Liner Notes (September 18th, 2022)

Fall Leaves

This week’s (kinda late) newsletter has first impressions of the new iPhone 14 Pro, some thoughts on iOS 16, and some commentary on one of the better release weeks this year. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

A Few Things

  • My new iPhone 14 Pro came on Friday, so I’ve had a few days of using it to collect my thoughts. I’m coming from the 11 Pro, and my first impression: Very strong. The flat sides are a clear win. The Deep Purple is great, but I immediately tossed in a case because I’ve dropped every phone at least once, and we have concrete floors. The camera is heavy, and the bump annoys me. I can feel it with my finger when holding the phone; it doesn’t sit flat on a table, and the additional weight pulling down from the corner is, to me, noticeable. To its credit, the photos are also incredible, but I am looking forward to the rumored telescoping cameras because the bump/plateau/whatever you call it … sucks. From a software perspective, I am immediately in on the Dynamic Island. It’s a clear win. One of those “oh, that’s obviously how it should work” features. Helpful with a dash of whimsy. I don’t know how I feel about the always-on display. I think I’m leaning toward indifference. It doesn’t bother me, but I also don’t have any need for it. I’m not yet sure what I am gaining from it. The Lock Screen widgets are a net positive. Currently, I have Fantastical and Carrot on there, and I like seeing the weather and the chance of rain at a quick glance. The other Lock Screen customization features are pretty cool but feel limited. I turned on the Haptic Keyboard to give it a shot, which was another surprise win. I can’t be sure, but it feels like I type better with them on. The Messages improvements seem like nice improvements, and I’m still continuing to discover the rest of the new iOS 16 features and play around a bit. As always, the MacStories review is basically the Bible for learning about everything in the new release. (And I highly recommend studying the screenshots for fun easter eggs.)


Dane Johns’s new book, The Futile, is now available everywhere.

The quick pitch: In a near-future world, where critics of the authoritarian leader are imprisoned and media has become a state sponsored tool for repression, one young punk rock band goes on the road to start a revolution with their music. An early reader review called The Futile, “Hunger Games on the Warped Tour.” Written with plenty of humor and heart, The Futile is ultimately a book about how people have the power to change themselves—and the world—even in the darkest of times.

Dane shared this background of the novel:

I played in middling emo/punk/rock bands through most of my late 20s and early 30s, so a lot of The Futile is pulled from those experiences, just those feelings of self-doubt, exhaustion, and “Am I delusional?” humiliation mixed with the best times of your life, riding around in a smelly van with your least/most favorite people in the world who you are so annoyed with one moment, but the next, you find yourself so filled with love for them that it could make you cry. That’s where The Futile started, but then as I learned more about the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, and saw the continual escalation towards fascism in my own country, the world of The Futile began to take shape a bit more. Despite the heavy themes at times, I believe The Futile is cathartic and hopeful. Plus, there are a lot of run-on jokes like any good band should have and plenty of subtle (not always so subtle) references to punk/emo bands I love like Colour Revolt, Death Cab for Cutie, Foxing, Now, Now, mewithoutYou, Pussy Riot (of course), The Copyrights, and a bunch more.

Get more information, and order the book, at Dane’s website.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I ordered the first two The Spill Canvas records on vinyl a few weeks ago, and they arrived this week. It led to me tossing on both of the records for the first time in a long time. Some records have such a distinct place in my musical memory that they have become almost difficult to listen to. Both of these records take me back to a very specific time in college for me and the memories associated with them are … difficult. The albums themselves I still enjoy, and it was a fun little walk back through one very specific semester in my life, but listening to them now also drags up memories I think I’d rather let stay buried. They aren’t pleasant.
  • In new releases this week, we have the release of the new one from Death Cab for Cutie. I’ve been following the album thread after the drop, and the reactions are exactly what I expected: fans seem to be loving it. I think it’s an incredible late-career album from the band and they feel reinvigorated. It’s refreshing. It’s a home run record. And songs like “Pepper” are quickly climbing my all-time Death Cab rankings. If you haven’t listened to the band in a while or fell off with the last few releases, I highly recommend giving this one a try.
  • In a similar realm, I haven’t been following The Devil Wears Prada for quite a while now. They were a band I had kind of written off as not being for me. Then I saw a bunch of people talking about the new album with praise and figured I’d throw it on at the gym to give it a try. I’m very glad I did. This hits that melodic hardcore sweet spot for me. It’s heavy enough with just the right amount of melody in the choruses. The kind of album and sound I start to gravitate toward as the weather cools off. I can see this being in heavy rotation over the next few weeks.
  • On the opposite end of my autumn music spectrum sits something like the new album from Copeland. Just hauntingly gorgeous stuff here. They took already fantastic songs and didn’t just layer orchestra arrangements on top of them but incorporated the new instruments in a way that gave them a new depth. I had multiple moments where I could feel my jaw starting to slack at the pure power from some of my favorite songs starting to swell in new ways.
  • And following a real fun week of new music comes the latest from No Devotion. In some ways, I can see the threads between the last Thursday album and this one, but it’s the gorgeous synth and pulsating feel that really separates this from Geoff’s more well-known band. This has all the makings of an album I’ll continue to spin for the next few months and fall head over heels for. There’s going to be some random cold November weekend evening where I put this on and lay in the dark, fire crackling behind me on the couch, and it completely overtakes me.
  • Maggie Lindemann’s new album gives me a lot of Evanescence vibes. Not quite as heavy/nu-metal-ish(?) as those early records, leaning more into the pop-rock and pop-punk side of things, but some pretty solid songs on the record. Maybe a few that feel like padding, but as a whole, I liked my first listen.
  • I somehow missed that there was a new Blaqk Audio record coming out this week. It sounds like a Blaqk Audio record. I still think they do this sound well, but the past couple of releases from the project have started to blend together a bit for me.

The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 31 different artists, 43 different albums, and 372 different tracks (461 scrobbles). Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Thor: Love and Thunder gets a full extra star from me just for style points. I thought it was one of the better Marvel movies in a while now and the two or three “only Taika Waititi would do that” shots took it up a slight notch.
  • Last night, the Oregon Symphony did a performance of The Return of the Jedi where all of the music was played live by the orchestra while the movie is shown on a giant screen above them. And given that I’m married to the new Orchestra Personnel Manager, I get free tickets. It was a whole lot of fun to be in a huge auditorium full of Star Wars fans losing their absolute shit. Lots of costumes. Huge cheers. And an awesome loud performance from the orchestra just crushing John Williams’s iconic score. Only downside? It was, of course, the Special Edition version of the movie. I still had a whole lot of fun, and it’s awesome to see so many people, young and old, still experiencing these films with joy and passion. Plus, I hope some of the youngins left with a newfound appreciation for the music.
  • Welcome to Wrexham is far more entertaining than it probably should be. I am totally in and invested in this random football club from Wales.
  • This third season of Harley Quinn, I’d probably rank at the bottom for its run. But the third-best Harley season is still pretty damn great. Lots of laughs, and some classic episodes, just not quite as good as the exceptionally high bar the first two set.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Not much here this week. The newsletter went out late because of a bunch of errands I needed to run on Saturday, plus the concert, and then Sunday had a bunch of stuff stacked on it as well. But, I was able to power through a little writing session before we sit in for the night and watch the latest episode of Rings of Power.

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. Death Cab for Cutie – Pepper
  2. Carly Rae Jepsen – Talking to Yourself
  3. The Devil Wears Prada – Exhibition
  4. No Devotion – Starlings
  5. Florrie – Falling Back to You
  6. Copeland – Should You Return
  7. My Chemical Romance – Party Poison
  8. The Early November – A Little More Time
  9. Maggie Lindemann – Self Sabotage
  10. Rocky Votolato – 23 Stitches

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 DaydreamNation in the “Jimmy Eat World – Surviving (October 18, 2019)” thread.

Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Sign up for a free weekly newsletter full of thoughts on music, entertainment, technology, and other cool stuff. Your email address stays completely private.