Liner Notes (May 1st, 2020)

Flower

In this week’s newsletter I offer my first thoughts on Hayley Williams’s debut solo album, share some articles around the internet and two-person board games I liked, and then go through my usual music and entertainment rundown of the past week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week and some unfunny jokes. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Four Things

  • This week was another week of prep work for the new website design. The early part of the week included by far my least favorite thing: sysadmin work. All the stuff on the backend of preparing and updating the server took way longer than I expected (because I fucked something up somewhere the first time and broke everything; meaning my entire Tuesday was wasted and my entire Wednesday was fixing that mistake). However, I got it all done and have now been having some friends, contributors, and a few others going through the site and giving feedback and helping me look for bugs. (And no one has told me it sucks yet, so that’s nice.) My original plan was to roll out the new design maybe this weekend; however, I got an email from someone that works at Automattic, the company behind WordPress (the software that powers the main website) this week. They offered a partnership that I need to explore and look into because it could end up saving me a lot of money and could help shore up the backend of the main website to where I won’t have to worry about all the stuff I incidentally spent this week worrying about. So, I’m going to put a slight pause on deploying the new website until I figure out if this is a real possibility and then make the call hopefully soon after. I’m extremely excited to get this out into the world, it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever built.
  • One of my favorite things I’ve done in a while is create a “Shortcut” row on my iPhone home screen. Each of the shortcuts pops up a menu of quick actions for things I do all the time. This week I added a “Connect to AirPods Pro” option in my settings shortcut, and it’s been a real game-changer. The trick is you have to have your AirPods in your ears and connected the first time you set this up in the Shortcut app. But now that I have this on my phone and iPad it’s made the entire process of switching between the two for playback far easier.
  • Alphaadept, in the forums, asked: “Also, a few newsletters back you mentioned some board games you’d been playin lately. Any good two player ones you recommend during this stay at home time?” Off the top of my head, my favorite two-player board games include Dominion, Rebellion, Twilight Struggle, and 7 Wonders: Duel.
  • Things I think are worth taking a look at this week include: A really great visualization about just how much wealth the extremely wealthy have accumulated, this video from The Hood Internet mashing up fifty songs from 1984 in three minutes, and Ikea shared their meatball recipe. Oh, and Hannah is giving extra credit to her students if they send in a photo of themselves recreating a famous piece of art while stuck at home. This week I stumbled onto this post of people doing the same thing on Instagram and am pretty damn impressed by some of these.

Sponsor: Collider

Collider have released the brand new single “Learn to Let it Go” on all streaming services. This is their first release since their debut self-titled EP last year and comes with a new music video. The music has an atmospheric rock vibe that builds to exploding choruses with impassioned vocals.

Check out the new song on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Google, or Amazon.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I’ve been trying to find the best way to distill the new Hayley Williams album down to its essence. And after a week spent listening to little else, the word that comes to me the most often is intimate. This is an album that cracks open a songwriter and lets us into her world with striking clarity. There are moments here where it’s impossible not to feel a physical ache coming from the speakers. The album as a whole is a journey as it walks between undeniably catchy heartbreak jams, glitchy beats and atmospheric pouring of the soul into the soundwaves, and tender moments of devoted, intimate, passion. It’s one of the most emotionally honest albums I’ve heard in years. And ultimately, the journey is a triumphant one. The album walks the listener through hurt into the light and thoughts of a better tomorrow. It’s striking in its complete form and not what I expected at all. Whereas my pop sensibilities have been drunk on Dua Lipa’s recent album for months on end, this is an album that uses pop-techniques and melody to shatter the wall between artist and listener. I find it impossible to listen to this album without feeling like I’m listening to a conversation I wasn’t supposed to hear. It’s raw, beautiful, and often fragile. The metamorphoses into the back-half of the album, which carries with it a kind of weary confidence, is fascinating. I need many more listens to figure out all my thoughts on this one, because it’s a lot to take in. There are places where I’m not sure it quite works, and others where I think it’s downright brilliant, powerful, and vital. This is definitely worth your time when it releases next week.
  • O’Brother released their new album today and I’m really impressed with it. I don’t listen to a whole lot music in this realm on a regular basis these days, but it was totally worth the money and I was happy to support the band. On first listen “Locus” and “What We’ve Lost” were standouts for me.
  • I’m a big fan of this cover of “Call to Love” from Jimmy Eat World. It’s on all streaming platforms now and definitely worth your time.
  • The news of a new Sir Sly song (and they’re working on an album) this morning was exactly what I needed. I remain a huge fan of their first two releases and am very interested to see where they go next. In fact, I think I need to break out those records again this week. If you’ve never listened to them, they come highly recommended.
  • Dagny is hit or miss for me with some of her recent singles, “Somebody” is a hit.
  • I want a full-length from Florrie so incredibly badly. I love all the various directions her recent singles have gone and the new one has a perfect melancholy for the times.
  • I gave the new Courage My Love album a spin this morning and while there’s some good catchy stuff here, the production sounded very flat and too pulled back. I expect a bigger punch from the kind of sound and it kept me from getting really invested in the songs.
  • I don’t know how to categorize this new album from The Wrecks. It does some interesting things, makes interesting choices, makes sonic decisions I don’t understand and some I think sound awesome, and yet I still am not quite sure what genre I’d put the band in. Frantic alternative pop? Anyway, there’s a few songs here I think I’ll come back to. I was very into the title track.
  • I really enjoyed Bleachers’ REM cover.
  • New PUP means good PUP.
  • Lovedrug released a new album. I had no idea they were still a band or putting out an album today. I’ll give that a spin next.
  • This week’s weekly nostalgia is Don’t Look Down. Don’t Look Down remain, in my opinion, one of the most criminally underrated pop-punk bands from that era. They had some of my favorite guitar parts and a real knack for energy in their live show. I must have played The Fear In Love a thousand times in 2004. If you never got into them back then and are looking for a nostalgia trip to that sound, check it out.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I needed something to watch this week and decided to give Dark on Netflix a try (I tried like four different things first, but they were all trash). I am not sure if it’s because of the language barrier (it’s in German), but this has been one of the most wild TV show watching experiences in a while. So far, it’s been fantastic. The right amount of creepy, good story, good characters, good twists, good sci-fi, good score, and if they can pull this all of and weave all of these things together, than oh boy. It’s the first show in a while I’ve had to keep a character guide open on my phone to reference when they start shifting between timelines. I’m almost done with the first season and can’t get enough.
  • The second two episodes of Run weren’t quite as good as the first, but I’m still enjoying the show, the actors, and the conceit. I’m really curious where it goes from here.
  • The film, Extra Ordinary, was good, it just had the problem as not being as good as a bunch of other movies and tv shows in this genre I’ve seen lately. I ended up being kinda bored by the end and it just made me want to watch more What We Do in the Shadows.
  • I, like every sports fan who has been craving any kind of sports content, have been watching The Last Dance each week. I remember this era of basketball thoroughly. As a Portland Trail Blazer fan it was a brutal period of getting almost to the top of the mountain. Jordan was unlike anything I had ever seen. This series has been really well done so far (the Rodman episode was only ok), and it’s one of the better parts of my new Monday routine.
  • We finished Outer Banks and it’s as stupid and silly as a teenage drama meets The Goonies as you can get. I also enjoyed the hell out of it.
  • The plan tonight is to watch the Parks and Recreation reunion special. As one of my favorite shows of all time, and a show that has a very special place in my heart and my relationship with Hannah, we wanted to make sure we could watch this together. I can’t wait.
  • My new routine of stopping work around 6 and reading for, at least, an hour has led to me finally being able to add books back into this section. I finished Truly, Devious, which I adored. If you like Veronica Mars and mysteries like Knives Out, just get the book. It’s an extremely easy to read, fun, well-written, murder mystery. I liked it so much I couldn’t wait for the hold on the library copy to come in, and I used my birthday gift card to buy the second book, The Vanishing Stair, which was also great and a perfect escape from reality. I finished that and am now about half-way through the third book, which I plan to finish this weekend. These are precisely the kinda things my brain loves. I can read them extremely fast, they entertain me, and they remind me of summers in the grass reading Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Three Investigator mysteries before jumping on my bike and wishing there was some kind of mystery in the neighborhood to solve. There never was. The ones I made up in my imagination were pretty great, though. I can’t tell you how many alien invasions or dastardly plots I stopped with my magnifying glass, a notebook, and a Super-Soaker.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • This was a weird week in quarantine. Last Sunday, we got the unfortunate news that Hannah’s 87-year-old grandmother is not doing very well. Given that, we decided it was best that Hannah went and spent the next two weeks over at her parents’ house in case the worst happened, and at the very least, she would have a chance to say goodbye. So I’ve spent the last week here alone. With the cats. I’m now talking to myself on a regular basis. Just little things like making snarky comments at people walking down the street too close to each other and without masks on, or commenting to the tiny cat that “that was really fucked up” when some new insanity happens on Dark. It’s been hard. It’s been impossible not to end up snacking more than I should at night. Sigh. Just trying to take it one day at a time at this point. Figure I’ll treat myself to some kind of takeout this weekend and binge my book and tv shows.

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. Sir Sly – All Your Love
  2. Jimmy Eat World – Call to Love
  3. PUP – Anaphylaxis
  4. Chvrches – Forever
  5. Florrie – Hell or High Water
  6. Panic Division – Touch
  7. The Wrecks – Infinitely Ordinary
  8. Rina Sawayama – Bad Friend
  9. HAIM – I Know Alone
  10. Forever Honey – Twenty-Five

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 Nyquist in the “General Politics Discussion VII” thread.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I guess it’s time for me to mask up and run to the grocery store to get some stuff for next week. Wish me luck.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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