aces returned with the new single “Daydream,” and I’m here for the Wilson Phillips chorus.

  • Things I didn’t expect to be typing this morning: the new Mandy Moore album is worth your time. Welcome back, Mandy. I only had time to listen once this morning, but there’s some excellent stuff here.

  • PVRIS released the new song “Dead Weight,” and this album is extremely high on my anticipated list now. I feel something bubbling here. Someone send me this album early dammit.

  • The new Dixie Chicks song, their first in something like fourteen years, is surprisingly good. A nice little modern spin on pop-country with some razor-sharp lyrics in the verses.

  • This Jenny Dee album is going to be in a lot of people’s wheelhouses because it’s certainly in mine. Think singer/songwriter mixed with Copeland-like layers and sonic flourishes. Hey, look, whattaya know, Aaron Marsh produced it and is featured on a song. That makes sense. “House That We Built” knocked me on my ass, and “Before I Go” is an apparition of a song.

  • Look, a lot is coming out today, so just add it all into your library and listen throughout the week, but make sure you don’t sleep on the new album from Caroline Rose called Superstar. It’s unique in a way that’s hard to describe, but there’s something about the various groovy sounds used that I think works well. If you’re interested in what I mean, give “Got To Go My Own Way” a play and pay attention to how all the layers in the background move together.

  • I gave lengthy thoughts on the new All Time Low in last week’s newsletter, but the album has continued into my heavy rotation throughout this week, and I’m still very much into it. It’s become something I reach for to play more often than not.

  • Next up on my to listen list include Silverstein and Worriers.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Jumanji: The Next Level wasn’t as good as the (surprising) first film, but it was still an enjoyable evening of silly fun. Not great, but mindless entertainment. Dwayne Johnson trying to talk like Danny DeVito was killing me the entire time though.

  • We’re almost done with the third season of Atypical, and I still love it. I’m glad they’re getting a fourth season to tie everything up, and I’ll be sad when this show is over.

  • I finished my binge-watch of High Fidelity last weekend, and I must say, I enjoyed it. I thought the new spin on the classic worked well, the new additions were welcome, and getting a little Jack Antonoff cameo was the cherry on top.

  • McMillions remains fascinating.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • With all of the news about the COVID–19 virus going around lately, I’ve been noticing just how many things I interact with daily where spreading of germs is trivially easy. Not just door knobs and handles, but signing tablets when purchasing something, or handing my ID over to be checked by the cashier when buying beer. It’s one of those things that you don’t notice until you start paying attention, and then it’s almost all you can think about. Anyway, I’m pretty worried about how this is going to impact the music industry as a whole. With so many bands and artists relying on touring income, a pandemic that causes people to stay indoors and avoid large spaces with lots of people could be a massive hit to the industry. With that in mind, wash your hands!, and try and stop touching your face so much (he writes seconds after resting his chin in his hands to think for a moment).

  • I know a lot of people are disappointed about what’s going on in the political world right now, and I just want to say I get it, and I’m with you. It’s ok to be frustrated. I lived through 2004 and running John Kerry against Bush, and I am seeing so many parallels right now with the Biden campaign and candidate that it’s giving me nightmares. These next few weeks are going to be tough, but it’s not a time to give up. I recommend looking at places and thinks you can get involved locally, find out the local races that matter, and/or upcoming down-ballot races that are important. So many of these little things get forgotten when there’s a Presidential race going on, but that’s only one part of the bigger picture.

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. Lauv - I’m So Tired

  2. Fickle Friends - Eats Me Up

  3. Mandy Moore - Fifteen

  4. Cassino - Tacoma

  5. The Aces - Daydream

  6. Press Club - Insecurities

  7. Jenny Dee - House That We Built

  8. Caroline Rose - Nothing’s Impossible

  9. PVRIS - Dead Weight

  10. Lauv - Canada

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 alina in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

Thank you for subscribing to the Liner Notes email newsletter. If you’re not a supporting member, please consider becoming one. For just $3 a month or $25 a year, you can help keep this newsletter, website, and community running. It’s only because of the support of members like you that we can continue to exist. If you like the newsletter, please feel free to tell others about it, share portions on social media, or forward it along.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

Liner Notes (February 28th, 2020)

We Say Summer

This week’s newsletter has my first impressions of All Time Low’s Wake Up, Sunshine. That takes up the majority of the space, but there’s also some thoughts on other music I listened to this week and the usual entertainment rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Two Things

  • This week, I continued my work on the redesign of the Chorus homepage that I wrote about last week. It’s going well. I should have more to share in the upcoming weeks, but right now, a whole lot of it is boring behind the scenes work. I don’t think anyone cares about my function to parse and sort a CSV file of popular news stories.

  • I ripped the two acoustic tracks from All Time Low’s SiriusXM set if anyone wants those for their collection.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • My week was absolutely dominated by the new album from All Time Low; it was practically all I listened to. At a high level, the album seems to be a blend of their last three with a few new tricks. It has some fun pop-punk hook moments but feels almost like the daytime version of Last Young Renegade. Where that album had an undercurrent of darkness at times, this feels much brighter in tone and pace. It’s an album that feels perfectly poised to be a summer staple and one that harkens back to early Boys Like Girls with the creative melodies and undeniable earworms.

    “Some Kind of Disaster” starts the album off in just the right way, and I still love that bridge. 

    “Sleeping In” has the kind of chorus that reminds me I still enjoy pop-punk when handled competently.

    “Getaway Green” feels like a classic All Time Low song and one tailor-made to be a live hit.

    “Melancholy Kaleidoscope” opens with a fun little guitar riff and Alex singing, “nobody wants to hear a sad song…” before getting right into a great pre-chorus. The chorus is a nice progression from the band’s last album. It maintains a similar style in how it uses layers and changes of pace while feeling full and lively. And, in stark contrast to other albums I’ve heard recently, I found even some of the silly lyrics stuck in my head. I’ve hummed, “you can’t be 100 if you’re only giving 95” multiple times throughout the week.

    “Trouble Is” is a song that feels very influenced by Alex’s work with Simple Creatures. So much so that I kept expecting Mark Hoppus to show up and do the second verse. Feels like it straight up could have been on either of those two EPs—another powerful chorus.

    The titular track, “Wake Up, Sunshine,” is an early standout. Alex leans hard into the Billie Joe Armstrong version of his vocals here. It’s especially noticeable when he sings, “Are you living well in a living hell?” It’s a good chorus, but this is one where I am most drawn to the jittery sway of the early verses. The bridge change also feels very American Idiot era Green Day to me. Pulling all of the music way back to just a drum beat and distorted guitar while Alex slows the song way down before bringing the energy back. It’s very effective.

    I was originally skeptical of the Blackbear feature on “Monsters” because I’ve never been a fan; however, while the feature is probably my least favorite moment on the record, the song itself is more than strong enough to make up for it. The song feels like a brother to many on Last Young Renegade with a big driving sound and various sonic layers pummeling the speakers. I can already see crowds jumping and chanting the “why do I run back to you/like I don’t mind if you fuck up my life” portion of the chorus. 

    The “Pretty Venom (Interlude)” is, and see if you can stay with me here, a pretty little interlude. Its soft, subdued, almost casual lazy weekend beat and vocal work to break up the album nicely. At a little over three minutes, it goes by surprisingly fast because of how easy it is to get lost in it. It works to combine this run of three songs in a way that makes them feel like parts of a whole. 

    “Favorite Place” is carrying the torch for Future Hearts in all the best ways. It has this dreamy quality that reminds me a little of The Maine on Lovely Little Lonely and the best of The Night Game. The feature from The Band Camino (I refuse to do the capitalization thing, my newsletter, my style rules) could have been anyone, and it would have worked just the same, but I like the back and forth and vocal dichotomy here.

    Here’s the biggest praise I can give a pop-rock song: “Safe” reminds me of the first time I heard FenixTX’s “A Song for Everyone.” It’s a song that gives me Jimmy Eat World vibes and immediately made me hit repeat before declaring, to, I guess the cats wandering around the condo at the time, “oh shit, yeah, that’s the one.” It’s a chorus you’ll want to time with hitting the freeway on a sunny day and the windows down. The kind of song that will make road trip playlists better and inspire solo karaoke sessions of the loudest kind. It’s easily my favorite track on the record. “So put the car in drive and don’t stop running ’til you’re long gone/You’re gonna be alright if you just stop thinking it over.”

    There an almost Nashville tinge to “January Gloom” and the stomp-like beat. It’s another song that takes what the band did with their last record and expands upon it. Contrary to what many commentators said when they released the first two songs from this record, they didn’t regress and pretend their last album didn’t exist. I see a lot of the throughput from those songs into these, and a song like this doesn’t exist without that record being made. Alex’s vocals shine here; he’s got such control over exactly how he wants to sound and shifts effortlessly from confident bite to fluid silk.

    “Clumsy” gives me big Boys Like Girls Love Drunk-era vibes, that big stadium, almost Bon Jovi-like, sound and chorus. 

    “Glitter & Crimson” is a mid-tempo ballad that I picture soundtracking the “trying to get over a breakup” scene in the next Netflix teenage rom-com. My brain still only thinks of Oasis every time the word “supernova” is used in a song though, I am of the age where I can’t turn that off. This is a song if you’d have played for me after Nothing Personal came out I would have never believed it was the same band. However, after spending a lot of time listening to the new re-worked version of that album over the past few months, you can see where the seeds were planted for this kind of songwriting all the way back then, and how they’ve evolved as songwriters to get to this point.

    Each time I listen to “Sumer Daze,” I want to say it should have been the closing song on the album, but then I hear “Basement Noise,” and I think it’s properly sequenced. These songs both worth together really well. The first being one more upbeat and soaring chorus driven track, the later more wistful and nostalgia-tinged.

    So I’d say my first impressions are positive. It’s an album that doesn’t regress to the relative safety of what the band has done before, while also expanding what we know the core sound of All Time Low to be. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it’s the kind of album that after I heard it, I can’t help but think, “that’s an album made by guys that like the kinda stuff I’m into.” The kind of album where it’s influenced by stuff I’ve always liked and meshed together with things I’m into right now. At the base level, it’s just extremely enjoyable to listen to. It’s imbued with an undeniable energy that mixes so well with my nostalgia of laying on the grass in the quad on my college campus. I’d lay there thinking of nothing and everything at the same time, listening to soaring choruses out of busted headphones. The time being lost to the music as it plays. This kind of album brings me back there. Where time gets forgotten to singing along, and worries get replaced, for just a little while, to the melody.

  • Katie Pruitt’s new album, Expectations, is fantastic. The title track gives me massive Fleetwood Mac vibes, but it was the song “Normal” that made me realize I was listening to something special. This is definitely worth your time.

  • The new song from Phoebe Bridgers is just about all you could ask for from a new song from Phoebe Bridgers. Not much of a departure from her previous work, so I’d call it a damn solid reintroduction. I’m heavily anticipating this record and can’t wait to see what she does.

  • I was pleased to see a new song from Doomtree this week. I’d love for that project to get together for another album at some point, everything they’ve done has been great.

  • I highly recommend the new Soccer Mommy album that came out today. It’s best experienced late at night with a good drink and a nice pair of headphones. Take this one in by yourself and just get lost in it, it’s worth the journey.

  • Next up on my list is to check out the new album from Ratboys and then dive into Tycho’s Simulcast.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Well, we did it, we finished Mr Robot. My god, what a ride. These last two seasons were fantastic and some of the best I’ve seen in a while. The creativity on display was a real joy to watch. The episode in the final season where no one talks had my jaw on the floor. I thought they ended it just about as well as they could, and that was a high degree of difficulty. After plowing through the final two seasons, you’ll probably start to see more movies begin to make their way back into this section.

  • I’ve watched about half of the High Fidelity TV series so far and, I gotta say, I’m enjoying it. That’s not a surprise, I loved the book, loved the movie, and so I knew I’d like the story. So far, this is an excellent rendition of something I am predisposed to like. A music obsessive that can’t get out of their own head? Yeah, that’s my shit.

  • I thought J. Lo was great in Hustlers. The movie itself felt a little long to me and dragged just a tad, but it was an enjoyable watch.

  • I clearly picked the worst time to start reading The Stand. I’m about half-way through at this point, and it looks like it’s starting to build back up after a little bit of a lull.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • I don’t have anything for this section this week. So, hmm, be kind to each other, and I hope everyone has a great weekend.

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. Phoebe Bridgers - Garden Song

  2. Katie Pruitt - Normal

  3. Soccer Mommy - Night Swimming

  4. Doomtree - Five Alive

  5. Best Coast - Different Light

  6. Allie X - Super Duper Party People

  7. Paperwhite - Waiting For You

  8. Ratboys - My Hands Grow

  9. Wilsen - Ruiner

  10. Super American - Tangerine + Guava

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 Grapevine_Twine in the “General Politics Discussion (VI)” thread.

Thank you for subscribing to the Liner Notes email newsletter. If you’re not a supporting member, please consider becoming one. For just $3 a month or $25 a year, you can help keep this newsletter, website, and community running. It’s only because of the support of members like you that we can continue to exist. If you like the newsletter, please feel free to tell others about it, share portions on social media, or forward it along.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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