Liner Notes (September 18th, 2021)

Rain

This week’s newsletter has first impressions of the new Noah Gundersen album, a review of the iOS music app Marvis, and thoughts on other albums out this week (NVM, Spiritbox, YMAEWK). There’s also the usual commentary on other media I consumed over the past week, 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

  • Over the past two or three weeks, I’ve been writing about my re-engagement with Last.fm and making sure I have correct and accurate information for everything I listen to each week. I’ve been painstakingly going through and removing duplicates and purging all of the “ghost” plays that had no time or date on them from before 2009. It took a while, but everything is finally cleaned up. Now, I just need to make sure things stay maintained each week. A few tools I’ve found to help with that include a page where you can manually add scrobbles (vinyl, missed plays, etc.), as well as a script that will find all the duplicates on your profile. Combining that with a Chrome extension to select and delete multiple scrobbles at once (which I automated with Keyboard Maestro), and this Bookmarklet for smart duplicate removal, and I feel good about finally having everything nice and correctly organized.
  • Dovetailing nicely with this project was a recent tweet and podcast episode from Federico Viticci talking about his favorite iOS music app, Marvis. I was intrigued immediately. So, I bought it and have been using it over the past week instead of my regular player, Soor. My verdict? It’s the best iOS music app on the market. The combination of design and customizability make it not only a joy to use but extremely powerful. Besides playing my music collection, I have a few other “must-haves” on my list. The first, obviously, is Last.fm integration. I just spent weeks organizing my database, and I do a lot of listening from my phone, so my app needs to scrobble. Marvis has the best Last.fm integration I’ve ever seen in an app. One of my favorite additions is that you can see how many times you’ve listened to a song on a beautiful details page. The second “must-have” on my list is a home screen widget. My home screen is built around widgets, and, unsurprisingly, Marvis has one of the better implementations I’ve seen. The app lets you upload an image as a background, so I could color match it with the rest of my home screen theme. (Overcast finally getting a widget this week was another nice addition.) Now, where the app takes things to the next level is how it lets you customize the interface itself. You can tweak just about everything. From how you want the home screen to look, to the now playing screen, to the colors, to how different sections are filtered. After a week, here’s what I’ve landed on: The app launches with my recently played at the top, in two rows. Often I’m playing something I’ve recently listened to, so I like having those first. The second section is recently added, also in two rows. And under that, I have recently played, by track, in a column view. This lets me know where I may have left off when I was listening on a different device. Next, I have a “forgotten albums” section that shuffles through albums I’ve loved but haven’t played in a long time. I find this a great way to rediscover parts of my music collection I haven’t listened to recently. And then we have a “most played” section and links to “new releases” and “coming soon.” This layout has been working great for me so far; it lets me quickly find what I want to play while also helping surface music I may want to listen to if I don’t know what mood I am in. I’m keeping the now playing screen pretty simple, and have it set up so that when I tap the artwork it goes to the aforementioned details page while double-tapping goes to the album view. I cannot stress how much customization is capable here. I love how the album artwork informs the app’s background, especially in Dark Mode. The mini-player at the bottom is a great touch, with all kinds of customization options as well. I spent way too long tweaking different looks, but the end result is a music app that works exactly how I want it to. It gets all the crap I don’t want from Apple Music’s official app away from me and still gives me access to my entire music collection precisely how I want to interact with it. Combine this with Last.fm integration, and I’m in actual music app heaven. (And it works on the iPad too!) As far as I’m concerned, this is the gold standard of iOS music apps.

Sponsor

Cadigan have released a new acoustic EP titled Muscovy on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. The album follows their most recent full-length, Be Present, Want Nothing, and contains two new songs and five re-worked songs from the full-length.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I consider Noah Gundersen’s Ledges one of my favorite singer-songwriter albums of all time. It has some of my favorite lyrical moments, maybe ever, on a few of the tracks. When you hit those highs, it sets the bar at a level that is almost impossible to reach with follow-up albums. And yet, Noah’s been able to get pretty damn close on his last three albums. Each one has had a handful of tracks that stop me cold and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. But each has also had a few songs that never connected for me or sounds that felt disjointed and left me feeling unconnected to the album as a whole. That is, until, A Pillar of Salt. This is so absolutely right in my wheelhouse it might as well be named “A Pillar of Everything Jason Likes.” The songs swell with emotion, grace, and powerful confidence. As the summer dies and we begin to pull out our winter clothes, these are the songs made for late nights by the fire. Wrapped in blankets, wrapped in music, cuddled next to the emotions the words pull from our skin. The run of “The Coast,” “Exit Signs,” and “Atlantis” is downright incredible, but I have nothing but praise for the album as a whole. It’s a perfect exercise in how subtlety can be a phenomenal bedrock to just letting the songs speak for themselves.
  • Between Turnstile and Every Time I Die, I’ve been in a real “heavy” music mood lately. And we have another great addition this week with Spiritbox’s Eternal Blue. I am a little shocked at how much I enjoy this. It’s powerful, big, and feels modern while also reminding me a little of the scene in 2006.
  • I’ve loved reading everyone’s thoughts on the new Thrice in our forums; by and large, it seems to be exceptionally well received. I’m ready to say it’s my favorite release from the band since Beggars. Last week I tried to put into context the album with the band’s discography, and the more time I spend with it, the more I’m pulled in. I think we’re often too quick to need to rank albums or compare something new with things we’ve been listening to for decades, and I like to have space to explore music without having to immediately decide if I think something I’ve heard twice holds up to something I’ve listened to dozens of times. But, it bodes well that I keep wanting to return to this and let it seep in.
  • I was unsure if I’d still be into a You, Me, and Everyone We Know album in 2021, and it turns out I am. It has all of the YMAEWK hallmarks, from the lyrical flourishes to the catchy choruses, and it still works on me; I think this may be their best work.
  • NVM’s new album With A Rotting Heart is the hidden gem of the week. I put them in that alternative music space with bands like Manchester Orchestra. Last night when I was waiting for Hannah to come home, I had this on in my headphones while sitting in the dark sipping a beer. Rain on the windows, temperature dropping. And, well, that sounds more depressing than it should, but I’m just saying … that’s a good way to experience this one. It’s got real late October sneaking up on you vibes.
  • Cold Years’ new single picks right up where their album left off. I can’t recommend these guys enough if you’re looking for something to fill any Gaslight Anthem or Menzingers hole in your life.
  • James Vincent McMorrow’s new album is poppier than I was expecting. I need a little more time with it, but there’s enough here to like that I’ll be returning to it.
  • This week also had me going through the Blink-182 and Sum 41 catalog, spending some more time with the new Angels and Airwaves (lengthier thoughts were in last week’s newsletter), and I even found some time to spin Box Car Racer in the gym. Besides the Blink and Blink-related projects start to the week, I also pulled back out those early Something Corporate albums to really get my nostalgia on.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 28 different artists and 416 songs. I went on a big Blink-182 kick (and shared my record collection), so they ended up being my most played artist, while Noah Gundersen’s new album just topped the album list. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • We watched and enjoyed the new Candyman last night. It wasn’t as much of a horror film as I was expecting, but I think what it was going for worked, and I came away impressed in the execution.
  • How It Ends felt like a film searching for what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a drama? A comedy? There are parts of both, but as a whole, it didn’t quite work for me. I got a kick out of every single Always Sunny actor appearance, though.
  • The Other Two remains very funny. Clickbait … I am still unsure of. I am not sure what this is trying to say. It is acting like it has a lot to say about social media and justice and all that, but so far, it’s just getting a lot of side-eye from me. We just finished episode five, and I’m 90% certain I figured it out.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Nothing new or special here this week. We’re picking up some fried chicken to take to Hannah’s parents for dinner tonight, so that should be fun.

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. Thrice – The Color of the Sky
  2. Cold Years – Headstone
  3. Spiritbox – Hurt You
  4. Noah Gundersen – Sleepless in Seattle
  5. James Vincent McMorrow – Gone
  6. NVM – Callous
  7. You, Me, And Everyone We Know – draggedacrossconcrete
  8. Every Time I Die – Planet Shit
  9. Thrice – The Dreamer
  10. Jimmy Eat World – Work (Acoustic)

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 Craig Manning in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

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