Liner Notes (January 15th, 2022)

Star Wars

Another Saturday night online writing about pop-punk.

In this week’s newsletter, I detail how I am showing my nine most listened to albums for the week in an iOS widget, and then go into a deep dive on music I listened to this week (Drive-Thru Records era pop-punk, Northstar, Lunar Vacation, Kevin Devine) as well as some of the entertainment I consumed. As always, there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • I’ve written before about how much I enjoy widgets on iOS, and specifically the fun stuff you can do to customize the home screen. I recently got the idea to see if I could kind of duplicate the idle state of my now playing desk device and put my nine top played artists for the past week in a widget. I used Widgy, an extremely powerful and customizable widget app, and then I wrote some code to create an RSS feed that displays the album cover of my current top nine from the past week. And then I spent way too much time tweaking the spacing and the sizing to get everything to line up just right. The end result is a little widget that updates throughout the week as I listen to music and tapping on it sends me to my profile. I put the backend code for the RSS feed script on Github, and the Widgy itself should be accessible with this QR code. You’ll need to edit the RSS endpoints to point to your version of the script with your username/API key if you want to use it. (All of this is stuff really should be doing in-house, can they hire me to revitalize their brand?)
  • I got a bunch of records for Christmas, and then I used a lot of my Christmas gift cards to buy a few others I’ve been eyeing for a while, and I completely ran out of shelf space. So, I had to do some reconfiguring. And in the process, I’ve been sharing more of my collection on Instagram. If you’re into photos of records and my nostalgic commentary, I’m a good follow. (I got some amusing messages behind the scenes after this post yesterday. 🤐) I’m trying to go through and make sure I have good-quality photos of many of my favorites and show what I’m listening to throughout the week.
  • That Midtown record, and my colossal dive into some old Drive-Thru Records bands this week, got me wondering why Drive-Thru doesn’t have more of an internet presence. I feel like they could make a mint just having a store with merch and records. All those DVDs and comps on YouTube, all the nostalgic merch, I feel like they could print passive money without much work. Also, more bands should make sure that they keep up their web presence and a store even when they disband. Yet another reason to have an actual website. (Psst, Yellowcard, please fix the error at the top of your website and bring back some pullover hoodies.)
  • Here’s a good iOS tip about making sure a trusted person has access to your data if something happens to you.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • This week is Underoath week! They finally released their new album, Voyeurist, and it comes highly recommended. I’ve played this thing an ungodly amount of times over the past few months, and it’s still not getting old. It’s the perfect blend of energetic screamy chaos and catchy. It’s up there with Every Time I Die as my favorite gym album in a long while, and I think it’s an excellent addition to their catalog.
  • This week had me on a massive early thousands pop-punk kick. While last year had me rediscovering a lot about my love of music, it also had me returning to some old favorites (Blink and MxPx, specifically), and as 2022 has started, I’ve been continuing that trend of going through bands and albums of my formative years and seeing what holds up, what doesn’t, and checking out some of the bands or albums I just flat out missed. After becoming so associated with the Drive-Thru and pop-punk era of music because of AbsolutePunk, I think I purposefully shied away from it for quite a while. After years of being mocked about it online and my tastes moving in different directions, that style of music hadn’t made its way into my regular rotation for a while, and I decided I wanted to revisit it all. I started with a huge The Starting Line dive, and I really do think that band holds up better than just about all of them. That acoustic EP is the hidden gem of their catalog. I also played the hell out of Home Grown’s Kings of Pop, which held up a whole lot better than I expected. A few iffy lyrical choices, but songs like “You’re Not Alone” sound impressively modern and extremely catchy. That’s got to be one of the most underrated of the Drive-Thru era. I discovered that I had never heard Houston Calls’ second album, End of an Error, and I’m unsure why. Just a weird gap, I guess. Pretty fun album though; I liked it a whole lot more than I expected—especially the second and last song. I also had a weird Allister gap since I fell off of that band after Before the Blackout. First, Last Stop Suburbia remains a real gem of an album with way more melody and harmonies than I had remembered, and second, their last two albums have a few solid tracks on them as well. I still think The Movielife’s This Time Next Year is their best release. There’s such incredible energy to it, and it reminds me so much of my freshman year of college. I’d wear my Movielife shirt around campus listening to that album on repeat in my Discman while sporting the absolute coolest puka shells and cargo shorts. And, my pick for the album that should have been released on Drive-Thru and the one that gives me similar feelings as that era of music: Valencia’s There Could Be a Possibility. I had completely forgotten how great it is.
  • And, while we’re on the topic of stone-cold classics? How about we give a little love for Northstar’s Pollyanna? Someone mentioned it in the forums this week, and I fell head over heels back in love with it after not playing it for a few years now. (Also, what’s up with the track names being incorrect on Apple Music and Spotify?) It’s also such a clean sounding album; every little part fits perfectly.
  • Ok, besides all the nostalgic listens, I also had some time for some new stuff. First, Lunar Vacation’s Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp is a jangly indie-pop album from last year that went under my radar. And then Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under has a slight Springsteen vibe with great lyrics in the singer-songwriter category.
  • I saw a lot of shit-talking on Fickle Friends’ new album, Are We Gonna Be Alright? in our forums, and I kinda don’t get it. I think it’s a fun poppy album with a bunch of summer jams. At the very least, it’s definitely not as offensively bad as some of the commentary I saw, and while I don’t think it’ll end up getting as many plays as their debut did for me, I bet it finds its way into a bunch of my summer listening.
  • I’ve only had time to listen to Kevin Devine’s new record, Nothing’s Real, So Nothing’s Wrong once so far, but my first impressions gave me some big Beatles vibes on many of the songs. Multi-layered harmonies and some classic Kevin songwriting. The press release for the album was under embargo, and I’m not sure how much I can say about the album yet, so I think I’ll leave it at that and give it a few more listens before doing a lengthier first impression.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 37 different artists and 623 different tracks (779 scrobbles). My top listened-to artist was The Starting Line, and my most listened-to album was The Weeknd’s Dawn FM (beating out Direction with a few extra track plays). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • We finished Band of Brothers, and it was worthy of all the praise and awards it won something like twenty years ago. Very emotionally affecting, and I’m glad to have finally crossed that off my watchlist. Next up, we will dive into Yellowjackets (while trying to avoid spoilers), and then Station Eleven is after that since everyone and Thomas Nassiff has told me I’ll love it.
  • I don’t even know what to say about the end of the third season of What We Do in the Shadows besides … wow!? I did not see that coming. Welp, I’m very interested in seeing where they go from here; I think after three extremely great seasons, a little shakeup to the entire formula is smart. And the show’s earned my trust. I can’t think of many other shows that have made me laugh aloud as often as this one.
  • I try to avoid mainstream movie “discourse” almost as much as possible. I don’t read reviews; I follow a few writers I trust and look at their tweets and Letterboxd reviews, and then I follow a few people whose taste aligns with mine. But the think pieces? The Twitter arguments? The debates? I think I just had too much of all of that over the past 20 years of my life and have opted out. But, often, it’s unavoidable, and I’ve seen some of the hot takes about The Matrix: Resurrections as they get screencapped and dunked on, or agreed with, in my timeline. From how it’s the worst movie ever, or how it’s actually a subversive genius, and well, I just liked the movie and have nothing much more to contribute besides that I enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was the best thing in the world, and I thought some of the fight scenes were oddly shot and felt a little too TV series, but I also didn’t hate it and had a decent enough time with it. I’m cool side-stepping The Discourse.
  • I finished the second book in Ken Follett’s Century trilogy, Winter of the World, and loved being engulfed in this historical fiction epic. This one tackles most of the second world war, and I have nothing but praise for it. Now I need to decide if I’m going to read the third one right away or take a little break for something else first and then dive into the next in the series.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • I shared the short version in the supporter Q&A thread about how I’ve been trying out a new “Listenlist” way to keep track of things I want to listen to, including a shortcut for quickly adding things to it. I need to flesh out a few more parts, and then I’ll write about it in detail either in this newsletter or on the website itself.

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. Underoath – Take a Breath
  2. Lunar Vacation – Peddler
  3. Fickle Friends – Yeah Yeah Yeah
  4. Kevin Devine – Albatross
  5. The Juliana Theory – If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?
  6. Midtown – One Last Time
  7. Motion City Soundtrack – The Future Freaks Me Out
  8. Houston Calls – Life Won’t Wait
  9. The Starting Line – This Ride
  10. Northstar – For Members Only

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 “General Politics Discussion IX” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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