Liner Notes (March 5th, 2023)

Park Bench

This week’s newsletter has first impressions of the new albums from Dave Hause and Story of the Year as well as other random thoughts on music I enjoyed over the past week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs worth your time, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

I thought this article by Gruber was interesting as a whole, but this specific part stuck with me, and I’ve been thinking about it all weekend:

Apple is only really Apple when they put the user first. Apple makes gobs of money by selling hardware and software and services that provide people with the best experiences in the world. Anything like this that’s purely about making more money at the expense of the user experience is like a malignant tumor growing on the side of the true Apple.

I could not agree more. I also think it applies to more than just Apple as well; any time a company starts forgetting about the customer experience, or sacrificing it, they’re on the wrong path.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Dave Hause’s new album, Drive it Like it’s Stolen, is already my favorite album he’s released, and his catalog is full of songs I adore. I see people are already getting physical copies of the album shipped to them, even though it doesn’t hit digital outlets until the end of April. If you’re looking for a great Americana album, this should be on your “must check out” list. This album has Dave’s already incredible songwriting pushed up a level with production that adds a new height to the songs. Everything sounds full and warm. Highly recommended.
  • The new Story of the Year album is poppy. The band has always had this side to their sound, going back to the Bigbluemonkey days, but it’s even more pronounced here than it was on their last release. I’m not saying that as a detriment—just a statement of fact. And with the album artwork nod to their most famous album, I think they’re very much leaning into it. It’s an album that I can already see myself spending a lot of time with this summer in the gym. Good energy, fun songs, calculated spots of aggression. The songs they’ve released so far are indicative of the album, and standouts for me include “Take the Ride” and “Glow.” If you’re going to go this route, you might as well lean entirely into the giant choruses, and both of those have them.
  • This new Arrows in Action album is shaping up to be precisely the kind of pop-rock that a few months from now I’ll be obsessing over. I enjoyed the band’s last EP, and they have this sort of The Faim meets The Maine or maybe newer Grayscale sound that is very much right in my wheelhouse. The new song “The Credits” is a certified hit in hiding. If anyone knows this band and/or who is working promotion for the new album, please let me know. And someone, please get these songs on the radio.
  • Lies is the new project from Mike and Nate Kinsella. I’d describe the new album as a lush, almost at times abstract, release full of Mike’s inimitable lyric and vocal style mixed with a very full sound. There’s a lot going on in the songs, and, like American Football’s last album, I could see this getting a lot of play next autumn. I’ve always been drawn to Mike Kinsella’s writing style. It’s a wry, honest, and yet at times, humorous tone that can morph between heartbreakingly introspective and acerbic, often in the same song. This is also an album that is going to need more than just two listens from me to really dive into everything going on here. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts as I continue to explore the density of these songs.
  • I consider myself pretty up-to-date on music. From writing about it regularly to following the forum community to the bazillion press releases I get sent on a daily basis, I feel like I have a pretty good bird’s eye view of the music scene and genres I care about the most. For some reason, I had convinced myself that Magnolia Park were a death metal band. I don’t know why! I could have sworn I read some press release about the band a few years back describing them as such, and so I had never gone out of my way to listen to them before. Earlier this week, I saw them down in the “recommended” section for some pop-punk album I was listening to, and was like … hmm, ok, not what I expected, let me give this a try. Uhhhh, I’m a dumbass and totally slept on one of the better pop-punk bands I’ve heard in a while. It’s more in the style of something like KennyHoopla or Stand Atlantic, with a lot of modern techniques in the production, but the underlying pop-punk influence is very clear. And the Halloween mixtape and the latest album, Baku’s Revenge, are both really fun! I am such a sucker for this sound when I think it’s done well, and I love how this blends the “newer” style of pop-punk with the genre I grew up with. I hope my wife’s ready for this to feature heavily in my playlist for the next few months.
  • I had forgotten all about the Brandon Reilly solo EP that came out a few years back; if memory serves, it wasn’t on streaming services right way, so I didn’t spend a lot of time with it. It reminds me a lot of the direction I wanted Nightmare of You to go in, so if you’re looking for more music in that vein from Brandon, this scratches that itch but leaves me craving more.
  • Grade 2’s latest self-titled album is a good straight-up punk record in the vein of The Lawrence Arms or Street Dogs.
  • Mckenna Grace’s debut album came out this week, and there are some excellent songs on it, but I don’t know that it’ll be something I reach for much in the future. That “What If?” track stood out, though.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 54 different artists, 75 different albums, and 530 different tracks (641 scrobbles). My most played artist was MxPx, and my most listened to album was Dave Hause’s new one, Drive it Like It’s Stolen. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Triangle of Sadness was a movie I watched. A lot of style, a good underlying theme, and pretty well executed. Unsure I can say I enjoyed it, however.
  • Pachinko was incredible and is shooting up my “favorite things I’ve seen lately” list.
  • The first episode of the new season of The Mandalorian was fine. Didn’t wow me, and my expectations are now forever raised of what a Star Wars TV show can be after Andor.
  • The first episode of the resurrected Party Down felt like seeing a bunch of old friends return to my screen. I was a little worried since the last thing Rob Thomas resurected was Veronica Mars, and I’d rather pretend that entire season of television doesn’t exist. This felt very much in line with these characters and like they’d been continuing on in their lives since we last saw them. I’m in.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • It’s still raining. It’s still cold. One, or both, of the cats ate the hell out of the plant we got for the kitchen table.

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. Arrows in Action – Endeavor
  2. Ingrid Andress – Wish You Would
  3. Magnolia Park – Misfits
  4. Grade 2 – Fast Pace
  5. Bearings – Scenery
  6. Story of the Year – Take the Ride
  7. Brandon Reilly – Solitaire
  8. Webbed Wing – Medication
  9. Underoath – Let Go
  10. LIES – Resurrection

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 imthesheriff in the “General Politics Discussion (X)” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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