Liner Notes (March 24th, 2024)


This week, we try to catch up on two weeks of music and add a whole bunch of first impressions (Sum 41, The Early November, Strung Out, and more). The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote a newsletter. Last Monday was my, audible sigh, forty-first birthday. So, the past few weekends have been tied up with quite a bit of family time on top of the usual errands, and I just ran out of hours to sit down and write. I don’t know how to put that idea of being 41 into words. Last year had me feeling things, and this year was a little more of the same. It went by faster. My hair is getting a little grayer. But I still have my family and health and consider myself extremely lucky. Most of my gifts were records or band hoodies (shocking), but Hannah got me some of the New Found Glory Coffee, and I was shockingly impressed with it. A lot of “band coffee” I’ve tried in the past has been over-roasted or very clearly not fresh. This was neither and had an excellent flavor to it. Would recommend. My mom gave me a few of these vinyl record containers, and they’re fantastic. Perfect for stacking, and I’m using them to store some of my overstocks that won’t fit on the shelves (I know, I know). I also had a pretty incredible steak dinner and added some albums to my collection, which I’ve wanted for a long time. The funny thing is, after just a couple of years of putting band merch on my wishlists and now multiple holidays and birthdays passing, my wardrobe has more band-related clothes in it than I ever did back in the AbsolutePunk heyday. And I’m not complaining; I’ve embraced becoming that guy.
  • I was enthralled with this article on the “two-handed bowler,” and I’ve never followed that sport at all. Fascinating stuff. And this podcast episode with Howard Benson talking about producing Hellow, Rockview and it being one of the first albums ever recorded using ProTools was great.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Interesting articles jumped to the top of the popularity list last week. What spiked those in particular? I’ll see if I see anything interesting in the referral stats.
  • OK, let’s start with music from two weeks ago. Kacey Musgraves released Deeper Well, and I think it’s a welcome return. I tried, I did, but I could not get into her previous album at all. This has a very lovely, breezy feel to it. Some of the lyrics don’t work for me (the gravity bong line pulls me out every time), but the whole album is like a warm spring evening. Comforting. Justin Timberlake’s new album is also better than his previous one, but not by much. It’s too long. Bloated. In massive need of restraint and editing. There are individual songs on it that I like, but as an album, I find it a bit of a slog to get through.
  • This week we have The Gaslight Anthem dropping History Books (Short Stories) and my word is it good. Produced by Butch Walker? A cover of “Ocean Eyes”? A reworked version of “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts”? Like, come on. An embarrassment of riches here. The full thing is a win, top to bottom, and add me to the chorus of people hoping Butch will produce a full-length from these guys at some point. Ruston Kelly’s collection of b-sides, Weakness, etc., is just as impressive. I’ve been playing both of these back-to-back all weekend.
  • And now for a string of first impressions: Sasha Alex Sloan’s upcoming album, Me Again, reminds me a lot of Kacey’s new album. It has that same breezy feel, and I find them paring shockingly well. The new Strung Out album is full of terrific songs, but the production is hollow and thin. I don’t particularly appreciate complaining or even talking about production that much these days. Still, it is noticeable enough (especially when you play it after some other recent albums) to warrant a mention. The songs are awesome, though, and I enjoy the record more than I did their last. Hot Water Music’s new album uses the guest vocals in a way that they don’t overshadow any of the songs. It’s a very good Hot Water Music album, and I can’t believe how long these guys have been churning out precisely that. The Early November’s upcoming self-titled album fits in very well with the Imbue and In Currents vibe and is an absolute smash. A real “oh fuck, they did it!” kind of album. It’s cohesive alternative rock at its best. Florrie’s debut album is something I’ve been waiting over a decade for. Reviews are embargoed until June. So I’ll only say it’s worth the wait, and she hasn’t missed a step. If you haven’t checked out all her singles, I highly recommend you jump on that now. Sum 41’s new album comes out this week and it’s their best album since, at least, Underclass Hero, maybe even surpassing that one. The pop-punk side is about as good of a pop-punk album as one could hope for. It’s energetic, fun, and a reminder that this is one of the best bands to ever do it. The more metal side feels more like their last two albums, but I think I like the songs even better than those two (which I am on the record as really enjoying). The sum of it (had to, sorry): I will miss the hell out of this band. They are one of my all-time favorites, and I have memories going back to ordering an import CD of Half Hour of Power all those years ago. In my opinion, Deryck’s ear for melody and his songwriting prowess have become underrated over the years. The dude wrote some massive songs with gargantuan hooks. They’re going out on a high note, and I’d just like to salute them with thanks for all the killer and very little filler.

The Stats: Over the past two weeks, I listened to 34 different artists, 57 different albums, and 532 different tracks (786 scrobbles). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I am currently reading The Wager and loving it. It’s a harrowing story, well told. I’m a little over 60% of the way through, but it’s one of the better things I’ve read so far this year.
  • For my birthday movie pick, I went with the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. I’m 41; maybe I wanted to feel like a kid again? But the movie’s incredible. I hope they get to do another one.
  • We finished Masters of the Air and I very much enjoyed it. It wasn’t to the level of Band of Brothers but it was well done and had a few jaw-dropping flight scenes. Next up for us is Constellation; the first three episodes have me intrigued so far. I have a good idea where they’re going with it, but it’s been fun.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Um, can we bring the sun back? My birthday weekend was gorgeous, and this week and weekend brought the rain and grey skies back.

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 Gaslight Anthem – Ocean Eyes
  2. The Early November – What We Earn
  3. Olivia Rodrigo – Obsessed
  4. Kacey Musgraves – Jade Green
  5. Sum 41 – Waiting on a Twist of Fate
  6. Sasha Alex Sloan – Me Again
  7. Florrie – The Lost Ones
  8. Ruston Kelly – The Watcher
  9. The Gaslight Anthem – Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
  10. Comeback Kid – Trouble in the Winners Circle

This playlist is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Community Watch

The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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