Liner Notes (November 16th, 2018)

This week went by insanely fast.

In this week’s roundup, I rank New Found Glory albums, talk a little about my thinking behind rolling out the new ad system, discover some cool new iPad apps, and go through my usual media diet from the past week. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Five Things

  • New Found Glory were the first pop-punk band that I really thought were mine. I wasn’t “first” on Blink-182, and that band ended up being so massive that lots of people considered them their favorite band. However, NFG were the first band I remember discovering and feeling like I was in on the ground floor and that the band was the next evolution in pop-punk. Catchy yet aggressive, young and full of energy, and the vibe was basically exactly who I wished I was and wanted to be. They were one of the first bands that I identified with on a whole new level. I’ve continued to enjoy their albums throughout the years, some more than others, and I figured it was time to look into the catalog and pick out what goes where. So, here goes:
    • Sticks and Stones: This remains one of the gold standards for pop-punk albums in my mind. It does everything right. I still remember hearing this album for the first time at an MCA listening party and being blown away. I couldn’t believe they had surpassed my expectations. All these years later, I think it still holds up.
    • New Found Glory: This album came out the year before I graduated high-school and it absolutely dominated my life. It was everything I wanted music to be during that period. From a nostalgic perspective, it probably gets boosted a few spots, but damn if it’s not a great pop-punk album chock full of anthems and energy.
    • Coming Home: I’m still mad fans didn’t better receive this album. I think it’s got some of the band’s best songs on it and I love the direction they explored here. I still find myself turning this on.
    • Makes Me Sick: I think this is their best album in basically a decade. I still find myself listening to it. Working with Aaron Sprinkle was the perfect fit for the band, and I hope they do it again.
    • Catalyst: Some great stuff here, and a few songs are up there with my favorites, but it never quite got up to the same level for me as Sticks and Stones. An admittedly high bar.
    • Not Without a Fight: This was considered the “come back” album after Coming Home, and while it’s good, it does feel like the band just writing standard NFG songs for the most part. I was always a little disappointed because it felt like a regression to me.
    • Resurrection: I don’t listen to this one very often, and I think the sequencing feels off. It’s got some good songs on it, but there was something about it that never really grabbed me. Whereas I took to Makes Me Sick immediately, and I continue to listen to it, this one just never found the same foothold in my life.
    • Nothing Gold Can Stay: I remember watching the first video version of “Hit or Miss” over, and over, and over again on Blank TV. It had to have been some postage stamp sized video, but I became obsessed with the band from that song. Seeing these young kids playing music and having the time of their lives … I wanted to be them. Quite a few of these songs hold up, but there’s an underlying rawness that dates them.
    • Radiosurgery: It’s my least favorite NFG album, and I rarely come back to it. There are a couple of songs here I like (“Summer Fling”), but 2011 was a weird year, and this album came out during a weird part of my life. I’ve gone back a few times to see if something will stick, but it hasn’t.
    • Conclusion: I have to shout out the band’s extensively great b-side collection, as well as their two cover albums. These have all become staples and get almost as much play as their full-lengths. And I can’t even count how many mixtapes I burned for people with “Ex-Miss” on them. The band’s catalog is extensive and deep and contains multiple classic albums in the genre. With Radiosurgery and Resurrection I was worried I’d just moved on from this band and sound, and I was pretty bummed about that, given how much they meant to my life. However, Makes Me Sick erased those thoughts almost immediately. The band’s still capable of writing songs that get stuck in my head and can dominate my summer. I have as many memories tied to this band and these songs as any other, and the hours spent doing pop-punk air guitar jumps in my bedroom to these songs would shock you. Their influence on me, and the music scene/genre in general, can’t be overstated. They were every bit the next evolution of pop-punk as I thought they’d be.
  • This week I rolled out new ad units on the website. The short version is that I need the website to make a little more money if I’m going to do it full time and I think this is my best option at the moment. It’s going to probably take three to four weeks before I know how successful the new ad units are, but the last three days have been positive. With that, I’ve made a few supporter changes to make your experience better on the website. I err on the side of not showing ads if a computer or device has logged into a supporter account in the past, and I’ve made it even easier to log in on the homepage and stay logged in for a much longer period of time. I don’t love ads, and I don’t love the headache that comes with them and trying to keep the spam and shit out of them, but this is the best chance of moving to doing this and only this and not having to take on consulting work. (Which would be a real big help this year as I’m planning a wedding and sweating out how damn expensive it is going to be.)
  • I did a deep dive on RSS feed readers last weekend and have decided that Fiery Feeds is the best one for me. Being able to get through my RSS feeds quickly is essential to my job and being able to combine my RSS reader with my read later service (Pocket) has been a killer combination. It’s probably a little overkill for most people, but for me, this is exactly what I need.
  • I bought Annotable for marking up images/screenshots and like how powerful it is. Being able to use the extension to redact something quickly, or add some arrows or text to an image, is great. It’s funny how moving to using the iPad more frequently has shown me the little things I take for granted on the Mac every single day. This and PDF Expert were two utilities I didn’t realize I needed until I did. Still, the iPad as portable computer experiment is going quite well so far. I love this machine, and I’ve been using it every night after getting back from the gym to do my final work on the website before calling it a day. I’m not usually a sticker person, but this Keyboard Folio is perfect for them. I think a round Chorus sticker would look damn good on the back. May have to look into those sooner rather than later.
  • I changed the “gift a membership” price to $25. Figured with the holidays coming up maybe people would want to gift no ads and dark mode for a year to their forum friends. It’s been a very “business-y” related month and week, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work on some feature stuff around the website. I’m currently working on making the keyboard shortcuts while posting work a little better, but having issues getting it to work as well on mobile. “Tab + Enter” doesn’t work on the iPad, and I’m having difficulty getting mobile Safari to recognize other key combinations to submit a post as well. I want something like ⌘+P to submit the post, but it’s a pain in the ass at the moment. After that, I have a few bugs to squash, and then the next big feature addition is probably “bookmark and ignored threads.” It’s been sitting on the list for a while now, and it’s going to be a pretty massive project. Hopefully, ad revenue starts kicking in December and I can spend most of the month working on that.

Music Thoughts

  • I’m pretty annoyed at how The 1975’s label has handled the review process for the band’s upcoming album. They sent the record to reviewers way later than usual, and to an unusually small set of people. The embargo makes it annoyingly difficult to talk about the album, but I will say that I’m struggling to find a theme or angle to take with it. With The Night Game’s recent album, I knew my perspective and how it tied in with the music almost immediately, but here … I’m not sure. The band is pushing forward and making some of the most exciting music in the world right now, but I really can’t figure out how to tackle that. The disjointed feeling I get from the music plays with that. I’m starting to think this album may just get swallowed up given its release date. We’ve got all these holidays coming up, and it’s always such a slow time for the entire industry anyway. This shoulda been released in the summer.
  • The new Anderson .Paak album was a solid first listen.
  • After a few spins, I think I’m on the “yeah, I don’t like the new Muse album” side of the street. It’s just not doing anything for me.
  • I thought I’d be more excited about the new Valencia single, but it’s “fine.” It feels like it lacks something.
  • The new Marianas Trench single is good. They sure can write a catchy tune.
  • Copeland’s new album continues to dominate my late nights. It’s just such a massive album that pulls you in so many different directions. I can’t say enough good things about it.
  • I tried the Mumford and Sons album. Not for me.
  • The new Chvrches EP is pretty solid. Some cool renditions on songs I already liked. I’ll keep that in the rotation.
  • I dig the new Bad Suns track. I think that band is criminally underrated at this point. Good signing on Epitaph’s part. (And unsurprising, they’ve had an incredible run this past year.)
  • I played the new Sick of It All album more than anything else this week. Just a damn solid angry punk record with big choruses. The latter part of the album (from “Mental Furlough” on) is full of great political punk songs, and when I’m getting angry reading the news, tossing those on has been a great anxiety reducer.
  • I still think more people should listen to Betty Who.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I was surprised that I didn’t hate Terminator Salvation. I’d never seen it before, and it was better than I thought it would be. It’s not very good, but it’s not utter trash either. It was an enjoyable action movie for the night. However, Terminator Genisys was pretty hard to get through. A decent premise is undone with lousy direction, awful acting, and being 30 minutes too long. The idea behind these movies is excellent, and the first two are incredible. Hopefully, they’ll find the magic in the next reboot, because I’ll never watch the last three in this series ever again.
  • Leave No Trace was very good. Some fantastic performances, incredibly touching, and one that stays with you after it’s over.
  • The Equalizer 2 was mediocre at best. A few good action scenes and a complete mess otherwise.
  • Hannah and I both liked Searching. The gimmick to the movie could have been a massive failure, but I think it ends up working and elevating the movie and “thriller” aspects. It was a tad predictable, but I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway.
  • We turned off Hotel Artemis and The Spy Who Dumped Me.
  • The holiday movie watching began with Four Christmases last night. We like stupid holiday movies, and this is a stupid holiday movie. Some good drinks and silly holiday movies will forever be one of my favorite traditions.
  • I loved the last episode of Titans. The fight scenes were great, the introduction of Jason Todd was awesome, and I’m excited to see where the show goes from here. I’ve still been throwing on Supergirl for fun in the background and enjoying it quite a bit. It’s a nice vacation from the world. Late night watches of Superstore continue to be the perfect way to wind down the day.
  • The first issue of Ghost Spider was a great start to the series. I need to find more time to read comic books. I guess that’s just the constant theme of my life: trying to find more time.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Lost more weight than expected this week. Oops. So, now I’m increasing my calories a little more and finding places to add calories throughout the day as part of the routine I’ve gotten in over the past five months. It’s a funny transition from being so cautious about everything, to now having almost more calories than I know what to do with. It does show me I was eating wayyyyyy too much before though.
  • This weekend will be wedding guest-list and more menu planning. We’re also gonna have to figure out a color scheme.

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. New Found Glory – Understatement
  2. Andrew McMahon – House in the Trees
  3. Panic! at the Disco – The Greatest Show
  4. Sick of It All – Bad Hombres
  5. Chvrches – Get Out
  6. Marians Trench – I Knew You When
  7. Sing Street – Drive it Like You Stole It
  8. Bon Iver – Do You Need Power?
  9. Bad Suns – Away We Go
  10. American Hi-Fi – Another Perfect Day

The playlists are also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Sorry this took a little longer to get out this week. I had to take the cat to her yearly vet appointment in the middle of the day, and it ended up throwing everything else a little out of whack. I hope everyone has a great weekend as the lead up to Thanksgiving begins. I’m steeling myself for all of the parent time that’s coming up. Big, deep, breaths … and lots of beer. And with that, I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies of the past few years, Sing Street:

Did the Sex Pistols know how to play? You don’t need to know how to play. Who are you, Steely Dan? You need to learn how NOT to play, Conor. That’s the trick. That’s rock and roll. And THAT… takes practice.

Previous editions of this roundup can be found here.