Liner Notes (February 11th, 2023)


This week’s newsletter has thoughts on the new Paramore album and my weird music tastes this week (country and hardcore?). 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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A Few Things

  • ChatGPT and AI in general have been very ‘buzzy’ lately. I thought this piece in the New Yorker by the great Ted Chiang was incredible, and I also enjoyed this blog post on the subject.
  • And this article in Buzzfeed about consent in the world of viral social media posts brings up a lot of great points. I think about stuff like that when I’m walking around and see videos/photos being taken around the city.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Paramore’s new album dropped on Friday, and my read from the forums is that it’s been a relatively polarizing release. Some seem very into it, but I’m also seeing the most negative responses to an album of theirs in a very long time. With a few listens under my belt, I do think I understand most of the criticisms I’ve seen. As a whole, the album de-emphasizes a lot of the traits I believe a significant portion of the fanbase associates with the band, but this is also a band that’s been exploring different sides of their sound for years now, and I don’t find any of their choices here that shocking. On my end, I do think I’d move the clear standout “You First” up higher in the tracklist, cut “C’est Comme Ça” altogether, and try and work the slower back-half tracks into the sequence differently, so it didn’t end feeling a little too on the same note. As we sit today, After Laughter has grown to be my favorite Paramore album, and I adore both of Hayley’s solo albums. (Those ended up being colossal pandemic plays for me.) So, by just the nature of how high regard I hold this band’s catalog, I think at the moment, this would land near the bottom. But I say that not out of a dislike for this record; it’s more a reflection of how this band’s discography has been incredibly consistent over the past 19 years and given us so many iconic tracks. And out of the ten new songs, at least 8 of them are right up there with the best for me. I’m also really drawn to the musicianship, post-punk funk, and groove of the album. In some ways, it feels like the flipped mirror version of the band’s self-titled album. With that album, it was like the band was expanding outward, searching for what they wanted to be next, and that showed with a behemoth, almost 20-song opus packed with ideas and multiple zigs and zags. Here we have a concise, tight, clear-edged galloping record of a band that seems, maybe for the first time in their storied career, 100% sure of who they want to be right now. (Ok, it’s Paramore, and I’ve read all the recent interviews, maybe 98.5% sure of who they want to be right now.) One of the somewhat unique services I think I provide these days is that I’m one of the few people that has written about some of these bands and this music scene for practically their entire careers. I can view a band’s catalog through the lens of that history and of our fandom with the artist. So, if Riot! made me want to jump around the house, and Brand New Eyes made me want to throw up the rock fist, and the self-titled album made me want to (oh no am I going to do this) drive fast in my car, and After Laughter had me melting hard into the 80’s synth aesthetic, what does This is Why do for me? I think it’s a bridge. It’s the intertwining of the band’s sound with their current interests, Hayley’s solo albums showcasing similar styles, and clearing the stage for whatever Paramore is to become next. For a band that’s had its share of drama over the years, to see the three of them seem happy, content, and collaborating in this way brings a smile to my face.
  • This was one of the weirder music weeks for me. I vacillated between a variety of genres without much of a connection. I’m still working through various albums I’ve seen on 2022 best-of lists that I missed last year, so I ended up playing the hell out of the pop-country albums from Mitchell Tenpenny. His latest leans more into the pop realm with some fun flourishes, and his voice works for me, that led to pretty heavy catalog dive. The other part of the week was dominated by the hardcore stylings of The Callous Daoboys. That album whips. There were a few days that left me feeling pretty drained emotionally, and this was the perfect pick-me-up. Mad at myself for not checking it out last year; it would have featured well on my end-of-the-year list.
  • I also got into the latest albums from Straightline and Have No Heroes. They’re both more in the skate-punk variety; think Millencolin or Chaser.
  • I also continued listening to Thrice’s revisited album, Bearings (pop-rock), the latest Matt Nathanson EP (acoustic covers), and re-visited Young Culture’s (pop-punk) latest album.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 38 different artists, 48 different albums, and 371 different tracks (488 scrobbles). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I thought M3GAN was a pretty fun PG-13 thriller.
  • I haven’t been really into a Marvel movie in a while now. The new Black Panther was maybe the best of the latest bunch, but it also felt its length and the CGI was pretty weak. The tributes to Chadwick Boseman were great, but there’s just something that feels like it’s been missing in all the films since End Game.
  • The Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day special was everything I love most about the show, wrapped up in a 44-minute super-sized episode. Firing on all cylinders.
  • The first season of Interview with a Vampire was better than I expected, walking just the right line between ridiculous and dramatic. The two main vampires were perfectly cast.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • I’ve had an annoying minor cold over the past week. I tested negative for Covid, but a stuffed-up nose and slight cough are still no fun.

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. Paramore – You First
  2. Matt Nathanson – Matilda
  3. Bearings – So Damn Wrong
  4. Straightline – Virus
  5. Mitchell Tenpenny – Good Place
  6. The Callous Daoboys – Title Track
  7. Zach Bryan – Half Grown
  8. Young Culture – Kind Over It
  9. Slick Shoes – Not That Far
  10. Sam Russo – Young Heroes

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 sophos34 in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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