Liner Notes (June 21st, 2019)

Palm Trees

This week’s newsletter is brought to you by the immortal phrase, “I wish it were longer.”

A whole lot of music stuff to write about this week, including thoughts on the new Blink-182 single, the three-album drop from Dashboard Confessional, a bunch of new music, and my first impression of the new Banks album. Plus, I go through my regular media diet rundown, share a playlist of ten songs I loved last week, and write about some other stuff. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Five Things

  • Last week we surpassed 500 email subscribers to this newsletter, and I’m pretty damn proud of that. About twice that number end up reading the newsletter via Substack without subscribing (come on, subscribe!), and then a good percentage of supporters on the website end up reading it either via the homepage or in the supporter thread. So, I think this new way of doing this has been a success in the first trial month. I like that it’s reaching more people after the amount of time that goes into it, and I hope that everyone reading it continues to find value in it each week. Hopefully, that can continue to expand, and one day we’ll have 10,000 subscribers, and maybe even some will become supporting members. We’re off to a good start.
  • If you have cats that eat wet food, these spoons are great. I know I’m a weirdo, but I found it odd to scoop out cat food with the same spoons we used to eat human food. These work way better at getting into the corner of the can and now my brain doesn’t think it smells cat food whenever I’m using a clean spoon that I know was once used for cat chow.
  • Here’s Andrew McMahon’s cover of Kacey Musgraves “Slow Burn” if anyone wants it for their collection.
  • I shared five 5k desktop wallpapers I found, enjoy, and tossed into my wallpaper rotation, in the supporter forum if anyone is interested.
  • Our pride merch will only be on sale for about two more weeks, so if you’d like to grab a shirt or anything with the cool rainbow logo on it, now’s the time.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • There’s a whole lot of music to cover this week but we might as well start with Blink-182. Blink released their new song “Generational Divide” today and it clocks in at a whopping 49 seconds. I’m convinced they did this so everyone will post online that they “wish it were longer” while they giggle to themselves. All in all, it’s a fast song meant to mimic and call to memory short punk rock songs of the past. (Even the artwork hits you in the face with this message.) While I’m sure a portion of the fanbase is excited for this kind of sound after their complaints about “Blame it On My Youth,” it’s not bowling me over. I like this kind of song (check out the latest albums from Not on Tour or Sick of It All for more short, fast, punk tunes), but it almost feels too safe for me. Almost too reactionary. Like someone said, “fine, you didn’t like our pop song; we can do this too.” I’m trying to figure out how they’re going to mesh these two songs into an album. The sequencing and song selection is going to be extremely important (I volunteer to help out, I’ve been training my whole life for this). I’m looking forward to seeing how they pull it off, but I’m hoping for more sonic experimentation and fewer songs that sound like they could have been on any number of their past albums. The song’s good for what it is, but it’s left me with more questions than answers about this new album.
  • Valencia released two new songs this week, and I am all about “California.” That song has all the elements I like in songs like this. Some great lyrical moments and this awesome, breezy melody. “RX” is a little closer to some of the stuff on their previous albums, and it’s good, but “California” is the one for me.
  • I’ve been anticipating a new album from Holy Ghost for a while now, and Work doesn’t disappoint. It’s dancy-catchy-discoy music that feels destined for sun-filled summer days. This is the kind of album that I love to listen to while working because it gets my toe tapping without needing too much of my attention.
  • I thought perchance Two Door Cinema Club would release a similar feeling album, but my first listen to this one didn’t grab me in the same way. That’s the problem with hearing two albums back to back that kind of play within the same sound; you end up comparing them. Maybe if I would have listened to them in reverse order, I’d have the opposite reaction. I’ll come back to this one later today.
  • If you’re looking for an excellent punk album check out the new one from Russian Girlfriends. My early favorite is “Pride Parade,” but there are quite a few rippers on here.
  • I was pretty enamored with my first listen of the new Hatchie album, Keepsake. This feels like one of those albums that will find a consistent place in my music rotation for the next few months and may just mess around and end up being one of my most played albums of the year. It’s got that thing where I go, “yeeeaaaah, I’m really into this” right off the first listen. Really nice dream-pop feel.
  • When I first saw that Dashboard Confessional had re-recorded and released three of his albums in new acoustic recordings I was almost shell-shocked. My first cynical reaction was, “is he doing this to get more of the royalties/streaming profits from these songs?” What is happening!? Then I read his post about never quite being happy with the label influence over some of those albums and that he wanted them to sound this way for a while. Some of them work better than others. I greatly prefer the original A Mark, A Mission…, and I’m so used to the acoustic version of Alter the Ending that I already have that this new version didn’t offer much for me, but the acoustic version of Dusk and Summer is the one I’ll definitely be returning to. I saw some complaints online about his voice on these renditions, and I guess I can see that to some degree if you’re expecting it to be crystalline, but there’s still a lot to like here. I know I’d prefer a version of Crooked Shadows done like this since I virtually forgot that album came out, but it’s pretty cool to hear these songs in a different light. It’s funny hearing different lyrics where you’re just about to sing along to and then have to catch yourself. I had no idea this was coming, and it took me completely by surprise. I need more time to get through all of the songs, but I’ve been picking and choosing a few select ones to listen to this morning, and I’d say there are more hits than misses for me so far. I never loved Dusk and Summer the way Craig does, but I’m thinking these new versions of that album may be what I need to see that album with new eyes.
  • Jack Barakat of All Time Low debuted his new side project, Who Hurt You, with the song “Wish We Never Met.” The lyrics are pretty standard mad break-up song lyrics, but the song is way catchier than I expected. After reading the lyrics, I wasn’t certain how the chorus was going to work, but that damn thing got stuck in my head pretty quickly. Musically there’s not a whole lot to this one, but I do really like the vocals and came away enjoying the song more than I was expecting after seeing the lyrics. I’ll keep an eye on this project and will be checking out the upcoming EP.
  • I think the new song from Noah Gundersen is my favorite from him in quite a while. I love the lyrics, love the sound, love the mood. This is pretty much peak Noah for me, and his new album is now rocketing to the top of my most anticipated list. I would never have guessed that he, and Taylor Swift, would have albums called Lover due out on August 23rd, but I’m here for it. Might as well dance and cry on the same day.
  • I’ve only had time to spin the new album from Banks, III, once so far, but it’s extremely my shit. It walks between dark moody sounds and some tracks that move you in your seat. Some cool electronic elements and I’m sure I’ll have more on this one as I dive into it over the next week.
  • I’ve still got Hot Chip, Telethon, and Mannequin Pussy to check out, but didn’t have the time before I needed to write up this newsletter.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I am an absolute sucker for rom-coms and enjoyed the hell out of Plus One. It combined the kind of witty-banter-humor I eat up with a new spin on the genre that felt updated and fresh. I wish more movies like this were made because this is exactly the kind of thing I want to put on when I want to be entertained for a night. (And if you’ve seen Pen15 you’ll get an even bigger laugh at quite a few scenes.) Next time my sister comes over to hang out for a night, and we don’t know what to watch, this will be my first recommendation.
  • Shadow was absolutely gorgeous. The kind of film where each frame feels like it could be printed and hung on your wall. I loved the aesthetic, and the movie itself was engaging as well.
  • We finished season three of The Bold Type and I miss it already. Damn you cliffhanger episodes. It will probably be a while until we come back to this show because I’m assuming we’ll let most of season four air before we start it back up, but it was a whole lot of fun the past month or so watching this each night. This kind of levity was sorely needed in my entertainment diet.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve decided we should finish season two of Handmaid’s Tale. We only made it three episodes in before stopping last time, and I had to put a “one episode at night at most” limit on our watch this time. This show to me is incredibly well made. But it’s not entertainment. It’s brutal to watch. It puts me in a bad mental space and makes it very hard for me to detach from the bullshit that is going on around us in the real world each day. To some degree, that’s obviously the point of the show, but I’ve found that too much of it fucks with my head, especially after a hard day of news. The one episode a night thing is working so far, but damn, it’s still a tough watch for me.
  • On a recommendation from our wedding photographer (and a member of our forums), we started the first season of Younger. The episodes are only 20-ish minutes, and we’re only three episodes in, but it’s been pretty good so far. Not on The Bold Type’s level, but good. I’ve liked the actress that plays the main character ever since the criminally underrated Bunheads. We’ve been finishing the night with an episode of this or Parks and Recreation after the weight of Handmaid’s Tale.
  • I’m on episode 5 of Good Girls and still enjoying it, and I liked the third episode ofSwamp Thing enough that I’m still watching. It’s a weird show that feels a little too slow for what it should be, but the creature design is pretty cool, and I feel invested enough in the story to keep going. I’m just looking forward to Titans coming back, however, and from the few spoiler-y things I’ve come across already my anticipation is rising.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We took some family photos with Hannah’s parents on Monday. It was fun to go out to the Rose Gardens during a gorgeous day and take some pictures with her mother and grandma. It’s always a little bit of a hassle to plan things like this, but once it’s done, and we see the photos, we’re always glad we did. Having something like these for posterity is worth the time and cost.
  • Last year around this time was when we found out my mom had cancer. After a year of treatment, she had some tests this week, and they all came back as normal with no worrying signs of cancer appearing.
  • It took about a week but I’m right back down to within a pound of my goal weight. I really love this system.

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. Blink-182 – Generational Divide
  2. Hatchie – Not that Kind
  3. WhoHurtYou – Wish We Never Met
  4. Russian Girlfriends – Pride Parade
  5. Holy Ghost! – Do This
  6. Dashboard Confessional – The Secret’s in the Telling
  7. Noah Gundersen – Robin Williams
  8. Valencia – California
  9. City and Colour – Strangers
  10. Motion City Soundtrack – The Conversation

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 Kyle Max in the “Blink-182” thread.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, and with that, I’ll leave you with an xkcd comic:


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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.