Liner Notes (May 14th, 2022)


Hi hi hi. This week’s newsletter has thoughts on music, thoughts on production complaints, thoughts on entertainment I enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy), and a playlist of ten songs I think are worth your time. And this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Pretty fun week for music fans. My Chemical Romance released their first song since 2014, Yellowcard announced a festival date, The Academy Is… are back, and Kendrick Lamar dropped a new album. That’s a solid week right there.
  • MacStories announced the winners of their Automation April contest, and there are some really cool things in here. That Meme Maker shortcut is clever, and I love seeing all the creativity. I haven’t had the inspiration to create any in a while but reading through all these has me thinking about various ideas I’ve had in the back of my mind.
  • One of my favorite blogs,, announced that he was taking a 5-6 month sabbatical and his announcement post really resonated with me. Just the idea of spending a life online, the feeling of burnout, and trying to figure out what’s next and where this thing you’ve spent such a long time doing fits in with your current life. I’ve felt all those things. And, when I took the time to think about it, it led to me realizing how much I wanted to step back from that kind of life. It’s one of many reasons I didn’t want to keep running AbsolutePunk, and it’s one of the many reasons I try and limit my time online to something I feel is productive and affirming. For me, it was about redefining my relationship with the internet as a whole and recontextualizing what I wanted to be spending my days, hell, my life doing. I hope Kottke can find the peace he’s looking for.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • One of the more exciting pieces of news this week was Yellowcard announcing they’re coming back to play a show for Riot Fest. At this point in time, it’s the band’s only 2022 show, but I am excited to see the band’s name on a lineup again, and it keeps the hope alive that maybe one day they’ll create something new together again. I’m also glad the band members are in a good space to be able to play together, and I hope the festival date makes them, and the fans watching, happy. I’m excited for them, and I know they’re excited too.
  • The massive news in our little music world this week was My Chemical Romance dropping a new single. Their first since 2014. When I think about a band like My Chem, I think about their various eras, their various sounds, and their various experiments with different genres over their albums. And it’s because of this wide range that defining what makes a My Chem song distinctly them a little harder to pin down. From the theatrical to the anthems to playing at the edges of both pop and hardcore, the band is capable of multitudes. And they show all those colors here. The song is a powerful and pulsing number that builds, climaxes, and does so with this immaculate dirty aesthetic. I’ve seen some complaints about “the production,” which has become a catch-all for “I don’t like how it sounds.” And I have opinions. First, when evaluating the “production” of something, I like to break it down. Engineering, mixing, mastering — at each step, various choices are made. I want to look at the intention, how well that intention was executed, and would the song be better served if different decisions were made. If the drums sound like tin cans or the vocals clip, I’ll probably have complaints. But if the choices are meant to make a song sound very specifically a certain way, I often give the artist the benefit of the doubt in executing their vision. The difference between a poor painter’s shitty technique leading to a weird-ass painting and a master’s stroke evoking emotion out of an “ugly” or “dirty” aesthetic. And here, I can’t think of the song working better any other way. It doesn’t pack the same punch if the vocals are thrown way up in the mix and the guitars are compressed to sound like modern radio. Hearing Gerard talk about his thoughts on how he wants records to sound is very informative. It’s not supposed to sound like “Sing,” and I think it would actually be a detriment to the song if it did. Anyway, I think the song’s brilliant, and I think the band coming back with new music in this way is incredible. I want more.
  • The big release of the week is the new Kendrick Lamar, and within two days, I think I’m already over all the Twitter takes I’ve seen. By and large, I don’t write much about hip-hop because I don’t believe a 39-year-old white dude has much to offer in the space. My voice is and should be literally meaningless here. I lack the ability to provide anything of real value to the genre on a “critical” level, and I much prefer to listen to and read the writings of those that can contextualize the records in a historical and cultural milieu. With that said, my opinion on the album is that it’s fucking incredible. It’s dense, complex, and challenging, and I find that thrilling.
  • I somehow had missed that Sasha Alex Sloan was releasing a new album; I just flat out didn’t see the news for the entire lead-up cycle. So that was a pleasant little surprise yesterday. I think the best way to describe her last two records is that she is a singer-songwriter with pop leanings that reflects that tiny space between Millenials and Gen-Z. It’s just at the edge where my old ass nods along, but I think it’d be just as relatable to those about ten years younger than me as well. I quite enjoyed my first couple of listens and expect to spin this regularly throughout the long summer nights.
  • The Wrecks’ new album Sonder comes out in a few months, and it’s the first time I’ve felt the band have put their sound together in a way where it doesn’t feel disjointed. Their previous releases always made me think they couldn’t settle on a sound they wanted to be, and this one leans way in on the pop-rock. It had me sort of thinking Grayscale, The Maine, and The Band Camino with its big pop vibe.
  • And, finally, Pulley released a skate-punk album that I had some fun with yesterday as well.
  • Oh, and I was also on a Butch Walker kick this week, and Stay Gold is such a perfect summer-rock album.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 28 different artists, 46 different albums, and 379 different tracks (471 scrobbles). My most listened-to artist of the week was Butch Walker, and his Stay Gold was my most played album of the week. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • The Lost City is good stupid. Not good, not stupid. Good stupid.
  • It got late so we paused Death on the Nile to finish it the next night … that was last Saturday. I don’t think we’re coming back.
  • I loved the first episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Truly everything I could want in a new Star Trek show, and I cannot wait to watch the next episode.
  • We finished Severence and it was as good as advertised; Moon Knight was just alright.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much here this week. We went for a nice long walk this morning, up into the hills at the edge of the city. It was nice to walk through some neighborhoods and stretch the legs a bit. Now I’m just enjoying a baseball game on the couch as I write up this newsletter. And trying to decide between burritos or tiki masala for dinner.

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. My Chemical Romance – The Foundations of Decay
  2. Kendrick Lamar – N95
  3. Sasha Alex Sloan – I Blame the World
  4. Charlotte Sands – Out of My Head
  5. Aaron West – Thunder Road
  6. Butch Walker – Stay Gold
  7. Pulley – Repeat Offender
  8. Grayscale – Motown
  9. Yellowcard – One Bedroom
  10. Tomberlin – Happy Accident

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 SpyKi in the “My Chemical Romance” thread.

Oh, well, that’s very much deserved for one of the biggest My Chem fans I know.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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