Liner Notes (September 10th, 2023)


I bet I’m the only newsletter that writes about The Gaslight Anthem and Olivia Rodrigo this week.

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A Few Things

  • I made a couple updates to the website this week. I added a new feature to make it clear when a post is quoting a post from someone you’re blocking. And I made a few changes to the Rank and Share Music pages that clean up some of the code, add Dark Mode to them both, and have them share more of the same codebase.


MxPx has been sponsoring the website and newsletter all month long. The band recently released their new album, Find a Way Home, and just released a new music video for “Not Today.” They’ve been going strong for over thirty years, and as their new album proves, they don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • Expectations. Is there a better word in the English language to use when it comes to The Gaslight Anthem? It’s part of one of their best and most well-known songs, and that expectation has been at the core of every album they’ve released since. A probably unfair weight was put upon the band after they were knighted as one of the possible saviors of rock and roll music by critics and fans. And, as I’ve argued before, they have largely lived up to that pressure by writing some of my favorite albums of all time. Handwritten may be my favorite lyrical outing by a band ever. It’s on my Mount Rushmore, at least. And The ’59 Sound is on the shortlist for my favorite album of all time. Hell, Brian Fallon adorns the biggest wall of my house. So when we learned that The Gaslight Anthem was returning and would be releasing a new album, I found myself once again ruminating on that word: expectations. What did I expect? What did I want? What did the band have to say in 2023? And how would this monumental expectation translate once I had heard what they created? After five listens of the new album, I have my answer. The Gaslight Anthem is a band by which I have watched my musical tastes shift and change with over the years. A band that continues to push me to discover something new about my music fandom, to explore not just the person I was with their catalog and the memories with those songs, but what about me has changed since the last time we shared time together. And now we’re on the edge of September, looking toward another fall. It is fitting for an album titled History Books that this time of year always gets me thinking about renewal, rebirth, and the reflection of time. My first impression is that, in many ways, The Gaslight Anthem has shaken off the weight of expectation and put together a collection of songs that best represent where the band is today, far removed from the tension of speculation on whether they can be the Next Big Thing. It’s a slower album than I anticipated. It’s closer in feel to Brian Fallon’s Local Honey than I anticipated. An album that paints pictures of late autumn listens on a back porch as the sun sets. And while it has a track that harkens back to the early punk days of the band (“Little Fires”), as a whole, I found it a far more somber listen. From early standout “Autumn” to a melody that reminds me of “Honey Magnolia” in “Michigan, 1975,” to the lyrical gem that is “The Weatherman,” it’s a fascinating album that has continued an interesting trend in rock music this year. We’ve now seen Spanish Love Songs, The Menzingers, and The Gaslight Anthem all put together albums exploring more of their sound’s mid-tempo parts. And it’s worked for all three of them by wandering through this dynamic realm and culminating in some of the best work of their careers. For a band like The Gaslight Anthem, a band that has multiple classics under their belt, they’re adding an album to their legacy that can proudly sit amongst the others. It is an album that not only lives up to my lofty expectations but confidently resets them. I hope it’s the first of many to come.
  • The big new album of the week is from Olivia Rodrigo. After perusing the community thread and some of my social feeds, I’ve concluded that I hate Olivia Rodrigo music discourse. Beyond so much of it feeling oddly mean-spirited, it also feels like it’s about something else because so many of the “gotcha” comments are things that literally thousands of artists do regularly, but for some reason, she’s under this microscope where people use her music to try and go viral with a dunk on her, or her fans. And there’s this TikTok/Reel trend that keeps showing up that’s some version of “omg look at this theft” (coughinterpolation) of some basic ass melody. It’s exhausting to watch. So, with that rant out of the way. The album’s good! Let’s celebrate having some goddamn guitars on what is sure to be one of the most successful albums of the year! Let’s celebrate a young (superstar) songwriter taking some very clear influences from a genre of music that we love! This is heart-on-your-sleeve emotional rock music done well. There are little vocal moments where Olivia sells a lyric like Jim Adkins or Patrick Stump. It’s in the vocal inflection, the perfect waver, the pristine dropped f-bomb. It’s in the close the door to your bedroom, turn the music up, and lip sync your problems away catharsis of the choruses. She’s doing something great; she’s doing something that will turn thousands (millions?) onto a style of music adjacent to the music that has been at the core of my entire life. I, for one, am here for it.
  • Magnolia Park will be releasing their Halloween Mixtape 2 at the end of October. Their first mixtape is one of my favorite pop-punk releases in the past few years, and it showcases their skill at blending multiple genres. This is great and will be immediately added to my October selections playlist. I’ve been building out these album playlists in Apple Music, where I put albums that I think fit specific “moods.” They’re not song playlists; they’re set to show full albums, but I have a “Summer Days” one and a “Summer Nights” one I’ve been working on this summer to add albums into when I hear something that I think fits that mood. My goal is to keep doing that through the next few seasons as well. This will fit into a late Autumn mood playlist with the likes of AFI, Alkaline Trio, and My Chemical Romance.
  • Slick Shoes’ live album, Broadcasting Live, is still one of my favorite live albums and an ideal gym album. Full of energy and a perfect distillation of the band’s catalog into a set.
  • Angel Du$t’s new album also came out this week. They’re a great rock band that falls into that category of having a band name that I think keeps people from checking them out because they assume they’re going to sound different than they do/be a different genre.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 30 different artists, 44 different albums, and 437 different tracks (537 scrobbles). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • After the disaster of the new Indiana Jones I was a little worried about dipping a toe back into the nostalgia tub. However, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was everything that movie wasn’t. It’s delightful. Full of heart. Joyful. Seeing how Spider-Verse has influenced studios to take a chance on some new animation styles is warming my heart. I loved this.
  • And that other movie about toys? You may have heard of it, but it’s doing pretty well. Also fantastic. I have nothing new to add to the conversation, but I thought Barbie pulled off a near-impossible task. Impeccable screenwriting to thread that needle and make a poignant and genuinely funny (and heartwarming) film.
  • Netflix has released a lot of shit lately. But then they also have something like They Cloned Tyrone that they paid money to produce, and yet seemingly buried, and it’s one of the better things to come from them in a long time. We knew we wanted to watch it last night, and I could not find it anywhere close to my main screen on Netflix. Dozens of movies were released earlier—dozens of things I’ve already seen. Baffling decisions are going on at that company about what they spend money on, what they promote, and the general tanking of quality recently. However, this was quite well done all around, and I’ve got a new director to add to my “keep an eye on” list.
  • Rye Lane is everything a romantic comedy should be.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much I can think of for this section this week.

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. Olivia Rodrigo – Get Him Back!
  2. Bad Suns – The One I Used to Love
  3. Angel Du$t – Don’t Stop
  4. Ruston Kelly – Heaven Made the Darkness
  5. Mustard Plug – Doin’ What We Do
  6. Koyo – Life’s a Pill
  7. Cartel – Write this Down
  8. The Format – A Mess to Be Made
  9. Slick Shoes – Joe’s Sick
  10. Minus the Bear – The Fix

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 scott in the “blink-182” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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