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.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.