Liner Notes (September 13th, 2019)

Let's get ready for action.

This week’s newsletter has my first thoughts on the upcoming album from Blink–182. I also have some opinions on other new music released recently, including MUNA, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Charli XCX. I also have a few brief thoughts on preparing for trips, a couple of thoughts on the Apple event, and I go through my usual media diet rundown from the week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Two Things

  • We went to a friend’s wedding last weekend out in wine country and it was the first time I’ve packed using packing cubes. There was a sale for the GoRuck cubes last year some time, and I grabbed two of them for like $40 (I wouldn’t recommend them at their ridiculous regular price). However, we haven’t traveled since I bought them, so I hadn’t used them. After using them this weekend, I must say: I’m a packing cube fan. They kept everything nice and organized in my suitcase and kept my clothes from getting all over the place. Wirecutter has an article on the cubes they recommend if you’re looking to grab some, and I don’t think I’ll ever want to pack for a trip again without them.

    One other trip recommendation I have is to create three sets of templates in your task manager that you can duplicate whenever you go on a trip. The first is a basic packing list of everything you usually need to pack. Check off the items as you pack them, and then if you ever find you forgot something while on a trip, add that item to the template so you’ll never forget it again. The second is a “before leaving” template checklist for things you need to do before leaving (take out the trash, clean out the fridge, turn off appliances, schedule lights to turn on). When you schedule your trip, duplicate the templates and schedule them to show up the day before you leave (or whenever you prefer to begin packing). The last template is a “when you return” list of things you’d like to do when you get home. I like to give myself a day to recover and catch up on things, like insane amounts of emails and tasks, the day I get back, but there are also little things I need to remember to do after being gone for a few days (check mail, give the cats clean water, unpack). I schedule this to appear in my task manager the day I return home from a trip, and that way I know I won’t forget anything important or throw my suitcase in the corner and not unpack for a week. Having these easy to duplicate templates in a task manager makes sure you aren’t recreating from memory the same lists each time. 

  • I watched the Apple iPhone event this week and woke up super early to pre-order a new iPhone 11 Pro this morning. Because I’m boring and predictable, I went with space grey and a black Apple leather case again. My main reason for upgrading now is that I want the better camera for the wedding in November. Getting a nice trade-in for my previous phone helped with the cost, but I usually upgrade my phone every two years, and these camera improvements pushed me over the edge. The ATP podcast did an excellent job going through the event, and John Gruber’s thoughts echo mine pretty closely. 

In Case You Missed It

Sponsor

Chris Vuoncino has released the new book, Who Will Survive, inspired by the music of Murder by Death. The story of Jack, the Devil, and the small town that is forced to face their demons is now available for purchase in paperback and for the Kindle via Amazon.

Music Thoughts

  • There’s a little melody line in the new Blink–182 song, “Hungover You,” that goes, “It was just one time, one time, started turning into two times, a few times …” that may be my favorite musical moment in a Blink–182 song in years. It’s so deceptively simple, and delivered so perfectly, that it has become the defining moment for me in Blink–182’s new album NINE

    This album is full of little moments, little gems, that I keep discovering, and it’s these little moments that add up and collectively make this album work so well. I enjoyed the band’s previous album, California, for what it was. However, I always felt like California was a band trying to figure out what they wanted to be and what they wanted to sound like. They had just gone through a pretty significant line-up change, and I assume there was trepidation and concern over just how well they could pull off an album and how fans would receive it. It ended up being an updated version of the band’s safe spots, the things Mark and Travis have done for years and seem to be able to crank out at almost a moment’s notice. New member, Matt Skiba, was more restrained, still obviously finding his place in the band. NINE feels like a more confident group that has written a fuck-ton more songs together over the past few years and that time together, and more confidence in each other, shows. 

    There’s very little here I think I’ll end up skipping. It feels cohesive, fully realized, and pretty sneakily well sequenced. The back half shines for me, right after “Generational Divide” I like or love virtually every song and love how they all work together. I didn’t overplay the first singles, and that first stretch is really solid, but I’m drawn to so many little things the band played within the back half of the album. “Black Rain” sounds like the combination of Blink–182 and Crimson era Alkaline Trio that I’ve been dying to hear. “Pin the Grenade” has probably the catchiest chorus the band’s written in almost 15 years. “On Some Emo Shit” is everything I didn’t know I needed in a Blink–182 song in 2019. (“Ransom” is the one song that doesn’t quite fit for me, even if I like the drum work.) 

    Here we are in 2019, and I’m not only excited about a new Blink–182 album, but I’m also downright impressed. This album feels fresh, creative in places, and bold. It’s not asking you to remember why you liked Blink–182 in high-school, it’s telling you to come meet them on their level, here, in the present. I like the diversity in sound, and that the album feels distinctly Blink–182 but with a new bag of tricks. Whereas with California it felt like there were times the band would resort to a writing style, technique, melody, or cliche they’d used before, this album shies away from that and forces the listener to become reacquainted with the band and what this iteration is capable of. 

    The Matt/Mark combo is used so much better in these songs. There’s a distinct and healthy usage of both vocalists, but whether it’s complimenting, countering, or supporting the other, it feels natural and well thought out. There are moments where Matt will sing a different backing melody before having it come back in to match up with Mark, and it feels so more like a group, with intertwined parts, versus “you go, now I go.” 

    I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised that I like this album as much as I do, but I think I’m surprised by how much I believe other people are going to like it. I enjoyed all the singles released, but the online reaction, from my reading of it, felt overly negative. However, I think it’s going to be hard for fans of the band to deny this record. It’s a record that makes me actively excited about the band and their potential going forward, and it’s a collection of songs that fully realize the unique talents of all three members. I can quibble about a few lyrical moments that don’t quite work for me, and maybe in time I’ll find other complaints, but right now, I can’t get these damn songs out of my head. Well done, Blink. 

    The only other thought I have at the moment is that I hope there’s someone out there that finds this album when they need it most and it helps them through a dark period. I believe in the healing power of music, and it was finding this band at just the right moment that changed the entire trajectory of my life. While listening to this album tonight I’m thinking about how I think this band still has that kind of potential, and this album could be that kind of album to someone new. We live in a pretty twisted world, and the musical landscape is so different than when I was a teenager, but I think there are a universality and timelessness to music like this. Yes, I’m making the argument that pop-punk music has a timelessness to it, and yes, I realize that’s probably not commonly thought. But there’s something to a catchy song, with a little bit of an edge, but not too much!, that tells you that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. That others have gone through the same sadness or heartbreak and you, too, can make it through. Blink–182 have always represented a spotlight on those feelings while also offering an escape between headphones. Have fun? Sing along? Why, yes, I think I will. 

  • I put on MUNA’s new album, Saves the World, for our road-trip to a friend’s wedding last weekend and it makes for a great driving record. It’s a nice blend of bob-the-head catchy and emotionally heavy. Songs like “Stayaway” and “Pink Light” were early favorites, and the closer, “It’s Gonna be Okay, Baby” is something special. There have been a few albums this year that have made me want to dance around my condo, and a few that have made me choke-up to the verge of tears, but this hits both reactions in the span of 45 minutes. 

  • That other album at the top of this list took up a lot of my time this week, but I did have time to listen to The Menzingers a couple more times, and I think more than anything it’s just solidified what I wrote about last week. It’s an excellent, mid-career album. 

  • I’ve only had time to listen to the new Charli XCX album, Charli, once this morning while posting news on the website, but I enjoyed it. It felt a little more cohesive as an album than her previous to me, but I’m not sure if it has the same highs. She’s one of the best making interesting pop music these days. I’m looking forward to giving it another listen later today. 

  • Fall Out Boy released the new song “Dear Future Self (Hands Up)” and I get a little bit of a “Uma Thurman” vibe from the music; however, it does have that mid-cycle b-side sort of feel to it. The chorus lyrics are a little silly, but not distractingly so. I’ve had that little melody stuck in my head most of the day. I see that they’ve now completed their contract with Island Records, and I hope this band keeps releasing music for years to come. I am always interested to hear what Patrick and the rest of the band can come up with and their spin on the current sounds in pop-music. Their transition and continued relevance has been fascinating to watch. I think they have been getting better with age; I adored MANIA

  • Green Day released their new song “Father of All Mother Fuckers” this week and I don’t like it at all. I’ve followed Green Day for over 20 years and if you put this song on for me, didn’t tell me the artist name, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you it’s them. It sounds like a mediocre Black Keys song that’s somehow made worse by their ridiculous Instagram post announcing the new album. There’s a pretty obvious Butch Walker influence here, and there are very few people that love Butch as much as I do, but this just isn’t doing it for me. 

  • Weezer released their new song “The End of the Game,” and it was co-written with Tim Pagnotta. He’s had his hands all over all kinds of stuff lately. It’s a nice little Weezer song. This band seems to be throwing out material at a record clip these days, and it’s been very hit or miss for me, with none of their recent albums grabbing me as a whole. Of course, I’m also this guy, so take my Weezer takes with a grain of salt. 

  • I thought this Billboard profile of the three bands and how they ended up touring together was pretty interesting. Basically, Green Day wanted to play stadiums again, and they all share the same management company. This seems like it’ll be an entertaining show, the kind that almost anyone could have a blast at. Unfortunately, it’s not coming to Oregon. 

  • Tiger Army’s new album, Retrofuture, is out today. I’ve written quite a bit about it in past newsletters, but if you’re looking for a great ’60s throwback sound mixed with some rockabilly punk, this is absolutely worth a listen. 

  • The Faim’s new album, State of Mind, was also released today. This is for music fans looking for something in the vein of Fall Out Boy or Panic! at the Disco. It’s highlighted by the honey-soaked vocals, but it’s quite catchy, and there are a few sleeper hits in there. You’ll know pretty soon after the opener, “Tongue Tied,” gets going if it’s your kind of thing or not. 

  • I’ve got the new Tegan and Sara and Sturgill Simpson albums here to listen to next, and I hope to give them a listen throughout the next week. And I know I promised Third Eye Blind thoughts soon, but I haven’t spun the album yet! Hopefully I’ll get to that next week as well, and there won’t be a massively anticipated album to write about. 

  • I didn’t have time to check out the new album from Microwave yet, but I’ve seen some nice buzz about the album around the forums, so I’ll probably try and find a time to give that a listen soon.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Blinded by the Light tells the story of a young man discovering Bruce Springsteen for the first time and how that changes his life. It’s a relatable story, and I felt genuinely moved at times. It’s a feel-good movie that never really goes beyond. I didn’t love some of the directorial choices (like overlaying Bruce lyrics on the screen), but it was an enjoyable watch about a subject I think almost anyone reading this newsletter could relate with.

  • Late Night felt like a slightly heightened made for TV movie, but a pretty good made for TV movie. There’s some good jokes, Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson are good in the film, but the movie never really gave me a reason to like Emma Thompson’s character at all. I think I’m biased because I absolutely love the “boss” character in Bold Type, and the portrayal of a driven, hard but fair, female boss character that actually cares and mentors those under her I find more compelling then the “asshole boss” cliche I’ve seen so many times.

  • I don’t understand why the live version of Aladdin exists. The movie itself was a walk through nostalgia land, but not in a way that made me feel anything other than trying to figure out how the movie justified its making or existence. I think remakes and live-action versions of films can be really good and have a reason for existing outside of their cartoon counterpart; however, this never seemed to do anything to reach that level. It lacked personality and charm.

  • Yesterday ’s premise was interesting, but the execution didn’t quite work out. I don’t understand the hatred I’ve seen from some about the movie because it felt just fine. The best part is the songs and trying to see how the movie works with its “no one remembers The Beatles” premise. I’m willing to give sci-fi a lot of leeway in explaining their rules and how things work, and this just hand-waved it away. Not a bad movie to see, but nothing essential.

  • The first episode of the second season of Titans felt a little disjointed. Apparently, it was supposed to be the final episode of the first season, but they decided to end on a cliffhanger instead. It felt a little weird because it made the entire storyline feel like it got wrapped up way too quickly and I would have preferred them to have started the new season with the last third of this episode. All the setup now for the rest of this season looks great. Only other complaint: I don’t buy Iain Glena as Bruce Wayne at all. The accent? The age? The acting? None of it worked. Which is weird because the casting for virtually every other character so far has been great. This is one of the only shows I watch week to week, so I’m looking forward to the new episode tonight.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We met with our florist this week and have flowers and decorations pretty much all finalized. At this point, we’re pretty close to having all of the central planning for the wedding complete. I’ll need to finalize our “day of” document, do some cleaning up of the ceremony wording, and I have to finish writing my vows, but I’m feeling pretty good about where we are in the planning process a little under two months out from the big date. This weekend we’re going to look at rings for me. I’m not sure what I want to go with quite yet, but I’ve been looking at a billion options online, so all of my internet ads are now bespoke men rings. And no, I don’t need a tiger print on the inside of my wedding ring.

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. MUNA - Stayaway

  2. Fall Out Boy - Dear Future Self (Hands Up)

  3. Shedders - Suburban Base

  4. Charli XCX - Gone

  5. Tiger Army - Valentina

  6. This Wild Life - You Changed Everything

  7. Weezer - The End of the Game

  8. Shura - Princess Leia

  9. Perfume Genius - Slip Away

  10. MUNA - It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby

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 this week was someone offering to share leaked music to anyone that “liked” their post. I find that pretty annoying and don’t want to promote that kind of thing in my newsletter, so I’m not including it this week. I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend.

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 (September 6th, 2019)

I’m currently headed out to a friend’s wedding, but I love you all so much that I wrote throughout the week to bring you this week’s newsletter on time and full of goodies. This week’s newsletter includes my first impressions on the new album from The Menzingers, some thoughts on the new Blink–182 single, as well as my usual rundown of other music and entertainment habits from the last week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Three Things

  • With Labor Day on Monday, this ended up being an oddly slow week around the website and in the music industry in general. Not a whole lot was going on, not a whole lot of news. I spent the week trying to get caught up on some website maintenance tasks I had, as well as catch up on some longer-form reading I had been saving for when I had more time.

  • ripped Taylor Swift’s Live Lounge performance, and cut it up into individual tracks (including the talking portions as separate tracks), if anyone would like that for their collection. I’m a big fan of that rendition of “Holy Ground.”

  • The month-long supporter drive was a success. In the last four weeks, 60 new members signed up. That’s incredible, and I can’t thank you all enough. Thank you to everyone that told a friend about the website, or spread this newsletter around, and thank you to everyone that became a supporting member for the first time. (I hope you’re enjoying an ad-free experience and Dark Mode, but mostly, I hope you know that it’s because of you that I can keep publishing the website every day and writing this newsletter every week.) Basically, I’m 30 supporting members short for what I had made my 2019 goal, but I am a whole lot closer to reaching complete independence and stability. Thank you so very much.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I’ve had time to listen to The Menzingers’ new album, Hello Exile, in full about four times now. The album is a showcase in everything the band is known for: introspective while cutting into the emotional-femur-bone lyrics, gruff vocals, and all of that wrapped in an Americana-tinged rock and roll. The album plays a little softer than I was expecting. There are a few tracks that pick up the pace, but as a whole, I get a much more relaxed vibe to the album. The album feels very Menzingers-ish, with not a whole lot of surprises thrown into the songs; instead, you get a band more concerned with creating a mood and connection within each track. There’s the wistful nostalgia in songs like “Anna” and “High School Friend,” the latter containing one of my favorite lyrics from the album: “I was getting fucked up with a high school friend, wondering where all the good times went.” And it’s in songs like this that call to mind The Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten. To me, that was the album where it felt like the band had taken everything they learned on their previous albums and went all-in. It, therefore, didn’t contain the same youthful energy of making a record like The ’59 Sound, but it had a wisdom of song-craft about it.

    You find this in a song like “Hello Exile,” which I don’t think the band would have been able to pull off in the same way just a few years ago. It’s an anchor of the first half of the album, and it has a driving melody that reminds me a little of The Hold Steady while pulling you entirely into the story. The opening strums, the guitar moment building and breathing before adding drums, all culminate with precise intentionality. It’s just an exceptionally well written, well structured, song.

    This is the first album from the band I’ve been pretty cognizant of the two singers on my first few listens, and I don’t know if I’m getting more used to the group and able to pick it out better, or if they do sound more distinct on this record. I, for the most part, prefer Greg’s lyrical style; however, songs like “Last to Know” prove that Tom’s no slouch. I love the roughness to the guitar-line, and any song that opens with, “Jesus Christ, I held a dagger in my hand, I killed, another man…” is going to perk my ears. There are other songs, and this unfortunately includes the song titled “Portland,” (as well as “London Drugs”) that don’t quite do it for me in the same way. The chorus feels drowned and lacking the explosive crunch I think it deserves. But, that’s contrasted against songs like “Strangers Forever” that have the exact kick I’m looking for.

    I’ve written enough about Will Yip’s production in my life that I’m not going to go over it again here. I’ll instead say that it doesn’t negate my enjoyment of the album and that while I notice it, I’ve come to terms with it.

    Other highlights include the strain and expressiveness in the chorus of “Strain Your Memory,” and the emotional weight of a song like “I Can’t Stop Drinking.” Here, the lyrics walk through various relationships with alcohol and the impact on personal relationships. Songs like “Strawberry Mansion” feel like classic Menzingers’ songs, but are outshined by other cuts.

    The closer, “Farewell Youth,” is my favorite on the album. “Farewell youth, I’m afraid I hardly got to know you.” I’d venture this will resonate a lot with others hitting their mid-thirties and feeling like maybe we did grow up just a little too fast.

    With a few exceptions, the album is remarkably consistent. The only complaints I find are when I start thinking about how it compares to the band’s past work and how to stack it up against an impressive catalog. It doesn’t have the immediacy that After the Party had, but it has a matureness about it that I think will be rewarding on repeated listens. I again return to my Handwritten comparison as I wonder if this might not, in time, have songsthat are considered some of the band’s best, but with fans still considering a previous album worthy of that title-belt. I often think we spend too much time ranking things, and I find myself falling into the same trap time and time again. But there’s always a little nagging voice in my head asking the questions. Is it better than that? How does it compare? And I think part of that is just human nature to some degree. I’ll undoubtedly be asked multiple times how it compares to their other albums over the next few weeks, but at this moment I’m just not ready to answer that question. I want to live with these songs a little more; I want to let them become a part of my daily life and see how they fit. Then, after I’ve worn them in a little bit, maybe I’ll be able to offer an answer to that question.

    In the meantime, I’ll close by saying the album does not disappoint. I see little reason for fans of the band not to have another record to add into their rotation for a night of beers, a little whiskey, and a whole lot of wistful yearning.

  • Blink–182 released their new song “I Really Wish I Hated You” today. I’m enjoying the diversity the band is showing with their single choices and how they’re showcasing an overall feel to the album’s soundscape. I like this chorus, the vocal mix there is excellent, and the little outro part with Matt’s vocals is excellent. The verse cadence is catchy, but I’m not sure how I feel about the lyrics at first blush. Overall, this is probably my second favorite of the songs released so far, behind only “Darkside.” I think that song’s energy is what draws me to it, and this one sits in that nice mid-tempo. It is doing some interesting things, and I appreciate that it’s not just California songs part two, but I kept waiting for it to pick up just a little more. This album is shaping up to be quite interesting. I think I’m most excited to discover how all of these little tidbits we’ve been given work together in the album’s overall structure. It already feels grander in scope than their previous record (and the deluxe album), and I am drawn more to the melodic qualities of these songs than the Neighborhoods flavor. I find myself more curious, optimistically curious to be precise, than I have been in a long time as Blink fan.

  • I forgot to write about the new Shredders album, Great Hits, last week. It’s a project from P.O.S., Lazerbeak, Sims, and Paper Tiger of Doomtree, and it’s an energetic hip-hop album. If you’re looking for something to throw on as we enter into the last bits of sunny weather, this is perfect for it.

  • I’ve been writing about the new Grayscale album for quite a few weeks now, and today it sees its release. Trevor Graham wrote a great review for the album that I think captures what it is people will love about this band, and release. I believe Trevor likes the album a little more than me, but I’ve been surprised by the replayability this record has had for me, and it’s a very solid entry into the pop-punk pantheon. For the sound and genre, this feels like an album that carries the torch well. It’s worth a look, at the very least.

  • Unfortunately, I never got an advance for the new MUNA album that’s out today, so I haven’t heard it yet. I plan to spin that in the car on the way to a friend’s wedding this afternoon. I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts come next week.

  • Death Cab for Cutie’s new EP, The Blue, continues the nice streak this band has been on for a while now. I was a little surprised just how much I connected with their last album and this expands on the band’s classic sound in nice ways.

  • Senses Fail re-recorded their debut EP, and it’s an out of body experience for me to listen to these songs. I remember the first time I heard that EP, and who I was at the time. And yet as memorable as the songs are, they sound different, and it just makes me feel a little weird inside.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • After looking at the reviews for The Dead Don’t Die, many of which panned the film, and the user reviews that contain a whole lot of “walked out” or “worst film I’ve ever seen,” I can’t say I don’t understand. I do. I get why a lot of people hated this movie. It’s slow and weird. And yet, it worked for me. I enjoyed the jokes, the absurdity of it, breaking the fourth wall in the oddest moments, and all set with a zombie apocalypse backdrop. The ending message felt a little ham-fisted, but the movie got quite a few laughs out of me. I’ll be making the Sturgill Simpson joke every time I put on his music from now until the end of time.

  • We finished up season two of Derry Girls and I adored it. Afterward, I spent a couple of days researching Ireland in the 1990s and trying to learn a little more about the history of when and where the show took place. I already am looking forward to whenever season three airs.

  • This week’s entertainment diet was mostly going back and watching some fun movies that we had enjoyed in the past. Each night Hannah and I looked at each other, looked at some of the heavier “new” movies we have in our queue, and instead decided we wanted something a little more light and fun. We re-watched Booksmart (one of my favorite movies of the year and it only gets better the more you see it), Neighbors 2 (this series makes me laugh, and who can say no to Zach Efron’s abs?), The Shallows (a pretty decent shark flick with Blake Lively), and Game Night (if they’d make a comedy like this every 6 months or so, I’d see them all). Sometimes you need a little comfort-food-entertainment, and that’s what this week ended up being.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This week I spent some time working on initial drafts of the wedding dinner seating chart, as well as my first draft of the wedding day “hour-by-hour” playbook. It’s coming along well enough, and I feel pretty prepared at the moment. We had dinner and drinks with Hannah’s parents last night, and at some point, they asked Hannah how her to-do list was coming, and offhandedly asked if I had a wedding to-do list. (Apparently, they’re not newsletter readers.) I showed them my list by scrolling through it on my phone, and then they asked to read it closer. The first item on the list said, “Vows! Write that shit.” 🤷‍♂️

  • We’re heading out to a friend’s wedding this weekend. It’s out in wine country, so it should be a lovely little weekend. I enjoy doing some wedding related stuff that’s not tied to our wedding, and it’ll be fun to see how someone else has planned one.

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. Death Cab for Cutie - Before the Bombs

  2. Blink–182 - I Really Wish I Hated You

  3. Grayscale - What’s On Your Mind

  4. John Mayer - Carry Me Away

  5. The Early November - Ave Maria

  6. Ruston Kelly - Screaming Infidelities

  7. Take That - The Flood

  8. Press Club - Obsessing

  9. Lagwagon - Surviving California

  10. Jay Som - Nighttime Drive

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 Jason Tate in the “Q&A and Chat With Jason Tate” thread.

Somehow my post sharing The Menzingers’ first impressions early in the Q&A thread ended up being the most liked post of the week. That’s pretty funny. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

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 (August 30th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at some of the new music out this week and dives into my weekly media diet of mostly comic books and comic book related movies. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I liked this week, and a few new apps I discovered and have been playing around with. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Five Things

  • I came across a review from MacStories about a new app called DarkNoise. The app is a simple ambient noise app, but it’s well done. I often listen to ambient noise when I’m trying to concentrate, or meditate, and the ease of use and simple design has made this my new go-to.

  • I do not spend a whole lot of time on Reddit, for various reasons. However, I do have an account, and I follow a few subreddits that I think are relevant and helpful for my job. Some of them I follow via RSS to search for news I’d like to post, but this week, I decided to give the Apollo app a try. It’s easily, in my opinion, the best way to browse Reddit. It makes the website far nicer to read or quickly browse through. Not as nice as our forums, but definitely better than their website.

  • I thought this article, “Can Music Journalism Transcend Its Access Problem?,” was an engrossing read and something I’ve thought about a lot over the years in this gig.

  • This is the final week of August, so my month-long “pitch” to everyone to become a supporting member is coming to an end. I started with the goal of needing 90 new supporters to hit my yearly target, and as of right now, we’re about 40 more away from that number. So, I’m pretty happy! I’m hoping more people will signup throughout the rest of the year, and I’m feeling relatively good about where we stand right now. Thank you to everyone that did signup this month, it means the world to me, and now I’ll stop bringing it up each week in this newsletter.

  • A friend is getting married next week, and he asked if I wanted to join him and his friends’ Fantasy football league. It’s one where you pick the winner of one game each week, you can only pick the same team once, and if you lose, you’re out. I haven’t played one of these before, so, I’m curious if anyone has any suggestions for strategy. I’m aiming not to embarrass myself; high-bar, I know.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Damn, I’m really into the new Lana Del Rey album on first listen. It’s got her signature sound, but the songwriting stands out to me here. I’ve enjoyed all her albums, but I’ve often had to listen to them a few times, in the right mood, to really fall for them. This was much more immediate. I’m looking forward to sitting on the balcony later with headphones and giving this a deeper listen. Hannah heard me listening to the chorus of “Fuck It I Love You” and said it reminded her of The Mamas and the Papas, I think that’s a pretty apt comparison in that melody. (One of these days Hannah and I need to figure out how to combine on a podcast or something.)

  • I spent a lot of time this week listening to Jay Som’s Anak Ko. I like the experimentation and almost jam session vibe that I get from quite a few of these songs. It’s a smooth listen.

  • I really can’t quite figure out how I feel about this The Band Camino EP. There are parts of it I like, and then there are parts of a few songs that feel completely unnecessary and tacked on for the sake of being different. I have this feeling, similar to how I am with Twenty One Pilots, where I can understand the appeal, but it doesn’t connect with me in the same way. (That band name sure is bad though.)

  • I can’t believe we’re getting new Audio Karate music. I loved Lady Melody back in the day, and the new song “Sin Cuchillo” sounds pretty damn good. I like that guitar line, and I’ve found myself humming that little chorus melody throughout the week. Cute kid in the video too.

  • All of the internet comment sections have told me the new Blink–182 “Darkside” video is terrible, and yet I can’t figure out how anyone could have an opinion any harsher than “it’s fine.” It’s a cute video of kids doing popular dances while Blink-dads play their song. It seems completely harmless, the song’s still great, and I don’t understand the adverse reaction I saw. The Target store employee jokes were good though.

  • The new Angels and Airwaves song sounds like an Angels and Airwaves song. The riff’s nice, the lyrics are whatever, and I like the electronic elements. This project still isn’t the kind of music I find myself interested in regularly, so I don’t think it’s something I’ll come back to.

  • I’m going to keep plugging Somos until you’re all annoyed at me. They released one of my favorite songs from the album, “My Way to You,” early this week and have now put the entire thing up on all streaming services. This is a great album.

  • The new Simple Creatures’ song “Thanks, I Hate It” is a nice little catchy track. I saw that some mishap over at YouTube ended up leaking the entire EP super early, but I’m not big on my first listen to anything being a YouTube rip, so I haven’t listened to it yet. I’ve enjoyed both songs I’ve head from it, and I’ll just wait to spin it in better quality whenever it arrives.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Parasite is one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. It’s a mix of a tragedy and dark comedy, but what pushes it over the edge (beside fantastic direction), is the way the film tackles class and two very different social-economical situations. I was utterly transfixed all the way up to its conclusion. If you like foreign films, this one comes highly recommended.

  • I listened to The Rewatchables podcast on Gone Girl, which meant we had to watch the movie after. Holds up. Not my favorite Fincher film (That would be The Social Network), but I still love his craft and virtually all of his films (I’m not huge on Benjamin Button).

  • We spent most of this week doing some MCU re-watches, and went through: Black Panther (still fantastic and maybe the best of the entire bunch), Captain Marvel (a very fun movie and just as enjoyable on a second viewing), and Avengers:Endgame (I still have issues with the entire time-travel plot device).

  • There was potential with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but that potential was smothered in a poor script, and amateur looking cinematography and direction. The action scenes were, uh, boring. The characters felt wooden and stilted. The movie’s still not as bad as its 22% Rotten Tomatoes score, but it’s a middling mediocre movie instead of an outright awful one. There are a few good character moments, but they’re few and far between. I still enjoyed the first two X-Men movies in this “reboot” of the franchise, but it’s a real shame they weren’t able to do more with what they had. On paper, it’s a great cast, and this comic book has such a rich history and storylines that could be tapped into. Guess we’ll have to see what our Mouse-Eared-Entertainment-Overlords do with these characters.

  • We finished the first season of Derry Girls and that gets my recommendation if anyone’s looking for a funny twenty-minute show on Netflix to throw on. We’ll probably quickly plow through the second season this coming week.

  • I just finished episode 11 of Star Trek: Discovery, and damn, this show is excellent. Making me feel things. I think I’m willing to say I’ve enjoyed the second season even more than the first, and I really liked the first.

  • I’m incredibly excited for Titans to come back. The trailer for season two looks awesome, and I’m still surprised at just how much I liked the first season. I’ve been thinking of doing a re-watch of that after I finish up Discovery.

  • I’ve continued my comic-reading-resurgence with the Amazing Spider-Man. I just finished up the Hunted storyline and thought it was the absolute best from Nick Spencer yet. It mixes humor, suspense, an extensive collection of the rogue gallery, and a genuinely exciting storyline (that was at times quite touching). I’d say it’s a pretty good spot for someone that hasn’t kept up with comics, or Spider-Man, in a while to jump in and read. I was really impressed.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much to share in the personal section this week. Weight and stuff have been pretty good throughout the summer, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. I’m looking forward to this weekend and hopefully relaxing a little with Hannah and maybe trying out a new restaurant or something. I know, glamorous stuff here in the middle of my thirties.

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. Somos - My Way to You

  2. Tiger Army - Last Ride

  3. The Band Camino - Daphne Blue

  4. Jay Som - If You Want It

  5. Grayscale - Baby Blue

  6. Simple Creatures - Thanks, I Hate It

  7. Charli XCX - Warm

  8. Angels & Airwaves - Kiss & Tell

  9. Lana Del Rey - Doin’ Time

  10. Noah Gundersen - So What

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 nohandstoholdonto in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Be kind to yourself.

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 (August 23rd, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at new music from The 1975 and Taylor Swift, as well as offering some first impressions on the upcoming album from Tiger Army. There’s also some thoughts on a few other records, as well as my weekly media diet rundown, and a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Three Things

  • I’ve been re-organizing my iPad home screen this week (as one does when they’re watching a baseball game on the couch), getting ready for iOS 13. In doing so, I also re-organized my Shortcuts and realized I had one some Chorus.fm members may enjoy. What it does is take the highlighted text on any Safari page, and then it copies that text to the clipboard, using the forum’s blockquote BBcode, and it puts the link at the top. If you’ve ever read the political forum, I use it all the time to share clips/quotes from articles in there. Anyway, it’s very convenient, and you can grab it here. (I also have a similar one that uses a different template and Markdown, specifically for Drafts 5 and posting links to the homepage.)

  • I cooked flank steak this week with the sous vide, which I hadn’t used in a while, and I re-remembered just how much I love this thing. It is a game-changer in the kitchen for foods like this. Marinated the meat the night before, cooked it throughout the day, tossed it on the grill to sear it a little bit right at the end, and then cut it up to make excellent tasting steak bowls. (Black beans, grilled peppers and onions, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, cheese, and steak.)

  • Quick update on my August goal of increasing supporters on the website: we’re now 55 supporters away from hitting my target for the year.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • There’s just something different about The 1975 music release weeks. There’s a different feeling in the air, palpable energy, anticipation, and an underlying current of prospect. The way this band has continued to shift expectations, defy preconceived notions at every turn, and continue to pump out year-defining-anthems is unlike anything I’ve seen in the music world in a long time. Combine this with their die-hard fanbase, and I feel confident in saying they’re one of the best things happening in music these days. It’s a real joy to be experiencing this in real-time and being alive while they’re in such a creative peak. “People,” as a song, is exploding with raw power and rhythmic ardor. A pounding beat and stop-step pacing bring forth comparisons of everything from Refused, to The Hives, to Drive Like Jehu, and Blur. It’s an invigorating call-to-arms that defies all predictions of where this band may have been headed next and exhibits a confidence and swagger of a group flexing at the peak of their powers. They say, “Oh, you think you have us pegged? You think we’re this?” as they metamorphosize right before our eyes. It’s stunning. A sonic shock to the system. And then the video! An adrenaline-filled shot that made me think of “New Noise” and perfectly captures the energy of the song. How this band incorporates their music, videos, and overall aesthetic into everything they do is nothing short of impressive.

    In summary: Damn good song. Damn good band. Can’t wait for more.

  • The new Taylor Swift album is here. And, compared to her past releases, this album seems less like AN EVENT. Even still, any day Taylor Swift is releasing an album all of the music industry attention and oxygen feels hyper-focused around it. I was surprised how subdued the album feels to me on first listen. I think I was expecting more straight-out pop hits, and instead, there’s a nice mix of tempo and nuance in the songs. The album feels long, too long, on first listen. This leads to me feeling like there’s filler without really knowing what songs should be b-sides or released at a later time. Tracks like “Cruel Summer,” “Paper Hearts,” “Cornelia Street,” and “Afterglow” all stood out on first listen, and I had a much more positive listening experience than I did to Reputation. The songs where Taylor’s songwriting takes center stage, I think, work the best. The songs that feel a little too “of the moment” in pop-radio, work less well. I think the conversation around Taylor, and hell maybe most music of the past few years, has been about how big an album needs to be and feel. How it needs to impact the culture, dominate the conversation, and if it fails to do that … then it fails as a piece of art. That every conversation around Taylor has to be if her popularity is waxing, or waning, is exhausting to read. And, not only do I think this entire mindset is silly and a disservice to the music, I think being able to pull away from that conversation lets us look at the songs divorced from any need to put it into a narrative arc of good or bad. And, there are some terrific songs here. Well crafted, well-written songs.

  • After hearing the first two released songs from the new Tiger Army album, Retrofuture, I was a little worried. Their last album, V, was one of my favorites in 2016 and I loved the little throwback sound they had going on. I shouldn’t have worried so much. The new album gives me big Buddy Holly and the Crickets vibes mixed in with a little rockabilly punk edge. Songs like “Valentina” sound like they could be played at a sock-hop in the 1960s. I love “Mi Amor La Luna” being sung entirely in Spanish. The only real complaint I can come up with is that since there’s already an instrumental opening track, so having another one (“Night Flower”) as the penultimate track feels a little weird in the sequence. But that’s just a weird little nitpick. The first five songs on the album are everything I wanted this album to sound like, and producer Ted Hutt brings out the best of the band’s sound in songs like “Beyond the Veil” and “Last Ride.” I love how you can hear the stand-up bass slap and groove. And the lead singer, Nick, has never sounded so smooth; he’s got a real crooner thing going on here. This mix of early-era rock and roll fused with a little punk works extremely well.

  • After another week listening to the new Grayscale album, I’ve now reached the point where I actually can’t avoid the lyrics. It’s easier to just toe-tap along to some catchy music the first couple times, but the more I listen to something, the more I can focus in on what’s being said. And, oh my are there a lot of songs about fucking on this album. We already have the sub-genre label “sad-boy rock,” and we may need to throw “horny-boy rock” into the mix. I actually laughed out loud when I caught a part of “Twilight (My Heaven).” That aside, I’m still digging tracks like “Baby Blue” and “Young” and “What’s On Your Mind” quite a bit. The little pre-chorus part in “What’s On Your Mind” has been stuck in my head like gum on a scalding sidewalk.

  • The new Noah Gundersen album is out today and I recommend finding some time to put this on with some nice headphones and nothing to do for an hour or so. There’s a lot to take in, but it’s a journey worth taking. Also, check out Craig’s review of the album.

  • I spent a lot of time listening to the new Somos record this week, and it’s still great. The album now has physical pre-orders up as well.

  • The Menzingers’ new song “American (You’re Freaking Me Out)” sounds like pretty classic Menzingers. That’s still a positive thing, even if I hope they start to mix it up a little. It sounds like a good opening track. I think I’m out on listening to any more new songs until I can hear the full album though.

  • I listened to the new Early November once again this week, still enjoyable, but not something I find myself craving. It feels a little disjointed to me from a production standpoint. Some songs sound so sonically different that it throws off my listen.

  • I was right about that new Refused album being a damn good gym album. This one’s been growing on me with each listen.

  • I’ve got the new albums from Third Eye Blind and Korn here. Feeling very ’90s. Haven’t listened yet.

  • Next up on my “to listen” list is the new album from Knocked Loose and Brockhampton. And I’ll probably give that The Band Camino EP a spin as well.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Men in Black: International was not anywhere near as bad as the reviews made it seem like it would be, but it also wasn’t very good. It was too long, edited poorly, and entirely predictable. However, the leads had pretty good chemistry, and it was relatively entertaining. I wouldn’t watch it again, but it was harmless. Sometimes I’m confused by what “paint by numbers” action/blockbusters get destroyed by critics, and which end up with 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and are pretty much the same thing as this.

  • After writing about them in last week’s newsletter, I had to re-watch The Raid 1 and 2 this week. God damn are those good action movies. The first one is straight-up “here’s the premise, go,” and you’re thrown into the action nonstop. The second has a little more “plot,” but it’s still a thrilling watch. I love the kitchen fight scene at the end. Yep, both of these hold up on re-watches if you’re in the mood for hyper-violent action.

  • The Rewatchables podcast can be hit or miss, but more often than not, when it’s a movie I’ve seen and enjoyed, I need to re-watch it after listening to an episode. This week I listened to their episode on The Town, and then we re-watched the movie. It had been a few years since I’d seen this and it holds up pretty well to what I remember. Good film, good performances, good direction, some iffy Boston accents at times. I feel like a bank/heist movie should be made every one or two years, ’cause I’m in on all of them.

  • We finished the final season of VEEP and I think it ended the only way it could. It’s a brutal satire of power and politics, and I fear it’s far closer to reality than we really want to admit. The final episode is hilarious, as the show often is, but watching someone be that backstabbing, and that power-hungry, is a tough watch. Still, an exceptionally funny show for its run and one that I think will end up standing the test of time better than most.

  • While searching for a lighter, twenty to thirty-minute show to watch, we stumbled on Derry Girls on Netflix. We’ve only watched the first three episodes so far, but this is right in my wheelhouse for a TV show. It’s funny, clever, and it captures that period in young-adulthood quite well.

  • I’m on episode ten of the second season of Star Trek: Discovery and loving it. Things are getting really good in the main storyline.

  • I spent this week finally breaking out some comic books again! This week I decided to dive back into The Amazing Spider-Man, and I read the first ten issues of Nick Spencer’s start to the book. It’s pitched as a back to the basics take on Spider-Man, and so far, that’s precisely what it is. It includes Nick’s well-known humor and wit in the stories, but it’s also been a pretty low stakes, fun, romp into the Spider-Man world so far. Which, given everything that had been happening in Spidey’s world over the last decade in this book, does work as a nice recalibration of the character. I’m going to keep reading until I’m caught up, and my only hope is that at some point Nick does take the character in new, exciting, directions. He’s made one bold choice so far, which I approve of, but I’d love to see what else he can do.

    I suppose, since I’m writing about Spider-Man, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer some thoughts on the news this week that Sony and Disney may not be able to come to an agreement on using Spider-Man in future MCU movies. My thoughts sort of boil down to: two multi-billion dollar companies fighting in the press over comic book characters is hilarious to me. But, Disney should pay what they need to pay to keep the character available in their movies. They print money at this point due to buying up basically everything, and it’s a shame fans will suffer because of it. That said, I think the character in Sony’s hands will be just fine. They’ve made the best Spider-Man movie of all time (Into the Spider-Verse), and I think it’s easy enough to write around any limitations they may have going forward. It may even be for the best of the character (since I love a more solo-Spidey anyway). If they can keep large portions of the team together that have made these previous two films, and maybe even add Phil Lord and Chris Miller into the mix, I think the movies will be of the same quality they’ve been so far. That said, they’re going to take so much shit no matter what they release because MCU fans are pissed off. The next movie could be better than the previous two, and there will be a vocal group that will hate it and say it’s ruined. Feels like a lose/lose proposition. I don’t know, in the end Disney should probably just open up the wallet.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We’ve picked out our florist for the wedding. I can’t believe how much very simple, very basic, flowers cost when they’re part of a wedding. I am going to try not to think about it too much.

  • I spoke with a journalist this week that’s writing an article about Blink–182 and masculinity and that era and fandom of, it seems like, specifically men growing up with that band and how it shaped our worldview. It was an interesting conversation, and I’m curious what the final piece ends up looking like. I don’t love doing interviews like this because I always end up saying four things that I think are pretty good while making solid points, but they’re a little too long to quote. So while those never make the article, me saying something dumb does instead.

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 1975 - People

  2. Somos - Mediterranean

  3. The Menzingers - America (You’re Freaking Me Out)

  4. Taylor Swift - Cornelia Street

  5. Noah Gundersen - Crystal Creek

  6. Ben Platt - Rain

  7. A Day to Remember - Degenerates

  8. Tiger Army - Prisoner of the Night

  9. Lauv - Fuck, I’m Lonely

  10. The Japanese House - Maybe You’re the Reason

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 personalmaps in the “Accountability in Music” thread. (Hey, personalmaps: Last week you were saying how you wanted to make section so badly, and now it’s your second time on it.)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Don’t forget to tip your bartender.

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 (August 16th, 2019)

This was a fun one.

In this week’s newsletter, I offer first impressions on new albums from The Early November, Somos, Grayscale, and Refused. There are also some comments on a bunch of other music, my weekly media diet rundown, and the usual random other thoughts. And, we close out with a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. (If Somos were out on streaming services right now, I’d probably have led with “Iron Heel.”) This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Five Things

  • This week I added Chorus.fm and AbsolutePunk.net buttons to our merch shop. We’ve got two sizes in various designs: Chorus.fm Full Color LogoChorus.fm Black Logo on White ButtonChorus.fm White Logo on Black ButtonAbsolutePunk.net Logo on Black ButtonAbsolutePunk.net Logo on White Button. I’m glad to finally have these up in the shop, since I’ve always liked how they looked (my backpack was covered with band versions back in college). I made white AP.net buttons years ago, but they were such a pain to get printed and shipped. I still have one that I turned into a magnet and have on my fridge.

  • A few members of the website are putting together a special Supporters Fantasy Football league together, and I promised them I’d link to it in this week’s newsletter. If you’re a supporting member and interested in joining, you can find all the information here.

  • I discovered a simple way to find a bunch of 5K wallpapers via Unsplash (a great stock image website) this week, and figured others might be interested. I have my desktop rotate between something like 40 different photos throughout the day, and I like to keep adding to the collection to keep things interesting.

  • Quick update on my August goal of increasing supporters on the website: we’re now 70 supporters away from hitting my goal. Thank you to everyone that has signed up! It means more to me than I can put into words.

  • Just wanted to quickly say that I am sorry for any typos that appear in this newsletter. I spend a lot of time editing it before it goes out, but it’s reached a length that something almost always inevitably slips through. It’s not the worst thing when it’s something published on the web, and I can go in and edit it. However, it drives me specifically bonkers when it’s an email that I’ve sent out, and I can’t edit it. Even when it’s something small like not italicizing an album title.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • The heartbreaking news that Somos’ guitarist Phil Haggerty passed away this week brings a solemn mood to each listen of the band’s new album, Prison on a Hill. It makes my heart heavy to think that Phil won’t ever get to hear the praise this album is sure to receive. Because this album is their best by a country mile. The band combines some of the 90’s emo sound with an almost new wave touch, all mixed with pop-punk melodies and harmonies. It crafts a real gem of an album. Almost like a catchy Joy Division mixed with The Get Up Kids. It’s an utterly infectious release that has dominated my listening this week. It’s full of songs that feel like instant classics and are sure to work their way into the heads of new and old fans alike. It’s a damn good album that reminds me of the first time I heard Transit’s Listen & Forgive and immediately knew they’d tapped into something special. It’s available right now on Bandcamp for only $5, and it’ll probably be the best five bucks you spend all week. This gets my full recommendation.

  • Grayscale’s upcoming release, Nella Vita, feels like a band mixing a variety of popular sounds and it working more often than not. There’s the obvious 1975 influence, but I also hear The Starting Line, The Maine, and even a little Yellowcard at times (specifically on “Asbury”). Some of the lyrics make my forehead crinkle, but the sound itself gives me an older pop-punk vibe with a currently popular synth Instagram-filter on top. The melodies and choruses are strong. With the album coming out in early September, this feels something you’ll spin hoping to trick your brain into thinking you have one or two extra weeks of summer. I’m not sure if it’ll have much-staying power, but I’m more interested in what these guys are doing after hearing this than I ever was before. Every now and again, a band shows up, and I think, “yeah, this woulda been something Drive-Thru Records signed back in the day.” This feels very much like one of those albums.

  • While on the subject of Drive Thru Records, I’ve spun Lilac from The Early November once so far. It opens with one of my favorite songs from the band in a long time (“Perfect Sphere (Bubble)”). It’s got this lush sound with a great rhythm section. A real groove. The songs that lean into that sound I really like, a few of the ones that move more toward a straight forward rock sound don’t quite do it for me. “Ave Maria” sounds like a surefire fan favorite and “Make My Bed” feels like classic Early November. I hope to spin this a few more times and have lengthier thoughts in the near future.

  • I feel like a 160 kbps stream is the wrong way to experience a new Refused album. The sound lacks the crystal punch a higher bitrate would give. However, that’s all I have, so that’s what I’m going with. My first impression is way more positive than my first spin of Freedom, but it didn’t quite knock me on my ass with the intensity of their most famous work. That said, I’ve had a little more time to get used to these guys being back and the kind of sound they’re playing around with these days. I was a little taken back by how catchy these songs felt on first listen. I found my foot tapping and head nodding along. Lyrically, I’ll need some more time to pick out everything because it’s a fine line to walk with self-proclaimed songs of rebellion. There’s more experimentation in the songs this time, which I appreciate. Early favorites included “Rev001” and “Death in Vännäs.” This is an album I’ll need a few more spins of (and please god in a higher quality) before I’ll know for sure how I feel about it. Some of it bleeds together on first listen, some feels a little too cliché post-rock with a touch of metal, and yet most of it just makes me want to run through a fucking wall. ’Cause I’ve still got a bone to pick with capitalism (and a few to break). Ugly mosh pit dance.

  • Marika Hackman’s new album, Any Human Friend, ebbs and flows with a pulsating rhythm and stark songwriting honesty. It’s an album where multiple times I’d pause a song to read over the lyrics and take-in the verse I just heard. I’d recommend this to fans of Lucy Dacus and Laura Marling.

  • I’m still getting a lot of milage out of Bon Iver’s i,i, Strung Out’s latest, and Clairo’s Immunity won’t be leaving my rotation any time soon. I enjoyed my listen of Tyler Childer’s latest album, Country Squire, but I feel like I need to be in a specific mood to reach for that one again.

  • Frank Turner’s new album, No Man’s Land, is out today, but I can’t recommend it as I haven’t returned to it since my first listen. Craig Manning described it “like homework” and that’s just about right.

  • Colleen Green’s Blink–182 cover album got a nice write-up over at The Ringer and, as I wrote about last week, I find these reinterpretations fascinating.

  • Oso Oso’s new album, Basking in the Glow, is out today. I wrote about this album a month or so ago, but now that it’s available on streaming services, everyone should go check it out. I think it’s one of those albums a whole lot of people will enjoy. Mia Hughes wrote a review of the album for our website, Ian Cohen wrote about it over at Pitchfork (where it got the coveted Best New Music tag), and it’s deserving of all the praise.

  • I plan to give the new Red Hearse album a listen when I’m done here. I like virtually everything Jack Antonoff’s ever been associated with, so I expect to enjoy this as well.

  • I like the new PVRIS song and the direction they’re taking these songs. I said it with the last one, but they feel poised for a break out album.

  • Every listen I take of Noah Gundersen’s new album leads me closer to calling it his masterpiece. I’m not quite there yet, but … I’m inching closer and closer. He released the third song from it today.

  • The new Taylor Swift song “Lover” seems to have received the most universal praise I’ve seen from her new songs so far. I think I agree with conventional wisdom; this is my favorite so far.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Brightburn might have been an interesting mini-series or TV show, but as a movie, it didn’t work. I didn’t care about creepy-bad-Superman at all. I think for a story like this, you need to care about the characters and the journey. Or at the very least, explore the “what went wrong.” (I think Looper handles this well.) A super-powered-being going around murdering people isn’t a movie, it’s a thing you talk about around the campfire with old friends. This needed a whole lot more work in the script stage.

  • We re-watched Thor: Ragnorok, and it’s easily the best Thor movie and one of the best MCU movies. A perfect mix of action and humor.

  • We re-watched (and for me I must be on at least my fifth viewing), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this week as well. It’s solidified itself as my favorite Spider-Man movie ever, in my top three super-hero films, and it’s climbing my favorite movies of all time list as well. I love this film and everything about it. Each re-watch has me once again falling in love with the story, the characters, and the animation.

  • If My Blind Brother was a random Netflix Original movie we stumbled upon, I would have been pleasantly surprised. I like all the actors involved, and it was an utterly passable comedy mixed with some family drama. Oh, and when Adam Scott wants to act like a complete dick, he’s one of the best there is.

  • We’re finally finishing up VEEP. We’re on episode four of the final season, and I was laughing my ass off last night at some of the stuff they get Jonah to say on this show. They’re in the middle of the primary election right now and, uh, some of it’s way to close to reality. Still extremely dark and funny though.

  • Godzilla: King of Monsters was a collection of cool scenes held together by weak ass Scotch Tape. The central premise was full of holes, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel for the human characters, but at least the monsters looked cool I guess. I don’t think I’d watch this again.

  • I know I’m in the minority here, but I don’t love the John Wick 3 movies as much as everyone else seems to. I get death fatigue and end up feeling like I’m just watching the same thing over and over again. This movie felt like one giant trailer for the next movie in the same way sometimes Marvel spends too much time setting up their universe instead of just focusing on making a good singular movie. There were some great action scenes, and some cool fight scenes, but others went on way too long. There were also moments where the fights felt way too choreographed, and the actors didn’t feel fluid in them. (I set the high water mark with movies like The Raid, or the fluidity of Donnie Yen in Ip Man.) One fun little factoid: One of the characters in this movie is portrayed by Mark Dacascos. Mark is the son of Al Dacascos, who was the teacher of my martial arts instructor when I was younger. Seeing that made me want to break-out a heavy bag and throw some punches. Anyway, I’ll keep watching these movies, and I do enjoy them for the most part, but I don’t hold them in the same high regard as I feel like most people do.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We’re starting to get wedding RSVP cards back in the mail! And that’s pretty exciting. We’re finalizing our florist this weekend, and on Sunday we’ll be celebrating the first anniversary of our engagement. Feels like we have exactly one time to celebrate that date, so I think we’re planning to get some pizza and beer.

  • I guess there’s some shitty Alt-Right march or something downtown this weekend and it’s usually counter-protested by Anti-Fascists. So, we’ll be staying far away from that part of the city this weekend. I’d love for these neo-Nazi assholes to just stop being a thing in 2019.

  • Long-time community member BTDandFeelingThis’s precious cat needed to be put down this week, and I just wanted to say RIP to Demon the kitty. Our two cats are hanging out next to me as I type this, so I know how important little fur friends can be in one’s life. RIP.

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. (If Somos were out on streaming services right now, I’d probably have led with “Iron Heel.”)

  1. Oso Oso - Dig

  2. PVRIS - Hallucinations

  3. Press Club - Dead or Dying

  4. Clairo - Closer to You

  5. Noah Gundersen - Lose You

  6. Grayscale - Old Friends

  7. Strung Out - Hammer Down

  8. Tyler Childers - House Fire

  9. Off With Their Heads - No Love

  10. Shura - Side Effects

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 Jason Tate in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

I am patting myself on the back for once again having the most liked post of the week. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.

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.

Loading more posts…