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Liner Notes (December 7th, 2018)

December marches on!

In this week’s roundup, I write a little about Smart Playlists in iTunes and how I use them for holiday music, talk about wanting to ramp up my comic book reading again, share thoughts on the music and entertainment I enjoyed this week, and post the weekly ten song playlist. It’s been a very Copeland, Japanese House, and The 1975 dominating week around my house. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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2018 Holiday Gift Guide

In what has become a December tradition, I’ve put together a little holiday gift guide of things that I think are worth your time. I have also updated my 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 more geared toward things I’ve come across in the past year or so and think would make excellent gifts. As always, I only recommend things I’ve personally used and loved.

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.

Liner Notes (November 30th, 2018)

In this week’s roundup I do a way-too-early ranking of The 1975’s albums, talk about the next big forum feature I’m working on, go through my usual weekly media diet, and share ten songs I loved this week. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (November 23rd, 2018)

I finished this up early, so I figured I’d post it now. I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend and getting filled up on good food (and booze) and then taking mid-day naps on the couch.

For the Thanksgiving edition of this roundup, I rank my favorite Thanksgiving foods, give some thoughts on new music, and give my regular media diet roundup from the past week. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (November 16th, 2018)

This week went by insanely fast.

In this week’s roundup, I rank New Found Glory albums, talk a little about my thinking behind rolling out the new ad system, discover some cool new iPad apps, and go through my usual media diet from the past week. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Gang Of Youths – Live at The Forum, Melbourne, Australia

Gang of Youths

Gang Of Youths are Australia’s biggest success story in years. The Sydney-based band formed in 2012 and has enjoyed a steady stream of success, be it selling out larger and larger venues or recipients of critical acclaim. Flash forward to now, when Gang Of Youths had to announce a whopping 21 dates (all sold-out) for their Say Yes To Life Tour, with eight sold-out dates at Melbourne’s iconic Forum Theatre alone. Last year, the band received seven ARIA award nominations for their brilliant #1 album, Go Farther In Lightness. They won four of them (Album Of The Year, Best Group, Best Rock Album, and Producer of The Year – for Gang Of Youths & Adrian Breakspear). They even supported the mighty Foo Fighters for seven nights in the US during the band’s Concrete and Gold Tour last month! So, Gang Of Youths’ Say Yes To Life Tour is a big deal; for the band and their loyal, growing fan-base. It’s an absolute triumph: a homecoming for our dearest indie rock band, and a celebration of positivity and growth.

A Year After Reputation

Taylor Swift

One year ago, Taylor Swift’s somewhat infamous LP Reputation hit the shelves and digital libraries of 700,000 listeners. It would go on to sell 1.26 million copies in that first week, making it a member of an elite club of albums to have broken a million copies (at all, let alone that first week) in the last decade… a club that is mostly comprised of Swift’s other records. It was an auspicious achievement in the pop star’s increasingly controversial career – every album she’s released since 2008’s Fearless has broken a million records sold in its first week.

Swift has become a polarizing figure in the pop culture sphere. Between the ongoing Kimye saga, 100% valid conversation and critiques about the downfalls of white feminism, her own personal #MeToo moment and the usual, misogyny-fueled obsession with her love life that’s been prominent since that first record broke a million all those years ago. (She has arguably used that obsession to her advantage in the years since, but… wouldn’t you?) The stage was certainly set for Reputation to be as polarizing as the woman herself – it was the first Swift record that broke her every-other-year-pattern ever, and followed a nearly year-long (and highly advisable) social media hiatus/blackout on Swift’s part. It’s safe to say, nobody knew what to expect; uncommonly for an artist whose unflinchingly loyal following was built on the closeness she shares with her fanbase, “nobody” included the vast majority of her fans.

Liner Notes (November 9th, 2018)

Another week has come and passed. As I sit here writing this, I can see the leaves falling from the trees, and we’re already making plans to cook turkeys and put together gift lists. I love this time of the year.

In this week’s roundup, I rank Star Wars movies, talk about new iPad apps I love, recommend digitizing your paper files, give some first impressions of the new Andrew McMahon album, and go through my usual weekly media diet. Plus, a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Site Update: A Few Changes to the Ad System Coming

One of the biggest challenges to running this website has been figuring out a business model that works, and that allows me to sleep well at night. This website is my full-time job, and the income it provides is how I put food on the table. My goal from the start has been to find a way to make this website the only job I have to have.1 Right now I do some consulting work to make up the difference between what the website brings in and what my family needs. The vast majority of the website’s revenue comes from our readers and our supporter system. It’s because of all the people that read this website and visit our forums that it exists.

Over the past two years I’ve played around with a few other ways to bring in additional revenue, the main one being advertising. I set up a self-serve advertising system where anyone could buy display ads on the website, and I priced them way under what most websites charge for the number of impressions they would get. Unfortunately, they never sold as well as I hoped they would. So, it’s time to try something different again.


  1. The long-term goal was, and continues to be, to hopefully find a way to expand the website into an entity that could support more than one person.

Liner Notes (November 2nd, 2018)

November is here. Leaves are now covering the ground and the switch from spooky movies to holiday cheer can begin. I’m already getting excited about Thanksgiving and itching to decorate the place for Christmas. I want to take a quick moment to encourage everyone reading this to make a plan to vote, vote early if you are able, and get your friends involved as well. The mid-term elections are extremely important.

This week’s roundup has me ranking Yellowcard albums (it was time), talking about the new iPads announced this week, and going through my usual weekly media diet. Some good movies were watched, some great music was heard. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (October 26th, 2018)

It finally got cold enough to where I had to turn on the fireplace — only to find out that the pilot light wouldn’t ignite. Which, of course, meant I had to wait to have it fixed. After a few days of being sad, it has been fixed, and I’ve turned it on for the first time this season. It’s gloriously warm and the cats are cuddled up next to it like it’s the only thing in this world that matters. They may just be right.

This week’s roundup finds me ranking Anberlin albums and going through my usual media diet. There’s also a playlist of music I loved this week and some way-too-early talk about holiday decorations. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

This article is available exclusively to supporters of our website. Join now for as little as $3 per month and get access to exclusive content and a variety of perks. Plus, you'll be helping an independent publisher. Learn more here.

Liner Notes (October 19th, 2018)

I blame Federico Viticci over at MacStories for going on a deep dive of playing around with Siri Shortcuts all week. Once I start down the path of automating things or organizing my phone, I always end up going overboard. Still, it was a fun way to spend a few nights.

In this week’s roundup, I look at a few new apps I’ve been using and explore the Siri Shortcut stuff I’ve been playing around with. I also share my first thoughts on the upcoming album from Saves the Day, go through my usual media diet from the past week, and share ten songs I loved this week. There’s been lots of Halloween and fall-themed entertainment in our household recently. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (October 12th, 2018)

Bring on the weekend! We’re moving into “pumpkin-spice-everything” territory, and I’m getting excited to start watching some of my favorite Halloween movies, breaking out the festive beers, and making all kinds of warm foods in the ‘ol Crock Pot.

This week I rank albums from Andrew McMahon, give the first impression on the new Laura Jane Grace album, share a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, share what I’ve been working on behind-the-scenes, and go through my weekly media diet. Some outstanding albums out this week you shouldn’t sleep on. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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The Podcast Worm: Halloween Unmasked

Halloween Unmasked is my kind of podcast. I’m three episodes in on it, and it feels like a new take on film podcasts. Usually, I’m listening to pop culture podcasts that are discussion-based (and mostly hosted by dudes). I listen to shows like Fatman On Batman (now branded Fatman Beyond), The Watch, and Channel 33, which has a lot of sub-shows within its feed. I listen to a lot of shows from The Ringer.

Where’s the Hype?

A conversation in the Thrice album thread got me thinking this morning. Does hype around an album even matter anymore? In the past, the idea of a hyped release meant that a lot of people would be anticipating, talking about, and building “buzz” for the release. The thinking went that the more hype around a release, the better it’d sell, then there’d be more people out on tours, you’d get bigger and better tours, and then you’re on your way. The time between announcing an album and releasing it into the world seemed to, in theory, be built around coordinating and focusing this hype as you built toward release week and getting those first week sales. But here, in 2018, does this hype really mean anything and can we measure its success?

Over the past few months I can’t think of many rock bands that had more buzz, or “hype,” than the most recent Foxing release. All the right publications were talking about it. All the right “taste makers” liked it. Premieres on all the right websites. Features were written. Cool, unique, campaigns. Awesome podcasts. And it was all backed by, in my opinion, one of the best albums so far released this year. It came, it was released into the world, and it sold just fine in the first week. (Around 3,500 copies.) So, by quite a few of the metrics we’ve always used to define what a good album rollout looks like, this one had it all. It had the buzz. It had the “hype.” It had our forums anticipating the album from announcement all the way up to the day it was released into the world. The question I started asking myself this morning was centered on if this was actually effectively better than the Thrice album rollout — which seems to have die-hard fans upset because there isn’t enough to keep them interested. And, furthermore, how do we adequately measure “hype” and if it matters in the rock or alternative music world today?

July 22nd, 2003

This weekend marked the 15th anniversary of one of my favorite album release dates in my lifetime. On July 22nd, 2003 both Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue and Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance were released. I was home between my sophomore and junior year of college and both albums imprinted on me like few ever have. Driving around my hometown, seeing old friends, reigniting old flames, these two albums became a part of my summer. AbsolutePunk.net was just becoming something I thought I wanted to do with my life and much of what that website would become was created with these two albums as the soundtrack. I was still very much trying to figure out who I was as a person, and these albums felt like a foothold of hope on the future. Watching Yellowcard’s meteoric rise, a bunch of kids that felt almost like peers, gave me a boost of confidence during a time I needed to think things could get better. The world was changing, my world was changing.

15 years later that summer remains one of the best of my life. The friendships made, the hearts broken, the speakers blown out, it all feels like a moment frozen in time. An idealized summer that probably wasn’t nearly what I’ve made up in my mind all these years later. But I hold it dear nonetheless. And when I put on Ocean Avenue, and hear “Back Home,” I’m transported back 15 years ago when that song meant everything to me. A rallying call for what my life was and a romanticized version for what I wanted it to be. And that feeling of home intersplices with the intensity of Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance, an album I used as an outlet for my anger at the world, at the war, at myself and all the chaos that felt just beyond the borders of my hometown. Two sides of me dueling it out through two albums released on the same day, during the same summer.

So, here’s to you July 22nd, 2003. I’ll always remember you fondly.

The Top Albums of 2018 (So Far)

I think I say this every year but fuck it – the music 2018 has blessed us with in its first six months has been extraordinary. With all the insane shit happening around us and to us in this day and age, it feels like music is the only sane thing we have. So below we have our top 20 favorite releases of the year thus far. If you can’t find something to love on this list then you just aren’t trying hard enough – this is an eclectic list that encompasses multiple genres and styles. I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings to our ears.

Note: You can share your own list in our music forum.

The Death of the Compilation CD: How the Industry Has Changed Since 1996

I’m sure all of us can remember where we were when we either purchased, or were given from a friend, one of the annual Warped Tour compilation soundtracks. It signified the beginning of the Summer concert season, and another year to look forward to the annual Warped Tour. Now that the Warped Tour is on its last legs, with its final installment coming this Summer, one has to wonder about what will happen to the compilation CD that we have been expecting ever year since 1996.

The history of the compilation CD is a complicated one, much like the changing music industry over the past three decades. During the CD “boom” of the 90’s, it seemed like a ton of music buyers were looking for inexpensive ways to find out about new bands, or to sample tracks from their favorite artists’ upcoming album. The compilation CD was a great way to not only save money by not investing fully in a ton of individual albums, but also to discover artists that you may not have ever considered checking out otherwise.