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Liner Notes (January 24th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter has my thoughts on new music from Hayley Williams, All Time Low, and a tremendous new pop-punk band not many have heard of. I also share my favorite app discovery in a while and my usual media diet rundown. Then, there’s 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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Liner Notes (January 17th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter looks at new music from The 1975, Green Day, and Fickle Friends. There’s also my usual media diet rundown and a playlist of ten songs that I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (January 10th, 2020)

This week’s newsletter goes navel-gazing at our best of 2019 lists, looks at some new music I enjoyed this week and goes through my regular media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I liked, 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.

This article is available exclusively to supporters of our website. Join now for as little as $3 per month and get access to exclusive content and a variety of perks. Plus, you'll be helping an independent publisher. Learn more here.

Jason Tate’s Top Albums of 2019

I’ll always remember 2019 as the year I got married; however, it ended up being a pretty incredible year for music and entertainment as well. As we finish up this decade, I reflect back on just how many of these lists I’ve made. It’s a yearly tradition that I enjoy because it allows me to no only reflect on the past year and reevaluate everything I listened to and consumed, but it creates a little snapshot in time that I can re-visit in the future and remember what I was enjoying and listening to during that moment in time. I thought it was a good year personally, wrapped around a tough year globally. Thank you to everyone that reads this website on a daily basis; I hope you enjoy my list and maybe find something new to love.

The staff compiled best of 2019 list can be found here.

Craig Manning’s Top Albums of 2019

I wrote a lot of album blurbs in 2019. If you’re reading this post, you probably already know that 1) I’m an insane person, and 2) my big writing project this year was a rundown of my 200 favorite albums of the 2010s. I concluded that project in mid-December, around the same time that everyone else in the music criticism world was sharing their “Best of 2019” lists. For a few days, I debated not even writing up a list this year. I was so emotionally exhausted after pouring so much of myself and my life into that end-of-decade piece that I just couldn’t see myself sitting down to do it all over again—albeit, on a much smaller scale. But then I started delving back into my favorite 2019 albums, albums that I maybe hadn’t spent enough time with in my race to relive a full 10 years of music. And then I started making late-year discoveries, new albums I’d overlooked that excited me greatly. Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t let a year end without the big-list ritual that I have followed every year since 2011.

I did give myself some extra leeway this time, though. Instead of going to 40 albums, as I have for the last several years, I stuck to 30. I also opened the door for late additions (and for the corresponding deletions they would require). The resulting list is not at all what I expected it would look like even two months ago. It’s a list loaded with exciting new talent and with albums that I can’t wait to spend more time with, brushing up against records I’ve already listened to hundreds of times, from artists I’ve loved for many years. I can’t say it’s my favorite end-of-the-year list that I’ve ever made, but it might be the most unexpected. I could feel my music tastes yearning to shift and grow in new directions while compiling this collection of 30 albums, which is frankly a very exciting place to start a brand-new decade. So bring on the 2020s! But first, here are my 30 favorite albums of 2019.

Trevor Graham’s Top Albums of 2019

What a year. It feels like at least one Friday a month I was rambling around the site about another incredible release day we were being treated to. When I sat down to make this list, the number of albums I’d listened to this year that I enjoyed wound up at about 270. And sure, there are some obvious factors to this that I think a lot of us share — the way this decade has sculpted how we consume music, for one. The 2010’s made discovering new music one of the single easiest things a person can do, and one of the most entertaining activities with ten bucks in your pocket and an internet connection.

But I think the ease and passion for discovery are only the cause for a bigger reason why this was such a remarkable year in music. Because naturally with more music will come more open mindedness, more inspiration, and more tools for artists to create a unique price of art. With each year, that tool belt grows, and we see artists framing their vision of certain sounds differently than we could have ever imagined — blending influences from all directions and being encouraged to tell their stories. In the passing of time, it becomes more difficult to not fall in love with an astonishing amount of music.

Adam Grundy’s Top Albums of 2019

2019 was a year that gave us outstanding debut records, tremendous follow-ups from several established bands, as well as some surprise albums that I never would have thought to make my list at the beginning of the year. My list and listening taste are as eclectic as it’s ever been and I’m perfectly happy with that.  Here are 30 albums I felt are worthy of your attention and ears delight.

Mary Varvaris’s Top Albums of 2019

What a year. At times, it seemed as though I’d never had enough music to listen to. Then, at the busiest times of the year, I felt like I had fallen dreadfully behind and wouldn’t find my way back to consuming new music the way I did at the beginning of 2019. It’s also a year that found me diving into discographies of artists I should have devoted myself to much sooner: from Portishead to R.E.M. to mewithoutYou. It’s been another delightful year for music.

After much thought and almost giving up on creating my End of 2019 list, I have finally chosen my favourite music from the past year. Some albums have landed as honourable mentions, particularly if they were released too late (sorry, Harry Styles!), or I just couldn’t move these albums around again. To be honest, I simply don’t watch enough movies to warrant a favourite list of films. Same case with television (although, I’m marginally better there). I hope you find some music that connects with you the way it has with me. Without further ado, here are my top 30 albums of 2019. Plus, some equally special honourable mentions!

Liner Notes (January 3rd, 2020)

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2020. In this week’s newsletter, I share my start of the year routines and resolutions, share some fun party games we played on New Year’s Eve, talk about what music I’m anticipating this year, and go through my usual music and media diet rundown. There’s also 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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Film Freak Central’s ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Review

Walter Chaw:

Now consider how this possibility for kindness and sacrifice, nursed and carried through the bulk of The Rise of Skywalker (and introduced in The Last Jedi, which is, of course, this third trilogy’s second, moral act, just as The Empire Strikes Back is the first trilogy’s), is betrayed at the end with a murder/death/kill of the most graphic variety. It’s a riff, the third one I counted that references Raiders of the Lost Ark, on Nazi and Nazi sympathizer faces melting before the glory of Old Testament vengeance. There’s a lot of talk in these films about how the Jedi religion is ever only for defense–how it’s about taking the path of love, knowledge, and acceptance no matter how difficult (and it’s extremely difficult), rather than the dark path of retribution and fear. And here’s The Rise of Skywalker, at the end of it, reenacting the same cycle of retributive violence that presumably left the film’s bad guy the same bad guy as the bad guy for all the other films. He, this dark Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), even boasts that it was always him behind every bad thing. He’s another serpent in another Jungian basement, his creature design modelled on, of all things, Leviathan from Hellraiser II. If he’s an archetype, he’s Legion. He is every bad thing. The solution the franchise’s own mythology suggests is to accept that there must be a balance between opposite energies; the temporary feel-good sop is that the good guys kill the bad guys.

One of the best articles I’ve read yet on The Rise of Skywalker.

The Best Reverse Image Search

Aric Toler, writing at Bellingcat:

The first and most important piece of advice on this topic cannot be stressed enough: Google reverse image search isn’t very good.

As of this guide’s publication date, the undisputed leader of reverse image search is the Russian site Yandex. After Yandex, the runners-up are Microsoft’s Bing and Google. A fourth service that could also be used in investigations is TinEye, but this site specializes in intellectual property violations and looks for exact duplicates of images.

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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Liner Notes (December 20th, 2019)

In this week’s newsletter I share my first impressions on The Rise of Skywalker; I guess this is a Star Wars newsletter now. I also share a few things around the internet I found interesting this week and go through my usual weekly media diet rundown. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Since we have the holidays coming up, I’m making this post free for all here on the website. If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

Liner Notes (December 13th, 2019)

In this week’s newsletter, I look at some of the holiday songs released this week, offer first thoughts on the new Brian Fallon song and Harry Styles album, and dive into my weekly media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Jason Tate’s Top Albums of the Decade

Today we launched our best albums of the decade feature. Lists like these are really hard to make, and even after I finished my list I knew I was missing things. But, at some point hard cuts have to get made and you just have to accept that you’re not going to be able to put everything on and that you’re going to forget a few albums along the way.

Here’s what my final best of the decade, top 50, looked like:

Liner Notes (December 6th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at my plans for the website over the next twelve months, dives into some new music and news stories from this week (including my frustration with Blink-182), and goes through my usual media diet. 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.

This article is available exclusively to supporters of our website. Join now for as little as $3 per month and get access to exclusive content and a variety of perks. Plus, you'll be helping an independent publisher. Learn more here.

Liner Notes (November 29th, 2019)

It’s the “still full from yesterday’s dinner” version of the newsletter. It’s a slow part of the year, so this week doesn’t have a whole lot of music to go through, but there is a bunch of movies and TV shows to make up for it. Also, since it’s Black Friday, I share a few of the sales around the internet that I recommend. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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