Liner Notes (November 1st, 2019)

The Light Behind Your Eyes

This week’s newsletter has the definitive ranking of My Chemical Romance albums, some first impressions of the new Anti-Flag album, thoughts on some other music I spent time with this week, and my weekly media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, a few articles I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Five Things

  • My Chemical Romance announced their return yesterday to the excitement of, what felt like, most of the internet. I’d heard rumblings about these rumors for a while, but it wasn’t until early September that I had confirmation that something was going to be announced before the end of the year. Based on what I’ve heard, there are holds on various venues for a tour next year, so if you can’t make it out to their announced show, I think you’re still going to have a chance to see the band in action. I haven’t been able to nail down if new music is for sure happening, but at least once source made it sound like it was highly probable. In celebration, I figured I’d do a ranking of the band’s discography since it was in heavy rotation over the past few days.

    • The Black Parade: It’s a classic and rightfully so. I’d argue it’s one of the better rock albums in my lifetime and is full of audacious hit after hit. Listening to it now and it still has all the energy and timelessness that makes me feel as though it would have an impact even if it were released today.

    • Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge: I still remember the first time I heard this album and knowing immediately it was going to be a hit. If memory serves, we worked with the band and label to secretly release one of the first songs from this album on AbsolutePunk by hiding a download in one of the news posts about the band. It’s hard for me to pull back from so much of the nostalgia I have wrapped around these songs.

    • Danger Days: This album was ahead of its time. I wasn’t sold on the initial single, and it took a little while for me to come around on the album as a whole. However, these days, this usually ends up being one of the first albums I reach for when in the mood to listen to the band. I love the mix of swagger, pop, and energy in the songs. If I didn’t have such a personal connection to Three Cheers, there’s a good chance I’d have this in second place.

    • Conventional Weapons: I listen to these EPs like an album. It doesn’t flow perfectly together like an album, but there are enough good songs here that it makes up for it. I’ve always loved “Tomorrow’s Money,” “Boy Division,” and “Make Room!!!,” while “Gun.” is my least favorite of the collection.

    • I Brought You My Bullets…: This is easily my least favorite release from the band and one I rarely return to. It reminds me of that era of music quite a bit, and I remember first getting a copy from Geoff of Thursday back in the day. I don’t actively dislike the album, but it is one that feels more of a time and the band feeling out who and what they want to be. You can see the blueprints for what they would become, and that’s a lot of fun.

    • Conclusion: My Chemical Romance are a fascinating band that combines music and aesthetic to build a world around, and with, their music. It’s this combination, executed with such precision, that I think has led to their enormous fanbase and continued relevance even after their break-up. They know how to use their music to tell a story and bring the listener into their entire universe. As a long time fan of virtually everything they do, I’m extremely excited to see what’s next for them. And, the bonus of this “return” announcement is that it led to a discography deep dive this week and a reminder that I need to break these albums out more frequently in the future.

  • I added a new feature to the forum for supporters: automatic theme detection. If you turn this setting on and are using an Apple device, the forum will automatically use the same theme as your system theme. So, you can set your iPhone to turn to Dark Mode at night, and the forums will change with you.

  • I thought this article in Vanity Fair by Nell Scovell, talking about David Letterman, is very much worth a read. It didn’t go where I thought it was going to go, and it’s worth your time.

  • I also found this article in The Ringer about Jim Carrey and comedy in the ’90s to hit that nostalgic spot in my brain. There was a time where the only thing I wanted to watch was Ace Ventura. I’m well aware of just how badly that movie holds up today, but I was obsessed with Jim Carrey and everything he did. This is a really good look at when he dominated the box office and comedy.

  • Every Friday I open up the Music app, go to the For You section, scroll all the way down to the bottom and look at the “New Releases” section. This section looks at your library and shows you new albums from the artists you have in your collection. It’s a quick way to see if I’ve missed anything big that I need to post about or want to listen to, as I prepare for this newsletter. There are a few things about this section that drive me nuts: it’s very hidden and hard to get to, it’s laid out weirdly and often misses artists I have in my collection, and it doesn’t have any way to show me singles from artists I like that were released or songs that are on upcoming albums from artists I like that were released over the past week. This entire section could be designed so much better and be so informative. They have all of the information needed to put together an incredibly useful page of new music that I’ve already signaled I’d like to know about, but don’t. The weekly New Music Playlists are nice, and often do include some things I want to know about, but they also are usually full of stuff I’ve already heard and have played multiple times. This missing feature is the single most frustrating part of Apple Music for me.

In Case You Missed It

Sponsor

SupMikecheck has just released his new album You Never Really Cared to all streaming services. The album has collaborations and features with AJ Perdomo of The Dangerous Summer, Mat Devine of Kill Hannah, Andy Thornton of Flight 409, and Lil Lotus. It also features a track produced by Jay Vee who has worked with Nothing, Nowhere., Shinigami, Guccihighwaters, and more.

Mike has been a long-time reader of AbsolutePunk.net and Chorus.fm and has been working on his goal of making music and getting in front of as many people as possible for years now. He poured everything he had into this album and would love it if you’d give it a listen and share it with a friend if you like it. You can check out the album on SpotifyApple Music, and YouTube.

Music Thoughts

  • Anti-Flag have been on a tear lately. I adore their previous two albums, American Spring and American Fall, and think they’re one of the best and most consistent punk bands around today. Their genius comes from combining an undeniable knack for melody and hooks with an underlying energy and real belief in activism. Listening to their new album, 20/20 Vision, reminds me why I fell in love with punk music in the first place. This album has more of a raw feel and sound to it. The production layers are stripped back, and the palpable anger and frustration comes across in every song. The album takes a much more direct approach at our current President, putting his face on the album cover, and using his words to open the first track. My early favorites include the extremely catchy “It Went off Like a Bomb,” the country-tinged “Un-American,” and the fist-pumping anthem “The Disease.” I think when some people think about punk music they often think that it’s just a lot of loud yelling about the government and playing loud, fast music. What I love about Anti-Flag, in particular, is that, yes, there’s political activism in their songs (and the liner notes include essays, links, and information with each song about where you can become directly involved), but they also are masters of melody. They write extremely catchy music on the same level as plenty of very popular “pop-punk” bands. The kind of songs that get implanted in your brain and refuse to leave. I still find myself humming “The Press Corpse” from time-to-time, and that song came out 13 years ago. I’ve only had the time to listen to this new album once in full, and then a few of the songs multiple times. (Turns out there was a big news story yesterday that took up a little bit of my day.) At a high level, I think they are adding another excellent album into their catalog, and one that looks directly at our current state of the world and shines a light on it. It’s directly calling out our government and politicians for their hate, inaction, and corruption. And while those themes are hard to write around without feeling preachy or cliche, I think they pull it off with very few missteps. It’s not as polished as their previous two albums, but the rawness helps tracks like “A Nation Sleeps” and “You Make Me Sick” pack more of a punch. They even throw in some horns on “Resistance Frequencies.” During the past few years, I’ve often turned to punk music as a way to help me deal with the constant string of bullshit I’ve seen in the news on a daily basis. The loud, aggressive music has become an outlet for my brain when it’s searching for ways to deal with the world. I’ve always turned to music when I don’t know how to process things around me properly. Sometimes in life, it’s been heartbreak, sometimes it’s been the loss of a friend, and I’ve turned to music when I’ve lost loved ones and was searching for solace and comfort. Punk music is where I go when I feel helpless and lost in a world that feels like it’s about to eat itself. From Propagandhi, to Sick of it All, to Pennywise, to countless others, I’ve found a way to channel those moments when I feel like I don’t quite know what to do, or how to handle, the fires around us. Anti-Flag continues to be one of the ways I cope with a world I often don’t understand. If you’ve never really given punk music a chance before or weren’t sure if it was for you, I highly recommend their discography. I first got into them with For Blood and Empire, and have always thought that’s a good place to dive in. But their previous two albums are also outstanding and worth a look. And, to bring it full circle, this album doesn’t disappoint. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it in the next few weeks, but that’s where I’m at right now: it’s good, I like it, and I want to spend more time cranking the volume upward.

  • The WhoHurtYou EP is pretty straight forward but executed extremely well. If you’re looking for crystal clean, catchy, pop-music about a break-up, this is going to be right in your wheelhouse. I think “Not the One” and “Lesson in Letting Go” are standouts.

  • I’ve been keeping the few Nightly songs that exist in my weekly rotation. I love “This Time Next Year” and am dying for a full-length from these guys.

  • Sigrid released the new song “Home to You” from the The Aeronauts soundtrack and it’s a nice little ballad. I still play her full-length regularly. It’s got a really good shot at being my favorite album of the year.

  • This new Great Grandpa album, Four of Arrows, is getting a lot of buzz in our community lately. I spun it yesterday on all the recommendations I’d been seeing and enjoyed it. It’s got a big indie-rock vibe, but the lyrics and songwriting are awe-inspiring. On first listen songs like “Bloom” and “Human Condition” stood out to me; I’m excited to dive into this a whole lot more this weekend. I think most people reading this newsletter would be well served to give this a look.

  • Charly Bliss surprise released a new EP this week. It’s five songs, and I can see why they were left off their most recent album. It’s not that they’re not good, but they don’t have the same growth or punch.

  • I love the new POP ETC single “Same Mistake.”

  • Patrick Stump score for Spell was released today, and I plan to give that a listen a little later.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I enjoyed Good Boys for what it was. It was a fun movie about sixth graders that swear a lot. I remember being that age. It didn’t hit me on the same level of movies like Eighth Grade or Booksmart, but it was an enjoyable watch.

  • Slaughterhouse Rulez sucked. It was boring, slow, and not good.

  • The new Halloween was pretty good. What worked so well about the original was how small it was. The parts that build the horror are because it’s basically on one street, in a few houses, and it feels like you’re trapped with the killer the entire time. This movie felt too big, too expansive, and it suffered because of that. But, even with that, it’s still worth seeing and was a good movie to watch over Halloween this year. That soundtrack is still just flat out incredible.

  • Low Tide is very much my kind of movie. Coming of age, moody, and well crafted. Now, if only someone would have just told the boys about a safety deposit box.

  • With baseball coming to an end, I’ve had time to catch up on a bunch of things I’d been wanting to read, watch, and check out during my evenings when Hannah is working late. This week I decided to check out Red Oaks on Amazon. I wasn’t immediately sold on the first episode, but it grew on me within three. It’s a very charming coming of age in the 80s show that has a lot of heart, and I quickly shot through the first two seasons. It’s a perfect show to put on while playing around on the iPad catching up on email or Twitter. It doesn’t demand your full attention, but the characters find a way into your heart. Recommended.

  • The second episode of HBO’s Watchmen was just as good as the incredible pilot. This has immediately shot up my “need to see each week” list. It’s everything I wanted it to be and then some.

  • The first season of What We Do in the Shadows was perfect. Watching it was the best decision we made this October. I loved every episode.

  • Last week’s Titans was very good, Nancy Drew continues to have its hooks in me, and we gave the first episode of Looking for Alaska a try. It looks like something we’d like, so we’re going to give it a few more episodes to see how we feel.

  • I do plan to check out a few of the new Apple TV+ shows, but I’m not quite sure when. We have a few other things we want to catch up on first, but there’s quite a few there on launch day that look interesting to me.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Well, we’re eight days away from the wedding. This time next week I’ll be getting ready for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I’ve been having fun doing a little countdown on my Instagram stories for the past few days, but it’s also really put into perspective just how soon everything is happening. It’s here. All the planning, all the life changes and decisions from the past year, are all leading up to this moment. It’s exciting. I’m not sure what I’ll do for a newsletter next week. I’ve been toying around with the idea of it being very wedding-themed, and I’ll share a bunch of stuff we’re doing for the wedding and the playlists, but there’s also a chance I skip it entirely if I feel too busy leading up to Friday. We’ll see how I end up feeling, and I’m just going to go off of my gut.

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. My Chemical Romance - Boy Division

  2. Anti-Flag - The Press Corpse

  3. WhoHurtYou - Lesson in Letting Go

  4. Sigrid - Home to You

  5. POP ETC - Same Mistake

  6. Allie X - Rings a Bell

  7. Great Grandpa - Mono no Aware

  8. Charly Bliss - Supermoon

  9. Roxy Music - More Than This

  10. My Chemical Romance - Famous Last Words

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 Jason Tate in the “My Chemical Romance” thread.

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween and has a wonderful weekend.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.