Liner Notes (October 4th, 2019)

For Me This is Heaven

It’s a pretty big album release day today, and this week’s newsletter has my thoughts on quite a few of those. It also has my very early first impressions on Jimmy Eat World’s new album. So that’s fun. There’s also my weekly media diet roundup and a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • This week, I spent a lot of time playing around with iPad OS 13. Having all this extra room for app icons, as well as the new widget mode, gave me all kinds of things to think about and play with in order to get things set up how I want them. My current home screen now looks like this. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s coming along, and I feel pretty happy with it. I’ve got all the apps I use most laid out, and my new Shortcut widget has been working great in practice. Not only do I like having a widget to quickly search various services (Google, Google Images, Chorus, the forums, Wikipedia), but having some new clipboard shortcuts have made the iPad feel as close as it has in years to the things I can do on my Mac with Alfred. (Clean clipboard removes all formatting on the text so that it’s just plain text, BQ clipboard wraps the clipboard in the blockquote BBcode I use all the time in forum postings.) I think I’ll have some other ideas on how to set things up the more I use the iPad and see where there are stalls in my workflow.

  • One other significant change I made was moving from Copied to Yoink as my clipboard/shelf manager of choice on iOS. I had been using Copied for years, but it just wasn’t seeing regular updates anymore, and that became pretty apparent and buggy on iOS 13. Yoink having Shortcut actions means I can also better script automation around it, and I can use it to store more than just text while moving around the OS. So far, I’m pleased with the change.

  • The small little change to tvOS 13 where you can pull up control center and quickly connect to various AirPods is a game-changer. It’s a little thing, but making this trivial task even easier is such a nice touch. That and being able to turn the TV on using Siri have been fun to play around with. I have a shortcut on my phone now for “movie time” that turns the lights off, turns on the living room TV, and then opens up Plex. It’s very on-brand for me to spend time setting something like this up so that I can save thirty seconds.

  • My “neon” Blink–182 smiley logo sign was delivered this week, and it’s even cooler than I was expecting. It looks incredible all lit up. Of course, I currently have no place to put this, but I’m still just a little obsessed with it. The plan is to one day move out of the city and have some kind of bigger office or basement like scenario where I can put a bunch of my music memorabilia up on the wall (maybe with a pool table?), and this will definitely be a highlight in that room. I still can’t believe Hannah was on board with this purchase, but, that’s why she’s the best.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • A few of you have been waiting for me to write the words, “I’ve heard the new Jimmy Eat World album” for a while now. And, today’s the day you’ve been waiting for. The band’s new album, Surviving, is immediate. It was within 20 seconds of the opening title track, with all the Bleed American vibes I was getting, that I started to smile. That only got kicked to another gear with the guitar-driven intensity of “Criminal Energy,” and it was with the one-two punch of “Delivery” and “555” that I knew they had done it again. It’s probably not shocking to say that one of the most consistent bands of the last twenty years continues to be consistently good, but there’s always that little part of me that wonders if this time they’ll slip up, or this time I won’t be as into the lyrics or songs.

    This album has more of a punch to it than I was expecting. It’s a guitar-driven record that reminds me of Bleed American mixed with Invented and then a little dust from Futures and Integrity Blues sprinkled on top. It has an undercurrent of feisty energy in a lot of these songs. “Criminal Energy” reminds me of the first time I heard “Just Tonight” or “Let It Happen” and I think it’ll be a big fan favorite. There are multiple lyrical hits throughout that remind me why Jim Adkins is one of my favorite living songwriters, and “Delivery” and “Diamond” both have those “well shit, he nailed that feeling” moments. And there’s a moment toward the end of “555” where Jim sings, “keep my focus on the simple things, try to find some peace along the way,” that hit me each time I heard it. After a few listens, my least favorite track is “Love Never,” and I don’t know if that’s because I overplayed it over the past few months and like the new and shiny, or if everything else here really does stand above it. “Recommit” feels like it would be natural slow and emotional closer, but the band instead ends this one with a bang in “Congratulations.” It’s a towering anthem of building guitars where the second half of the song takes a left turn and doesn’t let up.

    There’s been a lot of talk around the website over the past few weeks about bands reaching creative peaks and then what happens to their careers as they get longer and longer. Do they chase their former glory, continue to pump out music they know their fans will like, or do they continue to take risks and expand? I think that Jimmy Eat World have found the sweet spot. They’re still clearly trying new things in their music and their process, but it’s within a framework of what makes the band so widely loved to begin with. It’s not that they’re working within a formula, it’s that I feel as though they understand who they are as a band and therefore know when and where to take the little stretches. With Integrity Blues, it felt like they played with the melody and mood, using bass and electronics to create a specific atmosphere. Here, it feels like they’ve turned up the guitar and energy dial to capture this rock and roll swagger and stomp that brings the listener from air guitar to somber introspection multiple times in little over a half an hour. They know where to push, where to hold back, and what pitch works best in each scenario. It feels like a master class by an artist to craft a musical experience this precise and intentional. Nothing feels out of place; nothing feels forced or forgotten. 

    I think my high-level takeaway from a few listens is that one of the most consistent bands of my generation has once again released an album that I am going to adore. It has flashes of what we’ve all come to know as the Jimmy Eat World sound, but it never feels like a retread; instead, the energy bursting from so many of these songs feels vibrant and colorful. It’s the kind of album that I want in my life right now. Something that makes me think of 2001 and hearing Bleed American for the first time, and loving the mix of guitar and melancholy, while also speaking to what it’s like to be an adult and have doubts and struggles with your place in the world today. And there’s a good chance it’s because they’re my favorite band, but their music wraps me with a comforting warmth that lets me feel just a little more secure in who I am in 2019. They did it again; they delivered. And for a brief moment, all feels well. 

  • Anti-Flag returns with the new song “Christian Nationalist” and I love it. These guys have been on an absolute tear recently with their last two albums, and the acoustic release, all being full of much-needed anthems during our current political climate. I’ve said it before, but I am always so impressed with this band’s ability to combine melody with intensity. They’re sneakily some of the best hook writers around, and they don’t get enough credit for that. 

  • I’ve written quite a bit about The Menzingers’ new album, Hello Exile, over the past few weeks, but now the album’s officially out and everyone can experience it for themselves. I’ve read a lot of the commentary so far in our forums, and I’m a little surprised at some of the negative reactions. The most common thing I’ve seen is that it’s too “by the numbers” or not “creative” enough. I suppose I understand that critique to some degree, but I think my argument would be this is the band at their most actualized into the sound they’ve been working on for the past few albums. This doesn’t feel as “by the numbers” to me as it feels like knowing exactly how to make the music you want to make and then executing to a high degree. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be as polarizing as I’ve seen so far. 

  • The new Lagwagon album, Railer, is out today. If you’re looking for another solid entry into this band’s catalog, you’re in luck. 

  • Bayside keep cranking out reliable and stable albums. Their new one Interrobang excites me more than their previous few. It’s got really nice energy to it. Bayside albums don’t usually have a long shelf life for me, they’re things I listen to for a week and then move away from. I’m unsure if that trend will change with this one, but in the meantime, there’s lots of good stuff here. “Trouble” and “Bury Me” stand out to me. 

  • I think City and Colour’s new album A Pill for Loneliness is a great return to form album. The last couple releases didn’t do much for me, but I was captivated by this right away. “Me and the Moonlight” is gorgeous, and “The War Years” is hauntingly good. I expect this to be in heavy rotation over the next few cold months; it feels born to be played by the fire in the dark. 

  • I like the new EP from Simple Creatures, but I don’t think I enjoy the collection of songs as much as their first. My favorite song here is definitely “One Little Lie,” and I also really like “NVM.” Some of the fuzzy effects get a little overbearing at times, but it’s still a fun listen, and I love seeing this side of both Mark and Alex. I’ve also still got the new Blink–182 album in almost daily rotation. 

  • Next up, I plan to check out this instrumental release from Aaron Sprinkle, and give the new Joshua Radin a spin.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I enjoyed Toy Story 4 and thought it was a fun movie that did not take away from the previous three movies at all. However, it was also my least favorite of the series. Not a bad movie, and even one I’m sure I’ll watch again, but something was eating at me when it finished that I can’t quite put to words. It felt, maybe a little hollow after the lessons and arc of the third movie? I’m not sure.

  • Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw is where I officially declare we’ve gone way too far concerning “mid-credit scenes.” This movie was utterly ridiculous, way too long, and yet it was still pretty entertaining and had some cool scenes. It’s exactly the movie you think it’s going to be, for better or for worse.

  • Superstore returned and I still think it’s one of the most underrated shows on TV, the first episode of the new season of Always Sunny was quite funny, and now that we’re into October we’ve finally started What We Do In the Shadows and the first episode was hilarious. I did a literal spit take of beer during one scene.

  • We watched a few episodes of Unbelievable on Netflix, and it’s a tough watch. I’ve read the article the show is based on, so I know what happens, but it’s still extremely distressing to watch. It’s very well done, but hard to watch more than one a night.

  • Hannah is gone this weekend for her bachelorette weekend, so I’ve been bingeing QB1 on Netflix. I watched the first season a while ago on whatever weird app it was airing on and plowed through all of the second season (and the first few episodes of the third) over the past few days. As a massive fan of Friday Night Lights, this gives me similar vibes. It’s making me want to do a re-watch of that entire series next. I don’t even consider football in my top three sports I like to watch (basketball, college basketball, baseball), but I am still wholly transfixed by this show.

  • The last episode of Titans was a flashback episode, which I usually don’t like, but I thought it worked well. I enjoyed seeing Aqualad and the original team interacting together. I feel like shit is about to go down.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • As of this weekend, all of our RSVPs are in, and we’ve finalized the guest list. We’ve also completed the seating chart, and after stressing out and checking and re-checking name spelling, food choices, and seating arrangements, we’ve ordered all the guest name cards and table numbers. I really hope I didn’t fuck any of those up.

  • Next weekend is my bachelor party and we’re all leaving town early on Friday. I haven’t figured out yet if my schedule will allow me to write this newsletter on, say, Wednesday and Thursday, and still get it out, but there’s a chance it will be the first week in a while where I don’t write one. I’m going to try, but it will depend on how busy the rest of my week ends up being.

  • The President of the United States is doing all kinds of crimes and needs to be impeached.

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. Anti-Flag - Christian Nationalist

  2. Bayside - Trouble"

  3. Chris Farren - Love Theme From “Born Hot”

  4. The Menzingers - Strain Your Memory

  5. Niall Horan - Nice to Meet Ya

  6. Yellowcard - Always Summer

  7. CHVRCHES - Death Stranding

  8. Ruston Kelly - All Too Well

  9. City and Colour - Difficult Love

  10. Aaron Sprinkle - Part and Parcel

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 Samuel Calmon in the “Blink–182” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I plan to spend mine watching playoff baseball, drinking beer, and eating bad food while Hannah is away. It’s going to be great. First up: getting the biggest and most unhealthy burrito I can find. 

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.