Liner Notes (June 14th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter is brought to you by those newly formed habits you never thought’d have.

In this week’s Liner Notes, I write about new features in the forums, share some apps I really like, and offer thoughts on a whole bunch of new music that’s been coming out these past few weeks. There’s also my regular media diet rundown and a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Five Things

  • This week I rolled out a new feature on the website that shows the Top Posters in each thread. This is something I’ve had on my list for a while to do, and it came out exactly as I envisioned. The small tweaks (that took way more work than you’d guess) to the thread view over the past year (adding the little action button next to the follow thread/search box) are finally going to start paying dividends. I think my next project may be trying to pull out the most liked posts in threads and/or the website. I’m not sure exactly how it would all work, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about. I also really need to decide if I’m going to do a full homepage redesign this summer or not. If I do, I’ll either need to take on some early freelance work to save up some money or try and convince some more people to become supporting members of the website.

  • Just wanted to remind everyone that we have limited edition pride merch available in our shop. I couldn’t help myself, and I ordered a hoodie. It came earlier this week, and it looks and feels so good. If it wasn’t a billion degrees outside I’d already be wearing it; I’m extremely happy with how these turned out.

  • If you’re a gif-addicted-fiend like me, you may find some value in this Gifwrapped app for iOS. It lets you save and search your favorite gifs in one place. Now I can make sure all my favorite eye rolling gifs are always at my fingertips.

  • Speaking of apps, one of my favorite Mac apps, Soulver, was updated this week. Here’s the MacStories review, but the basic idea is that it’s a cross between a calculator, notepad, and a spreadsheet. When I’m doing math, from complex algorithms to simple basic stuff, I’ve always been a more visual person. I like seeing all the numbers laid out so I can understand how they interact, or change one without having to re-do the entire calculation. This fits my brain so well, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

  • And, continuing this trend, I liked Federico Viticci’s rundown of his first thoughts about iPadOS. This seems like a great step forward for the platform, and I can’t wait to play around with it myself.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • The new album from The Dangerous Summer, Mother Nature, is out today. I’ve been writing about it for a while now, but now that it’s finally available, I highly recommend giving it a listen. I think it’s their best album in years and one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year. With school coming to an end for a lot of people, and summer ahead, I hope this can become a soundtrack for many. It’s the kind of album that feels destined to have memories made while it’s playing in the background, the kind of album years from now you hear and think back to “that summer” when “that record” was playing.

  • I’ve very much in on this new EP from Nightly, titled Talk You Down. The two new songs I hadn’t heard, combined with the two I had, feel like the band is honing in on their sound and making it their own. Great vocals, great vibe, I’m a fan.

  • I like the new Simple Creatures’ song “Special” but don’t love it. I like how this project is playing with different ideas in this space and am excited to see what else ends up on this EP, but this one didn’t grab me the way something like “Adrenaline” did.

  • This week was the first time I’d heard The Menzingers’ RSD release, No Penance/Cemetery’s Garden, since it just hit streaming services. The first track is classic Menzingers and the second has a little more of b-side feel to it, but still a solid song. I find releases like this (and the Julien Baker and Thrice RSD releases) difficult to remember to listen to. When it’s only two songs, I often don’t remember to put them in rotation since I’m more of a “find an album and put it on for 30–40 minutes” kind of listener. I’ll have to make a concerted effort to put these singles/EPs on before/after an album in the future, so they don’t get lost and underplayed.

  • Thrice’s new EP, Palms - Deeper Wells, feels, to me, exactly like an EP should. The songs are all good but don’t feel like they would fit into the last two albums. They feel more like an extension of the last album. “A Better Bridge” and “Stumbling West” are my early favorites, and I plan to spin this quite a bit over the next few weeks.

  • I like Taylor Swift’s new song enough, but not quite as much as “Me!” on first listen. I think the pre-chorus is the most interesting part of this one. That little melody is fun. I’m mostly intrigued by the idea that the two songs we’ve heard so far are so far back in the track listing. I don’t feel like deep cuts are usually the first released from a major album, so that’s got my interest. I avoided most of the hot takes on the song last night but had to scroll past the over the top reactions this morning.

  • If you’ve never listened to Ralph’s A Good Girl and are looking for an excellent pop album that’s seemed to fly under the radar, add this into your rotation this summer.

  • Re-listened to Story of the Year’s Wolves earlier this week for some reason. I’m still kind of surprised that I come back to this one. It doesn’t seem like something I should like, but I woke up feeling in the mood for it. I give a lot of credit to Aaron Sprinkle.

  • We’ve been having a little bit of a heat wave here in Portland this week. On Wednesday night, as I was sitting on the couch with a beer and hoping that the air conditioning could fight off the swelter, I listened to Bad Books’ new album III. I thought it was the perfect setting and feel for this album. The songwriting is top notch with a little edge creeping around the margins. I was surprised to see some negative responses in the forum thread because I thought this hit all the marks I’d want from an album like this. I couldn’t figure out what song I wanted to put on this week’s playlist. Usually, I pick my favorite, or the song I think stands out on an album, and I think “Neighborhood” is that song for this release. However, that song is such a massive emotional gut-punch it didn’t feel like it fit the vibe I was going for this week. Still, this album is worth checking out.

  • I am all about this new Sum 41 song. I’m at the spot where I’ve gotten multiple advances sent to my inbox that I think could be their new album only to be disappointed when I open the email. I didn’t think I’d be this actively anticipating a Sum 41 album in 2019, but I am. I want to hear this damn thing. (Also refreshing my inbox regularly for Strung Out and Good Riddance.)

  • I listened to the new Much The Same album early in the week, and those guys still make fun, fast, skate-punk. It, for obvious reasons knowing the producer, does remind me of The Swellers in a few parts. This summer is shaping up to have quite a bit of great punk and punk-adjacent albums in my regular rotation.

  • After I finish this I’ll be diving into the new records from Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. I didn’t have enough time this morning to give either enough of a listen to have any thoughts yet. Initial reactions from around the internet seem to be pretty positive on both from what I saw.

  • Thanks to KidLightning for recommending I check out Yonaka’s Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow this week. I enjoyed my first listen, and it reminded me of a heavier Chvrches. It has more of an alternative tinge to it but still keeps the hooks and melody. I added it to my library.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I had higher expectations for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu than maybe I should have. The movie was fun and enjoyable, just not entirely on the level I thought it would get to. The problem with a bunch of really smart movies (Lego MovieSpider-Verse, etc.) that are still ostensibly made for kids is that I forget how hard it is to walk that line. It was a lot of fun to see these characters on the screen, but the plot itself wasn’t very strong. Ryan Reynolds did a great job, so that crush continues, and I did have fun watching it, so I would say it’s worth seeing if you’re interested.

  • After listening to The Ringer’s podcast about The Hangover I had to re-watch it to see if it holds up as well as they said it did. It … didn’t really. It’s still pretty funny in parts, but I think there have been way better comedies released since, and that hurts its replayability. Some of the jokes definitely don’t work. It’s almost a nostalgia comedy, a little slice of where comedy was before the Judd Apatow era.

  • We watched I Am Mother on Netflix, and I’m having a hard time figuring out how I felt about it. It’s a pretty good movie, especially compared to some of the other films we’ve seen on Netflix, but I am still struggling to parse what the director was trying to say with it. It’s not as good as Ex-Machina or Looper, but it gave me that vibe in parts. I’ll keep an eye on this director to see what they do next.

  • We’re up to episode four in season three of Bold Type and the Sutton/Richard relationship is adorable. We finally got my sister to check it out as well, and she binged everything all week and has passed us now. Always good to convert someone into a Bold Type watcher.

  • I’ve been watching Good Girls on Netflix during my downtime this week and I should have done this earlier. Funny show, full of actors I like, and it’s quite good so far. I’m only four episodes in, but I’ve liked every single one so far; will be watching more later.

  • The NBA season came to an end last night. Something about all the injuries this year bummed me out. There were a lot of fun games, good moments, and that’s great, but there felt like this cloud over everything with how many people got hurt. I’ll be fascinated to watch the machinations of the offseason, but for now, I’m all in on baseball.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This week marked the first anniversary for when Hannah and I decided we needed to make some diet and lifestyle choices to try and get better control of our health and weight. Those that have been reading this newsletter for a while have spent an entire year with me writing about this journey, and I want to thank you for that. Being able to put my progress somewhere somewhat public helped me stay accountable. I ended up losing over 30 lbs and have now maintained my goal weight for something like five months. I’ve become a person that goes to the gym regularly, have cut things out of my diet I never thought I would, and as we’ve started incorporating healthier foods into our meals, I’ve been surprised how little tweaks can make great tasting meals with less of the crap in them. (The entire premise of this project is to be better and not worrying about being perfect I think is why it’s worked so well and become a habit versus a fad.) I’d also like to thank Smart Sweets candy and Skinny Pop popcorn at Whole Foods, and the entire Laughing Planet restaurant chain, for having things I can eat when I’m craving something without killing my calorie goals for the day. I couldn’t have done it without you.

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. Nightly - Say Anything Else

  2. Thrice - A Better Bridge

  3. Sum 41 - A Death in The Family

  4. The Menzingers - No Penance

  5. Good Riddance - Our Great Divide

  6. Ralph - Tables Have Turned

  7. Meg Mac - Something Tells Me

  8. Simple Creatures - Special

  9. Barrie - Saturated

  10. Julien Baker - Conversation Piece

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 dadbolt in the “Thrice - Palms (September 14, 2018)” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. It’s my sister’s birthday, so we’re hanging out with her on Sunday, and, fingers crossed, the weather is supposed to calm down a little bit and not make my feet cry tears of hatred. And with that, I leave you with some Calvin and Hobbes:

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.