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Liner Notes (August 14th, 2021)

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  1. Melody Bot

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    This week’s newsletter has thoughts on The Killers, M.A.G.S., Ben Platt, Meet Me @ the Altar, and much more. Plus, there’s commentary on various things I’ve seen over the past week and a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed. I think it’s a pretty good one if I don’t say so myself. 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.

    A Few Things

    • I hope everyone is having a good Saturday so far. My week was a slightly annoying one. Last Sunday, we woke up to being informed that our building’s storage units had been broken into and burglarized. Sure enough, a group of people had tripped the outside motion detector, come inside, picked the lock to the storage units, and then used bolt cutters to get through the lock and gate. They stole all our luggage, my camping backpack, our air mattress, all our winter coats, all of our Christmas Funko, and various other things we had stored there. I still need to go through everything to see if I can catalog exactly everything that went missing. They came back the next night, but a neighbor heard the door open and called the police. They ended up arrested three people, and apparently, it’s been part of a larger ring of break-ins around the neighborhood in the past few months. One of them had a loaded handgun on them. So, by and large, I am just happy that no one was hurt. This could have been so, so, so much worse. After talking with the police some, I don’t have any hope of us getting any of our stuff back. I think what bums me out the most is our fun holiday Christmas Funko collection that Hannah and I had been building together over the past few holidays. And, it’s just the overarching feeling of violation. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff, but that bubble being burst is a hard feeling to shake. Of course, the insurance company was of very little help. Basically, saying we had a deductible, but even if we wanted to use our insurance, it would then sit on our record for five years, and our premiums would go up. So, not a help at all. I’m glad I give them lots of money every year; it makes me feel good inside to do it. eyeroll Anyways, that was our eventful week. Fun times.
    • I thought this article breaking down the recent IPCC report on climate change did an excellent job distilling the entire report down in a way that’s a little more readable. It’s… not great, Bob!
    • My sister is out of town for a wedding this weekend, so we came over to her place to feed her cat. The cat is currently hiding under the bed and wants nothing to do with us. But we’re hanging around for a while and eating sandwiches, and I’m going to write a little bit. The iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard really is a great little writing machine. I feel like I can take it anywhere, and with Ulysses never feel like the experience is second class.

    In Case You Missed It

    Music Thoughts

    • Quite a bit of music to write about this week. Let’s start with The Killers. They released their new album Pressure Machine, and my first impressions have me thinking this just might be the band’s best album? It’s exceptionally well written. A storytelling dynamo. The funny thing is that on my first listen, I kept thinking, “wow, this is really great, but I can’t understand why they decided to record it so muddy with the vocals pulled so far back.” I was very much into it but was ready to complain, as I did about the recent Bleachers album, about bands intentionally making their great songs sound worse with production choices. And then I flipped over to the new Foxing album. And it also sounded like complete ass. It turns out there was some issue with my Apple Music, and it was streaming the songs at like 28kbps or something, in the absolute worst quality. I rebooted the app and then listened again. It turns out … zero problems with the production! And the album’s even better when it’s not some low-bitrate tin can version! Wow! Who knew!? Pretty telling that the songs stood up even in that version, but, damn, what an achievement record. I blame Jack Antonoff for me thinking that the weird bad sound was just a choice they made and not immediately being like, “hmm, something is off here.” Dammit, Jack, look what you’ve done to me.
    • Next up is the new M.A.G.S album. Think everything great about Hellogoodbye’s Would it Kill You? and the summer feeling that just pours from that album. Would that interest you? Would that be a thing you would like to listen to? Then you’re going to want to run, not walk, to Say Things That Matter. This could very well be your next obsession. I’m addicted to the melodies and to how this album makes me want to lay in the grass and close my eyes. I mean, it’s a billion degrees in Portland this weekend, but on a weekend where it doesn’t feel like we’re actually living on the sun, that’s a weekend where I’d go lay in the park with this in my headphones and let it consume me.
    • The Starting Line’s fantastic livestreams are now on streaming platforms. If you missed these when they aired, I can’t recommend them enough. It truly helped make the whole pandemic year a little bit better, and I can’t thank the band enough for that.
    • This week also saw the release of Ben Platt’s Reverie. And, look, this is just exactly right in my wheelhouse. It’s got a nice synthy sheen on top of a songwriting style that just does it for me. Personal, catchy, and entirely danceable. This will be in rotation for quite a while.
    • And, last but certainly not least, the new EP from Meet Me @ the Altar is now available. There are a few bands over the years of writing online that I remember specifically talking about the first time and watching the hype build and build until they pushed over into the rest of the internet/world. And ever since I first wrote about this band in this very newsletter, I’ve felt like I was back in 2001 writing about Fall Out Boy for the first time. That this band had it, that special thing that could resonate with more than just my little corner of the internet, and that all I wanted to do is share it with any and everyone. It’s a perfectly crafted brand of easycore pop-punk, and I’d love nothing more than for this band to take the world by storm; I want to see this band have gold records on their walls one day.
    • I’m still waiting for the new Thrice album in whole (hopefully next week?), so I only spun the new single once. And my exact thoughts were, “Oh, this is very good.” More when I’ve heard the whole record.

    Entertainment Thoughts

    • The Suicide Squad was so weird, so completely ridiculous, and I loved it. It was just a fun movie that knew to go all the way to eleven and amp up every single absurd thing. As a massive fan of the Harley Quinn cartoon, I was very much here for King Shark. Between this, Birds of Prey, and the Harley cartoon, it’s been a good time to be a HQ fan. The first movie in a while where I’ve known upon completion that I’ll absolutely be watching it again in a few months.
    • Oh, so the second Fear Street was the only good one, huh? The third bored me to tears for an hour, then became a Home Alone movie, and these were so very much not for me. I did like the second one a bunch though, wish they all were that fun and leaned into it a bit more. Oh well.
    • The second part of The Long Halloween didn’t change my opinion from the first. It’s a pretty good rendition of one of my all-time favorite comics. I don’t think it’s a replacement, but I enjoyed it.
    • The next TV show we’re watching is Euphoria. I’d only heard about it but didn’t really know much about the story. Welp, it’s dark and funny and well done and dark, and uh, dark, and we’ve been really enjoying it. Ok, “enjoying” feels a little weird to use for a show like this. A couple more left.
    • Titans is back! Since it first debuted, I’ve been writing about this show because seeing these characters in real life on the screen is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. I just flat out never expected something like this to exist, and now it’s here, and even when it’s bad, it’s perfect to me. I’ve watched the first episode, and the only miss I think the show’s had for casting has been Bruce Wayne. I just don’t believe he’s Batman. But, I still think just about everything else is close to perfect. The two new character introductions were spot on. And seeing Nightwing in the suit will never not make me smile. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with the season, and I can’t wait to dive into episode two later today.

    Random and Personal Stuff

    • Hmm, I can’t think of anything to write here today. Ah, ok, so earlier this week I had to lead a global meeting, and we needed an “ice breaker,” so I went with, “What was the last piece of art (music, movie, tv show, book, painting, video game, etc.) that really spoke to you/moved you, and why?” I tossed the question into the Q&A thread, and I really loved reading everyone’s responses. If you have an answer you want to share, I’d love to know so I can add anything I haven’t heard of to my lists. For me, I started thinking about the question because I’ve been re-watching Mad Men, and that show just hits me. So, my answer would be that, and Bo Burnham’s Inside and Ted Lasso. One has made me actively want to be a more optimistic and helpful person to those around me, and one made me question life and our obsession with the internet and social media, and both touched me deeply and in a profound way.
    • I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the weekend. Stay safe out there.

    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. The Starting Line – Best of Me (Live at Studio 4)
    2. MAGS – Golden
    3. Ben Platt – I Wanna Love You But I Don’t
    4. The Killers – West Hills
    5. Sigrid – Mirror (Apple Music Home Session)
    6. Aaron Sprinkle – Slow Stop
    7. Kalie Shorr – I Heard You Got a Girl
    8. Meet Me @ the Altar – Wake Up
    9. Joey Cape – A Good Year to Forget
    10. The Starting Line – Ready (Live at Studio 4)

    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 emt0853 in the “General Politics Discussion IX” thread.

    Fuck yes!

    Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.


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