The Lost IFIILO Playlists


Last July, I quit the blog. I didn’t quit making playlists for my best friend.

If you want to hear what I didn’t publish, you can follow me on Spotify and find all of Friday playlists in the IFIILO folder. Or here is the rest of the lost treasure in order…

Beginning with #34, these playlists got their own covers, rather than a collage of the covers from the first four records.

As I mentioned on Friday, I settled on a 45-track format at some point. So the playlists are pretty long – better for long drives or weekends around house than for quick listens. The material is typically diverse, but includes alot of 2016’s best new stuff.


More soon.


It’s Tuesday, I’m in love…


Before playlists, there were mix cds. I’ve made many of those for my best friend.

I plan to bring virtual versions of some of them to Spotify – a sort of IFIILO Time Machine.  And a great place to start is this one from Valentines Day 2014.

The header image is the handmade cover art – four hearts because it was our fourth V-Day together.

IASIY, b. And ILYSM. Happy Valentines Day!

More soon.


It’s Friday, I’m in love…


Hey. How was your week? TJIF.

This playlist goes back to the 45-track format from last year.  If that’s too long for you, skip through it – there’s plenty to like.  Classic rock from E.C., Carlos, Steve, and Sly;  electronica from Four Tet and Polygon Windows (Richard James aka Aphex Twin).  Trip-hop from Massive Attack; hip-hop from Migos and Drake; pop from Zayn & Taylor and the Weeknd; dance from Austra, Rose Elinor Dougal, and Blondie (yeah, that one). And new indie rock from Camp Cope, Japandroids, and Cloud Nothings.

Listen on Spotify or right here…

Header image: @jackvanzet on Ello.

Don’t forget that Valentines Day is Tuesday. Give your LO some exs and ohs.

More soon.


It’s Friday, I’m in love…


Hi, again. The blog is dead, so long live the blog, right?

Another week, another playlist.

Alot of new stuff: Cloud Nothings, Japandroids, Slowdive (yeah, really), Austra, Dirty Projectors, JAMC, the New Pornographers, and Camp Cope. Old stuff from…well, Nile Rogers’ Chic. So there. A punk-ish segment, some Shoegaze, nihilist disco, and some rnb.

I need to figure out a more manageable format soon. Marathons like this aren’t for everybody. Comment if you have ideas about how to make these lists more listenable. As usual, this one’s here. (Or follow me on Spotify for all of them.)

Header image: David Mrugala (@thedotisblack on Ello).

More soon.


It’s Friday, I’m in love…



After a long hiatus, the IFIILO playlists are back.  Tbh, they never really left.  Though I stopped posting them, I never stopped making them for my best friend.  She’s gotten one almost every week for a year. Hopefully, she still doesn’t mind if I share with you.

This week, there’s new stuff from Laura Marling, Real Estate, Father John Misty (wow), and the xx.  There’s a long-ish acoustic segment at the beginning, some bounce in the middle, and a short-ish shoegaze segment at the end.  Listen on Spotify or right here. Comment here or on the Liner Notes’ Facebook page or Twitter feed, where I usually add blog content. (I’ll try to keep the Instagram and Ello accounts current, too.)

Header image by Lanny Quarles on Ello, btw.

Have nice weekends.

More soon.




“But I didn’t open up my mouth

Just to piss and moan.”

Okkervil River, “Okkervil River R.I.P.”

In my imagination, there’s a Liner Notes HQ. It’s an office on the second floor of a warehouse-y building in a nondescript city. Every morning, I grab a coffee downstairs from the local shop, climb the stairs to the door with the headphones logo, turn the key, and walk inside. Owen isn’t there yet; he’s usually late. And so is the staff. I set down my hip messenger bag and look around. Festival and concert posters line the walls of the waiting area. The receptionist’s monitor has a boring screen saver (the headphones, again) bouncing slowly from corner to corner. I walk past a morning-dark conference room, where the cloudy daylight slants across an old-fashioned chalkboard with a few unfinished lists – one titled “NEXT” and another titled “2016” and double-underlined. The former is blank; the latter seems like a work in progress, things erased and written over and other things crossed-off. Year end stuff.

Our spaces are at the end of short hall, and they share an internal wall against which O tosses a squeezy ball when he’s on the phone with A&R guys or other bloggers. His office is a mess. Phish paraphernalia, mostly, including what he calls the four-fecta. On his desk, there’s the Fishman bobblehead, natch. There’s the real cactus wearing a fake gray wig and holding a fake fretless bass. There’s a square of what looks like astroturf with a balding and bearded Fisher-Price little person next to microphone. And, my fave, the framed pic of peak-70s Arthur E. Neuman with a bright red beard and wire-rimmed glasses wearing tennis whites, ala Jimmy Connors, and holding a Wilson racket. Obviously, pics of his beautiful family, next to stacks of cds – promos, perched perilously next to the trash can (I really love it when he just sweeps them in and laughs every month or so), and, next to the computer tower, the “important ones” – Kezar, 12/31/95, some Miles Davis, Arcade Fire, the National. You can’t see his dual monitors from his dual chairs, and that’s probably by design—stills of Dennis Bergkamp’s amazing thigh muscles have been known to stop fluid conversations.

My office is on the left. Two windows, and pictures of my team on the sill. Above the computer, a bulletin board with yellowing print cut-outs of authors, musicians, soccer players (Zidane, just post-headbutt, standing over that floppy racist bitch Materazzi), and, of course, snapshots of all four kids. My vanity wall has all three diplomas and two law licenses. A piece called “Four Blue Sky Windows for J. Freitag” by my dead best friend hangs between the windows. The whole place is tidy, to humble-brag. Lester Bangs’ Psychotic Reaction sits alone in an inbox next to several piles of paper, which I really need to get off my damn desk right away. I listen to my voicemail, check my email, and scribble a few notes.  Call so-and-so at such-and-such, lunch with that one person, etc. Boring rock scribe shit. You can see my dual monitors from my dual chairs, and that’s not necessarily by design, but gotdam those mirrored Windows abstract wallpapers do look super tight together. (Tech-wise, I guess LN would be Apple-based, but my everyday office isn’t. Those are really the wallpaper on my work monitors, so it crept into my daydream.)

A sip from my Starbucks travel mug, which the barristas downstairs pretend to think is cute, and a cursor blink. Where was I…oh.

Hi. It’s been too long. And now it’s that time. List time.

And. Whuh. Why bother.

It’s late-January already. And just like retail stores start selling xmas right after hween, all the big sources (magazines and websites) start posting their “best of” lists way too soon. We all know what we should listen to. And once we do, we all know what we should like. It’s Beyoncé and Bowie. And many, many other things by other artists.

(I’m making a few huge assumptions. Namely, if you’ve read this far, you actually (a) care about new music, and (b) took the time to peruse some lists.)

Insider info. Do you want to know why the lists from those big sources are so diverse?  It’s because they have more than two people listening. We here at LN believe in doing it ourselves. Actually, we don’t believe in that, but we have no choice. My attempts at staffing this thing last year failed miserably. LNHQ doesn’t exist, except in my head. O lives in the East; I live in the Midwest. He’s a dad of two little boys; I’m a dad of two less-little boys. He and I never see each other unless we text pictures, and we rarely talk.

But we do. We text and email a lot, especially around this time of year. Sure, there’s chatter about Arsenal FC’s festive period. There’s even more chatter about music because of these silly lists – the ones we read, and the ones we write. And we need to post our version here for the handful of people who care. (Two people are a handful, O. Trust me. You’d think it was five, but two is a quorum because the thumb doesn’t count. Ha.)

What’s our tag line? We write, you listen. That’s completely inaccurate. We listen, then we write (or we used to), then you maybe read, and then you probably don’t listen. Guys, true story: I have never understood why. I have never understood why more people aren’t as into this as we are, or were.

Maybe life is too short to care? Maybe these posts are so annoying that you don’t take the first step (reading) to the second (listening)?

I’m conscious about being negative and critical. My best friend tells me that I’m a snob. And, yeah, I am (and can get pointlessly righteous about my bona fides to stand on a soapbox re: music). Another friend told me earlier this year that I’m the most negative person he’s ever known. Ever known. Wow. Just as the blog was clipping along (remember “Grateful Dead Weekly” and “Jazz Is…” and the “It’s Friday, I’m in Love” playlists?), I tripped on my own too-clever words and too-cool opinions, and offended one of the very few folks that I hoped would read what I wrote and pass it along.

So that’s why I quit. I don’t want to be that guy. Not here, not anywhere. Opinions are fine, but humility is better. And music is the best.

It’s sure better than my opinions about it. This isn’t about me. It’s not. LN is me and Owen talking, but it’s us talking about art. And art is weird, innit? (Pretty sure I blogged about that in some iteration of this blog – can’t be bothered to link it.) Does an artist make art for herself, or for somebody else? Both?  Is the latter a matter of false consciousness? That’s only partly rhetorical. I’m not sure that “both” is the wrong answer, but it’s definitely the right answer to pay the bills. Digression.

Blogging isn’t art. Writing is, for sure. But blogging isn’t writing. It’s opinioning. It’s criticizing and ranting – and the more obnoxious, the better. Clickbait rules. I’d like to think that I’m humbler than that. I listen to a lot, then sometimes I write about it. And I can do that in a kind way. I can do that in a way that doesn’t expect website hits. I’m 47 years old (feeling every one, lately), and my validation shouldn’t come from you. It should come from me. My best friend usually doesn’t read this blog; Owen’s doesn’t, either. Why, then? If the two most important people in our individual lives don’t really care, then why?

Why do we do this? I can’t speak for Owen. I can make screw of his virtual office swag, but I can’t put words in his mouth. Me, I do this because it’s fun to write, to string together words in interesting ways to describe music. And that’s plenty. If art enters the equation, it’s the art of the artists – the musicians, who have produced so much amazing work. And if you don’t care about what I liked, that’s totally ok; if you do, that’s great. It would be even greater to know that you heard my shouts, checked out something outside your comfort zone, and shouted back.

Let’s start conversations – irl, like President Obama said in his farewell address – and disagree and fight (header image), amicably.

That starts with a proposition like, “holy shit, the last track on that Tim Hecker record is so indescribably ominous.” Or, “there’s a connection among the Bon Iver, Frank Ocean, and James Blake records that we should discuss because maybe modern pop music is moving in an introspective direction, and what does that mean?” Or, “damn, I just plain love ‘90s indie guitar rock and its progeny.” Or, “I just don’t get much hip-hop, lately, and I can’t really explain why because it’s a big part of what I dug in law school, but A Tribe Called Quest is still good and Run the Jewels is even better.”

If you’re reading this still (and tl;dr is an actual thing, I get it), there are three more things that I want to say.

  1. I’m always honest in what I recommend or unrecommend.
  2. Connecting about anything – music or art or even just fn life – is awesome. Awesome in a colloquial sense, and awesome in the larger sense of awe. We’re all electrons, milling around a nucleus called Earth. We all have good and bad days. Nobody’s joy or grief is better or worse than anybody else’s. But insularity is bullshit. The 1/21 marches and rallies across the world showed us that.
  3. One and two are related, so this post and this blog is an open invitation.

I might be done with LN, tbh – it just doesn’t matter. Or I might not be because…idk. There’s something about new beginnings. And in that spirit, here’s my fave lyric passage of last year (and part of my #1):

“But if we learn how to live like this

Maybe we can learn how to start again

Like a child who’s never done wrong

Who hasn’t taken that first step”

The 20 Best Records of 2016, imho:

  1. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
  2. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  3. Frank Ocean – Blonde
  4. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
  5. Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith – A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (non-Spotify)
  6. Mitski – Puberty 2
  7. Solange – A Seat at the Table
  8. David Bowie – Blackstar
  9. Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
  10. Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
  11. James Blake – The Colour in Anything
  12. Mogwai – Atomic
  13. Parquet Courts – Human Performance
  14. Okkervil River – Away
  15. Lost Under Heaven – Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing
  16. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – EARS; FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy
  17. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3
  18. Kyle Dixon & Matthew Stein – Stranger Things OST Vol. 1 & Vol. 2; Survive – RR7349
  19. The Field – Follower
  20. Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth

Honorable Mention (abc order):

(Notes: All links to Spotify. If you don’t have pay Spotify, you should. The HMs were all pretty close to making the Top 20 – or back half of it. Just wanted to mention what I left off for reference.)

Let me know what you think. I hope your holidays were grand, and 2017 is a happy and healthy year for you and your people. To quote some guy from Avatar…ahem, sorry…to quote awesome Toronto’s very own Kevin Drew: “Hope is not a fucking word, it’s a responsibility.”

More soon?


It’s Friday, I’m still in love…


(Thanks for asking.)

Hi, guys.

So how were your summers? Good? Didya travel? Visit a beach or two? See any shows?

Me? Well, lemme tell you. The German music blog fest was cray. Like full on. OM and I met some cool folks there, then decided to take a break and make it continental summer. Prague was Prague. The Croatian coast is amazing. Greece, that’s a story for another time. Bloggers in Sicily are great; bloggers in Malta aren’t. The Riviera fortnight was a blur, and the Catalan thing was a blurrier blur. After that, we hit up, hm, other places? Capitals, mostly, I think. (Actually, the JF and the RK have pictures. Yep, mostly capitals, seems like. Monuments. And bars. Lots and lots of bars.)

Apparently, LN is a big deal. So we got comped by an oligarch from idek where over to the Rio Olympics. Chilled with Lochte that one night – bailed on him when he said he was gonna “go off.” Met Costas, met Seacrest, some Brazilian folks (Neyman, btw, I still have your left shoe). The header pic is some building down there that they didn’t quite finish. Oh well.

Game on when we got back stateside. Moved a kid to a great house, moved another kid to to an amazing sophomore-year house. Got two other kids backpacked and ready for seventh and fourth grade. Reroofed the garage, fixed the deck. (This is just me, O, feel free to add.) Oh, and Pitchfork Fest was ok, and Michigan’s west coast is beautiful. Pshew.

Where did I leave off with this damn blog, anyway? Around the IFIILO 18 playlist, apparently. Plenty of catching up. I’ll update this, but here’s IFIILO 30. New Okkervil River, old Olivia, new Wilco and Jim James, old XX. Some bouncy pop and balearic stuff in the middle, and a fun punky segment at the end.  Enjoy, and Happy Friday 🙂

More soon.