Liner Notes (January 13th, 2024)


Ringing in 2024 with a new newsletter. We have some thoughts on music out this week and some early thoughts on music coming in the first part of the year. Can it live up to 2023? We’re about to find out.

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A Few Things

  • And we’re back! At the end of every year, I always find myself struggling with what to write about on a week-to-week basis. When the entire music industry goes into hibernation, and no new music is being released, I also tend to hunker down. I spend a lot of time reviewing albums I listened to during the year to prepare for building my favorite albums of the year list, and I like to look for things I’ve missed or spent less time with throughout the year. Oh, and listen to a lot of holiday music. And when I don’t have a lot of new things to write about, it’s more challenging to carve out the space to sit down and write knowing I don’t have a lot of content to mine from. So, it was nice to take a little break. November and December are two of my favorite months of the year, and this year was no exception. Now we’re into January, and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new year.
  • We published our annual favorite albums of the year list this week. My personal list of albums, movies, TV shows, and other stuff can be found here. I listened to more music in 2023 than in any previous year, and the difficulty I had in choosing my favorite albums of the year showed the year’s strength. So many bands that I loved for years came out with albums that I feel sit proudly in their storied discographies. And so many new artists I discovered that I’ll be following for years to come.
  • A few quick hits to get caught up on things from the past few months: I’m exploring how I want to move this newsletter from Substack. I originally started using the platform for the backend because it was easy to set up quickly and would let me take my audience with me if I wanted to. And now I want to. Idiots run the company, and the latest Nazi defending is the final straw. No one subscribed will need to do anything; it will be a seamless transition. Once I move the newsletter backend over, I’ll start linking directly to the website’s archive for these posts, and that will be the place where new subscribers can sign up. And that’s a better way to do this anyway: keep everything in-house. I’ll have to build a new email template, so it’ll probably be a few weeks until I’m ready to move fully, but it is happening. (If you use the Substack RSS feed, please replace it with the official one.)
  • Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve (finally) been going through the archive of the Chris Demakes a Podcast to check out episodes from some of my favorite bands/songs. It’s quite good. I love how they break down songs, and I’ve heard stories from Blink-182, Sum 41, Simple Plan, Yellowcard, MxPx, and New Found Glory that I’d never heard told before about the making of some of their most iconic songs. It’s become my default “while making/eating lunch” podcast.
  • I finally moved from Deliveries to Parcel as my package tracking app of choice. The built-in Amazon integration is nice, and it actually works with all the major shipping platforms. It gets my recommendation.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • A lot of my music listening through December was holiday music. Of course all the staples, and all the pop-punk staples, but also just throwing on instrumental or piano versions of classic songs to have on in the background and add to the holiday ambiance in the condo. Of the things that came out that I don’t think I wrote about yet, Florrie’s singles collection called Personal is a must-listen. Her new album should be out this year, but this collection of everything she’s put out over the past few years is top-notch and comes highly recommended.
  • This week saw the release of Casey’s How to Disappear, and it’s a great alternative rock album to start the year with. It reminds me a lot of some of the late 2010s music in the scene: super clean guitar lines, strong vocals, and a nice mix between sounding modern with hints toward its influences. I see this sitting in rotation for quite a while.
  • Cosmic Joke also released a new album yesterday and it’s more in the punk vein. Nine songs, 14 minutes. All rippers.
  • We’ve got a lot of new music to write about over the next few weeks with Green Day and Alkaline Trio leading the pack. Early impressions: The new Green Day album is a very fun return to form. Far better than their last album and probably my favorite album from them since at least 21st Century Breakdown. And Alkaline Trio’s album is a riff-heavy addition to their already storied catalog. Early favorites are “Break,” “Bad Time,” “Broken Down in a Time Machine,” and “Teenage Heart.”
  • it’s currently snowing in Portland, and the weather says it “feels like” one degree. That checks out. We made a brief foray into the streets for some coffee and to feel the sting on our cheeks, and we have been inside by the fireplace ever since. It’s perfect weather for the one album I got into too late in 2023 to make my end-of-the-year list: Sigur Ros’ ATTA—a gorgeous album for the wintery backdrop of these blustering January days.
  • I’ve been enjoying Anson Seabra’s piano pop on A Heart Is a Terrible Thing to Break.
  • Yellowcard announced a new collaboration album with Hammock to be released in early February. I’m still deciding how much I want to write about this one. There’s a chance I can find the angle I’m looking for to build out a full review, or it’ll be a lengthier newsletter write-up. But something meatier is coming. So, while I mull that over, I’ll say: I adore this. It’s like catching up with an old friend, seeing them again after all these years, and seeing them in a new light. These are songs I’ve grown up with. Each has had a significant time in my life, memories created, good and bad. And to find them again reimagined in the perfect way for a cold January night, is to recontextualize not only the music but my memories of them. Weaving back through the years, haunted in melody, becoming lost and enamored all over again.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 49 different artists, 62 different albums, and 483 different tracks (569 scrobbles). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • One of my goals for 2023 is to read more. I got away from sitting down and reading books the past few years. The day would end, I’d pour over my RSS feeds and articles, and then often find myself killing time on Instagram before heading to the gym. I plan to convert that time into reading something time. It could be a book, or a lengthy article, but it needs to be something. Less phone, less social media (dear God, we’re in an election year), and more reading. I’m off to a good start. I finished Geoff Rickly’s book and can recommend that. And then I enjoyed a perfectly passable romcom book called Every Summer After. Over the past two days, I read a book detailing behind the scenes of the TV show Friends. My goal for the year is not based on the number of books, pages, or even the types of books. Instead, I want to read more and go wherever I feel in the moment. Fiction, Non-Fiction, all subjects; I want to spend more time being intentional about it.
  • On to TV! Lessons in Chemistry was very good. A Murder at the End of the World is ok, but I’m slightly let down after having massive expectations because of my love for everything else these creators have done. The OA remains massively underrated, and I’m still mad it got canceled.
  • The Holdovers was lovely. This will be something we watch again in a future holiday run.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • My friends, sister, and parents have all lost power, and now I’m trying to get this newsletter finished and out in case we follow suit. The wind is picking up, it’s still ridiculously cold, but the snow seems to have stopped for the time being. I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend and I look forward to writing more again and spending time together in your inbox. Hmm, that line sounded better in my head.

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. Yellowcard + Hammock – Ocean Avenue
  2. Anson Seabra – Past Tense
  3. Casey – Sanctimonious
  4. Cosmic Joke – Kamikaze
  5. Good Hangs – I Only Do Pushups When I’m Drunk
  6. Sigur Ros – Blooberg
  7. The Young Hearts – Take a Ride
  8. Alkaline Trio – Bad Time
  9. Scott Sellers – Caught by the Wind
  10. Chad Perrone – Conversations with Ghosts

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 williamryankey in the “Yellowcard” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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