Friday Thoughts (September 7th, 2018)


I should probably figure out a better name for these weekly roundup posts now that I’ve been doing them consistently and they’re getting longer. What started as me just tossing out a few sentences about new releases each week has grown to be pretty hefty. If anyone has a better name than “Friday Thoughts” please let me know.

This week looks has my first thoughts on the new album from Direct Hit, some thoughts on Sum 41’s catalog, a few recommendations for organization and everyday carry, and the regular media diet rundown from my past week. The Q&A post can be found here for supporters.

Four Things

  • I wrote about The Night Game’s new album. It’s classified as a “review” but it’s more of an article about what I think makes a good pop song, why I like pop music, and how an album can bring about feelings of nostalgia and why that’s important. As time passes, the more I realize I don’t really like reading/writing the kinds of reviews that I see most places. They don’t excite me. I haven’t read anything from Pitchfork or Stereogum with more than a passing glance in a long time. And I realized that when I want to write, it’s because I feel like I’ve got something inside of me that I need to get out, or work through, and that’s what writing does for me. That inspiration is key. My plan for September is to try and write some kind of article/longer piece every week. It won’t always be a review, won’t always be about music, but I hope I can keep it up.
  • Craig Manning reviewed the new album from Ruston Kelly. It’s a really good piece of writing, and an example of what I think music “reviews” should aspire to be. It gives you a feeling, a voice, of what the music means to the author and why. I find that so much more pleasurable to read. If I want to know what an album sounds like, I’ll just hit play on it. This review made me want to hit play in the first place.
  • Last weekend Hannah and I tackled the organization of our office closet. This has been a project we’ve been putting off for a long time; however, with the wedding planning coming up we decided it was needed before we started getting more things sent to us and needing a place to store them and organize them. So, we cleaned out the closet, the building storage unit, and Hannah’s self-storage unit as well. It took about 12 hours and multiple beers. What I wanted to highlight here though is this product from Blue Lounge called “Quick Peek.” These are QR code stickers that you put on the front of boxes, scan into a free app on your phone, and then you can catalog everything that’s in the box and include photos and descriptions. All of this is searchable. We used these when organizing all the boxes and now it’s super easy to find anything we need. If I forget where we stored some old family china I don’t think I’m ever going to use, I can pull up the app and not only find which storage place we put that box it, I can find the exact box, and even look at the photos I took. It’s really helpful, really easy, and it gets my full recommendation. Here’s a photo of one in use (organizing all my cords and different electronic cables), and here’s the newly organized and finally usable closet. Yeah, the all-black-everything-bags are mine. I like black, what I can I say?
  • I carry very little with me on my keychain (one key, one small knife, one door fob), however, I recently added this little titanium clip/bottle opener and I’m really happy with it. It’s the perfect size and very handy.

Music Thoughts

  • I went on a Sum 41 catalog deep dive this week. I hadn’t listened to this band in a long time and forgot how much fun they are. Not a lot of pop-punk does that to me these days so it was a blast listening to these old albums at the gym. I think I’d rank Does This Look Infected? near the top now, which was not something I thought would happen if you asked me a few weeks ago. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but no one is doing pop-punk quite like this anymore. I miss it. Fun, fast, technical, catchy as hell, and lyrically actually saying something.
  • I also went back and listened to some previous Mae albums. I kinda fell off that band after The Everglow. I think D:B holds up really well, but I wasn’t feeling the other stuff as much as I wanted. It’s good, but I dunno, it felt a little dated to me. I’ve gotta see if I can get a hold of that new album, I’m curious what it sounds like. The single sounded good.
  • Direct Hit’s new album, Crown of Nothing, comes out in September. I have spun it twice now and I really like it. I think they just might be the best pop-punk bands making music right now. All their albums are super solid. This one is similar, although maybe a little more poppy, but still with some in your face punk as well. It’s weird. It’s catchy. Early favorites were “Altered States” and “Bad Answer.” I know this one will be a gym staple for the next few months … I’m already looking forward to doing a jog with it later today. More thoughts coming soon.
  • BTS’ new album Love Yourself: Answer got a few spins. I’ve enjoyed something from this entire trilogy of releases. It’s easy to see why this band is so popular.
  • The new Paul McCartney was an interesting first listen. It’s good, consistent, but I don’t know if it’s something I’ll end up working into my regular rotation. Not because I didn’t like it, just because I’m not totally sure when that would be an album I’d reach for.
  • Not sure where I saw the recommendation but someone told me to check out The Midnight. So I listened to their album, Endless Summer, and Nocturnal. Both take the 80’s synth sound up to 11. I enjoyed both listens, but I need some more time to decide if I think they stand out from everyone else doing this sorta sound right now. At some point saturation is going to kick in … and even though I love this sound and style, there’s a point where I say “ok that’s too much.”
  • Not a fan of the Boston Manor album. It just sounds like generic radio rock to my ears and that’s pretty much the opposite of what I want to listen to these days. I didn’t find it interesting or engaging. If you’re gonna make a rock album you’ve gotta say something or do something that captivates me. I feel like this same album is made 100 times a year. I’ll give it another listen in a few days to see if something else clicks.
  • Craig Manning was right about Ruston Kelly. This is a very good album. I need to spin it a few more times before I have more thoughts on it. (I heard it for the first time today.) I could see this playing a big role in my music listening over the next few months.
  • That Big Red Machine album is interesting. I can’t pin down my thoughts on it yet.
  • This Pale Waves album has me wanting to write more about it, but I don’t know my hook yet. There’s something here but I need to figure out what it is I want to say about it. If anyone wants to know more about it, or the songs, hit me up in the Q&A thread and I’ll answer anything you wanna know since I don’t know when/if I’ll get around to writing something longer on it.
  • The new Hippo Campus and Hellogoodbye are both still getting quite a few spins. I’m really drawn to both.
  • Don’t sleep on that Tash Sultana album until you see it on EOTY lists. Get into it now, you’ll thank me later.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Hannah and I have been watching the new Jack Ryan show all week. We have two episodes left. The best way to describe how I feel is that I want to keep watching and yet it’s clearly not a good show. I’ve read a lot of Tom Clancy novels over the years and I like the Jack Ryan character, and I like what they’re doing with him here, but at the same time it’s predictable and basically a Homeland without the ugly cry. It’s also totally binge-worth if you’re looking for a show like this. So, it gets a weak recommendation.
  • I haven’t had time to finish up Succession yet. It’s a good show, but man, I can only take so much white-rich-complaining-characters in my day.
  • First Reformed was very good. Brutal. But damn, what a compelling movie. That ending will stay with me for a while.
  • Hannah had never seen Almost Famous and I’m really happy that it holds up. Great movie. Was a nice motivation on Tuesday night for me to finish up my The Night Game album review.
  • On Chesil Beach was a pretty good advertisement for premarital sex. I don’t really have many thoughts on the movie as a whole, I was only half watching while following a baseball game on my iPad, but man, what I caught was a rough ride of bad communication.
  • I wanted to like American Animals more than I did. It gets originality points, and it’s clever how they work the real people into the movie, but it never really grabbed me the way I thought it would. I had heard a lot of good things about it, and I liked it, but I didn’t love it.
  • Looks like some new movies downloaded over the past few days, so hopefully there’s something good in that group. Oh, look, Destination Wedding with Keanu Reeves! That’s gonna be a fun get drunk and watch night.
  • Book update: I’ve been really enjoying 11/22/63. I’m about 1/3 of the way through and I look forward to finding some time to read each night. Moving back and forth between fiction to non-fiction has worked well so far this year but I always find myself plowing through my fiction books because they feel like a nice escape. The non-fiction is always really interesting, but it’s not a whole lot different from just what I read online each day or all my feeds.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • Diet update: As of today I am below what I set out as my “target” weight. That means I’m down 20.2 lbs since we started this about 87 days ago. At some point I’ll write up more about the system/structure that worked best for me because it might be useful to someone else in the future. To say I’m excited and happy would be an understatement. Next up is a whole lot of muscle toning and a focus on BMI and body-fat more than weight itself. Plus, a deeper dive into macros versus just pure calories and working on strength conditioning and core exercises. But, today felt like a milestone, and I’m going to celebrate that. Also going to give myself a few more calories from Friday-Sunday in the future and track and analyze how that impacts me throughout the week.
  • We’re off to the bank to open up a joint wedding account. This feels very adult, but the wedding planning will probably start this weekend. Wish me luck.

I hope everyone had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend. My advice: Try and get some time to yourself this weekend and focus on one thing that makes you happy. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Summer is coming to an end and I plan to get a few more spins out of my favorite pop albums before the weather turns and all the pumpkin-spice-everything takes over. I leave with a quote from Marcus Aurelius:

Whenever you take offense at someone’s wrongdoing, immediately turn to your own similar failings, such as seeing money as good, or pleasure, or a little fame — whatever form it takes. By thinking on this, you’ll quickly forget your anger, considering also what compels them — for what else could they do? Or, if you are able, remove their compulsion. (Meditations, 10.30)