Liner Notes (July 30th, 2022)
We are back!
This week’s newsletter is filled all the way up with thoughts on music from the past few weeks, including some Butch Walker first impressions, commentary on life with COVID, and all the stuff I’ve listened to and watched since we last talked. There’s also a playlist of ten songs worth your time, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.
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A Few Things
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve written. I think this was the longest break between newsletters since I started writing these. It’s been an eventful past few weeks. The first “miss” was planned. Hannah’s cousin was getting married, so I decided to take the weekend off so that we could do family things and help out with the wedding. The wedding went off without a hitch. And then the following week, it finally happened: COVID got me. After two years of being able to avoid it, of being overly diligent, it hit me. I tested positive on Tuesday, and my symptoms ended up being a horrific sore throat and a minor cough. The cough made the sore throat absolutely brutal, and I ended up eating cough and throat drops like candy. I had a fever, some body aches, but thankfully that was the worst of it; annoyingly uncomfortable for about a week. Oh, and I also lost the ability to smell or taste anything. That was just annoying. My brain knew what things should taste like, but it was just out of reach with each bite. That lingered on a little longer but finally came back. Now, I’ve tested negative, and there’s a slight lingering cough. Hannah also came down with it, and her fever and cough seemed worse. By and large, I consider us lucky, but I also know why I will keep wearing a mask indoors and will be getting the next booster. Getting sick sucks! So, that was why I missed two weeks of writing. Then last week, I was all set and looking forward to getting back to it. All my new office and desk accessories had arrived, and I was planning to set that all up and then break it in with a newsletter. I got the new computer and monitor, set up the transfer, and immediately realized something was wrong. My brand new Studio Display was blowing air out of the top vent at obnoxious levels. Constantly and loud. I unplugged it from the computer. Still loud. I upgraded the firmware. Still loud. I did all the troubleshooting the internet had for me. Still loud. Shit. So, I called Apple and went through the support chain. (“Is it an Intel or M1 Mac?” “It’s a stand-alone monitor.” “So, Intel?” “Uh, I think it has an A13 in it, but it’s a monitor, not a computer.”) They told me my best bet was to take it into the store, and the store may have a replacement for me. So my day of “set up the new office and write a newsletter” turned into a day of lugging a giant box down to the Apple Store. Apple Store informed me there was no display available for a replacement, and not one they could order, so I should call back the phone version of Apple and do an express replacement. They would send me a new one, and then a box to return the old one. I asked why they couldn’t just do a version of that here and take this monitor with them since I boxed it up and brought it down to the store. They said the two systems didn’t work together, and they couldn’t do that. Hmm, fine. Back home with the heavy monitor we go. My mistake, in hindsight, was not just calling Apple from within the store. Because … Phone Apple informed me that there was no option available for express replacement on the Studio Display. It was not possible for them to send me a new one and a box to send the old back. My option was to take it back to the store, and they would attempt a repair on it. First, I can’t tell you how excited I am to have spent an annoying amount of money on a “new” monitor, and immediately it needs to be opened up and repaired. That by itself makes me exceptionally frustrated. Two, I was even less pleased with getting the run around to need to once again drive down to the Apple Store with this giant box. Third, I never got a good answer for what would happen if they opened this up to fix it and couldn’t. The entire ordeal took up the time I was going to use to write last week’s newsletter, and, well, here we are. The current state of things is that the monitor was dropped off on Friday evening with a promise from Apple that it would be finished by Sunday. My confidence in this promise is, hmm, I would say minimal. Once I get everything back, and set back up in the office, I plan to do a much longer post about the new system, my new desk setup, and all that. My week with the (obnoxiously loud) display and a new computer was a frustrating glimpse of how everything can work together. The new computer is incredible. Ridiculously fast. (Silent.) And getting my first experience of Apple Silicon was everything I had read about. As I play around with everything more I’ll pepper in more thoughts to future newsletters, but so far my favorite thing was realizing since Shortcuts is now on the Mac, and realizing you can use Shortcuts from the Terminal, I could use Keyboard Maestro to map a shortcut to a keyboard shortcut. I’ll be playing around with this more, but for now I can hit F13 on my new extended keyboard, and it will turn all the lights off in the condo except for in my office. Nice for all the times I grab something from the kitchen and forget to turn out a light on my way back. I’m sure there will be more to say about the new computer, desk, and office, in the future … I’d just really, really like the process to be done. We’re close.
One of the other things COVID did was push back the publication of our Best of 2022 (So Far) feature. But, better late than never. It’s a pretty awesome list of music, and if you’re looking for something new to check out, or what you may have missed, I’m sure you’ll find something to love on it. We also have all our personal lists on the feature, so it’s full of music. My favorite of the year, so far, is not remotely surprising. And, I think it’ll be tough for anything to beat it out; it still just hits all the right spots for what I love about music.
Merchhh is a new clothing brand that aims to capture the feel of the early days of music fandom along with a modern “street wear” feel. The creator grew up in the Long Island music scene and you can save 5% on all merch using the code “brokenhearts.”
In Case You Missed It
Okay, we have a lot to get through from the past few weeks. Let’s start with Butch Walker. He has a new album coming out soon and it’s a redemption album through and through. His previous was the first release from that I legitimately had a difficult time making it through, and this is the opposite. I adore this record. It’s got a pure laid back feel to it that just screams the middle of summer. The whole premise is Butch doing a piano man lounge singer thing, and it absolutely works. Early favorites include “State-Line Fireworks” and “Slow Leak” but it’s hard to pick favorites because the entire album just works so well together. Butch’s vocals, his melodies, the piano, seriously, the entire thing is great. I’ve been writing about Butch since 2004 (cringe) and I still think he’s one of the most naturally talented songwriters I’ve ever seen. He’s already written more songs that have become staples in my life than most artists and I’m extremely excited to add another excellent group into the mix. Best way to put it is about half-way through my first listen I paused and actually said out loud, “goddamn, this is good.”
Yesterday saw the release of the new album from Unwritten Law. My relationship with this band is interesting. Way back in like 2001-ish, I listened to them all the time. Then I just completely fell off and never found myself going back to any of their albums. I tried the last couple of records but could not get into them at all. But I like this one! It’s the best first impression I’ve had of an Unwritten Law album in over a decade, at least, and it’s a nice collection of songs. I see myself keeping this in regular rotation this summer and am actively looking forward to putting it on a little later.
The new Mabel album is catchy, but I found it a tad generic, like the songs sound exactly like I expect a pop song to sound without any of the extra flavor that my favorites sprinkle in to elevate them. Not bad, but not standing out from the pack for me either.
I’ve only had time to spin the new Maggie Rogers album once so far, but that’s all it took for me to decide I like it better than her debut. Some real great stuff here. Vocals are excellent. Songs are fun with just enough quirky mixed in. Definitely worth a look.
Matt Nathanson’s last album, Sings His Sad Songs, might be one of the best pop break-up albums I’ve ever heard. And if I would have heard it earlier in the year it was released, it would have probably made a bigger impression on my end-of-the-year list. His new one, Boston Accent goes more into the singer-songwriter genre with a significant emphasis on the lyrical moments. And I think it succeeds far more than it doesn’t. There are some real nice songs on here, including my early favorite “Soundtrack,” and it’s the kind of album that pairs well with an early coffee on a nice summer morning.
Last week (I think?) saw the new release from Pool Kids, and it’s been getting a lot of praise around the community. Rightfully so. It’s an album that I could see continuing to grow on me through the rest of the year, and it has all the parts that makeup one of those albums that I like right away and then clicks a few more plays in and rockets up my favorite of the year list.
This is probably a hot take, but I think Anthony Green’s new solo album is my favorite thing he’s done. It’s beautiful and cathartic.
Young the Giant are doing the whole “release parts of an album” thing with their new release. Which, as I’ve written about a billion times, bums me out. I like full albums. These songs are also ridiculously good and remind me a little of the best of MUTEMATH. So, please give me this full release as soon as humanly possible. I’ve also been thinking about how consistent this band has been for years now, just releasing awesome music again and again.
Anberlin’s new EP is out now and comes highly recommended. I’ve been going back and forth on how much I want to play it, with the hopes that it ends up being part of an album one day.
Greyscale released some re-worked songs from their last album, and this remains one of the bands I’m most surprised I keep returning to, but their last two albums are both really solid pop-rock records and a lot of fun to throw on during the week when I can’t think of anything else to listen to.
My week this week had a few other listens peppered in: I went on a big Rise Against kick, got very into that first Sum 41 album again, and because it’s very summer over here I must say: Everything in Transit is the best summer album of all time, and Enema of the State is the quintessential “makes me happy” album. I can play it in almost any weather, but when it’s nice and sunny out, I throw it on, and within 10 seconds I’m smiling. To say that I am incredibly excited about grabbing the Enema-era Funko toys would be an understatement. I need these. There’s been lots of rumors about Tom rejoining the band over the past month or so, but I’ve heard nothing from anyone I trust on the topic to speak with any certainty. One rumor was a new single coming on August 1st with Tom, and the other I heard was that the band hasn’t found what they’re looking for quite yet “sound-wise” and that Tom has not a part of that process. Guess we’ll know if the single rumor is confirmed next week. I’ve seen nothing registered in any of the regular song databases I check. And if a Tom announcement was coming within days and none of the little birdies that I know read this newsletter are texting me, I’d be very mad at you.
The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 14 different artists, 26 different albums, and 311 different tracks (392 scrobbles). My most listened-to artist of the week was Sum 41, with Butch Walker’s new album Butch Walker as… Glenn being my most played record. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.
Dual woulda been a fine made-for-TV movie, felt very “meh” on it.
I love Ryan Gosling more than any healthy human should. I fucking hated The Gray Man with that same energy. Awful. Cliche and stupid story, horrendous editing, laughable direction, did I say stupid ass story yet? I hate this.
Till Death was fine.
I’ve seen the original Mission: Impossible probably more times than any movie over my life. When it was one of the only films we owned on VHS, I would watch it all the time over summer vacations as a kid. I put it on when Hannah was on a work trip last weekend and I think it still holds up! It’s just a fun warm nostalgic blanket for me.
We’ve been re-watching Dark, and while I think Mad Men would still get my vote as my favorite show ever … this re-watch has me evaulating just how high Dark is up on that list. The degree of difficulty in this show working at all, let alone them pulling it off, still blows my mind. We’re about halfway through season two now. What an absolute masterpiece.
We’re pairing the re-watch with our “before bed” show being Hacks. About halfway through the first season so far and it’s been a lot of fun—good jokes, well written.
I almost feel like I can’t talk about The Rehearsal until the entire season has played out. But I also can’t stop thinking about every single episode of The Rehearsal for days after they air. And here I thought Nathan for You left me slack jawed … ohhhhhh, man.
I finally watched the first season of For All Mankind when Hannah was gone for a few days. I think the best thing I can say about it is that it was just a very solid and well made season of TV. I didn’t love, love it, but I was always interested in what would happen next, and it feels like it’s doing a good job of world building and setting up even more to come. I’m invested in the characters and am looking forward to see what’s to come next.
Random and Personal Stuff
It was nice to sit down this morning and write for the first time in a while. I’ve missed putting this newsletter together and there are no plans for any additional breaks in the upcoming future. Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for reading.
Womp. Womp. Womp. Sad trombone sound. I just got a phone call, as I’m finishing this up, from Apple. They forgot to order one of the parts they need for the monitor. So, it won’t be fixed until at least next Wednesday. I’m trying to remain stoic about this entire thing. Hmm, well, I guess it’s back to the old iMac for the first three days next week. Maybe I’ll just set it up in the kitchen or something.
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.
Anberlin – Nothing Lost
Maggie Rogers – That’s Where I Am
Cartel – 17
Matt Nathanson – German Cars
Young The Giant – Tomorrow
Your Truly – Walk Over My Grave
Unwritten Law – Discordia
Jack’s Mannequin – Bruised
Pool Kids – That’s Physics, Baby
Grayscale – Dirty Bombs
The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:
The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by imthesheriff in the “General Politics Discussion IX” thread.
LOL, feel like that’s cheating.
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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.