Liner Notes (February 7th, 2020)

Neon Sunrise

This week has thoughts on new music from Hayley Williams, Green Day, and much more. There’s also my usual media diet rundown, which includes my high praise for Atypical, and a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • Hey, I no longer have to hint about things! This week The Format reunited for a show in Arizona and then announced some reunion shows in a few cities. I’m super happy to see these guys playing music together again, and it makes me wish I could get out to one of the shows. Alas, nothing that close to me. I haven’t heard anything about more shows or the possibility of any new music, but just knowing they’re playing together makes me smile. I’ve enjoyed diving back into their albums over the past month or so and am almost amazed at how well they hold up. They could be released right now, today, and I think they’d be well-received.

  • I ripped Hayley Williams’s Live Lounge performance if anyone wants that for their collection.

  • For some reason this week, I was trying to come up with the most underrated albums that I can remember from the height of the AbsolutePunk days. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it, but off the top of my head, I think Nightmare of You’s debut album, Boys Like Girls’ Love Drunk, Northstar’s Pollyanna, and Motion City Soundtrack’s Even If It Kills Me all come to mind first.

  • Not much follow-up on the new app front that I detailed last week. After another week using and adding Raindrop.io into my workflow, I’m thrilled with it. I needed it a lot this week to organize a few projects I was working on, and it worked great.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Hayley Williams went all out this week and released new music and dropped the first five songs from her new album as an EP. I think this is a brilliant strategy for launching her solo career. One of the hardest parts of launching a solo album from a band project is people don’t know your new music, because you have very little of it. So, in doing it this way, she’s giving people a chance to get to know the new songs, the new sound, and on an abbreviated timeline, build a fanbase. It’s smart. I think this is a great way to lead into, probably, a tour of some kind and making sure people are on for the ride and won’t just be there yelling out Paramore song titles and not knowing how to sing along. As for the EP, I unabashedly love it. Listened once and immediately pre-ordered the vinyl. “Cinnamon” has such a great rhythm, and I’m really into “Sudden Desire” as well. My goal is not to overplay the first five songs before the album comes out, but I’m probably going to fail at that. Following right along in the Paramore/Hayley Williams career, I think this is some of her best stuff. It’s walking right between what’s popular on the radio right now while still exploring some fun things creatively. And the lyrics are top-shelf.

  • I honestly do not understand what Green Day was thinking on their new album. I listened to it while posting news this morning and spent most of the time laughing. It’s a disaster. The music is muddled, uninteresting, and sounds like first passes at songs. The lyrics read like stoned scribbles on a bathroom wall. I didn’t like The Hives when they were popular, so I’m not that into a bad rendition that seems like it was recorded over a weekend. Yikes.

  • The new Spanish Love Songs album is sure to resonate with fans of The Menzingers and The Wonder Years. This one walks a little closer to The Wonder Years and their previous a little closer to The Menzingers, but they sit right in that sweet spot between the two bands.

  • I spent multiple evenings this week pouring over spreadsheets and voting data from the Iowa caucus. I am a political nerd that likes numbers, and they fucked this one up in so many ways. That’s a totally different topic, however. During these data deep dives, I spent a lot of time listening to Pond’s Tasmania, which I somehow didn’t listen to when it first came out. After that, I got back into a big synth-wave rush and went through everything from Scandroid. This neo–80’s with a little modern flourish just does it for me. And add in things like a synth addled cover of Star Wars “The Force Theme,” and you’re just speaking my language. It works well as background music, and there’s a whole lot of it to listen to. Plus, instrumental versions. I also listened to some FM–84 as well, but Scandroid got the majority of my time last week.

  • If you haven’t heard Caspian’s On Circles yet, that gets my recommendation as well. It’s more of a post-rock instrumental thing but done just about as well as you can.

  • I find something new to love in the new Brian Fallon album with each new listen. It showcases the power of a master songwriter letting simple things be simple and the songs standing on their own.

  • I like, but don’t love Carly Rae Jepsen’s new single. It feels very b-side, which is alright, but it doesn’t quite grab me in the same way as the extra cuts from EMOTION did. Similar thoughts with the new DAGNY song. It’s okay, but it’s missing a little of the edge or uniqueness that I like most. It feels like it could have been written and performed by any number of different artists.

  • I was into my first listen of the new Nada Surf album. It’s breezy but extremely solid. This feels like something I’ll be listening to for a while.

  • Next up on my list to check out is the new album from Oh Wonder, this album from Pool Kids I missed and multiple people have recommended I check out. And then probably dive into John Moreland and see if I’ve missed any other singles released in this chaotic week.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • This was a more TV dominated week, but we did manage to watch the film Jo Jo Rabbit. I love everything Taika Waititi does, and this is another in the “win” column for him, but I think I wanted to like it a little more than I did. It got a little slow in the middle. However, this was a high degree of difficulty movie to pull off, and he did it.

  • Hannah was out of town last weekend for her grandmother’s birthday, so I needed something new to watch. I decided to start Atypical after hearing about it for a while and wanting something a little more light and fun to watch. What an absolute joy of a show. I’ve only seen the first season so far, but I’ve now watched it twice. Because when Hannah came home, I told her she had to watch it, and then we watched all of season one together. Loved it, recommend it.

  • We are up through episode four of the third season of Mr Robot and it’s been great. I love seeing how all of these things are coming together, and it’s been a marked step up from season two. We’re not caught up on Picard yet but plan to watch that this weekend.

  • We finished the season finale of Below Deck, and I thought it was another solid season of the show. I wanted to throw Ashton overboard a few times, and Rhylee is born-for-drama, but it was another fun season, and I’m looking forward to the reunion episodes. Now that we’ve finished this, we’re going to finally binge the whole new season of The Good Place. I’m ready to feel things.

  • I’m about 45% of the way through The Stand, and I think I’m in the spot people warned me about when it gets … slow … and kind of boring. I’m finding myself drifting during the reading, and I’m hoping things pick up soon. I am still in on the book, but I’m ready for it to get moving again.

  • I’m looking forward to checking out this McMillions documentary on HBO. Two years ago, I posted about the story on the website, and it’s still one of the most fascinating things I’ve read.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Tax season is upon us and I’m already dreading it. Getting married is going to make the process of getting all the information to my accountant more complicated, and I already know it’s going to be a cluster fuck.

  • Netflix finally lets you turn off autoplaying trailers. About-fucking-time.

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. Nada Surf - So Much Love

  2. Hayley Williams - Sudden Desire

  3. Spanish Love Songs - Generation Loss

  4. Caspian - Flowers of Light

  5. Dogleg - Kawasaki Backflip

  6. Carly Rae Jepsen - Let’s Be Friends

  7. Pond - Sixteen Days

  8. 5 Seconds of Summer - No Shame

  9. Niall Horan - No Judgement

  10. Scandroid - The Force Theme

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 ramres in the “Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor (May 8, 2020)” thread.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.