Liner Notes (October 2nd, 2021)

Fall Leaves

This week’s newsletter looks at my iPad home screen, widgets, and my new favorite Safari extension. Then I looked at new music out this week (Hovvdy, Shad, Public Service Broadcasting) and some of the music I was listening to throughout the week (Cub Sport, Benne, Angel Du$t, and much more). And then some thoughts on entertainment I consumed and a tease about my first ever Raspberry Pi project. As always, there’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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A Few Things

  • Wow, it’s October. Time for sweaters to unfold themselves. Time for pumpkin spice … everything. I’m ready for it. I love this time of year; fall is my favorite season by far.
  • I spent some time this week reorganizing my iPad home screen. Now that widgets are available, I wanted to take advantage of those and the app library. After playing around for a bit, this is my current layout. For widgets: I have Marvis (duh) for music and Carrot weather. And then there’s Widgetsmith showing my favorite photos, with WaterMinder (and Timery and MyNetDiary in a Stack) and a custom Widgy widget that shows the sunrise and sunset time. I haven’t spent much time playing around with this app yet, but it is by far the most powerful widget-creating app on the market. I’ve spent a lot of time just looking through things people have created in the Reddit community, and it’s pretty incredible what you can do. I don’t have any other widget ideas at the moment, but this has me thinking about other things I could do. And then the last is a section for my Shortcuts (with Things and Fantastical in a Stack). After that, I’ve just got the apps I use the most on my iPad, and my Dock matches pretty close up with my Mac for muscle memory. So far, I am pretty damn happy with how it’s working. App Library + Spotlight works very well for me in accessing apps I don’t need to use regularly, and my iPad really is mostly a machine where I read, consume shit, and occasionally write from. (My sunset/sunrise widget can be accessed here if you want it.)
  • Now, in that Shortcut widget section is “Quick Search,” and that brings me to my favorite iOS Safari extension find of the week: xSearch. The basic idea is that it lets you type a keyword in front of any search term from within Safari, and it will then search individual websites. For example, you can type “a thrice vinyl,” and it’ll search Amazon. Or you can create custom searches like “fch blink-182” to search the Chorus.fm forums for Blink-182 threads. It’s mighty and allows me to basically copy how I have Alfred set up on my computer to search various websites quickly. And you can make it work with Shortcuts, so from that widget, I can use the same triggers to search anything I want. I love this so much. It makes Safari and Spotlight search so much more powerful.
  • The orchestra is back in session, so Hannah has had many more rehearsals over the past week. My favorite text, though, was when she went to grab coffee with a friend during a break, and her watch/phone alerted her that she had left her violin behind. She had forgotten that we put an AirTag in there until that very moment. Immediately she was like, “yeah, I’m telling all of my musician friends about this; this is genius.” It does showcase the exact kind of scenario and feature these are perfect for. The “left behind” feature is one of the best ways to describe why someone may want something like this. (Oh, and for the record: The violin was fine and was locked up, but there have been times where it’s been forgotten at coffee shops in the past.)
  • Another quick shoutout for the new app Affirmations. It’s a little app that lets you add statements of affirmation to widgets. It’s well made and a very cool idea. I want some more customization of colors, fonts, etc., but there’s a lot to like here for the first release.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I can already feel my musical leanings starting to shift. Late night, getting lost in the headphones, getting pulled into some slower, atmospheric albums, it’s beginning. My most played album of the week was the latest from Cub Sport, called Like Nirvana. After being a fan of their first albums, I somehow completely missed that they released something last year. I don’t know how that happened. But my word is this a monster of an album. It is perfect for the changing of the weather and the kind of thing that makes me want to just sink into the music. I can see this dominating the next few months of my life.
  • The other new finds this week include Benne’s Hey u X, which is a great little pop album that surprised me with its tongue in cheek cleverness. And that led me to Mallrat and Gatlin. Both walk very interestingly between singer/songwriter and straight-up pop. Both are doing a lot of singles and EPs right now, but there’s a whole lot to like here.
  • Explosions in the Sky and Public Service Broadcasting both released new releases this week in the instrumental space. And both are exactly the kind of thing to listen to while catching up on RSS feeds on a late night.
  • I’ve been coming back to the latest Nothing, Nowhere. album, Trauma Factory, every couple of weeks. A bunch of people whose taste I trust love this album, so I kept waiting for it to “click” with me, and I think it did this week. It’s an interesting walk between pop-punk and hip-hop, and I think it works better than it should. I read Pitchfork’s review and, for the first time in a long time, I think a review actually helped me reconceptualize the music. Two takeaways: First, if something doesn’t grab you right away, sometimes it’s worth sticking with it and seeing if a different headspace, time, or even season, helps it come around. Two, with so much music out there, it’s easy to just write something off, dismiss it, and move on to the next thing. And I need to remember that just like I want to give my favorite albums the time to sink into me, I also should provide time and space to stuff that feels right on the edge of something I probably like but didn’t grab me right away.
  • The new Angel Du$t picks up right where the last one left off. This was a band that, due to their name, I thought was something entirely different for years. I was expecting industrial metal or something, but instead, especially with the last two albums, they’re far more in the rock and roll space. This feels very of a piece with their previous release, so if you want more of that goodness, you’re going to be happy.
  • Shad’s new album Tao is one of those “yeah, of course” kind of albums. I’ve been a huge Shad fan for years now. I think all of these albums have featured in my end-of-year lists, and I bet this ends up there too. I love his delivery way with words. If you’re looking for a great hip-hop album, check this out.
  • Whoever lined up Hovvdy ‘s album release with fall should get a raise. Like, this is precisely what everyone wants to put on as leaves start to change colors. The perfect album for a walk where your ears start to get cold.
  • Other things I spent a lot of time with this week included a dive down the Slick Shoes catalog. They are some of the better fast-paced pop-punk from the early 2000s, and their last album is flying under the radar as maybe their best release yet. I also did a lot of All Time Low and While She Sleeps at the gym this week. While She Sleeps might as well be built in a factory for working out. Look, that may sound cliche, and I bet you can hear the music in your head by the description, but I don’t make these rules.
  • Random observations: I listened to Nightmare of You’s debut album again this week, and I can’t get over how damn good it is and don’t understand why more bands haven’t tried to ape that sound. It feels fresh and new even all these years later, and what a stone-cold classic. Also, I like The Vaccines’ latest, even if some of the lyrics make me double-take in that “wait did I hear that right?” kind of way.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 75 different artists and 612 different tracks. My most-streamed artist last week was While She Sleeps. I got in a big metalcore mood at the gym and discovered that the band’s whole discography is quite well suited for that. My most played album was Cub Sport’s Like Nirvana. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • It’s a commercial, but I liked the Being James Bond feature. I can’t call this a documentary, but it is a nice little retrospective about the run with Daniel Craig as Bond. I think I’ll wait and share my thoughts on his tenure when I finally see the new movie (probably going to be a while until I want to go back to a theatre).
  • Free Guy was basically completely fine. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, and I was totally fine with it being how I spent an evening. I find it weird that the entire premise was built around original ideas, and then the big fight included “borrowed” IP that cashed in on the audience going “HEY I KNOW THOSE THINGS,” but, whatever, I like Ryan Reynolds and am just not going to think about it too much.
  • I struggle with my thoughts on The Chair. On the one hand, it’s well done, well-executed, and perfectly enjoyable. On the other, I am not sure what the message was supposed to be here — the message felt muddled.
  • We’re into season two of The Other Two and still laughing on the regular. I think what I like about this show is that they don’t lean too hard into cynicism. It’s not on the level of Ted Lasso, but it’s definitely a fun show.
  • Three episodes into Midnight Mass, and I’m here for the return of QB1. This has been pretty good so far, and I’m ready for a month of creepy TV and movies, and this is a pretty damn good way to start it off. (Well, we re-watched Freaky a few weeks ago, but I’m considering this the official start of the thriller season.)

Random and Personal Stuff

  • With Hannah playing with the orchestra more, it’s left some of my nights and weekends a little more “open” than they have been in a long time. I’ve been looking for something to do as a hobby that would maybe stretch my brain a little bit. I should probably get caught up on some books, but I wanted something that played with the coder side of my brain a little. So, I decided to pick up a Raspberry Pi and dive into that world. The first project I wanted to tackle was to build a “now playing” computer. Basically, a little display that displays what I am currently listening to, and if nothing’s playing shows some stats. It’s been a whole lot of fun diving back into coding and messing around in Linux again. I’ve got the proof of concept basically done, and now I just want to optimize it and tweak it a little more. Plus, I want to build Shortcuts that can control it. After that, I’ll write up a whole blog post about how I made the entire thing, probably just share all the code as well. Expect that as a newsletter in the near future. I’m still waiting for the stand I ordered, but here’s a sneak peek at the now playing and idle views with it just leaning against my monitor.

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. Cub Sport – 18
  2. Benee – Happen to Me
  3. Hovvdy – Blindsided
  4. Public Service Broadcasting – People, Let’s Dance
  5. Said the Sky – Go On Then, Love
  6. Mallrat – Charlie
  7. Shad – Storm
  8. Angel Du$t – All The Way Dumb
  9. Nothing, Nowhere. – Blood
  10. Gatlin – Grown

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 “Blink-182” thread.

Helllllllll yes. I am so, so, so happy for Mark.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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