Liner Notes (May 24th, 2019)


This week’s newsletter is brought to you by a lot of caffeine, sparkling water, and the letter Q.

In this week’s issue I give my first (or more like seventh) impressions of the upcoming album from The Dangerous Summer (spoiler: I like it), go through some of the other music I enjoyed this week, and do my usual media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Four Things

  • Someone in our political thread asked for books that were in the vein of “get your life together,” and I put together a few recommendations I’ve liked over the years and figured it was worth sharing those here as well. There’s more information about each here, but here’s the list:
  • A couple of weeks back I wrote about trying out some ”elastic” shoelaces from an Instagram ad. (I hate admitting that one of those damn ads worked on me.) After using them for a few weeks, I can report I’m quite happy with them. They work as advertised and look clean with my new Vans. I use them in the “hidden” mode, so the little clasp is on the inside of the shoe. My only complaint is that with the specific shoe/sock combo I like, you need to make sure the tongue of the shoe is placed just right or the clasp will dig into the top of your foot. Once I got that figured out I’ve had no problems. We’ll see if using the shoes as more of a “slip on” over time will wear out the back of the shoe, but that’s my only real concern left.
  • Pentimento started teasing something earlier this week and the image they used is from one of my favorite wallpaper collections, expertly titled “Black.” If you like black wallpapers, you’ll love these.
  • Treat yourself to some and merch in our shop. There’s t-shirts, tank tops, stickers, mugs, and all sorts of cool stuff.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I’ve shared quite a few “first listen” thoughts about The Dangerous Summer’s new album in the Supporter Q&A thread on the website, and a few in the band’s official thread as well. So, what I want to try and do now is put all of those first impressions together into some sort of cohesive thought after spending the last three days playing virtually nothing except this album. This is always tough because I want to walk between the lines of being too hyperbolic, but also express my genuine early love for this album. Here’s what I know: This album is everything I’ve wanted the band to attempt since I heard their first demos and expands on their sound in a marvelous way. The band playing around with pacing, tempos, electronic elements, and really going for it, is a delight. As someone that didn’t like their last two albums that much, this feels like the kind of record that is going to mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people. The topics discussed, the lyrics, the themes, it feels like the kind of album that some are going to hear precisely when they need it most and it’s going to be very special to them.

    It’s the kind of album I see dominating my summer. In a time where I haven’t been drawn to guitar-driven rock music in a while, I can’t stop playing this record. From the opening riff in “Blind Ambition,” I’ve been hooked. This album feels like their Direction, their Southern Air, a band fully engaged and at the top of their craft. It feels like the kind of album that becomes, at least, a cult classic with the people that like the music I write about. Maybe it’s never a mainstream hit, but it’ll be loved, truly loved, by the people that do hear it.

    As for the songs themselves, I think “Starting Over / Slow Down” is one of the best songs the band’s ever written. When it shifts, about halfway through, to this electronic and synth beat, I can’t help but feel a massive smile creep over my face. I think the title track, “Mother Nature,” is an incredible summer night song. The entire album is. I spent an evening on the balcony with a beer just sinking into the songs. They’re more sonically diverse than I think they’ve ever been, but thematically everything seems to come together. Early favorites include the songs above and “Violent Red,” “Where Were You When the Sky Opened Up,” and “It is Real.” I’m not sure how the album will sit with me over the next few weeks or even months, but my first impression is about as strong as I’ve had with an album in a long time. It feels like the band reaching their potential in a way that both surprised and shocked me. I’m delighted to feel this jolt of energy from a group like this again, it’s been too long, and it feels delicious.

    “We go under, slip into the unknown, wash our hands of who we were when we were younger …”

  • I listened to the new albums from Alex Lahey and Charly Bliss quite a bit this week. Both are going to be rotation all summer it looks like.
  • With the news that Jimmy Eat World finished their new album, I decided it was a good time for a discography dive. This band doesn’t have a bad record. I was surprised how much I was drawn to Invented during this specific journey through their catalog.
  • I listened to The National’s new album this week, and while it’s undeniably good, I think it’s a little long for me and wish it was trimmed to make a full listen easier. It’s a good mix of challenging and accessible and something I’ll be returning to when the weather feels more appropriate.
  • Look, I’m biased against Waterparks ever since I read the line in their song “Little Violence” about I think the dude writes horrifically bad lyrics over mediocre and derivative pop-punk sounds. The new song made me laugh out loud. Seems to be pretty popular with particular segment of the pop-punk crowd though, so what do I know?
  • When I’m done here I plan to dive into the new albums from Hot Water Music and Petrol Girls. I’ve heard the advance for Sum 41’s new album may come early next week, so I hope to have some thoughts on that to share in the next newsletter.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • After watching Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles last week, I was feeling the need for some heroes in a half-shell again this week (as you may have noticed by my changing avatar in the forums all week). I decided to watch TMNT over the weekend while Hannah was away at a friend’s bachelorette party. It was bogged down by a lot of extra and unneeded exposition, but it was pretty fun for what it set out to be. I didn’t have nearly as much fun with it as I did the Batman film.
  • We were looking for something light, fun, and in the Easy A / Pitch Perfect vein this week and stumbled upon the pretty well reviewed Bandslam. I’m a sucker for coming of age / music / high-school movies, so we gave it a shot. It was entertaining and beside a few weird editing choices, enjoyable. It’s more on the “G” rating side of things compared to the movies we were looking for, and not as good as the classic School of Rock, but it served its purpose. (P.S. Always recommend me movies like Easy A and Pitch Perfect, I’ve seen pretty much all of them but I’m always looking for new or under the radar ones.)
  • We finished up season one of The Bold Type and are a couple of episodes into season two now. This show is everything I need in my life right now. Refreshing, inspiring, funny, and heartwarming. Pretty much perfect escapism and a lovely evening antidote to the real world. Definitely recommended.
  • I still don’t quite get how more people don’t watch and talk about Superstore. We always enjoy, and laugh at, virtually every single episode. During my weekend by myself, I watched some episodes of Supergirl when I just wanted to zone out for a bit and gave season three of The 100 another shot; we’ll see if it sticks or if I even have time for it.
  • Now that season two of Star Trek: Discovery has aired, that’s next on my list to binge. And speaking of Star Trek, the trailer for Picard has my nerd’s brain maxed out in excitement.
  • The Portland Trail Blazer season came to an end this week, which was predictable, but still kind of a bummer. It was a good season, and I don’t think anyone can beat the Golden State Warriors in four games. The NBA thread in our forums has been, uh, interesting, over the past week between Raptor and Bucks fans. That’s been a fun series as an impartial basketball fan to watch. I still think it goes seven. (My almost daily watching of baseball games has continued this year, and I am still getting as much joy out of just having a game on while working as I did last year, I’m pleased with that decision.)

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We’re doing engagement photos tonight. This is the culmination of almost a year’s worth of losing weight, working out, and trying to get healthy and feel good about doing photos for the upcoming wedding. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made, I’ve lost and kept off over 30 lbs, and yet I still hate having my photo taken and feel awkward around a camera. I’ll need a relaxing beer; wish me luck.
  • In that same category, wedding planning is going well, and next up on my list is finalizing all the groomspeople gifts. I think I’ve got a good idea of what I want to do, but I can’t share it because I know a few of the read this newsletter. (Hey, Nick and Matt.) I’ll share some photos when everything arrives later this year.

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 Dangerous Summer – Bring Me Back to Life
  2. Middle Kids – Real Thing
  3. Alex Lahey – Misery Guts
  4. The National – Roman Holiday
  5. Cartel – Deep South
  6. Nightly – No Call, No Reply (Stripped)
  7. No Use for a Name – Chasing Rainbows
  8. Jimmy Eat World – Littlething
  9. Clairo – Bags
  10. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold with Phoebe Bridgers

The playlists are also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

I hope everyone had a decent enough week. I know it’s hard when the headlines are pure bullshit, but I hope in spite of that, everyone found something this week to enjoy, even for a moment. My advice is to try and take some time this weekend to do one thing you love, and you know will make you happy. Even if it’s just for a little while, let yourself indulge in being happy for just a bit.

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Previous editions of this roundup can be found here.