Liner Notes (July 26th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter has thoughts on new songs from Blink-182 and The 1975, early impressions of The Faim’s new album, and some random thoughts about other music I’ve been enjoying this week. Then there’s my weekly media diet rundown which including a spoiler-filled rant about the new Veronica Mars. I was frustrated. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week and a little recap about the current health of this very website. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Three Things

  • This week was my “evaluate the viability of the website” week. It’s where I spend a whole lot of time in spreadsheets and Soulver going over the data for the website’s finances. It’s my least favorite part of the job, but it’s the only way I can properly assess where we’re making money, how much we’re making, and what needs to happen for this to still be a thing I can do. Based on my calculations, I am 105 supporters short of where I need to be. That means that for the next month or so I need to do some brainstorming about what I should, or could, do to try and convince more people that it’s worth joining up as a supporter for the website. Last month 65k unique visitors visited the website. This very newsletter gets well over 2k reads every week now. So, I need such a small percentage to convert at this point to find financial stability that I can almost taste it. It’s both the best and worst spot to be in at the same time. A huge thank you to everyone that does support the website; it does mean the world to me because it’s how I get to do things like write this very newsletter each week. If you aren’t a member yet: it’s about 7 cents a day and if you sign up I’ll only need 104 more people to go.
  • Hannah got me a print a while back of Spider-Man swinging through the Portland skyline that I finally got framed this week. (She got it on Etsy.) It had strange dimensions, but Framebridge did a fantastic job with it. It ended up being the perfect size to put on my office shelf with my FUNKO collection. It was costly, but I’d use Framebridge again in the future if I had something I wanted to be framed and matted and I couldn’t find something more standard for cheaper. I’m thrilled with how this turned out.
  • I was on the latest episode of the Stereo Confidential podcast talking about Hellogoodbye’s classic album, Would it Kill You? — all these years later I still think it is the most shocking 180 I’ve ever done on a band in the span of one album. This was a fun talk going through the album and re-living everything leading up to this release and the community reaction. I broke out the album again to prepare for the podcast, and it really does hold up. (Overcast link.)

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Blink-182 dropped the new song “Darkside” alongside album pre-orders, so that meant I dropped way too much money into this band’s lap last night. Of course, I grabbed the limited vinyl for my collection, but then when I half-jokingly said to Hannah, “this LED tube Blink logo sign would look cool in a basement someday” she responded with, “yeah it would, you should get it.” So, fuck it, you only live once, right? I grabbed one of those to put in a future office or, what I’d love: a pool table room with a bunch of musical memorabilia hanging on the wall one day. It was a stupidly expensive purchase, but this is one of my favorite bands of all time, a logo I like, and ApplePay is too easy to use when your fiancée gives you the go-ahead on a purchase after you’ve had a couple of beers, OK!? As for the song? I think this might be my favorite of the new batch yet. It combines what I liked about California with a little new-wave-ish sound, and Matt shines on it. Catchy, fun, and I’ve had the chorus melody stuck in my head all day. I love the album artwork; it’s my favorite since their untitled record. Fifteen songs, we’ve already seen a good variety of sounds, and there are some extremely intriguing song titles. I’m thinking “I Really Wish I Hated You” and “On Some Emo Shit” are the two I’m most looking forward to hearing based on the song credits. The label said they’d send advances as soon as they can and when they do, I’ll be sharing thoughts.
  • The 1975 remain the most interesting band in the world to me. This week they dropped the introduction track to their new album, and instead of a new take on the same song they’ve used the past three albums, this is a five-minute speech from a teenage climate activist begging that we pay attention to the crisis around us. The impassioned reading is over a sparse musical arrangement used just enough to add emotion to the reading without ever overpowering it. It’s a stunning statement. To open the record with this kind of message seems to be setting the tone for a record unwilling to look away from the moment it’s being created in. It’s a bold marker to throw down. However, if there’s any band on the planet that has proven to me they’re up to the task, it’s these guys. The first single doesn’t appear to be coming for another month, it’s called “People,” and I’d describe it as the band going all the way in. I can’t say more quite yet. Soon. The album’s not coming until next year, so we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it.
  • The Faim’s new album, State of Mind, sounds like a band that grew up listening to Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco and want to give their take on that version of pop-rock. And, they do it pretty damn well. It helps when your lead singer has an extremely confident and honey-soaked voice. “Tongue Tied” and “Beautiful Drama” feel like hits. “Buying Time” is the only one that didn’t do much for me, and I miss not having “Midland Line” on the full-length. I’d say this is a band to keep an eye on, with the right timing, I think they’ve got break-out potential.
  • Hunny’s Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. has a perfect summer feel to it. It’s only eight tracks long, clocking in at just over 20 minutes, but the entire record feels like a day at the beach. If you’re looking for something that has a little early 2000’s pop-rock throwback in the melodies but more modernized in sound, you can do a lot worse than this. Worth a spin while laying out in the sun.
  • I’ve spun the new Noah Gundersen maybe three or four times this week. Usually at night. Usually, after the sun has gone down. For an album I already liked, this has grown on me even more. It’s such a mood album. It carries with it such a feel that it becomes engulfing. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being quite high on my end of the year list. This week “Little Cup,” “So What,” and “Watermelon” have become favorites. I’m already looking forward to discussing some of the bolder choices on the record with fans.
  • The surprise release of Meg & Dia’s new album Happysad was a welcome one this morning. I’ve only had time to listen to a few songs from it so far, but it sounds like pretty classic Meg & Dia to me. Solid track one that pulled me in right off the bat and got my toe-tapping.
  • This new Covers Collection by POP ETC. has some gems on it. It doesn’t feel like a cohesive album, but as a bunch of one-off tunes there’s a lot to choose from and a lot to like. It feels like a release I’ll cherrypick some songs to add to playlists.
  • I haven’t come back to the new Frank Turner album at all, unfortunately. I just never feel the desire to reach for it.
  • The Early November’s “Hit by a Car (In Euphoria)” sounds pretty good. Feels like a solid addition to their catalog and I’m looking forward to hearing the full album.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I went into the animated Batman: Hush with some trepidation. It’s one of my favorite comics, and I was curious how they would translate the story to the screen. There are some changes, both big and small, that I didn’t understand. However, it was an entertaining watch that I enjoyed. It’s worth seeing, but I greatly prefer the comic version and would recommend someone read that before seeing the animated film. I think this kind of epic storyline would have been better served with the film being split into two halves as DC Animation has done before. It’s just too hard to whittle it down into one hour and a half movie.
  • I’m not sure what distracted me in the middle of Star Trek: Discovery last time, but after seeing the Picard trailer, I realized I needed to finish the second season. I just finished episode four, and it felt very Next Generation-y to me.
  • We’ve watched two episodes of the new season of Queer Eye so far, so that means we’ve had to fight back the tears twice already. The show has a formula, but I like that they’ve found new ways to play within that framework to keep the show from feeling played out.
  • We made it about 20 minutes into the first episode of Another Life on Netflix. It’s not good. It did make us nostalgic for Battlestar Galactica however. That was a damn good show; this is a mess of sci-fi cliches, bad plotting, and stilted dialogue.
  • OK, we need to talk about Veronica Mars. First, I need to sound the largest of spoiler horns that I possibly can. If you have not watched the fourth season of this TV show yet, do not read what I’m writing here. Just skip right over it and scroll on down. I’m about to talk about a massive spoiler. Just blur out your eyes, go on to the next section, and do not read anything that comes next. Got it? OK. So, the fourth season of the show was both well done and made me angrier than any season of television ever has. The storyline itself isn’t bad, but the mystery wasn’t very compelling to me, because the mystery is never tough to figure out and was always the least interesting part of the series to me. What I like is a little of the mystery as a backdrop to the characters, specifically the main three (Veronica, Keith, and Logan), and their lives and interactions. Unfortunately, it seems from reading the interviews with the creator of the show, this isn’t the show he wants to make anymore. He is looking to make more stand-alone series where Veronica is off on her own solving mysteries more in the line of something like “Sherlock.” And apparently, if Veronica has a boyfriend, or is married, she can’t be a badass detective. Which is why they decided to kill off one of my favorite characters in all of television. And it makes me pretty angry. If you want to make that kind of show, fine, I guess. There’s a bunch of those out there already, and I think they do the whole “mystery” thing a whole lot better. I think a good writer could do a great job writing a badass detective show where the lead character has a significant other, the fact that Sherlock and Bond don’t, doesn’t mean you have to copy them. I’d argue it actually opens you up to a unique writing angle. Instead, we get Veronica being uncharacteristically cruel and toxic to basically everyone in a season that felt … off … and then Logan has to die. The more I’ve thought about it over the past week, the more I come back to this thought: Would I rather this season not exist, even though I enjoyed it while watching it, if it meant that this ending never happened but I never got any more from these characters ever again? And, I think my answer is yes. I would rather have had my head cannon, or the movie ending, or what happened in the books, and not ever get more Veronica Mars, than have this and now whatever future we may get. And that’s a real bummer. I’ll probably watch whatever comes next, but I don’t know how it’ll work. Do you really remove the drama and “teenage love” portion of the story, a thing that most of us watching loved, and make it work? My sister made a good point about how there’s an element of fan service this show should bend toward because no one really knows about or ever watched this show beside super-fans anyway. They’re not going to get new fans or turn it into the new “True Detective” or “Sherlock” and be a super popular show with new fans and followers … they have a die-hard fan base they should be thinking about, and the decision was so counter to that it makes it even worse. The fans are the people that brought this show back from the dead, and I can’t think of a worse way to repay them. I’m frustrated.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We did some food tasting for the wedding this week and I think we’ve got the menu almost nailed down.
  • Invites go out next week.

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. blink-182 – Darkside
  2. Third Eye Blind – Screamer
  3. Red Hearse – Half Love
  4. The Faim – Humans
  5. Hunny – Lula, I’m Not Mad
  6. Meg & Dia – American Spirit
  7. The Early November – Hit by a Car (In Euphoria)
  8. POP ETC. – Lovefool
  9. Tegan and Sara – I’ll Be Back Somebody
  10. Taylor Swift – The Archer

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 K0ta in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and I’ll leave you with my favorite tweet I saw last week:

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.