Liner Notes (February 14th, 2020)

Another week has come and gone. In this week’s newsletter, I do the same as every week: go through the music and entertainment I consumed over the last week and make bad jokes. You’ll find early thoughts on New Found Glory, Soccer Mommy, and my love for season three of Mr. Robot. Plus, a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Two Things

  • This week, we launched our Most Anticipated of 2020 feature on the website. I wrote about Brian Fallon, Bleachers, Phoebe Bridgers, Allie X, The 1975, and The Night Game. And, although one comment called our list “dull as dishwater,” I thought it turned out well. There’s so much damn good music coming out this year that I’m excited about. These lists always make me happy because I read through and see so many artists I already know I love, and that’s just the baseline of what we’re getting this year; there will be surprises and new artists we’ve never heard of finding their way into our headphones as well.
  • I enjoyed this essay by Brit Marling in the New York Times. It’s definitely worth a read.


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Basically, if you like awesome pop-culture stuff, there’s a chance it’s been talked about on this podcast. All of the links to subscribe in your favorite podcast player can be found here.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • It was a weird week in New Found Glory land. Late Sunday night, the band’s new single and album went up for pre-order on Apple Music, with one slight issue: the entire album was up for stream. It was quickly pulled down, but not before the entire album, minus one song, was ripped and leaked. The album does not come out until May 29th. This has to be one of the earliest “leaks” I can remember in quite some time. I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of how this happened, and if it was a screw-up on Apple’s part or something got flipped wrong in the backend, but I can’t remember the last time an album leaked before the band officially announced it. Us oldies remember this happening far more often in the AbsolutePunk days. Anyway, as for the music. It’s … fine. New Found Glory have now formed a habit of releasing their most interesting music, music that feels fresh, new, and a push forward of the band’s sound and talents, only to become bat-shit-terrified of losing pop-punk fans and reverting to their “core” sound and pretending the previous album never existed. I unabashedly loved Makes Me Sick. I think it was the best New Found Glory album in years and had a sonic and melodic quality that brought me back to the band in a way I hadn’t felt since high-school. Conversely, the new album sounds exactly like the album I liked in high-school. It’s a fast pop-punk album that contains quite a few cool musical moments (usually the drum work), but at 15-songs, it’s way too long, way too one-note, a massive step back from what they showcased in their last album, and full of absolutely laughable lyrics. Look, it’s pop-punk, I get it, I’m not looking for Shakespeare here, and I love this band’s self-titled album full of gems like “I can’t dream anymore since you left / I miss you singing me to sleep.” But I can’t make it through stuff like “I see you dosing off on FaceTime/ I can’t believe you’re my valentine” and “You’re a ten I’m a three, hope you can never afford lasik surgery” and “You could have any other guy / And can’t you see my sides hang over my jeans?” without cracking up. I’m sorry, but there’s just too many times that it pulls me completely out of the song. I can get on board with the little pop-punk breakdowns. I’ll even air guitar along. I can get on board with the cliche chants. I can get over my frustration at what we saw with Makes Me Sick and Aaron Sprinkle being walked back. And I can even get over my disappointment in what I thought I saw coming from their work with Will Pugh last year not panning out to my expectations. But I can’t get through “I ran a race and came up empty, until I met you and now you’re my trophy / Hope I didn’t objectify you / Feel like I winner when I’m standing by you” without wanting to slam my face directly into my desk. The entire album is being painted as a “throwback” or “comeback” kind of album for the fans of their early albums. And I think I can take about 7-8 songs here and create a pretty fun little gym album that’s on par with Not Without a Fight. But beyond that, I just can’t get past the lyrics, folks, I just can’t. Throw that in with some awkward phrasing, places where too many words are in a melody to the point of awkwardness, and I guess I’ll just keep up dying on my Coming Home and Makes Me Sick are the band’s most underrated albums hill. I’m hit or miss (I’m sorry) with the band’s albums since Coming Home. There’s always a handful I enjoy, but their cover album and Makes Me Sick surprised me in the songwriting and pure fun aspects that elevated them back into regular rotation. Unfortunately, I think I’ll be bored with this before it even gets released.
  • Stand Atlantic’s new single “Shh!” slaps. Folks, did I do it? Did I pull off using this cool hip lingo to describe a song? No? Bueller? Bueller?
  • I spent a lot of time this week listening to the new Tame Impala album. It took a little longer to get into than Currents, but the payoff has been immense. This is a great, fascinating album. It vibes and flows and has a real character to it.
  • The new Soccer Mommy album, Color Theory, is out at the end of the month, and it was (by far) my most listened to album this week. I think it’s downright incredible. It’s moving and soft where it needs to be, adding just the right amount of melody and bite. It’s the kind of album worth getting lost in for an evening, and I think fans of Phoebe Bridgers will eat this right up. Poignant lyrics and the perfect accompaniment to these “winter is holding on just a little too long” February nights.
  • With the announcement of ChainFest (Sidebar: There has never been a festival announced that more screams, “this was made for Jason Tate,” that this one.) I decided to break out some of Cartel’s albums again at the gym this week. Chroma, Cycles, and Collider are all great pop-rock albums that hold up surprisingly well and capture this particular pop-punk adjacent sound that I miss these days. So many bands seem to be in the “easy-core” camp or have gone the theatrical/electronic route, and it makes these albums sound oddly refreshing. Maybe that’s why I ended up enjoying Grayscale’s album last year more than I expected, it kind of has this sort of structure and feel to it. Anyway, yeah, Cartel is great, I’m going to go listen to their acoustic album now.
  • This self-titled Hailaker album was recommended in the Q&A album earlier this week, and I’ve been enjoying it. It’s hard to pin down the sound, but it’s sprawling, haunting, and at times gorgeous while feeling just on the edge of chaos. Good find from sean_rugy.
  • I’ve been singing Alex Lahey’s praises to anyone that will listen for a while now, and her new single “Sucker for Punishment” doesn’t disappoint. It’s a little more on the rock, even with a tinge of grunge, side, and I’m here for it.
  • Cassino’s new song, “Tacoma,” turned my head. It has me officially anticipating the new album, Yellowhammer, due out in March.
  • This week’s synthwave, or my in-the-background-while-working, music was Voyage. It’s a little more understated, but the eight songs work great when you’re focusing on something else.
  • Noah Gunderson’s acoustic session release is as good as expected and something I’m sure I’ll be returning to for evening music listening.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Knives Out was as good as I wanted it to be. Fun, clever, and just a damn good murder mystery movie. It didn’t try to do too much; it just did exactly what it set out to do about as well as it could.
  • Paradise Hills was the kind of movie I probably would have liked as a kid if it was one of my first introductions to dystopian fiction, but as a film, it was pretty bland and boring. No thanks.
  • I adore Atypical. We’ve now watched the first two seasons, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the show. It’s the kind of show that I don’t feel gets made as much anymore, one that, at its core, is earnest and honest. It’s great.
  • Season three of Mr. Robot was incredible. Probably my favorite season of the show yet and a thrill-ride the entire way through. We’re going to probably pause for a few days to watch some movies before diving into season four, but I’m thrilled we decided to give this show another look after being a let down with season two. It was very much worth it.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • It’s Valentine’s Day, but we decided we didn’t want to try and deal with crowds or fancy dinners tonight, so the plan is to order a pizza, pick up some of our favorite snacks, and hang out at home playing games and watching movies.
  • I am getting unreasonably excited for baseball season to pick back up again. I get it, not everyone loves baseball, but I’m in my mid-thirties and work from home; I’m the target demo. I love the sounds of the game, and being able to put it on and have that kind of consistency and routine is something I very much look forward to. Plus, it means more time in the MLB thread in the forums.

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. Alex Lahey – Sucker for Punishment
  2. Stand Atlantic – Shh!
  3. Beach Bunny – Dream Boy
  4. Cartel – Take Me With You
  5. Tame Impala – Take Me With You
  6. Neon Trees – Used to Like (Acoustic)
  7. Noah Gundersen – Yellow
  8. Soccer Mommy – Lucy
  9. Hailaker – Earthbound
  10. Panama – Destroyer

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 dylan in the “General Politics Discussion (VI)” thread.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.