Liner Notes (March 26th, 2022)

This week’s newsletter has thoughts on the Gaslight Anthem reunion, the passing of Taylor Hawkins, my love letter to The Ataris, and commentary on music I’ve been listening to (Caracara, Sigrid’s new one, Josh Ramsay’s solo album, Relient K, and more). Plus, there’s a playlist of ten songs I liked this week, and the supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Let’s start with the good news first. The Gaslight Anthem are back! And, yes, this is the reunion I’ve been hinting about since January. I love that this is a full-on reunion with the promise of new music. Anyone that knows me knows this band is in my top five, probably top three, of all time. And just the thought of another album is something I had long put out of my mind as a possibility. I am ridiculously excited. And the band seems genuinely in a good place and happy to be together again, and that’s what matters the most to me. The new promo photos put a huge smile on my face, and I cannot wait to hear what they have up their sleeves next. I am just so ridiculously, over the top, joyously happy. And yes, adding the band into my playlists over the past few weeks was a hint. And yes, I was also being a dick by throwing in Blink with Tom and some other bands to throw everyone off the scent. I didn’t want to ruin the band’s surprise, but it was also tough for me not to make an “I don’t want to gaslight anyone by hinting at the band” joke either. And now I’m just sitting here giddy at the thought that sometime in the next year or so, I’ll be hearing new Gaslight Anthem music.
  • And, now, for the bad news. I was sitting on the couch last night, movie paused while Hannah grabbed some more wine, when I flipped over to Instagram to read the news that Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters had passed away. It felt like getting hit in the chest by a brick. I’ve been listening to this band for literally as long as I can remember. Hell, I’ve followed the Foo’s career since their inception. This is just so impossibly sad, so devastatingly heartbreaking. He was only 50, he leaves behind a family, and the world is left a little darker without his presence in it. A true beacon of happiness behind the drums, his passion and love for music were forever on display. His infectious smile and pure joy behind the drums made him literally the only man alive that you never once thought, “hm, I wish Dave was back there instead.” A legendary talent. I am left without words to describe this loss to the music world. Instead, I recommend everyone watch the 2008 Wembley performance of “Everlong,” and pour one out for Taylor. RIP.


Boxfish have released their new video for “Bend (Break).”

Boxfish are a band out of Boston, MA, and they will be releasing their new EP, Leap of Faith, next month. Keep your eyes peeled for that and follow the band on social media if you like what you hear.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • This was a fun music week for me, and I have a lot to write about, so, let’s start with some new stuff you can check out right now. First up, the new Caracara album New Preoccupations is out now, and it comes highly recommended. It’s a great indie rock album that moves between rock and I guess a little emo-ish to be firmly in the wheelhouse of probably most people reading this newsletter. The kind of band I’ve loved and written about for years doing that style of music very well. Worth your time. Kevin Devine also released his new album yesterday, and it’s my favorite from him in a while. Soul Glo also released Diaspora Problems, and if you’re looking for something more in the hardcore punk realm, this is a whole lot of fun. Unique and brash. And then Proper. released a nice little catchy emo album called The Great American Novel.
  • I also checked out the new one from Wallows, but it didn’t grab me on first listen. It was totally fine, but I didn’t hear anything that made me want to return to it. I also spun the new Machine Gun Kelly album once. I don’t like writing about this dude since all the weird, gross tweets came out, but his influence and sway in the current pop-punk world makes him somewhat unavoidable. I feel like I should at least listen to some of this stuff to understand the current trends, where things are going, and understand the current state of a genre I care deeply about. I found the new album pretty bland. Lacking distinctive hooks, it felt much more like a collection of leftovers from his last. Lyrically shallow and mostly uninteresting. I think KennyHoopla, Girlfriends, and various others are doing this style of pop-punk better right now, and I do find this variation different than what I would consider more traditional “pop-punk” as I’ve always known it. Hell, I think that last Nothing Nowhere. album bleeds pretty hard into the pop-punk realm, and comes across far more genuine in execution. And, well, that’s all I really wanna write about MGK. Next.
  • Moving onto first impressions, let’s start with the solo album from Josh Ramsay of Mariana’s Trench. The album is called The Josh Ramsay Show, and it is well titled. It’s an album that showcases Josh. And that becomes a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s the great vocals, undeniably catching choruses, ridiculously sing-along-able anthems. But it also feels a little overstuffed, a little too much going on sometimes, and at 18 songs, it’s a long album. When it works, it works; I just think it could have used a little more editing. Standouts include “Reckless Heart,” “You and I,” and “Miles and Miles.” It’s an album that will stay in my summer playlist for the next few months, and there are a few nice single choices here. However, it also often feels like it’s following recent trends, whereas the best of Mariana’s Trench was when it felt like they were pushing their genre forward, creating new musical fashion, versus doing a great job of mimicking current styles.
  • I had Sigrid’s last album at the very top of my 2019 favorite albums of the year list. I was obsessed with her smart take on pop, and it was by far the album I listened to the most that year. I’ve been looking forward to the follow-up ever since. I always struggle with early evaluations of highly anticipated albums like this. Coming off an album that topped my best-of list means I am hoping for a similar reaction, similar feeling, similar outcome. And hitting those highs right away is almost an unfair ask. Sigrid made it slightly easier for me by putting together an extremely strong collection of tunes here that pick up from what she was doing on the debut and build on it. The album is full of hits. It’s catchy, emotional, and I can’t think of a single miss on the whole tracklist. It’s exactly what I am looking for in a pop album: using hooks to build a story in the song, not just because you came up with a somewhat catchy line. These songs are about heartbreak, moving on, learning to let go, loving oneself, and the choruses never feel tacked on, instead, they feel like the foundation from where everything is built. Too often, I’ll hear a catchy song that feels like someone had a chorus melody, tossed some words that kinda fit to it, and added some verses. But the song as a whole, when you break it down, never really says anything, never has a point of view, never has a story to tell. That’s where Sigrid shines. It’s the combination of the two that elevates her music to the next level. I’m a fan. (The only real miss for me is that “Bad Life” is a potentially great song, with a great message, ruined by choice of the guest vocalist.)
  • Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out MUNA again, because I love their entire catalog, and specifically their upcoming album, for almost all the same reasons I describe above.
  • I also spent some time this week listening to some of the early Relient K albums again. Fun fact I discovered this week: I missed that Gotee remixed two of their early albums when they went Gold to match some of the production choices on Mmhmm. I don’t know how I missed this news, but I did. I’ve been listening to the same MP3s of The Anatomy of the Tongue and Cheek and Two Lefts… for over twenty years now. This week when I played the album at the gym, I was hearing stuff I’d never heard before. It sounded cleaner. There were little background things I could have sworn I’d never heard in the song before. At first, I wondered if I had a weird early copy of these albums, and the actual albums released in stores had sounded like this forever. Then I realized that when I added the album to my “to listen to” playlist, I had added it from Apple Music, not from my local library. So, it added these new mix versions. Gotta say, after at first being confused as fuck, I do like how these sound. It’s a little more modern feeling, and the songs do hold up. I also felt a little like I was losing my mind for about an hour one evening at the gym, but, I’m also getting older, and these things are now in play.
  • I wrote some last week about my rediscovery of The Ataris. The Ataris were a band I listened to a lot growing up. But over the years, I sort of fell away from them after Welcome the Night, and then no new album coming for years after. I feel like over the past two weeks, I’ve made up for ten years of forgetting how much I love this band. They’ve been in almost constant rotation. Similar to how last year I got back on a Blink and MxPx kick, I’m currently on a massive The Ataris binge. And I have opinions. First, by and large, these songs hold up incredibly well. They’re songs that I related to as a teenager, but here at 39, I am finding even more layers to the songwriting. And that’s led me more and more to the belief that Kris Roe is one of the most underrated songwriters, not just in this genre, but of my generation. Hell, just listening to the stuff he’s shared with us from the fabled Graveyard of the Atlantic album is incredible. The lyrics, the emotion, it’s just next level. I hope one day all of that ends up seeing the light of day. I hold out hope. I’ve also spent the last week trying to collect all the random demos and alternate versions of songs that have been released in some form or another over the years. I now have something like 275 songs in my Ataris’ library. A lot of the demos from old albums, or alternative versions, aren’t things I turn to all that often, but they are fun to have. And as I see Mark Hoppus sharing all this unreleased Blink-182 stuff on Twitch, I do kind of wish more bands went (at some point later in their careers) with the “open the vaults” for fans approach. I know it’s selfish, but as a collector and fan, I do find it interesting to dive into and consume. Anyway, more people should listen to The Ataris. (Hail Mary: And if anyone out there knows Kris, please tell him thank you for all the music over the years, and I’ll personally help put out in any way you want, any new music you have. I know people at labels, or I’ll help DIY the entire thing. Oh, and the people want more merch! The Ataris deserve a better webstore!)

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 40 different artists and 470 different tracks (663 scrobbles). My most listened-to artist of the week was The Ataris, with Sigrid’s How to Let Go being my most played album. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Jackass Forever is exactly as silly and stupid as you think it will be. And it’s glorious. I had so much stupid fun watching this and laughing my ass off—more laughs than I was expecting. Also, more penis than I was expecting. It reminded me of watching MTV with friends and being young and stupid.
  • The Adam Project can be best described as a film I would have considered my favorite movie of all time and watched on repeat when I was like nine years old. The smart-ass kid, the action scenes, some time travel … I would have watched it every weekend. It worked for me here at this age too. I found it heartwarming and perfectly passable Saturday night entertainment. Also, the kind of movie that you could recommend to just about anyone and they’d probably enjoy themselves for the evening.
  • Our new nightly show, after it being recommended to us for years, is Atlanta. And … the hype is real. It walks the line between drama and comedy in a way I haven’t really seen since You’re the Worst. We’re a little over halfway through the first season, and every episode has been a joy with multiple laugh-out-loud moments. I can’t wait to watch the next couple of seasons.
  • We’re pairing Atlanta with the fourth season of Ink Master, because it’s still an absolutely ridiculous show. But it’s very fun to yell at the screen late at night after a couple of drinks and make fun of all the bad tattoos.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This week I shared a Reel of the new live MxPx record (the cover really is awesome), and some thoughts on The Ataris’ So Long, Astoria. (I told you I was obsessed.)
  • I really should probably pull back on record spending; I’ve gone a little crazy over the past two months. But I just kept seeing things I wanted to add to my collection at pretty good prices (like Brian Fallon’s Sleepwalkers for only $20) that I haven’t been able to pass up. It probably would be wiser for me to put my phone and Discogs access away after 8pm at night if I knew what was good for me (and my wallet). I’m slowly running out of room again. Hmm, I wonder if Hannah will let us move just so I can have more shelf space?

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 Ataris – The Graveyard of the Atlantic
  2. Foo Fighters – Aurora
  3. Caracara – Colorglut
  4. Overgrow – Three Years
  5. Slow Glo – Fucked Up if True
  6. Relient K – Pressing On
  7. Heavens – Dead End Girl
  8. Glacier Veins – Know You
  9. Hot Water Music – Another Breath
  10. A Wilhelm Scream – Gimmetheshakes

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 Sean Murphy in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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