Liner Notes (April 10th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter looks at the aftermath of last week’s bracket and plays another viral game that will probably get someone mad at me. Then I share some articles I found interesting last week, as well as thoughts on music and various entertainment. And, of course, there’s a playlist of ten songs I liked last week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

Five Things

  • Last week’s newsletter had my 2000s pop-punk bracket, which only caused a few minor riots across various internet platforms. I enjoyed watching the various stages as the post started spreading beyond the little pocket of the internet that knows who I am and has been following my writing for however long. It started with a few “ew Relient K over Green Day” posts, without ever reading my joke about why in the piece, and then ends with people extremely angry about the musical opinions in a gag bracket I filled out for fun. Oh, internet, never change. It got me thinking about how bad it is that if you want to put anything out into the world at all, you have to have an elephant-like thick skin. Not even if you want to attempt to do something actually creative, but even the most innocuous of things can bring a vitriol of absurd proportions your way. I grew up in a different era of the internet and have had every insult imaginable thrown at me. Every Photoshop. Every threat. Everything. My days at AbsolutePunk had a level of ‘internet notoriety’ that is beyond anything I experience now because I specifically chose a different path for my life. But I can handle this stuff, I see it and it means nothing to me at this point. However, I think about all the people that don’t have the same history that I do. I scrolled through my Twitter mentions and thought about how someone else would react to something like this. I realized just how unhealthy this is for us as a society. How many people face it and never want to put anything out into the world again? This can’t be good for society as a whole. You shouldn’t have to be basically dead inside to survive online.
  • This week’s viral gimmick was the whole “you can pick three” thing for a whole bunch of topics. I thought about creating a pop-punk version with a bunch of bands but then decided I’d had more than enough Twitter for a few lifetimes. I did however see this one for various record labels floating around, and I was struggling with what the rules would be for something like this. Like, if you pick three, does that mean none of the artists on the other labels ever exist? So if I leave off Drive-Thru Records, a band like The Starting Line doesn’t get picked up by Victory or Hopeless? If I leave off Hopeless does Thrice never get a chance? The owner of Victory Records threatened me with lawsuits for years but we gotta keep Thursday and Taking Back Sunday around, right? With these thoughts in mind, I think I’d keep Drive-Thru Records (too many classic bands, too influential), Fueled by Ramen (same reason, just too many great bands from that era), and then Tooth and Nail. It’s between them and Vagrant, and I think I gotta go with Further Seems Forever, Mae, Anberlin, Slick Shoes, MxPx, Underoath, and that whole batch. That was a very big group of bands for me for a while, and it just edges out Vagrant.
  • I’m starting to get a little bummed out about how many artists are pushing back their release dates during this time. I feel like right now is when we need music more than ever. I feel like right now is when more people are able to listen to music more often as well. I think Dua Lipa pushing up her release was brilliant. She owned the month. (Probably going to own the summer too, that album rules.) I see stuff like PVRIS being pushed back and don’t quite understand it. I feel like right now would be a great time to be out there with new songs and finding ways to interact with your audience. All Time Low released their new album and found innovative ways to engage and keep their fans active through the entire process. That little “Monster” challenge thing was marketing genius and all the videos and Q&A stuff has been great. I’d be leaning into things like that instead of pushing back release dates and then trying to fight for space when everyone finally releases stuff later in the year.
  • The most interesting things I saw online this week include this comic about how we could use privacy-focused apps to better trace and stop the spread of COVID-19, this video about social distancing, and this article about the world’s greatest art thief. Also, I’ll share this post about why we should be wearing masks. I wore one for the first time to the grocery store today, and I’m not going to lie, it felt very weird, but beyond the health benefits, I think it’s time to help break the social stigma around them.
  • This week’s new website design work was focused on a lot of optimization. Keeping the pages as speedy as possible has been a huge goal of mine. I also worked on bringing more of the styles from the homepage into the discussion forums. So when a post with rich formatting gets imported into the forum for discussion, some of that formatting goes with it and it isn’t just a blob of text. I think it’s a better experience that way. Next week will be more optimization and restructuring the website for faster deployment, a better development workflow, and better security. I hope to then move into a more live testing phase on a staging server where I can work with a few people on stuff I can’t do myself here (like testing accessibility, various browsers, platforms), before figuring out when I can get ready to launch the new version. Best guess is maybe a month from now I’ll feel like I’ve got everything to a place I’m comfortable with. I’ll probably have a better idea of the entire timeframe after next week’s work.


Today’s a great day to get introduced to Northvale. Northvale are a new band from New Jersey in the vein of Sleep On it, Grayscale, and Mayday Parade, and today they’re debuting their brand new song “High Tide” featuring AJ Perdomo of The Dangerous Summer. The weather’s just starting to warm up, and it’s getting just about perfect for this style of music, and while we may all still be stuck at home, that doesn’t mean we can’t turn up the volume up on some good ‘ol fashioned pop-punk. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, or the other streaming services.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I didn’t listen to the new Hayley Williams song yet because I’m waiting for the full album. And since I’ve been told we’re only about a month out from Phoebe Bridgers advances, I didn’t listen to her new one yet either. She had my favorite album of the year last time out, so I just went with the instant pre-order (got that red swirl), and now I’m playing the waiting game. I wanna experience it all at once. You know, really let the sad dominate me while I cry into my quarantine mask.
  • Vasudeva released a new album this week called Generator. If you’ve never listened to this band before, they’re a guitar-driven instrumental group, sometimes leaning into the more atmospheric stuff. This has been another great addition to my daily listening because it’s perfect background music for headphones while Hannah’s teaching in the other room. This, and their previous work, are definitely worth your time.
  • I’ve only had time to give The Beths’ new album, Jump Rope Gazers, one listen so far, but my first impressions were great. They have a sound that reminds me of the mid-90’s in a lot of ways. This comes out in early July, so keep an eye out for it.
  • Scott Sellers, of Rufio fame, cranks out more music than just about anyone I know. This week he released an acoustic album featuring songs from all of his various projects. Hearing “One Slowdance” brings me back to the most specific year of high-school and trading mp3s over the slowest internet connection in the world.
  • One of the most well received recommendations from this newsletter in recent memory was Meet Me @ the Altar. They’re back this week with a new single called “May the Odds Be In Your Favor,” and it’s such a perfect burst of pop-punk energy. Once we can all leave our houses again, they feel like the right tour away from being everyone’s new favorite pop-punk band.
  • The Maine shared the orchestra version of You Are OK on streaming platforms this week. I listened once, and it works pretty well for background music, but it also just made me want to listen to the actual album instead. Which I did. Which still holds up exceptionally well. Which then led to me looking to Lovely, Little, Lonely, again, which holds up even better.
  • Next up, I plan to check out the new albums from Active Child and The Strokes.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Last week I wrote about a movie I enjoyed called Banana Split, and unfortunately, my auto-linking-script linked to the wrong page. And no, the movie I was talking about was not about a kid’s show turned horror movie. I fixed the link on all the published copies, but, regrettably, I can’t fix anything already sent out in an email. Anyway, the correct movie is this one; it’s good.
  • We did a FaceTime and movie watch with my sister last weekend. We couldn’t decide on something none of us had seen yet, so she picked Swiped on Netflix and we went with it. It’s the worst thing I have ever seen. Not just in a “this is a bad Netflix movie” kind of way. No, more in a “this and everyone involved should be banished from film forever” kind of way. Utter disgusting trash of a film.
  • Younger me would not understand that older me has entered a “watch every Kristen Stewart” phase of life. But after Personal Shopper, I’m pretty much willing to give anything a try. Last night we watched Underwater, and while it’s not near the best of this genre, it was a relatively enjoyable underwater thriller. It doesn’t try to do too much, it’s got some good scenes, and there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half (see directly above). In the end it mostly just made me want to revisit The Abyss and re-read Sphere.
  • Not much to say about Frozen 2 except: into the three and a half staaaaaaaaaaars. Forgive me, but that damn melody is being sung by my wife any chance she gets.
  • This week has been all about Devs. We’ve watched the first six episodes, and I’m enjoying it. The music has been great, the story is right in line with my tastes, and I’m very curious to see where it’s going to go next. The only thing I haven’t been sold on is some of the acting and dialogue, it can get a little stilted in places. But it hasn’t been anything too distracting and I’m interested enough in the plot and trying to figure out the whole of the story. One downside the show has is that it comes on the heels of us finishing Mr. Robot and not long after The OA, which are two of my favorite shows in recent history. I don’t think it’s up on that level, but I’m looking forward to the final two episodes.
  • We’ve finally begun the new season of The Bold Type and watched the first three episodes. I missed these characters.
  • I am something like 85% of the way through The Stand now. My Kindle tells me I have a little over two hours to go. It’s been one helluva journey this book has. I picked the weirdest time ever to start it, but I’ve been plugging away each night, and I’m wondering how the hell he’s going to wind this all up. Between this and Devs, I shouldn’t wonder why my dreams have been all over the place the past week.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Art project time was last night as I made myself a ragmask out of an old t-shirt. Really I just wanted to see if I could do it, and it felt as good as any way to pass the time. I learned that I still suck at sewing. I learned that sewing by hand takes a long time. I learned that after finishing and putting it on and being proud of myself and then sending the photo to my family that they will all laugh at me. Still, it’s pretty comfortable, fits great, and the instructions and template are really easy to follow. Oh, and if you have a sewing machine, use it, you could probably do the entire mask in less time than an episode of Scrubs.
  • I finally gave in and just cut my own hair. Full number two buzz. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I hate when my hair gets long and all weird, so this is the best option at the moment. I discovered by cutting so much it off and seeing it in a pile on the floor that I have way more gray hair than I knew about. On my head it looks more light brown/blond. In a pile? Gray. Gray. As. Fuck. So on top of everything else in the world right now, I got that going for me.
  • Speaking of being too old to be cool, my high-school friends discovered Tiktok this week and are sharing videos making food. I think that means we’ve ruined the app for all the youths. You’re welcome.

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. Meet Me @ The Altar – May the Odds be In Your Favor
  2. Charmer – Slumber
  3. Fall Out Boy – Alone Together
  4. Frank Ocean – Dear April
  5. The Aces – Lost Angeles
  6. The Beths – Dying to Believe
  7. Broadway Calls – Meet Me On the Moon
  8. Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto
  9. Perfume Genius – Slip Away
  10. Vasudeva – Breaks

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 Donnie Ruth in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Sign up for a free weekly newsletter full of thoughts on music, entertainment, technology, and other cool stuff. Your email address stays completely private.