This week’s newsletter has a rant about Alexa, some thoughts on the new Pale Waves and Young the Giant albums, and some other random bits about other music and entertainment I consumed over the past week. 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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A Few Things
- We have a few Amazon Alexa devices around the house. I used to enjoy them. Even praise them. Lately, they have become a point of anger. Over the last year? 6-months? I don’t even know how long. But they’ve become so impossibly “chatty” that it annoys me to ask a basic question. “Question: What’s the temperature outside?” “Answer: It’s 71 degrees. Did you know I can also read you the latest news headlines today?” Every time we ask it anything it comes back with some extra bullshit on the end that I have to interrupt with, “Alexa, stop.” I have checked every preference or setting I can find, and for the life of me can’t find anything to make it stop. I know someone in Amazon thinks they are being clever, trying to “increase engagement numbers” or whatever, but I beg you to knock it off. You are making me hate something I used to find useful. And if anyone knows of any way to turn these off, please let me know.
- This newsletter may end up being a little shorter than usual because I want to spend some time today/this evening writing up an entire blog post about my new desk setup. It’s finally all done, and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. Everything works, I’ve used the entire setup for about a week, and I want to document everything since I’ve been getting a few questions about what I used.
- One of the last additions to the desk was a LIFX lightstrip. It’s a small strip of lights that you can change the colors on with an App. I have it on the back of the desk so that it casts a soft glow, nothing too extreme, but just a little additional ambient lighting. There’s a lot you can do with the App, and it’s HomeKit ready, but it also has an API. So, I’ve already been playing around with that a bit to write a local script that lets me change the lights using Keyboard Maestro or the command line. Sit at my desk in the morning, hit F13, and it turns on the office lights and the desk light and sets the color to a nice orange/blue glow that matches my desktop wallpaper. But, the API also got me thinking about combining it with my Now Playing script. I think I can pull the dominant colors from the album art that is currently playing and then change the light to match. Something I’ll probably play around with one of these weekends. But for now, just being able to control the entire setup from my computer or phone is pretty fun. And everything stays hidden away when not in use.
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In Case You Missed It
- Review: Yellowcard – Southern Air
- Interview: Geoff Rickly of No Devotion
- Review: Unwritten Law – The Hum
- Coheed and Cambria – “A Disappearing Act” Video
- Bayside – “Good Advice”
- Death Cab for Cutie – “Foxglove Through the Clearcut”
- Catbite – “Spiral”
- Anti-Flag – “The Fight for Our Lives”
- How a Phoenix Record Store Owner Set the Audiophile World on Fire
- Riot Fest Announce 2022 After Shows
- The Academy Is… Announce Show With Midtown
- Weezer Residency Cancelled
- KennyHoopla Cancels Fall Tour
- Albums in Stores – Aug. 12th, 2022
- My favorite release of the week is the new album from Pale Waves. It’s called Unwanted, and it’s a pop-punk/emo throwback in the way that I, specifically, absolutely fuck with. Look, I am going to ignore that the music of my childhood now is coming back around with a bunch of artists influenced by the bands I considered mine, and that this fact makes me old. And instead, praise when an artist does it in such an excellent way. This is really fun. Little Paramore, some Avril, I even get early Sum-41 vibes in many of the songs. I liked their first album, thought they took a nice step in a new direction with their last (an album that made my top ten of the year), and I already think this might be their best yet. Huge hooks just begging for these dog days of summer.
- Young the Giant released the second in a set of four EPs. The entire album comes out in October, it’s called American Bollywood, and while the band and PR people will probably hate me for saying this: I think it’s worth waiting to hear the entire album at once. It’s gorgeous, big, ambitious, and works incredibly well as a complete piece. Some real “my god that due has a set of pipes” moments all wrapped in their sound but elevated. Often I hear a little MUTEMATH in there. The album, as a whole, gets a huge two-thumbs up from me, and if you want a glimpse of the first half, you can check that out right now. I recommend not overplaying it, though, because the full thing is special.
- Most of my week was playing around with a bunch of pop-punk albums. It’s summer, it’s sunny, it’s hot, I’m in shorts most of my day working, and this time of the year just screams “let’s gooooo” for all the pogo bouncing pop-punk goodness. The early part of the week was spent with The Ataris, back part of the week had me peppering in some Green Day, the latest Girlfriends album, and the last Nothing. Nowhere album (which I maintain is a sneaky pop-punk album), and a whole lot of KennyHoopla. I saw he recently needed to cancel his tour, and I hope everything is ok. I genuinely think his last album is one of the better pop-punk albums in years, and I think about one specific line from “Smoke Break” at least once a week. (“I wear a mask not ’cause of a virus / Just don’t like what is behind it”)
The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 30 different artists, 37 different albums, and 380 different tracks (531 scrobbles). My most played artist of the week were The Ataris, and my most played album was the new one from Pale Waves, Unwanted. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.
- I have nothing but the highest of praise for Harley Quinn. Every episode brings out multiple laughs, and I truly care for the characters at this point. Hannah loves it so much we now have numerous Harley FUNKOs, and she recently made me buy a King Shark.
- The re-watch of Dark has entered the end game. Two more episodes. Flat out incredible. It’s now solidified itself in my upper-upper echelon of shows.
- The first season of Hacks ended up having way more heart by the end than I was expecting. Fun show, excited to watch another season, and a great “just throw on at the end of the night and watch something funny and good” kind of show.
- The Outfit is one outstanding performance wrapped in a film that comes across as a one-room play. It’s ok—kind of predictable. But Mark Rylance is very good.
- Elvis was my father’s favorite artist growing up. And this meant I grew up in a home where most weekend mornings were filled with music. And more times than not, that meant early Elvis records. So, I was curious what I would think of the new Elvis film. I find Baz Luhrmann to be a little hit or miss for me, but one thing is he always has a very distinct style to his movies. Which I respect even more in a world where the edges of anything unique too often get filed off of films to all fit into the same focus group tested box. This film takes risks, it’s big, it’s stylish, and I think it very much works. I was most impressed by how it captured Elvis’s magnetism, his performance, the control he had over a crowd, and the pull music has on people across all genres; that carnal energy, fully unleashed.
Random and Personal Stuff
- I never post videos, but I found an old shoebox filled with a bunch of stickers from back in the AbsolutePunk days, and I couldn’t think of any way to share besides being awkward on video last Sunday evening. It was a fun little walk down nostalgia lane. (The stickers and posters have already been spoken for, I just went by first come, first serve on who messaged me.)
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.
- Pale Waves – Lies
- Catbite – Spiral
- William Ryan Key – Smoke Signals
- Lauv – Time After Time
- Anti-Flag – The Fight Of Our Lives
- KennyHoopla – Smoke Break
- New Found Glory – First Note
- The Ataris – Answers
- The Starting Line – Up and Go
- Blink-182 – A New Hope
The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:
- Round of 64: (27) Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album) vs. (38) Manchester Orchestra – ABMTTS
- Round of 64: (14) Fleetwood Mac – Rumours vs. (51) Rage Against the Machine – RATM
- Round of 64: (22) Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends vs. (43) The Wonder Years – TGG
- Round of 64: (30) The Hotelier – Goodness vs. (35) Paul Simon – Graceland
- Round of 64: (11) Jimmy Eat World – Clarity vs (54) Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
- Tour Prediction and Speculation Thread
- General Politics Discussion IX
- Men’s Soccer (Football) Thread
- Video Games : Game Harder JFG Edition
The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by Madmod in the “Hellogoodbye – S’Only Natural (October 5, 2018)” thread.
Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.