Liner Notes (July 24th, 2020)

This week has thoughts on Taylor Swift, Neon Trees, bad violin playing in movies, and much more. Plus, there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Six Things

  • This week’s main article went back to 2012 to re-rank all of the albums from that year and reminisce about the music scene eight years ago. 2012 was a turning point in my life, so this was an interesting one to return to.

  • I was the guest on the All Punked Up podcast this week. It’s a fun talk, and I thought we all had pretty good chemistry for it being the first time we’d met. There’s a lot of nostalgia AbsolutePunk stuff in there, talking about early memories of Fall Out Boy and the music scene, mixed with thoughts and goals about the current website.

  • Speaking of podcasts, I pushed out the audio version of my “Back to 2005” article as an episode of Encore. The comments were almost universally positive about this, so I think I’m going to do another episode next week.

  • Drew added some more of his old reviews to our database this week, and it got me thinking a little more about how much of our music scene’s history was lost when AbsolutePunk went away. I don’t miss the comments, or the forums, at all. However, the ancient reviews and the interviews with some of the bands when they were young or before breaking up are things that I’ve been thinking about lately. I have something like a hundred old staff reviews and interviews saved somewhere on my hard drive; I think I’m going to see about reviving these over the next few months in some fashion. As a way to keep part of the music scene’s history alive and online. More on this when I have a better plan.

  • We’ve grown bored of our staple recipes and have begun looking for other things to cook each week. This week’s success was this recipe for “Buddha Bowls.” (Make sure to taste the peanut sauce while mixing it, so you get a good ratio and not too much lime.)

  • This week saw anniversaries for Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American, and my favorite release day anniversary of any summer: Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue and Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Hmm, anything big happen in music this week? There is nothing like Taylor Swift dropping a surprise album on everyone with just 24 hours of notice to shake things up. I’ve been able to listen to the full album twice, and a smattering of songs a few more times on top of that. Early impressions are that “This Is Me Trying” is the one that I’m finding myself connecting with the most right now. That little vocal melody combined with the storytelling aspect is pulling at my heartstrings. Other songs like “August” and “My Tears Ricochet” and “Betty” are also very much in my musical wheelhouse. I don’t want to be the cliche and say that Taylor doing a version of “indie” music somehow makes Taylor Swift “better,” because she’s had her hands in this kinda music all over her career, and I (obviously) adore all her records, but there’s something about her mirroring the kind of music I usually reach for with her talents that sparks something in me here. First, god damn you’re better at this than people that only do this, and second, it kind of reminds me a little of John Mayer’s Born & Raised, in as much as it was an artist going entirely in on a sound and knocking it out of the park. I’ve spent the past few years arguing that we (the collective critical voice) tend to overvalue the stereotypical indie artist with the guitar, or piano, making their “weird” indie music, and there’s value to be found in the more traditional pop (or pop-punk) music as well. What I find fascinating with this release is how well these two sounds can marry together to create an album with a foot in the genre many of us are most drawn to, while also maintaining an exceptional pop ear for melody and structure. And, all while highlighting Taylor’s lyrical prowess as well. The songwriting stands out here, at times reminding me of the best of Dashboard Confessional. There’s going to be a lot more time to dissect the music, but today I’m thrilled someone on her level can surprise us. Not just by releasing music out of the blue, but the music itself is actively surprising to hear. It’s not what I was expecting, and from what I can see, it’s, rightly, widely praised.

  • Acceptance released their new EP today. I’ve still only listened a few times because I don’t want to overplay songs that may end up on a full-length, but it seems like “Wasted Nights” has been the fan-favorite so far.

  • One album I don’t think anyone should sleep on today is the new one from Neon Trees. Hellllllllllo summer comeback album. This thing’s full of catchy as hell pop-rock.

  • Someone recommended Kacy Hill’s latest to me last week and it very much is my kind of album. Now, Now meets Japanese House kind of vibe. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to listen to music this week, but when I did, it was playing this.

  • I thought this article detailing Underoath’s livestream success was quite interesting. Music industry monetization stories and seeing what works and doesn’t work is fascinating to me. From all I’ve heard, the production value on these shows has been incredible, and the fans are really happy. I think it would be smart for bands to find a way to incorporate something like this into their promotional cycles even when they can tour again.

  • I didn’t like Neck Deep’s older material; I don’t like their new shit either.

  • The new Ellie Goulding album has some stuff I like, but it’s also bogged down with some filler that I end up glossing over. I’ve reached for The Chicks’ new one far more often over the past week.

  • Next up I’m going to check out albums from Broadside, Lori McKenna, and The Naked and Famous.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Hannah had never seen Stand by Me in full, so we re-watched that over the weekend. Great, great movie. I had forgotten how much I loved it and forgotten how damn good River Phoenix is in it.

  • One of my favorite things is when there’s a violinist character in a film or tv show, and Hannah has to watch and cringe at the actors trying to pull it off. Watching Hannah react to the violin scenes in A Nice Girl Like You was the only entertaining thing about the movie. What a colossal mess of a film. We had to pause and rant about this disaster at least three times and only kept watching because it was such a trainwreck I needed to know how far they took it. Then the scene with the “sex therapist” happened, and my entire body cringed so hard I still have cramps. This is bad. Very bad.

  • The third season of Search Party is up there with the first two. I don’t know how they make you root for some of these characters, or if that’s even what I feel when watching … they’re… bad people. But it somehow works and is remarkably entertaining. Sign me up for season four.

  • We watched two episodes of Love Life last night. Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is my shit. Besides being distracted by the Anna Kendrick wig, give me all the rom-com goodness.

  • I finished The Name of The Wind, and I’m trying to avoid too much hyperbole by saying it was my favorite thing I’ve read in a very long time. It took a little while to get going, but once I was pulled into the world, I didn’t want to leave. I liked it so much that the moment I finished it, even though I have three other library books available right now, I bought the sequel on Amazon and started reading that next. It’s also excellent so far. Guess sometimes the hype is real?

  • Hannah bought Animal Crossing last weekend and became an instant fan. I haven’t been able to play yet, but every time I look over, she’s got a massive smile on her face.

  • Baseball is officially back and it’s… rather weird. I’m of two minds about all of it, one, that my brain is happy it’s here and I can watch it, and I can be distracted by sports. Two, that the country fucked up our response to the virus so severely that it’s still exceptionally bad out there, and it feels weird to be watching sports and seeing athletes get sick, while this is all going on. But I’m trying to take the positives I can from it. So, yay baseball. These cutouts in the stands only kinda look like a giant game of “Guess Who?”

Random and Personal Stuff

  • If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard about my city, Portland, OR, being a dumpster fire of anarchy and ruin or something. It’s nonsense. This article sums it up well: “The right-wing media portrays a city under siege — but the city’s real siege is from the federal government.” The problem isn’t the protesters. The problem is the violent response to the protesters.

  • Pepperoni, Sausage, Green Peppers, and Onions.

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. Neon Trees - Nights

  2. Taylor Swift - This is Me Trying

  3. Acceptance - Wasted Nights

  4. The Naked and Famous - Sunseeker

  5. John K Samson - Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World

  6. Taylor Swift - August

  7. Young Jesus - (Un)knowing

  8. Lori McKenna - The Balladeer

  9. Kacy Hill - Just to Say

  10. Danna Paola - Sodio

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 SmashRipsaw in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.