Liner Notes (January 24th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter has my thoughts on new music from Hayley Williams, All Time Low, and a tremendous new pop-punk band not many have heard of. I also share my favorite app discovery in a while and my usual media diet rundown. Then, 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

  • Sometimes the universe feels like it works in deliberate ways. I haven’t listened to the Cortex podcast in quite a while. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but just because I had such a backlog of so many other podcasts that I didn’t have time. However, randomly over the weekend, I decided to check out their “yearly theme” episode, and the discussion around the app FitBod grabbed my attention. For the past two years, I’ve been on a big health focus. I realized my health was greatly suffering, and it was causing a myriad of issues. This led to big diet changes, a focus on drinking more water, various lifestyle changes, and going to the gym with more regularity. It’s become a habit. A habit I never expected I’d have, but one that I look forward to each day now. For the past year or so, I was keeping track of my weight lifting routine in Ulysses. I wrote a custom Shortcut to rotate through the various exercises that I had looked up online and watched tutorials about on YouTube and logged each workout that way. However, listening to CGP Grey talk about FitBod grabbed my (apparently now a gym rat) brain immediately. He was talking about how you can tell the app what equipment you have available that day and then the app will determine a workout for you based on availability, what muscles are rested, and the amount of time you have. This seemed perfect, and I downloaded the app. It’s fantastic. It does one thing and does it really well. I’ve been using it all week and am blown away by just how good it is. The workouts it puts together are interesting, and I love the focus on two muscle groups as well as core exercises that I was neglecting in my routine. I love tracking what muscles are “fresh” and which ones are recovering. I love the Apple Watch app for easily logging sets. I love the plate calculator for easily putting weights on the bar dependent on what you have available. I love being able to see my progress in a simple interface. This discovery took one of my daily routines, going to the gym, and improved it tenfold. I’ve left every single workout this week with a smile on my face at just how much better this experience is than what I was doing before. I’m not sure if this would have been right for me when I first started going to the gym, because I think I needed to build a habit first, and my simple routines helped me get into the mindset of just going. But this is absolutely what I need to keep me motivated as I continue my health goals for 2020. It gets my full recommendation for anyone interested in fitness, and I know it’ll be a part of my life going forward.

  • Speaking of apps, Federico posted up his “Must-Have Apps of 2019” over on MacStories and it’s one of my favorite articles every single year. There’s always at least one or two apps that I discover that I end up working into my workflow. After the discovery of FitBod, and it being the start of a new year, I’m re-thinking a whole lot of different apps in my life, and what could be improved or changed, so, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to share on this journey in the next few weeks. As for now, I am going to be taking a hard look at this service for bookmarks. I’ve been using Pinboard for years, but their native app situation sucks. The iOS apps are all abandoned and full of bugs, and my favorite Mac client, Spillo, hasn’t been updated in years. I’ve been wanting to spend some time and organize my hundreds of bookmarks and saved websites for a while, so this may just be the catalyst to dive deep on this project.

  • This week, I rolled out a new feature in the forums for an expandable posting box. In iOS 13 textarea boxes are handled differently than they were in the past, I think for the better, but it meant not having as much space to type when you had a long post to deal with on mobile phones with these gorgeously large screens. I think this little feature is a nice addition to the website and adds options without much complexity. While I was putting this together, I also took the time to fix a few other little minor bugs that were on my list for a while. Next week I hope to aim at a few other bugs and doing some minor refinements.

  • Living in Portland is living with the rain. I’ve been on the lookout for a nice pair of waterproof shoes for a while, something that I can wear during these watery months on a Saturday while running errands but not look like I’m about to go hike through Forest Park. Something that looks simple and understated while grabbing a beer with some friends but can handle the walk home through puddles or downpour. Hannah came across these shoes called Vessi (probably on Instagram), and I was drawn to their Everyday shoe (black on black of course). They came late last week and, because it’s January in Oregon, I’ve had ample time to test them out. So far, I’m extremely happy with these. They’re comfortable, they’ve stood up to multiple rainstorms and kept my feet shockingly dry, and I actually enjoy the understated look. They remind me a little of my pair of Nike Roshe One shoes and were exactly what I was looking for.


John Allred released his new album, Anchor, today. John is an independent singer/songwriter of 19 years and has been working on this album for the past three years. He’s opened for everyone from Blink–182 (he even covered “Dammit”) to Matt Nathanson and has influences ranging from The Counting Crows to Jimmy Eat World. You can stream the album on his website, and if you like the music usually written about in this newsletter, there’s a good chance you’ll be into this.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Holy shit Hayley Williams. On Wednesday, she dropped her new single, “Simmer,” and announced her debut solo album, Petals for Armor, due out on May 8th. Advances won’t go out for a while, but I’ll let you know when they do and have first impressions right here in this newsletter. As for this song, I think it’s absolutely incredible when an artist I already like continues their musical progression in ways that perfectly align with my current musical tastes. This is extremely my shit. Moody with a groove and vibe and spiked lyrical gems. There’s this undercurrent of anger brooding within the song that splinters out around the edges. You catch it in moments before being pulled back into the pulsating chorus. I’ve spent most of the week walking around with that little “simmer simmer simmer” part vibrating in my head. I think it’s a great song, a fantastic lead single, and I’m extremely excited to see what this album is going to be. I also love that she’s taking ownership of these songs and releasing them under her name. After all the bullshit she’s been through, and the ridiculous “rules” the scene put on her, and her alone, in early parts of the Paramore career, I’m happy to see her shed that. Here, she steps out, literally naked, scared, angry, and exposed in the video, and fights back. It’s a song that embraces the duality of anger and forgiveness, of mercy and hate, of finding steely protection in the softness. That second verse is a real highlight, and I love the vocal delivery.

    The production work by Taylor York is top-notch. It seems like he’s learned quite a bit from working with Justin Meldal Johnsen. I’m not sure where the full-length is going to go from here, but I’m quite ready for the journey. And on top of all of this, I find inspiration in Hayley Williams pushing through the bullshit of the music scene and saying, “I’m still here, and you haven’t seen anything yet.”

    If we do one thing in 2020, I’d like to get what’s his face out of the White House. If we can do two, I’d like us to all make Hayley Williams a music superstar.

  • All Time Low dropped their new single “Some Kind of Disaster,” and according to the press release, this is only a standalone single. I haven’t heard any differently, but I do expect an album from these guys sooner rather than later. As for the song, I think it’s the best of the three they’ve released since Last Young Renegade and has one of their best bridges in a while. Walks a little more between the lines of their previous two albums and yet feels undeniably like All Time Low. Big fan of that little chorus melody as well. I think these guys have gotten better with age, and I’m happy they’re still out there making music.

  • I discovered this new pop-punk band called Meet Me @ The Altar this week, and I haven’t been excited about a pop-punk release in quite a while, but their new EP, Bigger Than Me, is excellent. Seriously, if you like pop-punk music at all, check this one out. Someone sign them, put them in a fancy studio, and if pop-punk is going to have a resurgence, let it be because of them.

  • I listened to The Frights’ surprise release this morning and enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting. It’s more of an acoustic, stripped-back sound, and not at all what I thought it would be. It’s good though, and worth a look.

  • I spent a lot of time this week listening to 80’s inspired synthwave music. When I’m working on a coding problem, this kind of music works perfectly for me. Current favorites include Timecop1983’s Night Drive, The Midnight’s instrumentals for Kids, and LeBrock’s Real Thing.

  • The Format announced a new vinyl release of Live at the Mayan Theatre and a special viewing party on February 3rd in Phoenix at Hello Merch. The viewing party has already sold out, and I can assure you the people in attendance are going to be extremely happy they went. If you can’t attend, don’t fret for too long, for I hear there may be something else to come.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Terminator: Dark Fate felt like the Jurassic World of Terminator movies. It was a fine reboot that was better than most of the previous attempts but wasn’t that great and mostly just fine.

  • While working my way through The Stand, and in the midst of a deadly virus in the news, it was probably bad timing to watch Contagion again. But, I did, and it’s still good. Now forgive me for not leaving my condo and washing my hands a hundred times a day.

  • I expected Overlord to be better based on the hype and reviews. It was fine. A few cool scenes but a whole lot of ‘wtf’ plot moments.

  • Last Christmas was entirely predictable with a great soundtrack. It’s a cute romantic comedy-like movie set at Christmas time, and as you all know, I’m the core demographic for this sorta thing. I enjoyed it, and I’ll probably watch it again next Christmas. It’s not the best thing in the world, but a competent and fun feel-good holiday movie is about all I need.

  • We finally decided to pick back up our watch of The Morning Show and are now up to episode eight. The show is still a little wobbly, but it’s gotten better. A few episodes in the middle bored me to death, but it seems to have found more of its footing here toward the end. I still don’t think it’s a great, maybe not even ‘good,’ show, but I am still engaged enough to see where it’s going.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much to share in the personal life this week. I did quite a bit of Q&A in the supporter forum this week, so there’s a bunch of answers to random questions if anyone is curious or would like to ask their own.

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. Hayley Willams - Simmer

  2. All Time Low - Some Kind of Disaster

  3. Meet Me @ The Altar - Morris Farm Drive

  4. Timecop1983 - Static

  5. Chromatics - TOY

  6. The Frights - 24

  7. Noah Gundersen - Kamikaze (Acoustic)

  8. Sandy Alex G - Hope

  9. Gabrielle Aplin - Dear Happy

  10. Wye Oak - Fear of Heights

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

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Thank you for subscribing and reading.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.