Liner Notes (March 25th, 2023)


This week I write about turning forty and the new Fall Out Boy album. There are some other thoughts on new music I checked out this week as well, but it’s mostly about growing up with a band and how their music has punctuated some of the most important moments in my life. Yep, I like Fall Out Boy. Surprise. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • I didn’t write a newsletter last week because I was too busy being old. The march of time goes on. The past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this milestone, the whole “turning 40” thing. The idea of entering into mid-life and looking at who I am today versus who I was a decade ago. These round number birthdays tend to lend themselves to these reflections. And I find myself, like I often do, marking the passage of time with the music that best defined those years of my life. I remember turning 20. I was a sophomore in college building the website that would, in many ways, define the next two decades of my life. It was 2003. And while countless albums from those years left a mark on me, it’s often Fall Out Boy’s blue painted Take This To Your Grave I think about the most. An album full of (often) misguided and misdirected youthful angst and anger, but also one of catharsis and the soundtrack to those California dreams. They blow up. My website blows up. And so begins a two-decade ride of following this band’s career. And it’s over these years that I find myself intertwined with the songs. Each album holds a special place in my memory for where I was when I first heard it, who I was with, and the person I was, even if that wasn’t the person I wanted to be. Those early albums became the soundtrack to my stumbling twenties. And when I turned 30 in 2013 I wrote about the band’s rebirth in a way that looking back was not so subtly partially autobiographical. Exploring their reemergence as I entered a new stage of my life, all the while trying to put the pieces back together. So, it’s only fitting that I turn 40 a week before the band releases another album. In many ways, the perfect cosmic bow tie of coincidence. In others, the exact music I need to hear as I’m evaluating the person I am now, the life I lead, and the future ahead of me. Ever since I first listened to those early demos, there’s been something about how Patrick thinks about music that aligns almost identically with what my brain craves. The way he crafts melodies, uses syncopation, starts, stops, speeds up, and builds songs has been soul candy since the beginning. And that’s why I’m one of the people that don’t think this band has a bad album. They have albums I like more than others, but each one has been something I’ve played continually since its release. And it’s why I’m almost always on board, no matter what genre they play in. And it’s why from the moment I first hit play on their new one a few weeks ago I’ve had a massive smile on my face just thinking about the songs and what they created. It’s an album that wears obvious influence from each era of the band. There’s a little pop-punk—a lot of pop. A lot of only Pete Wentz would write that wordplay. A lot of only Patrick Stump could sing that vocals. And it culminates in arguably the band’s most cohesive and ambitious album since Folie. I’m obsessed with the verses in “Hold Me Like a Grudge,” the chorus of “Fake Out,” the building buzz of “Heaven, Iowa,” the absolute monster of “The Kintsugi Kid,” and the doom dance of “What a Time to Be Alive.” I’ll need more than just a few weeks to know where these songs end up living in the pantheon of the band’s catalog, but I already know it’s an album well-positioned to define yet another year of my life. I grew up listening to Fall Out Boy. If there’s a band that can define where I came from to where I am today it’s hard not to think of this one. And at the precipice of middle age, of no longer being able even half to pretend I’m not an adult, I find comfort in turning to this old friend once again. A boy on a couch with headphones, typing away about the music that moves him. I am, as I ever was, me. God damn, what a band. God damn, what an album.
  • Hannah made me an awesome Blink-182-themed birthday cake. There are a couple of photos on Instagram, and the cake topper is from here (there’s a few other music/band related ones on there as well).
  • The interview on Apple Music with Zane Lowe and Fall Out Boy is fantastic. Gives a lot of context to the new album and the writing process. I still hate that the Music app doesn’t keep your place in radio episodes like a podcast player does.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • The new Arrows in Action album comes out on May 26th. It’s a pop-rock album that moves between bands like The Maine, Cartel, and Nightly. Polished, catchy, and absolutely perfect for the summer. The kind of album you’ll throw on, and a friend will ask, “hey, who is this?”
  • The new National album is a very National album. The kind of album that works great late at night after a long day. It’s not breaking the mold or doing anything you wouldn’t expect, but it does what it set out to be well. I need to sit with it a little bit more to see if it’s one that grows on me even more. But right now, like the past few, it feels like an album that will end up part of my fall and winter rotation. The advance doesn’t have the Taylor Swift song on it, so I can’t comment on that one, but the Phoebe features are both excellent.
  • If you never checked out the Only Twin album that was released, I think in 2021, this is a reminder to toss that into your collection right now. It’s a release from Thomas Dutton, who you may recognize from a 2000s band called Forgive Durden. This is more of a dreamy synth-pop with shades of The Night Game or Electric Century.
  • I was in a “looking for pop-punk bands I haven’t listened to yet” mood earlier this week and checked out Between You & Me and FRND CRCL. Both albums have some pretty solid songs on them. Out of all the bands I was browsing through, these two grabbed my ears the most, and I’ll be checking out the rest of their catalog over the next week.
  • The Bouncing Souls are just super consistent. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed in one of their albums. They know what they are, and they do it well.
  • This new Codefendents album from Fat Wreck Chords is very interesting. I only listened once so far, but there’s a lot of different influences in here, and it’s one I’ll be coming back to.
  • Neriah showed up on my Apple Music playlist this week, giving me a little bit of an Olivia Rodrigo vibe but leaning more into the pop. I’ve only had time to listen to a handful of her songs so far, but I’ve liked every single one.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 44 different artists, 49 different albums, and 319 different tracks (453 scrobbles). Fall Out Boy were my most-played artist with their new one being the most-played album, by a healthy margin. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Very much enjoyed the full season of The Last of Us. Not the best thing I’ve ever seen, but solid high-quality television. Not like anyone hasn’t heard of it at this point, but I’d recommend it.
  • After Party was enjoyable. The cartoon episode was a miss, but the others were fun.
  • Re-watched Sing Street last weekend for my birthday because it’s just one of the most perfect comfort movies around.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much for this section this 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. Fall Out Boy – The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)
  2. Only Twin – Waves
  3. NERIAH – Know You Better
  4. Arrows in Action – Compromise
  5. Between You & Me – Pleased to Meet You
  6. Fall Out Boy – Hold Me Like a Grudge
  7. The Bouncing Souls – Back to Better
  8. FRND CRCL – No Chill
  9. Lo Spirit – Mind of Mine
  10. Codefendants – Def Cons

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 Donnie Ruth in the “blink-182” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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