Liner Notes (November 20th, 2021)
This week’s newsletter looks at new music I checked out this week (Adele, Jimmy Eat World, Bad Suns, New Found Glory) as well as some old favorites (Jimmy Eat World, Brian Fallon, Days Away), and then I talk a little about how much I love Edgar Wright. Jimmy Eat World and Edgar Wright praise … could this be anymore of a Jason-themed newsletter?
This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.
A Few Things
I’m writing this newsletter much later than usual this week. On most Saturday’s I sit down with a cup of coffee and start writing early in the day. However, this week Hannah and I decided to grab some coffee and go for a walk through the city. This led to us wandering around on 23rd, grabbing a drink, and wandering through some shops. It was a great way to spend the day, but it meant I couldn’t sit down to write until much later in the day. For me, this newsletter has always been my outlet to write about music and things I think when I’m in the right mindset to do so. I try not to force it but let it be something that comes naturally. So, I apologize when there’s a little less structure to when and how this gets sent out.
In Case You Missed It
Jimmy Eat World put up the Phoenix Sessions for both Clarity and Futures on all streaming platforms. Now, I wrote about both of these when they were doing the livestreams in this newsletter and about how much I loved them, and they made me feel so delighted during the middle of the pandemic. And, I’ve written probably tens of thousands of words over my lifetime praising this band. But, getting these on streaming platforms once again gives me a reason to praise them. I’ll start with Clarity. I think this recording adds gravitas to Jim’s voice that the original doesn’t have. He is more self-assured, his vocals more mature, and it shows. Now, I don’t think I can say I like a live performance more than the original, but I do believe this comes exceptionally close to feeling like a recording of the album in a more modern context; the outcome is spectacular and grand. Next, we have Futures. This is an album that I’ve long considered in my top five of all time. Days where I flirt with thinking it’s my favorite album - ever. I know every note as well as I know any album in my life. I also have nothing but praise for this new session. I think that the video version was even more impactful on me because it was like seeing a concert of one of my favorite albums, and that experience late at night with a cold beer was magical. But listening to this version now still fills me with joy. The songs are that good, and something like “Drugs or Me” really stands out in this setting. Anyway, long story short, yeah, I love these, yeah, I’m going to keep playing the hell out of them. And yeah, I want another set of these from the band. Specifically, I need a version of Damage. I want to hear a version of that album recorded like this. Look, I will throw so much money at the band to make this happen … please?
Now, onto the biggest album of the week, and probably the biggest release of the year. Adele. I’ve had time to spin the album twice in total. My thoughts are complicated. I think it suffers from some sequencing issues because outside of “Easy on Me,” it takes a while for the album to get going. “My Little Love” I find extremely hard to get through. However, after that first three-song run, it settles in and soars. There are some incredible vocal performances and some compelling songs here. “To Be Loved” deserves the praise it’s getting, and I think that’s the real big standout for me. I also really love that “Oh My God” and “Can I Get It” stretch. I don’t think the album plays it too safe, but it definitely leans into the “give the people what they want” category. Adele is Adele, and no one can do it like her, so let her cook. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this one to see how it fits into the rest of her catalog for me. It feels wholly suited for winter and wholly suited to be the kind of album everyone is listening to … the crossover appeal is unlike anything I’ve really ever seen. From teenagers to parents, to some punk ass dude like myself … she’s an artist with an “it factor” quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’m curious to see the numbers this moves over the next few weeks.
My MxPx fix was their new live album, and listening to their acoustic release during dinner one night. I’ve been putting on softer music while we eat in the kitchen, and we’ve been being very deliberate lately to sit down and have (phone-free) dinner with each other each night that we can. I also like judging Hannah’s reaction to specific albums and bands. She’s a fan of acoustic MxPx!
I am tempted to call the new Bad Suns album a return to form. I really could never find a way into the last album; it felt like it stalled out for me and just never got itself into my rotation. The new album feels like they’ve re-found their footing at what they’re really good at. They make great little pop-synth songs, and when they lean into that, they’re at their best. The new album still has a few places where I wish they embraced that a little more and really went for it, but this is much more in line with what I personally am looking for in this band. Solid.
I did a little run through Brian Fallon’s solo albums this week, and Night Divine really is perfect for this time of year, and it pairs really well with Local Honey. Great albums for having a nice glass of red wine and listening to by the fire with the lights down low.
The new New Found Glory Christmas album felt a little funny to be listening to before we’ve gotten past Thanksgiving, but I found it an enjoyable listen. I’m in a weird spot with this band; I wish their studio albums would lean into this sound, but then when listening to these songs a few times had me thinking, “hmm, wish this was a little more pop-punk.” Maybe I can just never be happy? Anyway, I need to listen again before I decide where I’d rank it in my pop-punk holiday listing (Relient K probably can’t ever be topped), but I did enjoy it and will throw it on when we decorate the tree to see what Hannah thinks. See if it gets “can be on our holiday party playlist” approval or not.
You know what’s an excellent album? Days Away’s Mapping an Invisible World. Underrated, sonically astounding, and just a damn good album.
Gregor Barnett’s new solo album is kind of exactly what I thought it would be. It leans into what he does best in The Menzingers. I was kind of selfishly hoping for a few heartbreaking tearjerkers, and I don’t think those are here, but there’s some very good songwriting and a whole lot to love.
I have only spun the new Laureline album once so far, but I enjoyed it.
The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 35 different artists and 441 different tracks (498 scrobbles). Jimmy Eat World were the top streamed band this week, having the Phoenix Sessions released digitally sent me on a discog dive, while my most played album of the week was Red (Taylors Version) with the sheer length of that album meaning one play just beat out multiple listens to the Jimmy releases. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.
I am a massive Edgar Wright fan. Anytime he releases a new movie, I’m in faster than virtually any other director. I just love his eye for cinema and motion and style. I was a tad worried about some of the tepid reviews I had seen for Last Night in Soho, but after watching it last night, I had nothing to worry about. It’s not my favorite from him, but it’s still a damn good movie: fun, stylish, committed, and multiple “wow” moments. The editing for the dance scene in the club had me giddy as a child. The third act gets a little shaky, but when it ended, my first thought was, “damn, yeah, I really liked that.” And there’s not much more I can want in a movie than that. I probably would toss it lower in a ranking of his movies, but even my least favorite Edgar Wright movie is better than just about every other movie. This will be one we’ll watch again in the future, and now I just want to watch all of his films again.
Random and Personal Stuff
We ordered a (fake) Christmas tree this year. It getting here has been an ordeal, and I don’t even want to re-live it to write about it. I will just say Balsam Hill has had atrocious customer service. They flat out lied to my wife multiple times in this process, including telling her they would refund a portion of our purchase because it went on sale before our order had ever even been delivered. Turns out: Nope! Anyway, I’m excited to decorate the tree after Thanksgiving and put up holiday decorations. So, I’m not letting that horrible experience ruin the fun that’s to come.
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.
Jimmy Eat World - Night Drive
Laureline - Everything Ends Up Ending
Craig’s Brother - All the Way
Patrick Stump - Time to Spidey Save the Day
Jimmy Eat World - For Me This is Heaven
Brian Fallon - Open All Night
Gregor Barnett - Don’t Go Throwing Roses in My Grave
Snarls - I’ll Follow Up
Spanish Love Songs - I Miss You
Adele - To Be Loved
The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:
The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by Chase Tremaine in the “Albums in Stores - Nov. 19th, 2021” thread.
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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.