Liner Notes (December 27th, 2019)


The last few weeks of the year are always a little strange in the music industry and online, everyone is basically in hibernation. This week’s newsletter is a recap of my holiday week so far and has some recommendations, a few brief music thoughts, and my weekly media diet rundown. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Six Things

  • I hope everyone had a great holiday and at the very least it was somewhat relaxing and included some great food and drinks, maybe some good conversations and laughs, and hopefully not too much drama. Ours ended up being only slightly stressful trying to juggle two Christmases with two families as newly-weds, but I think we succeeded about as well as we could.
  • My favorite gift to give this year was probably helping Hannah purchase a new computer. Her old MacBook was on its last legs a few years ago, but I prolonged its life by putting in an SSD drive. But, that can only help for so long. So, with the help of the incredible Drew Beringer, who let us use his friends and family discount as a wedding gift, we ordered her a brand new 16″ MacBook Pro. It’s an incredible machine. I spent yesterday starting to get it set up for her and move all her files over, and at the moment, we’re doing some iCloud Photo Library gymnastics to get all of that setup and synced correctly. The computer itself has an incredible screen (her first Retina Mac), feels good weight-wise compared to her very old 15″, and from using it yesterday, I thought the keyboard was a marked improvement from my old 11″ MacBook. I’m just glad there’s finally a Mac laptop worth buying again, the keyboard debacle had us sitting in limbo for too long. Of course, a new computer means new computer sleeves, which means looking for new computer travel bags as well. That’s how they get you.
  • My other favorite gift to give this year was a custom wood sign that we had made for my dad. It included a little part of his speech at our rehearsal dinner, where he combined songs from John Denver, Elvis, and others into a little refrain of wishes for us. I thought it turned out well, and artist/seller on Etsy was great to work with.
  • Everyone was super generous this year, but some of my favorite gifts I received included this really great ratchet screwdriver. If you’ve never used a ratchet screwdriver before, it’s a game-changer. I was able to fix our shower door handle from rattling because I could finally get good leverage on that dumbass Torx screw. I also got a new 10 TB external hard drive to add to our home server, and now we’ve got even more space for movies and TV shows and backups, which is awesome. Some other little gifts that will improve everyday life include a new little valet tray where I keep my wallet and extra “things” in my desk drawer and a gift card for Anson Belts, who make nice hole-less belts. I’m very much looking forward to reading Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era, and getting another Anker Wireless Charger to put in the office for easily charging the AirPods Pro is a nice addition to my desk. I’m excited to try some of the recipes from Emily: The Cookbook, and, of course, multiple vinyl records were added to the collection. (Jimmy Eat World’s Damage and Stay On My Side Tonight and Paramore’s Brand New Eyes.)
  • One of the best “gifts” we received for Christmas, however, was the surprise delivery of our wedding photos. We had been dying to see these for the past month, and getting to relive the day in photographs was an incredibly fun pre-Christmas moment. I’ve been posting quite a few on Instagram (and therefore lost some followers that clearly do not give a shit about my wedding photos), and I tossed up about 1/3 of the entire batch in a Facebook Album if anyone is curious. Everyone that reads this newsletter basically lived the last year of planning with me, so I feel like we’re in this together. I figured that once the families had the photos, they’d be sharing them everywhere anyway, and this way, I can at least pick the ones I like the best to share for everyone. Getting a batch of over 900 photos was a tad overwhelming. Still, we’re having an absolute blast looking through them, picking ones to print to put around the house, and trying to figure out how to narrow them down to some reasonable number to make a wedding album. I loved how they turned out, and they make me happy, so that’s why I share them. My Instagram can’t only be music, beer, and cats. (Sidebar: I haven’t “used” Facebook in years, I took it off my phone and never check it, but it was the easiest way to share an album with everyone that was at the wedding and could see the photos/tag themselves/share with friends. I was overwhelmed by how many people are still on Facebook and how often they check it.)
  • The rest of the year will be spent getting ready for 2020. We have finalized our contributor best of 2020 list, and now we’re going to write blurbs and get that out to everyone the week of January 6th. I’ve finalized my best-of list and written all the commentary for my favorite albums, movies, TV shows, and stuff like that and will post that up at the same time. I’ll link everything in the newsletter that will come out on January 10th so you won’t miss anything. 2020 will hopefully be the year I finalize and roll out a new design for the main website, and I’ll be tracking that process and sharing thoughts and feelings in this newsletter each week as I work on it.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • It’s been super slow with new music over the past few weeks. My current rotation includes the new one from Harry Styles, the latest from MUNA, some singles from Olivver the Kid, and Caligula by Lingua Ignota. And then, I’ve been listening to my “Best of 2019” playlist to try and finalize the two songs from every artist on my list I want to include. I’ve been feeling more of the pop and groove vibe lately, but that usually starts to turn into a more rock/punk phase as the new year comes into focus. I see a lot of Anti-Flag in my future, especially with their excellent new album coming out in just a few weeks.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Noelle was a perfectly fine G-rated holiday movie with Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader. It’s not great, but it’s fun enough, and it’s heartfelt and totally worth throwing on during the holidays. Also, this proves I will watch literally anything with Anna Kendrick in it.
  • A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby this was horrific. Why does this exist? The first movie was stupid but sweet in a silly romantic comedy kind of way. This is dreck and needs to be stopped.
  • Marriage Story was as well acted as everyone said, but I wasn’t as enthralled with the story and relationship as I think most of the critics have been. It’s a well-done film with an incredible Adam Driver performance, but it never quite hit me as much as I think I expected it too. Some rough moments for sure, and an emotional ending, but something felt off for me.
  • Abominable was adorable. I don’t think it’s in my top tier of animated movies, but it was a great holiday watch with good characters, good animation, and some genuinely funny moments. A story of family tied with magic and music combines for a movie that just about anyone can get on board with. Three stars; four whopping snakes.
  • Mike Birbiglia: The New One was a very solid and funny comedy special. I like Mike’s comedy; I laughed; it did its job.
  • I am not quite sure what they were going for with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. It’s weird to take iconic music, and then only use parts of it, in a weird order, and supplement it with clearly not as good music, all over a story that’s kinda like The Nutcracker, but not really, and Keira Knightley going in on her performance. It was a lot for a movie that felt twice as long as its runtime was.
  • I sat slack-jawed through most of John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch simply because I can’t believe it actually exists. It’s very funny, very weird, and absolutely reminds me of TV shows I watched on public access as a child. So many of the kids were damn good singers, and the Jake Gyllenhaal bit at the end is worth watching by itself. What an odd, joyful, show.
  • Zombieland: Double Tap was about as serviceable a sequel as you can do. It’s not as good as the original, but it was entertaining, funny, and I enjoyed seeing all the actors return and do weird shit in a zombie world. I’ll watch this again when I’m in the mood for some zombie-tainment.
  • We’ve been watching Doctor Who again the past few evenings. We’re now up through the fourth episode of season nine. I still haven’t completely come around on this Doctor, but I enjoy the show a whole lot, and it makes me happy to watch.
  • The more I think about The Rise of Skywalker, the more disappointed I feel. I’ve been talking in the official thread about it with others, and I just can’t shake my annoyances. Oh well. However, I’m extremely excited to watch the season finale of The Mandalorian tonight.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • The wedding into Thanksgiving, into the holidays, has been a trying time for the ‘ol eating healthy and better thing. But, now, with Christmas behind, it’s time to get back into the swing of things and try and do better. What I’d love to do in 2020 is put a higher focus on the kinds of food I’m eating and trying to limit processed foods and eat more real foods with less extra stuff thrown in. I’m a sucker for convenience, and I want to try and be better there. That, and I want to find three or four new “meals” that I can cook for dinner regularly that aren’t too intense but can be easily reproduced on nights where I’m in charge of cooking.

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. Tonight Alive – Temple
  2. MUNA – Navy Blue
  3. Now, Now – Can’t Help Myself
  4. Catholic Action – People Don’t Protest Enough
  5. Weyes Blood – Movies
  6. The Faim – Words Apart
  7. Olivver the Kid – Not in Love
  8. Violet – Pure Blue
  9. LANY – Pancakes
  10. Lewis Capaldi – Before You Go

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 Fucking Dustin in the “My Chemical Romance” thread.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.