Liner Notes (August 6th, 2023)

Late Night

This week’s newsletter looks at the new album from The Maine and the band’s almost decade long hot streak. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Hannah and I were talking recently about how it feels like this summer is flying by, and here we are sitting at the beginning of August. I think part of it has been how busy our weekends have been recently. It feels like we’ve had something with family or friends almost every weekend, and that’s led to the weekends zooming by (and me having less time to sit down and write this newsletter), and this weekend had us heading out to the ‘burbs for a little friend BBQ. I’m recovering from throwing a football around with a six-year-old because my joints hate me. The friend group tasked me to create a “nostalgia” playlist. This group of friends includes people I’ve known since high school and my college roommate. So, I was thinking, “emo night, but make it Jason.” I didn’t want to stuff the thing with only the big obvious songs and instead wanted it to be “what you remember hearing when you got in the car with me 20 years ago.” And then I wanted to sprinkle in some new stuff as well. I always go into a playlist thinking about how I can make something I’ll like and how many times can I get someone to ask, “Hey, who is this” or “Oh, dang, I forgot about this song.” Based on my non-scientific method of keeping track of comments made throughout the night, people enjoyed it. And the bands/songs that elicited the most commentary were FenixTX (universally hailed as underrated), The Maine (the most “Who is this?” inquiries), Something Corporate (forgotten love of many), and Midtown (the perpetual “How did they not get bigger?” conversation). If anyone is interested, I shared the playlist on Apple Music.
  • I thought this podcast between John Mayer and producer Rick Rubin was fantastic. A great deep dive into the songwriting process, how they both view music (and criticism of music) and some real gems around shaping a career in the music industry. The parts with John talking about how he has to write for his voice and how he views himself as a guitar player vs. songwriter vs. singer were top-notch.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I still can’t think of any band that did more of a 180 in stature for me throughout their career than The Maine. Their early albums never stuck with me; I found the middle era something very much just “not for me,” and then from American Candy on, they are rivaling the giants of my collection for consistency, replayability, and anticipation with each new release. Lovely Little Lonely could make a good argument for being my favorite album since it was released. Not just by the band, but period. And with the the release of their new album, they are now on a five-album run that I’d have to put up against just about any band I cover regularly. Like, we’re talking Jimmy Eat World level of consistency with a five-album run like this. The self-titled album feels like the clearest spiritual successor to Lovely Little Lonely. It’s a pop album that looks to elevate itself with tighter hooks, cohesiveness, and a confidence of a band that knows they’re firing on all cylinders right now. I could see this settling in as my second favorite from the band and featuring very highly on my end-of-the-year list. Right now, my only real complaints are that I think “Cars & Caution Signs” meanders a little without a solid backbone to anchor its length (I know I am in the minority with this opinion) and that “Spiraling” isn’t as strong as the other tracks here. For most of my internet writing life, I’ve liked to look at bands’ careers by the runs they went on. The streaks. Be it a three-song run of perfection (the opening of Bleed American) or the album run at the peak of a band’s powers. (For example, I think Brian Fallon from The ’59 Sound through Handwritten, and including Elsie, might be one of the single greatest runs an artist has ever had in music.) And so that’s why I keep marveling at the five-album run here from The Maine. Not every track is perfect, and I like some albums more than others (I think this new one is far more successful at what XOXO attempted), but it is one of the most solid five album runs I’ve seen in a while. I’m hard-pressed to think of any artist outside of the BIG big ones in my life that have achieved this—rarified air.
  • The past few weeks haven’t had me find much new that’s grabbed me. If you’ve never checked out the unreleased Liam and Me album and the story behind it, I rediscovered it a couple of weeks ago and think it holds up shockingly well. The other album I think a lot of people will like is by [Better Love](’ t+want+to+make+it+hurt); they’ve moved away from pop-punk and closer to an indie-pop sound.
  • The new vinyl pressings of Gob’s early albums also had them back in rotation over the past few weeks. Foot in Mouth Disease is as good of a pop-punk album as any others released in the early 2000s. I’m willing to die on that hill.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 63 different artists, 99 different albums, and 493 different tracks (645 scrobbles). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Joy Ride will be added into the “comedies in our collection we come back to when we’re not sure what we want to watch” category. We get, if we’re lucky, maybe two of these a year now. And I want more! A truly funny movie.
  • I was hoping for more from Influencer. It was fine. But the soundtrack was way too loud and dominated the vocal track and it wasn’t really that much of a thriller.
  • Hijack felt like a TV show ripped from the silly 90s action movies I enjoyed as a kid. Predictable but fun and thrilling in a pulp kind of way. The kind of thing a middle-career Harrison Ford was perfect in.
  • We’ve got one more episode of Jack Ryan to finish up. I’ve enjoyed it just about as much as the previous ones. It’s Jack Ryan, like, I know what I’m getting here, and it satisfies like a known quantity.
  • I have similar feelings for the latest season of It’s Always Sunny…. Some good episodes (and a great finale), but it did feel a little paint-by-numbers in some episodes. A little going through the obvious Always Sunny bits. Maybe the podcast has made me feel like I know too much about the behind-the-scenes stuff? Or maybe after 16 seasons, it’s more difficult to shock and surprise? Still funny, and I was still glad to spend time with these horrible people, but it didn’t feel quite up to the same level as a whole body of work.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Well, my weekend is almost coming to an end. Guess I should get this published and out there.

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. The Maine – Leave in Five
  2. Boys Like Girls – The Outside
  3. Better Love – I Spend Too Much Time
  4. Joshua Radin – Over the City
  5. Midtown – A Faulty Foundation
  6. FenixTX – Tearjerker
  7. Spitalfield – I Loved the Way She Said LA
  8. Acceptance – Breathless
  9. Butch Walker – Day Drink
  10. Calmgrove – Jade

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 Jason Tate in the “Q&A and Chat With Jason Tate” thread.

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