Ranking the Re-Rankings of the Rankings

If there’s one thing we like doing on this website, it’s ranking things. We like ranking things so much it’s become a meme in the forums for just how often it happens in threads. From albums to food, to the new sub-genre of brackets, ranking has become a core part of our little culture. It’s also part of what we do on a pretty regular basis here on the editorial side of things. We’ve got our yearly most anticipated lists and the mid and end of the year “best-of lists.” Back in the days of AbsolutePunk, we scored these lists using a basic scale that I think Thomas Nassiff originally came up with. When there were 30+ staff members all contributing, it worked pretty well to give a basic structure to what albums were the most popular amongst staff members. I never really gave much thought to it, and it’s been passed down and continued to be used by different contributors that help put together all of the various lists here on the website. Last week I got the itch to re-think this process.

Liner Notes (January 10th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter goes navel-gazing at our best of 2019 lists, looks at some new music I enjoyed this week and goes through my regular media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I liked, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Jason Tate’s Top Albums of 2019

I’ll always remember 2019 as the year I got married; however, it ended up being a pretty incredible year for music and entertainment as well. As we finish up this decade, I reflect back on just how many of these lists I’ve made. It’s a yearly tradition that I enjoy because it allows me to no only reflect on the past year and reevaluate everything I listened to and consumed, but it creates a little snapshot in time that I can re-visit in the future and remember what I was enjoying and listening to during that moment in time. I thought it was a good year personally, wrapped around a tough year globally. Thank you to everyone that reads this website on a daily basis; I hope you enjoy my list and maybe find something new to love.

The staff compiled best of 2019 list can be found here.

Liner Notes (January 3rd, 2020)

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2020. In this week’s newsletter, I share my start of the year routines and resolutions, share some fun party games we played on New Year’s Eve, talk about what music I’m anticipating this year, and go through my usual music and media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Film Freak Central’s ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Review

Walter Chaw:

Now consider how this possibility for kindness and sacrifice, nursed and carried through the bulk of The Rise of Skywalker (and introduced in The Last Jedi, which is, of course, this third trilogy’s second, moral act, just as The Empire Strikes Back is the first trilogy’s), is betrayed at the end with a murder/death/kill of the most graphic variety. It’s a riff, the third one I counted that references Raiders of the Lost Ark, on Nazi and Nazi sympathizer faces melting before the glory of Old Testament vengeance. There’s a lot of talk in these films about how the Jedi religion is ever only for defense–how it’s about taking the path of love, knowledge, and acceptance no matter how difficult (and it’s extremely difficult), rather than the dark path of retribution and fear. And here’s The Rise of Skywalker, at the end of it, reenacting the same cycle of retributive violence that presumably left the film’s bad guy the same bad guy as the bad guy for all the other films. He, this dark Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), even boasts that it was always him behind every bad thing. He’s another serpent in another Jungian basement, his creature design modelled on, of all things, Leviathan from Hellraiser II. If he’s an archetype, he’s Legion. He is every bad thing. The solution the franchise’s own mythology suggests is to accept that there must be a balance between opposite energies; the temporary feel-good sop is that the good guys kill the bad guys.

One of the best articles I’ve read yet on The Rise of Skywalker.

The Best Reverse Image Search

Aric Toler, writing at Bellingcat:

The first and most important piece of advice on this topic cannot be stressed enough: Google reverse image search isn’t very good.

As of this guide’s publication date, the undisputed leader of reverse image search is the Russian site Yandex. After Yandex, the runners-up are Microsoft’s Bing and Google. A fourth service that could also be used in investigations is TinEye, but this site specializes in intellectual property violations and looks for exact duplicates of images.

Liner Notes (December 27th, 2019)

The last few weeks of the year are always a little strange in the music industry and online, everyone is basically in hibernation. This week’s newsletter is a recap of my holiday week so far and has some recommendations, a few brief music thoughts, and my weekly media diet rundown. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (December 20th, 2019)

In this week’s newsletter I share my first impressions on The Rise of Skywalker; I guess this is a Star Wars newsletter now. I also share a few things around the internet I found interesting this week and go through my usual weekly media diet rundown. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Since we have the holidays coming up, I’m making this post free for all here on the website. If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

Liner Notes (December 13th, 2019)

In this week’s newsletter, I look at some of the holiday songs released this week, offer first thoughts on the new Brian Fallon song and Harry Styles album, and dive into my weekly media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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2019 Holiday Gift Guide

For the past few years, I’ve put together a little gift guide in December full of things that I think make great gifts and are a lot of fun to give or receive for the holidays. Everything on the list is something I’ve used and enjoyed and recommend. I have recommendations posts for movies, tv shows, books, software, podcasts, headphones, and miscellaneous stuff around the house, so the things on this list will be more focused on stuff not included in those posts and geared toward things I’ve come across in the past year or so and think would make good gifts.

I used my Amazon affiliate link when the product showed up there, which gives our website a slight percentage back if you make a purchase and therefore helps fund our continued existence.

If you’d like to get me a gift, becoming a supporting member or gifting another user a supporting membership for a year would mean the world to me. And, if you’re looking for something in just about any price range with a Chorus.fm or AbsolutePunk.net logo on it, check our merch shop.

Jason Tate’s Top Albums of the Decade

Today we launched our best albums of the decade feature. Lists like these are really hard to make, and even after I finished my list I knew I was missing things. But, at some point hard cuts have to get made and you just have to accept that you’re not going to be able to put everything on and that you’re going to forget a few albums along the way.

Here’s what my final best of the decade, top 50, looked like:

Liner Notes (December 6th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at my plans for the website over the next twelve months, dives into some new music and news stories from this week (including my frustration with Blink-182), and goes through my usual media diet. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (November 29th, 2019)

It’s the “still full from yesterday’s dinner” version of the newsletter. It’s a slow part of the year, so this week doesn’t have a whole lot of music to go through, but there is a bunch of movies and TV shows to make up for it. Also, since it’s Black Friday, I share a few of the sales around the internet that I recommend. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (November 22nd, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks predominately at some new singles released this week, goes through my weekly media diet, and then there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (November 15th, 2019)

What a week. This week’s newsletter has me looking at music and entertainment released over the past two weeks. I finally get to dive into some of the Apple TV+ and Disney+ shows, plus give some updates on living the first week of married life. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (November 8th, 2019)

I’m getting married tomorrow, so this week’s newsletter is going to be different than usual and wedding-themed. (Since I am thinking about the wedding, final wedding plans, and really nothing else.) I wanted to write something, but I don’t have the time to breakdown all the music and media I’ve consumed over the past week. Instead, I’ve been putting this together in small stages over the past few days. I’ll be back next week with a longer piece that has a deeper dive into the entertainment and musical stuff I’ve been enjoying lately. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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AirPods Pro First Impressions

I bought the first generation of AirPods back in 2017 and fell in love almost immediately. The ease of use and freeing sensation of having no cord attached to my pocket led them to become the most used, and most adored, pair of headphones I’d ever owned. From running errands, to cooking dinner, these became a staple of my everyday carry. With the release of the AirPods Pro, I decided to pick up two pairs for Hannah and I as an early wedding gift. I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but they’ve been improved in virtually every single way. They’re now, without a doubt, my favorite pair of headphones I’ve ever owned. It starts with the new smaller footprint. I never thought the original AirPods felt “big,” but the new ones feel like nothing in my ears. You combine this with the more snug fit from having the rubberized tips, and they feel perfectly secure walking around town or working out in the gym. The sound is improved, partially by having a better seal in the ear, and they offer a nice, fairly neutral, experience for music. The bass is pretty close to what I prefer, not too heavy. I usually like a little more high-end in the treble, but it’s surprisingly steady. If I want more clarity, I have more expensive cans I can turn to, but for most moments when I want to listen to music, or more often, a podcast, these are downright perfect and sound better than expected. (I tested the sound mostly using My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days.) The noise canceling is a nice feature, but one I don’t often find myself needing. I’m sure there will be times in noisy coffee shops or other places where I’ll find it useful, but most of the time I find it overkill, and actually a little unsettling. I’ll probably be using them most often while in Transparency Mode. This mode lets in, and slightly amplifies, just enough sound so that it feels like you have nothing in your ears, while still being able to hear whatever you’re playing. It’s perfect for when you’re in the city and want to make sure you can hear your surroundings. Or when your significant other starts talking to you while you’re listening to something around the house. It’s such a game changing feature that I don’t know if I could go back to any buds that don’t have it as an option.

I’ve had no issues with the new interaction model of squeezing the AirPod stem instead of using taps. The small “click” sound is comforting and it only took a few hours to retrain my muscle memory. The only thing I’m still not used to is the actual way you put the AirPods back in their case. It’s reversed from what I’m used to and I still mess it up. I am also a fan of the new features that came with the second generation AirPods but I hadn’t used yet, such as the always on “Hey Siri” access. It’s is surprisingly handy. Also, the new feature where you can have Siri read messages to you when they come in and immediately respond is something I didn’t know I’d want until I used it for the first time.

I have more expensive and better sounding headphones around the house. And, there are times when that’s what I am looking for and want; however, the ease of use and convenience of having a pair of wireless buds in a tiny case in my pocket is more than worth that trade-off. I already knew I loved AirPods, but adding noise cancelation, transparency mode, and a new smaller footprint has more than exceeded my expectations. This is the future I’ve been dreaming of ever since the opening scene of the underrated romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.

Battery life has been almost exactly as advertised. The slightly larger carrying case feels negligible in my hand or pocket. The latency of connecting to and controlling the AirPods seems dramatically improved from the first generation. The cost is, well, an issue. They’re expensive and due to their size and physics will not hold the same battery charge forever. For most people, I’d recommend these if you really want noise cancelation, really prefer a rubber tip fit in your ear, and are attracted to the smaller design.