Liner Notes (October 16th, 2021)

Leaves

This week’s newsletter looks at the new music I checked out this week (Kacy Hill, Coldplay, Knocked Loose, This Wild Life, Blackstarkids), as well as some old favorites I returned to or decided to give another shot (ManDancing, Turnover, Bad Luck., Citizen). And then there are some quick hits on a few first impressions (Snail Mail, Jim Lindberg, American Teeth) and a reevaluation of Taking Back Sunday after all these years. We’re jam-packed this week, and I still find some time to touch on some other media as well. As always, there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Last weekend, I wrote up my yearly “hello, please be a supporter” pitch. If you like this newsletter each week, please give it a read. It’s because of the support of the readers that I’m able to update the website, keep the community online, and sit down each week to write this newsletter. I’m terrible at selling myself, but if you’re able, please consider becoming a member.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • ManDancing announced they were going on hiatus last week, and I’m super bummed. They were one of those bands that I’ve been watching for a while now with real “next level” potential. Their last two albums have been full of some of my favorite writing in quite a while. I know the Manchester Orchestra comp is easy, but it does remind me of some of the early Andy Hull stuff. Lyrically interesting and devastating vocal performances. If you haven’t listened to The Good Sweat before, and you want something to knock you on your ass this weekend, I highly recommend it.
  • Kacy Hill’s latest came out yesterday and, in some ways, is what I was hoping the last Lorde album was going to be. It’s a melodic pop album, but it feels interestingly understated and perfectly suited for this time of year. I expect this to feature heavily in my rotation over the next few months. The perfect album to throw on at the end of the night or as I’m making coffee in the morning.
  • I’ve been trying to spend some time each week checking out artists and albums that didn’t click with me in the past but were highly praised to see if they grab me this time. I somehow missed Turnover’s Peripheral Vision hype but instead came in during the Good Nature era. Good Nature never really grabbed me, so I just sort of figured they weren’t for me and never explored beyond that. I’m a dumbass. I tossed on Altogether and was pretty immediately hooked, then I went back to Peripheral Vision and found it to be precisely the kind of music I love in fall. In many ways, it feels like the music I’ve wished more bands made ever since Wolftron’s Flesh & Fears. And it’s my own damn fault I haven’t had this my life the past six years.
  • Bad Luck. released the album Summer of Pain in July, so I’m late to this game, but if you’re looking for a band that walks between that pop and punk sound … this scratches the itch. I wouldn’t call it traditional pop-punk, but that’s in there.
  • After I check out all the artists I’ve heard of on Friday, I like to go through the albums in stores thread to look for albums from artists I’ve either never heard of or have seen mentioned and just never listened to before. Yesterday that led to me checking out Blackstarkids’ new album, and hot damn! do I like this. In some ways, it reminds me of a band called Hockey from a few years ago, where they’re using a lot of vocal effects and relatively (sounding) minimalistic instrumentation but crafting undeniably catchy music. I kind of love this.
  • I found myself coming back to the latest Citizen record at the gym this week. Those first three songs do set the entire mood. I like the direction they’re taking their music right now, and this also led to me going back to Mat Kerekes solo albums as well.
  • Land of Talk has an almost Fleetwood Mac sound at times on their latest. This feels destined for a long car ride in my future.
  • I shouldn’t be surprised by the numbers Adele put up on her new single. But they’re absolutely mind-blowing. The song sits right in that “this is for basically everyone” spot. The chorus melody is simple, and it’s the kind of song that if anyone sang it, it’d work, but Adele’s vocals take it to a new level. She single-handedly elevates the song and injects an emotion into the delivery that, well, is what makes her Adele and everyone else not.
  • Ok, some quick hits on advances I’ve heard this week: Snail Mail’s new album is exactly what I wanted it to be, an upgrade in all departments, and something I expect to see feature in many publications’ end of the year lists. Jim Lindberg (lead singer of Pennywise) has a new solo album coming out, and it’s precisely what you would think it sounds like. It’s Jim doing songs that sound perfect for a campfire and canned beer. There are a few times where I wish it almost went a little more in the Pennywise direction because a part of me has always wanted an acoustic version of Pennywise. (Does anyone know if something like that exists?) But, at the end of the day, this delivers on its promise. The new American Teeth album is the kind of pop alternative rock album that reminds me that we are totally seeing a generation of artists that were inspired by Good Charlotte, My Chem, Fall Out Boy, etc., and it’s interesting to see what they’re doing with their music. Talented, some very catchy songs, some filler; I’ll be keeping an eye on them.
  • I continue to be a little sad This Wild Life never quite blew up in the way I thought they would. They’ve got a great career going, but some of their songs also seem like they should be destined for mainstream playlists, Greys Anatomy drops, and pouring out of college dorm rooms. Their latest continues a trend of just damn good songs. It’s an acoustic-centric, emotionally powerful album by, in my opinion, one of the music industries’ hidden gems.
  • I can’t say I don’t like the new Coldplay album because the songs are perfectly fine songs. There’s nothing I find offensive about them. They’re good. But, I think they’re good in the same way I look at a generic print on a hotel room wall and think, “yeah, that’s good,” but it fills me with nothing. I feel no reaction, no connection, just a plastic hinge between artistically good and yet ultimately shallow. Maybe something will connect with me over more listens.
  • Knocked Loose surprise dropped a new EP this week, and it’s some of their hardest material yet.
  • The big nostalgic deep dives this week were Green Day and Taking Back Sunday. I went through all the Green Day alums from Dookie through (most of) 21st Century Breakdown. I am breaking no ground in saying Green Day is good, lol. I also decided to revisit Taking Back Sunday; I wanted to see how I felt about some of the early albums with all this time and distance. Tell All Your Friends continues to be one of those “you had to be there” albums. Listening to it now and it brings me right back to my freshman year dorm and AIM messages with Jake Wallace saying, “this is going to be the biggest band in the world.” It felt like we were listening to the next incarnation of our entire music scene being defined right then and there; I love this album so much it hurts. I could never get into Where You Want to Be for a combination of it not sounding like TAYF, and all of the other drama surrounding the band at the time. I wanted the magic of TAYF, and I felt a loyalty to John Nolan. With the magic of time and hindsight, I think it holds up a lot better than early twenties Jason made it seem. The production choices don’t bug me as much all these years later. (I did get a lot of mileage out of laser jokes and regret nothing!) I still miss John in the songs, and think what he brought to the band, especially during that period, was irreplaceable. Thinking of what he was doing with Straylight Run and how that influence in these songs could have potentially turned out really makes me wish for what could have been. But, alas. It’ll never be “that” album for me, but I was too harsh on it and probably got too carried away with forum arguments and take chasing. I liked Louder Now on release and still think that’s a solid album. Half of New Again does some interesting things, and the other half I found borderline unlistenable. “Cut Me Up Jenny” is so bad, and the songs onward do almost nothing for me. I only made it halfway through the self-titled album and wasn’t feeling it, so I put the rest off for another time. At this point, they’re a band I have a massive nostalgic attachment to, and yet there’s only one album from them I adore. I have various feelings about the rest, but more than anything, I remember this band’s weight in the music scene. Their influence, their ability to steer and dominate conversations, and how they were the it band to say they were your favorite band for a brief moment in time. Or that band that would get a knowing nod if you were sporting their merch—still an all-time band name and one of the most important debut records I’ve ever covered.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 66 different artists and 649 different tracks (837 scrobbles). ManDancing was my most played artist of the week, and their The Good Sweat was my most played album, by a healthy margin. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • We, like apparently everyone, have started watched Squid Game. We’re on episode five, so no spoilers. It’s good so far; I can see why it’s popular.
  • Hannah had never seen Psycho, so we did that last weekend. Just a masterclass of direction, the kind of thing you notice on the first watch, but after a dozen or so times, you just kind of end up slack-jawed. This made me want to re-watch all the Hitchcock films.
  • Head Count was a passible indie thriller. I kept hoping it would get elevated to the level of a Primer or even Coherence, and it never quite gets there for me.
  • I hadn’t seen Trick ‘r Treat in probably a decade. It is like an adult Goosebumps. Not as scary as I remember, but still a fun little Halloween film with some good creepy moments.
  • Metroid: Dread is kicking my ass. It’s exceptionally fun, and I’m having a blast. I also suck, and every time an EMMI catches me, I feel only pain. We’re also using the free three months of Apple Arcade that came with Hannah’s new phone. I’ve been playing Ballistic Baseball, because of course. I like hitting massive dingers. I tried NBA2K last night, but the touch controls were driving me up the wall. I couldn’t play defense at all. (And not just because James Harden was on my team.) I’ll have to give it some practice—the graphics, on an iPad, kind of blow my mind. If anyone has any other Apple Arcade “must tries” — let me know!

Random and Personal Stuff

  • On a more somber note, Hannah’s grandmother passed away last weekend. It was expected, but still very sad. However, she lived a full life that she was proud of. We had a memorial for family on Wednesday and, in the most depressing sentence, I’ve ever written: due to the overwhelming backlog at the cemetery, we will have to wait until we can do a proper funeral.

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. Citizen – Death Dance Approximately
  2. ManDancing – Pancakes (Who Loves Who the Most?)
  3. Blackstarkids – Juno
  4. Kacy Hill – I Couldn’t Wait
  5. Land of Talk – Look to You
  6. Bad Luck – ROY
  7. Mat Kerekes – Amber Park
  8. Noah Gundersen – Exit Signs
  9. This Wild Life – Nothing Hurts Like Love for the First Time
  10. Turnover – Still in Motion

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 Jason Tate in the “Q&A and Chat With Jason Tate” thread.

Heh, go me? That was a member’s only post where I talked about my relationship with music and how I felt it change a few years ago, and then it was sparked again this year, and I was trying to deconstruct the “why.”

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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