Liner Notes (January 8th, 2022)

Neon

I started writing this newsletter early this morning but then had to run some errands, so here I am, finishing it up much later in the day than I expected. It’s a bit of a long one. I cover music listened to last week (The Weeknd, A Wilhelm Scream, Foo Fighters), as well as entertainment I consumed (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Andrew McMahon’s memoir), and there’s some commentary on getting our end of the year feature up earlier this week as well.

This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Welcome to the first newsletter of 2022! I took last week off from writing to just decompress some after the holiday and prepare the website’s features for the best of 2021. I hope everyone had a great holiday. We took it easy, or, well, as easy as one can for a holiday.
  • This week, we posted up our End of the Year feature. There were 12 contributors and 180 unique albums across all of the lists. In total, 53 albums out of the 180 were on more than one list, with the number one album appearing on 10 of the 12 lists. The number one album on the staff list ended up being my favorite of the year as well. The central theme this year was how much music got re-injected into my life and how noticeable that was through my tracking of it on Last.fm.
  • My best of 2021 list has all my favorite albums of the year, as well as way too many honorable mentions. As usual, I also shared my favorite movies, TV shows, and apps. In the end, for 2021, I listened to over 7,341 songs (13,291 scrobbles), 713 different artists, and 1,333 different albums. Not bad at all.
  • And, finally, the full feature can be found here, and it includes everyone’s individual lists as well. And with that, we have another year in the books. And another to add to the archive (which goes back to 2005). A huge thank you to everyone that read anything we wrote this year and all of you that have been following this newsletter. It’s been an absolute joy to share a part of my life with you weekly.
  • A couple more quick hits I wanted to share: If you’re looking for a way to create album art grids, I like this webapp. It’s what I used to create the top 30 I posted on Instagram. And, I have to shout out to my favorite gift this year, this incredible hoodie from Jimmy Eat World. Hannah got it for me, and I just love it so much. It’s funny; through college, most of my wardrobe was made up of band merch/t-shirts. Then, after graduating, I moved away from all of that. I wanted to feel more “adult,” I think, and more “grown-up.” Now, as I’m here approaching 40 … my favorite clothes are once again band merch. (She also got me this great MxPx one.)
  • I’m kind of obsessed with Wordle. The idea of one game per day is perfect and makes it feel unique and fun each morning to dive in.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • After a few weeks without much new music, we have the first significant new album in a while .. and it’s The Weeknd’s Dawn FM. And it’s a monster. Talk about an album with a very me aesthetic. And it sounds incredible. Sonically one of the best-sounding albums I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve been a long fan of everything Abel’s done, but this one hits that sweet spot for me. I foresee this sitting in my rotation for a long time.
  • A Wilhelm Scream is back! They’ve got a new (omgomgomgomg) single, and a new album will be coming in April. I cannot believe it’s been nine years since their last album, but I cannot be more ready. The first song is so damn good, and the clips I’ve heard of the album all sound incredible. I’ve long considered this band one of my favorites, and not just a favorite punk band, but a favorite band in general, and I have complete faith that they’ll add another classic to their already iconic catalog.
  • This week had me go on an absolute massive Foo Fighters kick. An almost ridiculous and over-the-top kick. I went through all their albums multiple times, and my first takeaway was they’re infinitely listenable. That’s not breaking any new ground, of course, but I forget about it and the band, sometimes because they’ve been ever-present in my life for so long.
  • One of my favorite parts of putting together the end-of-year lists is looking through other people’s to see stuff that I missed throughout the year. From looking at our staff list, the main one I somehow just slept on was that Japanese Breakfast album. Next week I plan to go through each of the staff lists and all the member lists and make notes of what I need to check out next.

The Stats: Over the past week, I only listened to 19 different artists because I went on a huge, and I mean huge, Foo Fighters binge. I did end up playing 437 different tracks (534 scrobbles). My most played artist, obviously, was the Foo Fighters, while my most played album was Dawn FM by The Weeknd. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • So … let’s talk a little about Spider-Man: No Way Home. My sister’s boyfriend rented out a theatre for a very small group of friends, and we went to see it on New Year’s Eve. On a high level, I enjoyed the film. It’s wildly entertaining and crafted explicitly for that purpose. It solidified my belief that Andrew Garfield is by far the best Peter Parker to ever grace our screen; his energy is palpable, his joy jumps off the screen, and he’s such a ridiculously talented actor having a blast playing both Peter and Spider-Man. The problems I have with the movie mostly come down to me being a picky Spider-Fan, and that over three films now, I’ve never been impressed with the director’s choices. The core of this movie is excellent, the message well-executed, and the final battle with all three Spider-Men has probably the best Spider-Man action ever put on screen (outside of Spider-Verse); some of the wide shots are incredible. There are some plot holes I have to ignore; it gets too close to giving me some One More Day eye rolls, but I did have a good time watching the film, and I am excited to see it again, which is way more than I can say about Far From Home, so that’s a win. Now, who do I have to bribe to get Andrew’s Peter in the Tom Hardy Venom world?
  • I thought The Last Duel was well done, with some good performances, but also left me feeling … cold. It’s a difficult watch, and something about it just felt a little stilted.
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife was too safe, too predictable, took too long to get going, was massive nostalgia bait, and yet Mckenna Grace is so good in it I forgave all of that and had a decent enough time. One of the problems I’m starting to have with some of these films is how often it plays as “hey, remember that thing you used to like, here it is again, applaud please.” I find that … cheap and often unearned. I am not sure if this will be something I will return to again in the future, but Mckenna has been added to my “see anything she does” list.
  • Andrew McMahon’s memoir, Three Pianos, is a must-read for anyone that’s ever been a fan of any of his music. The way it puts context behind the songs we’ve grown up with is mesmerizing, and it’s never a guarantee with these things that just because someone is a good songwriter, that will translate into a good author. Andrew’s annoying good. He weaves the story together with honestly and tact — even the more difficult portions are handled with grace and humility. I came away feeling like I knew the meaning behind songs I’ve spent most of my life listening to now, and it sent me back into a dive of his entire catalog. I don’t think he has a single miss going all the way back to Leaving Through the Window. I’ve long felt he’s something like the Billie Joel of our generation, someone cataloging life through the late 90s and 2000s in song. Highly recommended reading.
  • Neither Hannah, nor I, had ever seen Band of Brothers, and the current historical fiction novel I’m reading is also set in the WWII era, so we decided now was a good time to check it out. Huh, it turns out often shows that win a lot of awards and are highly regarded are pretty good. We’ve watched the first five so far, and I’m quite impressed.
  • And we are also finally into the third season of What We Do in the Shadows. So much to watch, so little time. So far, the third season is living up to the high bar set by the first two—multiple laugh-out-loud moments in every single episode.
  • We also watched the newest season of Always Sunny…, and the highlight is that last three-episode arc. It’s almost a mini-movie, and the gang pulls it off spectacularly. I’ve also been enjoying the hell out of their podcast. The one thing I don’t need is another podcast to try and find the time to listen to, but I’ve more often than not found this at the top of my “want to listen to” queue.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This newsletter has already started getting a little long this week, so I’ll save some stuff for next week. I’m working on a Widgy that displays my Top 9 from Last.fm that I want to write more about, and I also made a shortcut for adding things to various “watch/read/listen” lists that I want to talk about (middle of the bottom right folder in that screenshot). The widget code needs a little more tweaking, some of my spacing is off, but I’m pretty happy with the result after an evening messing around with it.

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 Weeknd – Gasoline
  2. A Wilhelm Scream – Be One to No One
  3. Dark Rooms – I Get Overwhelmed
  4. Andrew McMahon – New Year Song
  5. Foo Fighters – February Stars
  6. Japanese Breakfast – Slide Tackle
  7. William Ryan Key – Brighton
  8. Lucky Boys Confusion – Something to Believe In
  9. The Gaslight Anthem – Break Your Heart
  10. The Weeknd – Less Than Zero

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 popdisaster00 in the “General Politics Discussion IX” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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