A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

Every week I pray that the Spotify gods be good to me as I check my Discover Weekly playlist. They’ve lead astray once or twice, but they’ve also lead me to find some truly awesome tunes. So I’ve decided to use this platform to share my findings with you.

Once a week, I’ll share with you my playlist, rate the songs, and give my opinions on each track. Hopefully, you can use this as a way to discover new artists, find what to avoid, and grow your catalog.

Scale from best to worst

Awesome – Great – Good – Fine – Whatever – Skip it

I’ll pick a favorite of the week, you’ll know it when you see the ghost. I will not pick my least favorite. You should be able to figure that out for yourselves anyway, and I’m already ripping into a band’s hard work, so theres no need for me to add insult to injury with a stupid sticker or something. Anyways,

Enjoy the read! 

“No Love From Above” Death of a Nation

Rating: Whatever

Genre:  Hardcore, Post Punk 

The Verdict: 

We get it, you’re not a fan of Mr. Jesus. Unfortunately it seems this topic has become worn out. Im all for expressing whatever you feel whenever you feel it, but it seems its become required for every hardcore band to make a song about this exact thing. Theres just not enough substance in this song to justify the simplicity of the lyrics. Topically worn out and it just feels silly. Moreover, the mood of the song is rather depressing, as if he’s going through a crisis as he’s realizing that he doesn’t need god. Maybe that was the point, or maybe they just missed the mark.

“The Baker Act” Artifex Pero 

Rating: Good

Genre:  Progressive Rock, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Structurally, it was a little derivative. Very comparative to bands like Emarosa, Chiodos, Memphis May Fire, etc. I did however like the addition of the piano, and organ work. There are plenty of bands that do the same thing, but in this case, the addition put this song just above the rest. Vocals are okay, but a little drab, and fail to carry a song that has some interesting parts, but all together doesn’t explore everything it could have been. I’ll admit, I did favorite the song. I’ll be listening to the rest of this bands catalog, I’m not willing to give up on them just yet.

“You’ll Understand When You’re Older” Kaonashi

Rating: Great. 

Genre:  Progressive Hardcore. 

The Verdict: 

This song opens up like a sledgehammer opens up your head, and ends gracefully, with a cool, calm, and melodic breakdown. The vocals are raw and in your face, and the lyrics are almost painfully direct. Guitar tones are just the right amount of heavy, and just the right amount of warm. I wouldn’t call this the greatest show of hardcore technicality, but the simplicity works for this song. I recommend this band for fans of Knocked Loose and Varials, who are looking for something a little weirder.

“Autumnus” Reflections

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

It’s fine. It’s like they copy and pasted the perfect formula for a modern post hardcore song. Production was great, players were great, vocals were great. The guitar solos were sort of djenty and fun, but other than that, it’s just a post hardcore song.

“Two Birds With One Stone” Drop Dead, Gorgeous

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I love this band. I realize they’re hokey, but I’ve always loved their production and songwriting. Danny Stillman’s voice is fantastically chaotic, and stands as a perfect compliment to his angsty lyrics, and the band’s trashy instrumentation. They’re entire catalog sounds like it was recorded during a house fire. If you haven’t checked them out, and you’re a fan of this stuff. DO IT. And while you’re at it, Stillman has a newer project, Bleach Blonde, I recommend them for fans of The Used, Senses Fail, Alkaline Trio, early Fallout Boy and “Self Titled” era Blink-182.

Complexity of Light” Children of Nova

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Rock, Progressive Rock

The Verdict: 

This is what I look for with bands like this. Instead of the usual paint by numbers rabble with their moody atmospheric chords, noodling guitars, and contrived song structures. This song makes use of tremolo pedals, soaring falsetto vocals, weirdly placed stops, and interesting structure. This song is really eons ahead of what I hear from a lot of other bands in the same vein. The wild song structure shows the writers to be extremely talented, and fluent in a multitude of styles. It opened with bongos, kept my attention throughout, and finally ended with a screaming falsetto. I’m totally sold. Definitely recommend for fans of Circa Survive, Arcane Roots, and Fall of Troy.

“Midnight: Carroll Street” Into It, Over It

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Emo, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

“Somewhere between, caffeine and nicotine…” Not too much to say here, other than I love this band. Lyricism is great as usual, the honkey tonk toned piano in the bridge is a great addition to the song, and the overall mood is perfect. Check it out.

“Nosebleed” Tigerwine

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Grunge

The Verdict: 

Fist off, the guitar tones are brilliant. The song is filled with smart guitar riffs, and great production. I know I’ve been hounding other bands about standard song structure, but depending on the band, it usually works, and it does so well here. It’s and interesting mix of a post hardcore feel, with grungy sentiments. The real selling point tho is the vocals. The singer has a perfectly weird blend of Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups, and Scott Russo of Unwritten Law. I’ll definitely be diving head first into their catalog for more.

“The Family Disease” Oceana

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Metalcore, Post Hardcore, Emo

The Verdict: 

Unfortunately, it’s just boring. Maybe time wasn’t kind to this style, as this came out in 2009, but I for one am just over this specific sound. There were a huge number of bands that sounded exactly like this, and Oceana faded quickly into the white noise that just engulfed this scene around that time. It just sounds like everything else that came out. The only thing setting it apart is the guitar tone. Which sounds like it was recorded through a lead pipe. The vocals are just way too bland, and just can’t punch through the monotony. The choir bit during the bridge is pretty fun, but otherwise it’s just a post hardcore song. Skip it.

“Gun In Hands” Stutterfly

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Alt Metal, Nu Metal, Post Hardcore, Emo

The Verdict: 

This came out during a transitional point in time, 2005. Nu Metal was officially out, overproduced pop-hip hop was on the rise, and the weird kids needed a new underground movement to cling to. Enter the Emo bands. All things post became all the rage. They’re still existed tho some hangers on. Kids with one foot still planted  firmly in the Nu Metal scene, and the other venturing out into the post realm. Stutterfly was one of these bands, as well as Trust Company, Chevelle, Earshot, and Smile Empty Soul. I get it, I appreciate it, but I don’t really love it.

“Within My Reach” Sights & Sounds

Rating: Great

Genre: Rock, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

This was kind of fun. The guitars were just grimey enough to compliment the extreme amount of washy reverb on the vocals. At first I was hesitant, but the more they played that chorus, the more I liked it. They play the chorus a bunch of times, so I came to actually really love the song by the end. If you like your rock moody, and your guitars slightly on the harder side, I’d say check this song out.

“Stop searching” Valencia

Rating: Good

Genre: Post Rock, Post Punk, Rock

The Verdict: 

The piano backing the guitar is a nice touch, as was the acoustic guitar in the bridge, and I like the pop punk feel of the chorus. Otherwise, it’s kinda goofy. I’ve never heard a song by Valencia that I’ve really liked. They’ve always felt needlessly overdone. This one turned out better than most that I’ve heard, but I’m not sure that’s enough to make me want to listen again.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” No Home

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Post Hardcore, Post Punk, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

Knocked Loose is fun, Such Gold is fun, The Story Story So Far is fun. No Home is not. This is extremely contrived, and there’s unfortunately no redeeming qualities here for me. The spoken word bit really tried to be serious and heartfelt with lyrics like “hope exists if you let it,” but ultimately came across as kind of laughable. Honestly though, that’s probably because I’m closing in on 30 years old. Had I heard this in high school I probably would have loved it. Im getting too old for this.

“Change (House of Flies)” Architects

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metalcore, Rock, Metal

The Verdict: 

This was a Spotify single, recorded at Abbey Road. I was surprised that a band like Architects would be one to be selected for something like this. Not that Architects is bad, just that they’re an aging metalcore band. All together, it was amazing. Anyone who knows me knows Deftones is one of my all time favorites. Anyone who knows Deftones, knows they’ve produced some of the most inventive and interesting cover songs to date. So when I read the title of this one, and saw who the band was, I was skeptical. Again, not because I don’t like Architects, but because I’ve heard plenty of bad Deftones covers, and I just wasn’t ready to hear another one. This, to my elated surprise, was incredible. There were real strings in place of those eerie synth samples on the original track. The strings were orchestrated through the entire song adding a new layer to the already sonically dense piece. The orchestration gave the song a whole new flavor, it felt like a really dark Bond film into, instead of a cold alt Metal track. I couldn’t believe how epic it had become. Chino’s vocals on this track will never be matched in my mind, so I’m a bit biased, but I’m still going to critique. The new vocals felt a bit bored, I feel like they could have done more. Now I’m probably just nit picking, but the gated reverb on the snare was really not great. It took me halfway through the song to notice it because I was so blown away, but I did notice it. Otherwise, those STRINGS. Seriously incredible. If there was a college degree in proper cover song creation, this should be the 101 corse.

“Dads” DADS, Berried Alive, Lucas Mann

Rating: Good

Genre: Progressive Metal, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

Not really my style, but it was sure interesting. The guitar work was pretty crazy, and I liked the synth sounds they chose. They had and interesting trap, or hip hop influence, djenty time signatures, and really weird album art. I don’t love it, but I’m totally for it.

“Big Bear and the Hour of Chaos” Unearth

Rating: Fine

Genre: Metal, Metalcore

The Verdict: I’m pretty sure I remember this album coming out, and I don’t remember Unearth sounding like Amon Amarth. I don’t dislike it, there’s nothing bad I can say about it. I like that it’s instrumental, I like the feel, the bridge is cool, I just don’t love it…

Well I needed some context, so I went and listened to some of this record, and it totally DOES sound like Amon Amarth. I’m changing my rating to GOOD. I like what they were going for here, like a Metalcore approach to melodic death metal. If it was just a one off song on a record filled with the usual hardcore, post hardcore stuff I remember them for, it wouldn’t work. It has to be surrounded contextually in order for it to meld properly. Since they were dedicated to making a Metalcore version of an Amon Amarth record, and they saw it through, I’m into it.

“Caution: Dangerous Curves Ahead” Maylene and the Sons of Disaster

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metalcore, Southern Rock.

The Verdict: 

This band rules. I listen to the so regularly, I’m wondering why they popped up on this playlist. They are so silly. I mean southern rock and metalcore, Who’da thought? Anyways, Dallas Taylor used to sing for Underoath, then he left and started Maylene. The two bands sound nothing alike so if you’re an Underoath fan, don’t expect any similarities here. This particular song rips, as a good most of their songs do. I was fortunate enough to see Maylene and Underoath on tour together years ago, and from that point forward, I was sold on both bands. If you haven’t already, check them out if you like any metalcore at all.

“Skylasher” Lee McKinney

Rating: Good

Genre:  Progressive Metal, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

If you enjoy the sound of dudes stroking their own egos, you’ll love it!

 I kid, I kid. 

The level of guitar chops in any of these types of bands is extreme. I’m talking about Joe Satriani, and Polyphia, as well as guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, and John Petrucci. Those super high level performers that solo like crazy, and whatever band they’re in, the whole thing is about their skill. There seem to be more and more of these instrumental, guitar shredder bands popping up everywhere lately. I’ll attribute the influx to the ease of home recording, and the fact that nobody else wants to be in a band where one guy is literally the whole draw. These things are always impressive, but not really my jam.

“Rise Above” SET SIGHTS

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Punk, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Pretty standard. Everything sounds good, they did a good job writing a standard post punk song. I’ve heard this a million times, disguised as different songs. I bet this song would rip live, but the coffee shop patio at which I’m listening to this isn’t really the right setting. There’s an argument you could make there, “Well it’s all about the setting, it’s made for live…” To that I’ve got to ask, “if your music is only any good live, why bother recording it?” Anyways, I can really get into other songs like this by bands like Gallows, but I think there’s only room for one or two of these types on my pallet. If you’re just getting in to hardcore, post hardcore, punk, etc. I’d say check it out. If you’re a seasoned Rights of Spring fan, I’d say you’ve probably heard it before.

Flowermouth ( The Leech)” Code Orange Kids

Rating: Good

Genre: Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I feel almost the same here as I did with the previous song. If I want beat down style hardcore, I’ve got a playlist full of Earth Crisis, Raised Fist, and Downset. I think that the rules that make the genre the genre are too constricting, there’s just isn’t enough room in the to explore. When I look for hardcore bands, I prefer those like Candiria, Youth of Today, and Gorilla Biscuits to bands like this. This song does what it’s supposed to, but again, I’ve heard it a million times.

“Luna” Invent, Animate

Rating: Good

Genre: Alt Metal, Progressive Metal, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

There’s plenty of these pretty, twinkly, and heavy Mother Earth metal bands. I’ve always kind of enjoyed it, but not enough to actively seek it out. I liked this, but I kept comparing it to the band Erra, which is a great band if you haven’t yet taken listen. If you like metal, read your horoscopes, and see sacred geometry everywhere, this might be for you.

“Footsteps In the Distance” envy

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Post Punk

The Verdict:

I’ll probably do a whole piece on this in the future, but I love the Japanese scene, for a lot of reasons. This song is killer, and I’m glad Spotify realizes my love for Japanese emo stuff. It’s got great unexpected turns through the chorus, and an awesome feel. Also, I noticed these weird pauses that sound almost accidental, but consistent, so maybe they were planned? Whatever they were, they worked for me, it made the song very human. What stands out most is the spoken word verses. They might be hokey and lame, but it’s all in Japanese, so I have no clue what they’re saying. In other words, it’s nice to not have to take the lyrics into account. For me, a lot of the time, especially with this kind of music, lyrics can make or break a song. And even tho the lyrics are probably very dumb, I like not being able to tell. I will always urge readers to join me down this weird rabbit hole of Japanese post, because it’s always a surprise, and its usually a good one.

“Look But Don’t Touch” Polyphia, Lewis Grant

Rating: Great

Genre: Djent, Djazz, Trap, Electronic, Pop

The Verdict: 

Hey didn’t we just mention these guys? I love what they’re doing here, I’ve heard them release a few songs like this, with jazzy guitars over trap beats, and big djent style chorus bits. Usually they stick to instrumental arrangements, but this time they brought in a vocalist. My only real gripe, is that the vocals came in so late in the song, that it was a little jarring. Like it was two different pieces that they just slammed together. It wasn’t horrible, the singing was great, lyrics were just fine, and they tied it all together well enough. BUT. In my opinion, the song could have benefited from axing the vocals all together, or putting them through the whole thing.

“Wax Simulacra” The Mars Volta

Rating: Awesome

Genre:  Progressive Rock, Alternative

The Verdict: 

Its always funny when I find one of my favorite songs by a particular artist on my discover weekly playlist. I suppose it’s been quite a while since I’ve listened to it. Shout out to Spotify for reminding me I need to sit down with this record again. Everyone else should too, preferably while intoxicated.

“Beautiful Night” Burden Brothers

Rating: Great

Genre: Punk

 The Verdict: 

What a jam. Loved the production with the super trashy cymbals, loved the goofy sad punk boy lyrics, and the vocals were killer. I put this in the same category with bands like Lit, and Finch, or Toadies, and Future Leaders of the World. Favorited this one, can’t wait to bust it out next time I finally get the girl in a 90’s teen drama.

“On Her Mind” Volumes, Pouya 

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Nu Metal, Djent, Hip-Hop, Rap Rock

The Verdict: 

For the purpose of this project, I rarely skip tracks within the first 30 seconds. I really try not to, so I can make sure to give you my full and honest reactions, and informed opinions. But I think I get a pass for this one. I never want this genre to come back, why is it coming back?

“Disease” Beartooth

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I look at Beartooth as the blink-182 of metalcore. I don’t hate them, I just feel like their comparatively vanilla. Caleb Shomo’s lyrics feel forced, like someone told him that in order to make it big, he has to ONLY ever sing about his drug problem. I’m not discrediting his struggles, and if this is what helps him get past it, more power to him. His simple straight forward lyrical approach just doesn’t resonate with me. The music was too well produced. Structure was very standard for a metalcore outing, there wasn’t much I particularly loved, although I did really like the breakdown bit, it was smartly put together, and I’ll bet its very cool live.

“Collector” Red Handed Denial 

Rating: Good – Great 

Genre: Metalcore, Progressive Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

I can’t tell if I like it or love it. I have to look at their catalog to figure this out. If this is their best song, I’m not interested. But, there is the potential for me to love it. I could see myself listening to this a whole bunch if they had other similar songs to enjoy alongside “Collector”. Context is key sometimes. The mix was a little odd. Could have been my ears, but the vocals seemed way louder then they needed to be, while the selling point, the crazy noodling guitars, were way far in the background. This song has all the fixings to be great, and it was ALMOST there. I’ll report back with more information after I’ve given them a solid chance.

“Acid Rain” Cane Hill

Rating: Fine

Genre: Alternative Rock, Grunge

The Verdict: 

Well, someone listens to way too much REAL ROCK RADIO. I was surprised to find this came out last year instead of in 1997. It sounds exactly like a Pearl Jam track, or a Creed track, all the way down to the singing style. You know, where every vowel is just an R in disguise? It’s fine if you’re in to that stuff, I can’t stand it, and I feel like it’s better left in the past. Some interesting things going on here, with the mild distortion on his voice, and it works for the type of music that its trying to fit in with.

“I Killed Arbor Day For You” Panucci’s Pizza

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Midwest Emo

The Verdict:

Dime a dozen type band. Silly names, really corny lyrics about love and loss, twinkling tapped guitars, decent drumming, etc. If I was super in the mood, I could gather all the names of all the modern Midwest emo bands on scraps of paper, tape them to a wall, and do a round of blindfolded darts. Wherever the darts land are the bands I listen to. It wouldn’t matter at all, because all these bands sound exactly the same, and I’d be hard pressed to know the difference between them. Granted near the end of this song, I did enjoy the guitar riff. It was amazing, after the singer shut up about ripping his own heart out, and gave the guitar some room to breathe, I started to enjoy it. There are times when all I want to hear is Midwest emo, sometimes I’ll get a daily mix of exclusively that. This is not one of those times.

Thats it! Thanks for the read, its been real. We’ll have a new one of these every Tuesday so drop by next week to see what Spotify makes me listen to.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist