3 Amazing Local Movies Featuring the AZ Music Scene

By Shane Matsumoto

Anyone who knows me knows that the moment I moved to Tempe, in the late summer of 2001, I did my best to plug into the local music scene – even before joining the Funk Junkeez to run a Highland Recording Studio and moving on to the recording, rehearsal, and multimedia facility I now own at SER Soundworks.

Along the way I have worked with, or made music for, some great people making independent films as well. From Dominic Ross and Amanda Mahan of Big Brain Pictures (the same that teamed up with me to make the television show Indie Music Phoenix), to Brian Skiba and Laurie Love of Victory Angel Films. To Bryan Matuskey and many others – too numerous to list.

Here are a few links to watch pieces that combine the two creative mediums of local music and film. I decided to post some local films featuring local, independent bands from here in Arizona. Each are amazing in their own way. Those of you that know of some other great ones can post some more examples in the comments of other local films that focus on the local music community let’s move beyond my 3 and make the list grow!

Mill Ave Inc (2008)

Mill Ave Inc (2008)
This film was directed by Nicolas Holthaus with additional footage and editing by Chris Valentine. Mill Ave Inc features interviews from tons of great bands from the 90s including members of The Refreshments, Dead Hot Workshop, Heather Ray and the Moonshine Boys, and as well a great soundtrack with songs from the Gin Blossoms, Gloritone, and Flathead – to name a few.

The Fire Crotch Movie (2018)

This one was a guilty pleasure for me that hits some of the same notes for low-budget entertainment as the Story of Riki Oh or something – without the kung-fu, of course. Despite the name, it isn’t pornographic or anything like that. It’s just some fun, campy, dumb stoner-punk stuff.

Filled with catch phrases galore, (“This is how I go like when I go like this!”), the fire crotch is a nuclear weapon device triggered by an electric guitar getting passed around by filthy-mouthed local punk bands… or something like that. The plot line isn’t really that important. It features exclusive performances by current punk bands Dumpster Hump (of whom the lead singer/guitarist was recently banned from the Yucca Tap for Happy Gilmor-ing horse manure off their stage), Ass Wipe Junkies, Birth of Monsters, and Some Jaywalkers. I hope I don’t give away too much to tell you to watch it, if anything, for the special appearance of George Michael.

The Avenue – Official Trailer

Much in the save vein as Mill Ave Inc, the first movie on this list, this one was directed and written by Tucson filmmaker Alan Williams. In fact, it very much felt like a sequel, of sorts, and had a familiar list of producers. The interviews featured Thomas Nicholas, Marianne Dissard, Al Perry, Rich Hopkins, Venice Maki and Tucson mayor Bob Walkup. It documented the changes to sacred musical spaces such as The Night Train and other locally owned businesses that are not necessarily music-related.

Again, post more local films featuring Arizona music in the comments below, I know I’m dying to see more!

-Shane Matsumoto

Discover Briefly #6.2. June 26, 2019

Discover Briefly

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.

Twice 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! 

“Dillon And Her Son” The World Is A Beautiful Place To Live & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Punk, Emo, Rock 

The Verdict: 

Firstly, this band is very cool. They so perfectly craft their songs around the many instruments they incorporate, it’s almost symphonic. In this song, which I highly recommend listening to, you can hear that the guitar melody perfectly connects to a synth line, while the drummer plays a fill to give some space to the instrumentation. The harmonies with the vocals are beautiful, and while they move through their melodies, the lead guitar and synth harmonize in a completely different way. 

Every piece they do is a master class in songwriting, and this song is no exception. This is one of those tracks that I’m going to end up always playing twice in a row. It’s short, at 2:24 seconds, and has so much going on, in such perfect syncopation, that it almost demands that you hear it again. Absolutely brilliant.

“Atlas Novus” Scale The Summit 

Rating: Awesome

Genre:  Progressive Rock, Math Rock, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

This was a lot of fun to listen to. Where as most of these math rock songs tend to showcase the guitar more heavily, this one kept the guitars at the forefront, but let them breathe while the bass did most of the work. I love the tone of the bass guitar in general, so I really enjoy it when I get to focus on it for most of the song. The band came up with a really clever way of putting the bass first without just cranking the volume on it. The guitars just played more open parts, that were drenched in reverb, while the bass noodled around behind them. 

This mix was also beautiful. The guitars were very clear, the bass sounded think, and rich, and the drums sat perfectly in place. What was also refreshing, was the few moments where the drums strayed off time, showing their lack of over production. This is a very pretty song, and is ultimately put together extremely well. Have a listen to this one.

“Clockworkd” Autopilot Off

Rating: Fine 

Genre:  Pop Punk 

The Verdict: 

I’ve got enough pop punk in my life. I’ve never loved this band, I’ve never really loved this song. Had I heard it as a kid, it would have had the nostalgia element, but I didn’t so it just doesn’t stand out to me. It has a great chorus line, but it’s so similar to so many other pop punk songs that do have the nostalgia thing going for them. It’s a good song, but that’s all; it’s very standard. 

If there’s one thing I dislike about it that I can really pin down, it’s the strange amount of guitar effects that are long used for maybe a few seconds. I get what they were trying to do, switch things up, but it feels like their shoehorned in, and I don’t love it.

“Talk To Her” Priestess

Rating: Great

Genre: Rock

The Verdict: 

The production on this track was great, my only real gripe was that the vocals sounded too clean for how dirty the instruments sounded. It’s a great Little Rock song. It’s extremely dancable, a lot of fun, and the talent lever of both the vocalist, and the instrumentalists is top notch. Very cool.

“Four To Six” Math The Band

Rating: Great

Genre: Nintendocore, Punk, Indie Rock

The Verdict: 

With a name like Math The Band, I was expecting a very progressive kind of song. Instead we’ve got a very well put together post punk song. I loved the synth patch they used, I think it fit really well. And the mix of the male and very unique female vocals was a really nice touch. The fast and fuzzy guitar lines were awesome, the song was short and too the point which was effective, and the dirty mix was extremely fitting. I loved this.

ghostlyStray The Skies” VOLA

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Metal

The Verdict: 

I disliked the guitar tones on this track, they were a little too tinny for me. The choices of synth patches, and melodies on the other hand were brilliant. The vocals were very interesting as you would expect there to be screaming over such djent inspired chugging riffs. Instead, the heaviness of the guitars were overlaid with distorted sung vocals. 

I can’t say I absolutely loved the end result of that choice, but I give them an A for effort. The vocals during the chorus however fit perfectly. This reminds me of The Devin Townsend Project, without the virtuoso singing that he’s known for. This was a really solid piece, that is definitely deserving of the Top Pick.

“Blossom” Makari

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Rock, Progressive Rock

The Verdict: 

This song had an air of pop sensibility, without any of the framework of a pop song. The guitar work was amazing, I loved the tone they got with it, and it ultimately a very pretty song. The singers voice is a little piercing at times though, and though it is impressive. I still think a few of the vocal lines would have better served the song better had they been sung In a lower register. 

I thought the intro, with the organs was very interesting, and the guitars were killer. The overall sound was great, and the production was perfect fir what they’re going for here. All together I thought it was great. Check it out.

“The Great Leap (Godflesh Extended Version)” Mortiis, Godflesh

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Industrial Metal

The Verdict: 

Dark! This piece was very interesting in terms of intent. I like the idea of mixing industrial dance beats and metal, especially from underground musicians. It connects the electronic artists to the metal scene, and vice versa. I still hear the old Suicide Season remixes from Bring Me The Horizon played at goth clubs to this day, and I think that speaks volumes to the people’s interest for this kind of mashup. 

This song felt just as filthy as any low budget metal album, but had the sparkle from the electronic elements as well. Very cool.

“Masscult, Vulgarians, And Entitlement” Western Addiction

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

This is a very solid post hardcore song. It has the driving pulse pounding heart of a true hardcore song, with a little exploration and style coming from the guitar work. The vocal melodies are written so well. When he sings the chorus, the way he rises in pitch while the music smacks you in the face, really stresses the point, and gives the song a boost in its levels of aggression. Definitely listen to this song.

“Domino Effect” Ozma

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie

The Verdict: 

I wanted to be in to Ozma when I was younger, but I could never get into it. I still have a hard time getting into them, and this song isn’t any different. They seem like something I’d be into, but nothing they do really blows my mind. This song has a few interesting ideas, but they don’t seem to really commit to any of them. Skip it.

“Cotton Tongue” Looming

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Indie, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

I really liked the weird vocal approach. Otherwise, nothing really jumped out about this song. It’s very basic.

“III. The Will of One” The Protomen

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Punk, Punk, Nintendocore, Electronic

The Verdict: 

The mix is exactly what I want to hear from more bands like this. There’s just a layer of fuzzy noise over the top of everything. It sounds as if the band is playing to you through the static on an old tv. The synth work is absolutely fantastic, from the little synth riffs, to the solo. 

The addition of the synth really the only thing that makes this song as cool as it is; without it, the song would be a very basic rock song. With it, it’s a super weird, super fun, and wild song that leaves you wanting more.

“The Remedy” Abandoned Pools

Rating: Fine

Genre: Alternative, Indie Rock

The Verdict: 

This sounds like Silversun Pickups meets Oasis. On paper that’s a great combo, and I’m sure this band has some jams, but I wasn’t immediately impressed. It’s got interesting points but the song turns out to be weaker than the sum of its parts.

“Exorcism” Megachurch

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Metal, Stoner Rock, Rock

The Verdict: 

Extremely boring. Anyone can look anywhere and get this same feel, with lyrics and better music. Hard skip.

“Nintendo 89” Audio Karate

Rating: Fine

Genre: Pop Punk

The Verdict: 

Pop Punk at its finest. The heyday for the genre was right around the same time this album came out, which is why you’ve never heard of this band. They were washed under by so many huge pop punk acts at the time, and weren’t doing anything exceptional to stand out. 

I like this song, while it’s very basic, it does have a more punk quality to the mix than a few of the bigger bands at that time. Ultimately it’s just a pop punk song though, and it looses its luster quickly.

Thats it! See you next Tuesday… Wait.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly #6.1. June 25, 2019

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.

Twice 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! 

So many choices for top pick this week.

“Head Full of Bees” Racquet Club

Rating: Good

Genre:  Rock, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

I really felt like I could like a lot of this bands catalog. I did enjoy the harmonies on the chorus, they added a lot to the song, and had they not been their I feel like the chorus would have been seriously lacking. I felt like the song flowed very nicely, and although it was pretty formulaic, it was melodically interesting enough to keep my attention. I like the production, although I feel like the bass is a little overpowering. The song had a nice glimmer over the top end of the reverb, and that gave it a lot of movement which otherwise wouldn’t have been there. 

This is one of those songs that was ultimately saved by a really good engineer. It was tightly put together, smartly mixed, and finished beautifully. I’ll delve a little deeper on my own time, and who knows, maybe I’ll find something really special.

“Another Morning Stoner” …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Rating: Great

Genre:  Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Oh the nostalgia. I hadn’t quite gotten into the skramz stuff yet, but bands like this one were a good gateway drug. With similar lyrical themes, similar production, and similar writing styles, listening to this meant it was only a matter of time before the harder stuff would become appealing to me. 

This band is kind of a staple in the old post hardcore scene, I used to hear them come up in conversation a lot, but not for a long while now. If you like early 0’s post hardcore, and haven’t listened to this record, do it.

“Physical Education” Animals As Leaders

Rating: Awesome 

Genre:  Progressive Metal, Djent 

The Verdict: 

This song is incredibly cool. I really love listening to and attempting to get to the bottom of Tosin Abasi’s guitar techniques. “Physical Education” was the first single from this album and because of that I think most fans of this style of music have heard it. Like all of their music, it’s very progressive, very bass heavy, with very high level performance and a very clean mix. I like this band because while being extremely progressive, they maintain a certain level of funk. When the songs find a groove amongst the virtuoso solos, and odd signatures, they’re extremely groovy. 

Something I will say is that I’ve always hated the guitar tone. It’s just too abrasive, it’s for the same reason I can’t get into early Tampa bay death metal; the tones are too tinny and sound like they were recorded in a box. They just don’t sound as wide and free as I would like them too. That’s my only gripe with this band, otherwise they do killer work, and this song is one of their best.

“Right Death Before” ASG

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Rock, Stoner Rock, Metal

The Verdict: 

This had plenty of interesting moments, such as the use of harmonics for the main riff, the melody of the chorus, and the direction they took with the bridge. Specifically the chord change in the bridge. It stuck out like a sore thumb, in the best way possible, starting on the same root chord and drum beat as the rest of the song, but moving to a minor chord, and adding a soloist for the guitar. 

I’ve heard of these guys being heralded as a killer stoner rock band, but I didn’t quite get it until they kicked into the bridge. I thought it was a great tune. It had energy, but also it felt very open, and loose. Check it out.

“Never Scared” Modern Chemistry

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Punk, Emo,

The Verdict: 

This chord progression is a little played out by now, so in that respect I felt like it was a little contrived. Otherwise, I really loved the vocals, and the atonality of the guitar at certain points of the song. They kept bending the strings, which gave the melody much more character. It’s a very big and washy song, an atmosphere U2 might create, but still very moody, and dark. 

Because the chord structure of this song is so overdone, I felt like the vocals really carried the song in a way vocals don’t usually. One could say they sort of saved the song, as the approach taken was much more interesting than the guitar melodies themselves. All together this was a pretty cool song, and I suggest giving it a shot.

Wendy’s Trash Can” Rozwell Kid

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Punk, Punk, Indie

The Verdict: 

I love the use of synth on this song, and as far as I’ve listened to them, they usually use it to great effect. I thought the song was great, but the lyrics were just so stupid I couldn’t get past them. Max Bemis of Say Anything does these kind of honest, silly, and straight to the point kind of lyrics very well. He uses a more poetic approach to his lines though, and I think that’s why these lyrics don’t work. 

It sounds more like this guy is just telling you a story about how wild his life is, and oh how cool he is for being such a crazy person. It’s as if he’s pining for approval, rather than the song being a commentary or something interesting. Not great.

“500 Channels” Choking Victim

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Ska Punk, Punk,

The Verdict: 

Killer band. I used to be really into Choking Victim. I’m very happy they popped up here today, otherwise I would have just gone on not listening to them. I listen to Leftover Crack enough, you’d think I’d still be in to Choking Victim (Ezra and Stza), but I guess those groups are mutually exclusive in my head. 

Choking Victim is a ska band, with a little extra punk infused thrash, comparable to a band like Suicide Machines. I really like the feel of everything they put out through the 90’s, it was political, but it still had that air of fun that a lot of the punk had in the early to mid 80’s. Definitely listen to this track.

“Golden Dawn/ Knight’s Templar” The Lillingtons

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Punk, Pop Punk

The Verdict: 

This is like one of those educational songs teachers play over and over in elementary school to get you to memorize stuff. This song is like a step by step history guide through the crusades, disguised as a punk track. And I really don’t like it. Those educational songs really worked for me, I don’t know about anyone else but I still get them stuck in my head; and you better believe I remember all the names of countries in Central America, and the names of famous explorers.

Columbus sailed in 1492, number three Magellan circumnavigated the earth then came number 4, Cortez, De Soto, De Leone, and Coronado, Spanish explores all 4 (They rhymed 4 with 4 which has bothered me for now at least 20 years).

Anyway, this song is average, I liked the production and the melody is fine, but I couldn’t get past the lyrics. However, though it is a whatever song, I think you should listen to it, and tell me I’m not crazy with the whole educational tune comparison.

“Something Bigger, Something Brighter” Pretty Girls Make Graves

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Alternative, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

Very cool. The music is very intriguing here, with a distorted electric piano driving the bass line, synth backed choruses, and plenty of interesting choices as far as notation. And then what’s that? A female singer in a post punk band circa 2003? Yes, it’s a fairly rare find for this period of the genre. She has a very fun, punky, and pop agreeable voice; I could liken it to Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s. 

I really enjoyed this, I can’t believe I missed out on listening to this back in the day. I actually don’t want to say too much about it because the surprise was really the biggest treat. Check it out.

“Grattitude” Car Bomb

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Metal, Progressive Post Hardcore, Mathcore

The Verdict: 

This was a very cool and inventive way to incorporate a new feeling into a very heavy genre of music. It almost has this dark air of soft grunge overlaying the heaviness, instead of the bright squealing vocal approach so many other bands take. Melodically, I thought it was quite beautiful throughout, but one section that stuck out, and made this song incredible, was the breakdown. 

I had never heard gross, dissonant, breakdown chords be used to such a jazzy effect. This was progressive, but in such a way that works so well: by being progressive. Do things that are different, reach out, be weird. Don’t just change the time signature 18 times through the song and play a jazzy solo at the end. Make waves, make a breakdown with jazz chords. Do what Car Bomb has done.

“Ares” Covet

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Math Rock, Post Rock, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

Hey I know this! In fact, Covet is the first band I found using Instagram. I was just scrolling through the hashtags one day and I came across a woman who was absolutely shredding in that twinkling emo style characterized by so many Midwest bands. I liked what she was doing so I ended up finding her band on Spotify and really enjoying it. Of course I can only listen to so much twinkley instrumental music, so I haven’t listened in a while, but if you enjoy that style, Covet is a very solid band. 

This is the power of the internet: DIY self marketing made easy. It makes you wonder why we’re shelling out money to record companies anymore. 

Particularly this song is solid, just like many of their other tunes. It’s very progressive, but doesn’t feel like a show off. It’s not a collection of random guitar jargon made to showcase incredible chops. This band is just very talented, and wants to make cool songs, and it shows through their style.

ghostly“Trix” Balancing The Different

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Punk, Post Hardcore, Emo

The Verdict: 

Brilliant. This came out in 2017, and sounds exactly like it came out in 2006. There’s no way that the particular song style popular in post hardcore and emo back in the day, isn’t exactly what these guys were going for. 

This song has a great groove and an awesome vocal melody that I think really puts this song on a higher caliber than most. What makes me most excited about this find is that this band has only been around since 2014. They’ll be around for quite a while, keeping the love for this music alive. Really really good, definitely check it out.

P.S. I just listened to their newest release, and they’ve gone the way so many of those old post hardcore and emo bands went. They made one killer record and then went “you know what we should do? We should make this next record only appealing to 13 year old girls.” And none of them ever made a good song again.

“Vendetta” Mike V and the Rats

Rating: Good

Genre: Punk, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

This is of course the pro skateboarder Mike Vallely’s project from the mid 0’s. It’s hardcore punk, which is completely unsurprising. The lyrics are about brawling with losers, which is also completely unsurprising considering the famous video from around 2000, of him beating the guts out of 3 or 4 guys at once in a truck yard. What was surprising was how period correct this song was, as it sounds exactly like a late 80’s hardcore song. What was also surprising was my realization that Mike Vallely is the current singer of Black Flag. Anyways it’s a good song, but like I always say, there’s not much as far as newness you can do with hardcore.

“Separation” Vagrants

Rating: Good

Genre: Metalcore, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

This song is cool, it’s exactly what I tend to like, but it’s suffering from having to follow so many great songs this week. I gave it a like, I’ll probably be more interested in it further in the week, but right now it’s a pretty basic, very new post hardcore song, with a particularly large draw from the older styles. I really appreciate that but it’s nowhere near as solid as the Balancing The Difference track from a little earlier. Check it out, let’s here how you feel about it.

“You Won’t” The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza

Rating: Great

Genre: Progressive Metal, Grindcore, Deathcore, Mathcore, 

The Verdict: 

These guys just have a certain smack to their mixes. All the instruments we use in modern music have some percussive elements, but this band takes those elements, and cranks them up to eleven. Every chugging guitar riff feels like a pressure wave blowing through you, and the cymbals sizzle with a certain intensity. As far as extreme metal, whoever mixed this record got the sound exactly right. 

I listen to this album a lot, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about this one. Only that this particular song is certainly the one I skip the most off this album; it’s just not what I’m looking for when listening to this band. It’s faster, thrashier, and less of a rage inducer for me. For some reason though, today it’s making me want to go down the rabbit hole. Heavy Heavy Low Low, Arsonists Get All The Girls, War From A Harlot’s Mouth, Duck Duck Goose; I haven’t indulged that side of my music taste in too long.

Thats it! Man that was a tough pick. It was honestly so close between Car Bomb and Balancing the Different, that I had to just flip a coin.

Thanks for the read, drop in tomorrow for a breakdown of the rest of this. playlist, it’s a good one this week!

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly #5 June 19, 2019

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.

Twice 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! 

“Doublespeek” Veil Of Maya

Rating: Whatever

Genre:  Djent, Progressive Metal

The Verdict: 

If you like your djent as pop sensible as possible, look no further than Veil Of Maya. I don’t hate this, but if I’m in the mood for mind blowing guitar chops, and beautifully written technical music, I certainly don’t seek out this band. They have a fairly large fan base, and I definitely understand the appeal, but a lot of there music recently as been totally lost on me. My go to technical metal bands are Intervals, Erra, Animals As Leaders, and a few others. I don’t really want to go on and about it, there were only a few sections of the song that I thought were interesting. The outro being one of them at first, but upon a second listen, I realized it wasn’t that it was interesting, it was that the rest of the song wasn’t.

“New Dark Ages” Bad Religion 

Rating: Good

Genre:  Punk

The Verdict: 

I have a weird relationship with bad religion. Sometimes I absolutely love their work, other times I could take it or leave it. My favorite era of there career is, like most people, their ‘88 to ‘94 string of releases. “Suffer” is fantastic all the way through, “Recipe For Hate” has a lot of great moments, and the lyrics are still relevant, and “Stranger Than Fiction” is this perfect melding of political punk, and the grunge that was so popular at the time. 

I thought their run from 2002 to 2007 was not nearly as impactful as their aforementioned releases, and I think I can mostly attribute that to one major shift. Post hardcore and emo. Those bands we’re exploring such interesting stuff at that point, while Bad Religion was just a punk band like so many others. This album was fine for a punk record, but compared to what else was coming out in 2007, it just wasn’t nearly as interesting. 

Just as an example, Fallout Boy released “Infinity On High”, The White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” drooped in ‘07, the rise of easycore had begun with Four Year Strong’s first release “Rise Or Die Trying”, And “In Defense of a Genre”, one of my favorite records ever, was released by Say Anything. Thats a pretty wide spectrum of new and interesting music for a aging punk band to compete with. I enjoy a lot of the punk bands that were at their biggest in the ’90’s, but I feel like all of them really dropped the ball in the mid 0’s.

Of course, Bad Religion is a punk band, nothing more, nothing less, and I commend them for staying that way. I just didn’t have the same connection to this record, or any of the songs it contains, as I did with many other great records that came out that year. 

Also, Daft Punk’s “Alive 2007”, arguably one of the best live records, and certainly the most notable one of our time, came out that year. Competition was rough!

“Antpile” Kublai Khan

Rating: Skip It 

Genre:  Hardcore, Metalcore 

The Verdict: 

What a bore! My god, I mean it’s a minuet and 12 seconds of the same big, beefy, crunchy deathcore riff, and nothing else. It gets really old in a very short amount of time, before FINALLY, they chant “son of a bitch,” which are the only lyrics in the song, and then change to a slightly more interesting big, beefy, crunchy deathcore riff, and play that until it gets old. This could have been interesting, but they forgot to write the rest of the song. It’s like they had 2 of leftover riffs they had written after the recording session was over, and they just thought to smash them together and make another song. Those parts individually could have worked very well had they not been played out, and written into a more flushed out piece.

“End Of The World” The Living End

Rating: Fine

Genre: Punk, Rockabilly

The Verdict: 

I have room in my life for maybe two punkabilly bands, and I’m at capacity. Check it out if you want, it’s just faster rockabilly with a lot of horror themed lyrics. When you’ve heard one song, you’ve heard all the songs this genre has to offer. Occasionally someone will come around and shake up the scene, but its usually pretty standard stuff. It’s fun when I’m in the mood, but that mood usually comes to me around the end of October, although I have no idea why that would be.

“Wish” Nine Inch Nails

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Industrial, Electronic, Rock

The Verdict: 

Although I really want to, I’m not going to go too deep into it. Nine Inch Nails is a huge influence on my music. I listen to Trent Reznor very regularly, and I don’t know how I haven’t listened to this song on Spotify in enough time for it to pop up here. It seems like this song is Reznor’s only really dedicated circle pit song, and I think it was a really cool departure from a lot of his other, very danceable work by that point in his career. 

I don’t really get why this guy gets so much hate. Every time I bring up Nine Inch Nails in conversation, people literally fake like their gaging. I don’t get where that came from, I guess it must be fashionable to dislike Nine Inch Nails or something. Must’ve missed that memo. 

Here’s a proposition. Go listen to it for yourself, then make a judgement on weather or not you enjoy the music. I have a theory that maybe, say, 30 percent of the people who hate on this band have actually heard any music by them. Start with “Pretty Hate Machine” and work your way through. 

Stick ‘Em Up” Masked Intruder

Rating: Great

Genre: Pop Punk, Punk

The Verdict: 

I like this band, I like this song, how do I know I like this song? Because it comes up all the time on my “Made For You” playlists. Spotify is really trying to get me to like this song. I do Spotify, I really do, just not enough to download it, or save it to a playlist.

I think in today’s world, straight up pop punk bands have to have a funny gimmick in order to stand out. I like the colored ski mask look, and the lyrics about stealing your I.D. off the internet, stalking people, and general crime related subjects; I think it’s just goofy enough to not be really unsettling. 

All together I think their production is just a little bit too clean, but otherwise, the songs are fun, especially this one. Check it out.

“Worship the Serpent” Zealot R.I.P.

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

DUMB. I can’t do stuff like this anymore. I probably would have been into it at some point in the past, but it’s so insufferably boring to me now. It’s just a few very basic riffs, drop tuned, and backed by a man shouting the name of the song over and over.

But, even though I hate this as much as I do, I’m still going to go check the band out. I feel like this could be a case of a bad song on a good record, so I’ll give them a shot. As for this particular song, SKIP IT

“Rise Above” Black Flag

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Hardcore, Punk

The Verdict: 

Please listen to Black Flag. Everyone, go listen to Black Flag. Start with this song, and loose yourself in the mess for a few hours. 

I absolutely love this record. I think I gravitate mostly towards Robo’s approach to punk drumming, which is showcased in the forefront of this particular song. Of course, you can’t forget, Henry Rollins is an absolute icon, and no one else could have carried the intensity of this band like he did. Listen to Black Flag. 

After about an hour into your journey, you’ll have gotten to the old singles. Once you’ve come across “Six Pack” and “Wasted” you’ll have made it, and then, and only then, can I direct you to the late great Jesse Morris, who did fantastic outlaw country style covers of some of the best black flag tracks. Listen to Jesse Morris.

ghostly“Little Hospitals” Biffy Clyro 

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Punk

The Verdict: 

This had a pretty good chorus line, but I think the shining moments from this one were the verses. Again, in a very similar vein to Angel Du$t from yesterday, it was all the offbeat melodic choices that made this song awesome. I thought all the guitar riffs were very cool, in that they didn’t really follow any basic rules for a lot of their time in the forefront. Whenever the song fell back to feature the guitars, they did some strange atonal lick that sounded almost childish; and therefore very thought out.

I’ve been whining about overproduction for two days now, but I actually think the extra mixing hurt this song at all. I thought everything sounded well put together, and nothing stood out further than it should have. The vocals were pretty straightforward, and a little bland, but I think if they hadn’t been, this would have been a very difficult song to listen to. They managed to make a very progressive song that sounds like a very basic song. I’ll give it a good ol’ fashioned Roger Ebert two thumbs up; and unlike Roger Ebert, I didn’t get paid for this good review… Come to think of it… Hey, Kublai Khan! Wanna make a deal?

“Bigger Than Kiss” Teenage Bottlerocket

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Punk

The Verdict: 

Yes of course I love this song, KISS friggin’ sucks! This is a really basic skater punk track from the late 90’s, but it has the added bonus of ripping on the most corporate garbage heap of a band that ever wore black lipstick on stage. What’s absolutely crazy to me is the proven fact that half of everyone reading this is actually an illegitimate child of Gene Simmons. Oh, you didn’t know? Crap. I suggest sitting down with your mom and having that talk just to make sure, dude got around.

“Sweet Willy Rollbar” Melvins

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Sludge Metal, Alternative Metal, Grunge, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

This very well be my favorite live band. I’ve seen them a few times, and every time it’s amazing. They just kill it every show, they refuse to play huge venues, their banter is great, and the set list is always killer. They were famous for being “the heaviest band in the world” for a time for how slow they would play, there are plenty of songs that are slow and sludgy, but this is not one of them, and therefore, not one of there most interesting. It is however a welcome rock song, that is pretty straightforward and simple, as opposed to the rest of their catalog which is extremely wild. They write technical pieces, slow droning reefer rock, epically noisy metal tracks, and a lot of the time, mix it all together in a big crazy pot. I really enjoy this song, although it is not one of my favorites, that honor goes to “The Bit”. This record is probably one of my favorites, but if you’ve not listened to them before I think it’s probably not tame enough to get people interested. Houdini is a better starting point.   

“Libra” Intervals

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Metal, Djent

The Verdict: 

There’s only one thing I can think of whenever I hear an Intervals track: “Why haven’t they done a Sonic The Hedgehog soundtrack?” I think it would be perfect! All their songs are just heavy enough, while maintaining the jazzy essence that makes this band really cool. 

Every song is pretty much the same formula, big opener to catch the attention, guitar solo, very cool melodic “verse,” solo, bridge (in this song it comes as a very welcome slow section with a lot of reverb), and then ripping solo. This song had plenty of moments that gave me a little bit of a stank face, and really no prolonged parts where I felt the need to get through it to the next solo. Intervals had really upped their writing chops for their last two records, and since it’s been quite some time since their last release, I’m hopeful, and excited to see what they’re capable of now.

“Reciprocation” Whale Bones

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Punk, Alternative

The Verdict: 

Very interesting. I really enjoyed the bass on this track, I felt like that was the driving instrument here. It had a very cool effect on the signal where there were a lot of mid frequencies, and a lot of crunch. I thought they created a very cool atmosphere by using the bass guitar as the driving force of the song. The vocals were fantastic, this guy has quite a capable singing voice, and I think he uses it nicely without going overboard with it. The frame of this track was beautifully structured, it moved very nicely between sections, and the the melody writing was fantastic. Check this out, I think it has a lot of appeal for maybe lots of different tastes.

“Sun of Pearl” An Endless Sporadic

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Math Rock, Metal, Prog Rock, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

I love how jazzy they went with this. Lots of prog rock bands lean into the “rock” part of that genre title, and then do a few parts that are a little progressive, but these guys went full on into the jazz thing. I really enjoyed every movement, I had a lot of fun listening to this. It has a very Japanese feel to it. I’ve never been able to pin down what makes Japanese groups sound specifically Japanese. It’s probably the transitional chords, they are usually similar sounding from band to band, and they’re light. 

Modern American jazz is about dirty chords that grab your attention, and gatekeeping white dudes, while Japanese jazz seems to be more about listenability and mass appeal. A lot of the movements in this song, specifically the funky slow section at 2:15 sounded very close to something you might here on a playlist of curated jazzy Japanese songs like say Road trip to Tokyo on Spotify (check it out). Yea I really liked this, it’s nice to see the playlist starting to change from nothing but post rock. 

“Aliens Exist” blink-182

Rating: Good

Genre: Pop Punk

The Verdict: 

Who knew the lyrical theme of this song would become such a problem for the band? You do you Tom, whatever makes you happy I guess. There’s nothing inherently wrong with blink-182 unless you count commercial success as a problem. And if that’s the case for you, get your head checked. A band is a business, and this band managed to build a thriving business without sacrificing their creative licenses like so many other bands must. We should be celebrating successful acts like this for bringing more attention to the genre, not chastising them for making a bunch of money.

Thats it! Thanks for the read, its been real. Drop by next week.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Baroness – “Gold & Gray”

Baroness has been one of the most consistent groups of the last decade.

Every record they’ve put out since “The Red Album” has been gradually better than the last, and each has been particularly interesting in their own right. Each one stands out as having it’s own specific qualities, while maintaining a general theme throughout their catalog. “Blue Record” for instance, is filled with plenty of very slow jams alongside it’s heavier more doom metal infused tracks. “Yellow & Green” however is generally less heavy, and utilizes vocal lines to drive the songs rather than riffs. “Gold & Gray” feels much more rooted in hard rock, and goth than any of their previous releases. It seems as though this has been the trajectory their music has taken since “The Blue Record”, with every album being a little cleaner, and a little less heavy.

The opening track “Front Toward Enemy” begins with a wash of noise, like the record itself is like a monster rising from the sea, come to destroy. The guitar comes in with a devastating guitar riff, it moves fast, it’s drop tuned, it’s played with intensity, and it’s backed by a very danceable drum beat. That was the general theme that really poked out to me, it has a certain sense of danceability that isn’t as fully formed on previous releases. “Seasons”, the album’s reverb infused 3rd track, ebbs and flows like a typical Baroness song, but the drums take an approach that I can only liken to drum and bass. London Town’s steppers, movers, and shakers would find this particular song very welcome I think. 

I found this record to have a much more definitive pulse than anything I’ve heard from them, and I have to say it’s one of my favorite outings from Baroness. Of course fans of theirs would argue the sludgy riffs, slow headbanger porn, and wash of distortion and reverb they implemented on previous releases was what made Baroness; and those people are not wrong. Songs that implement those elements are not completely lost on this record either, “Crooked Mile” and “Can Oscura” are proof of that, but I would argue that it’s nice to see them put out a record that challenges the archetype. Can you make a killer sludge metal track with drum and bass beats? Hell yes you can, and here it is. Also, as far as live performance goes, songs like the ones that litter this record, the ones where I struggle not to move to, intermixed with their heavier songs, and washed out soundscapes, are going to make for one seriously great show. 

This record was awesome, I think the sound quality was exactly what I would have expected from them, and I think it came together very well. All 5 stars here.

Discover Briefly #5. June 12, 2019

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.

Twice 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!

“Keep What You Have Built Here” empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) Rating: Good
Genre: Post Punk, Emo
The Verdict:

I really like what they were going for, I appreciate that someone’s keeping this stuff alive. I loved the production, I thought it was absolutely pristine in its deficiencies. The band really captured the feel very specific feel that was present back in the early 0’s.

The guitar work was really interesting throughout, and for the most part, the vocals fit perfectly, the chorus however is the exception. That shrill vocal style that was popular back then with emo was probably the reason it got a bad reputation, and as a fan, it still always felt so silly. In this particular song, it sounded worse than it even did then, and I think it would have worked better had they either cleaned up the chorus vocals, or went with a different approach.

The song as a whole could have benefited from being just a bit shorter. They linger on specific parts for too long, and after a few times through those parts loose their luster.

This was all together a pretty cool song, I’m glad to know there are people like me who aim to capture this era of music with their own. Im excited to go listen through the rest of their music.

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“Juggernaut” Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Rating: Great
Genre: Post Hardcore
The Verdict:

Frank carter is always fun to listen to. Gallows is just one of the best in the game as far as hardcore music. I hadn’t realized he was a part of another project other than Pure Love, and I have to say I really dig it.

Although it’s definitely not the most interesting music, it is real groovy. The song is pretty standard post hardcore, but there was one notable bit of songwriting through the piece; Carter consistently comes in at odd times in the verses. He’s constantly changing the feel of each section by using this technique and it gives the song a ever changing flow, and an uncertainty that I can really get in to. Being unable to anticipate what’s going to happen even further enhances the aggressive atmosphere this song evokes.

The production was top notch, I really enjoyed the effects on the vocals, and the rest sounded just as heavy as I would expect it to sound. Check it out.

“Turn It Off” Culture Abuse
Rating: Good
Genre: Post Punk, Rock
The Verdict:

This song was good. It had a great sound, it was well written, I liked the organ, it was fun; but it really didn’t have anything outside of what other bands deliver.

This washy atmospheric rock is great, but it’s been done a million times in more interesting ways. Teksti-TV 666 does this kind of stuff in a really strange way; with 7 guitars. They achieve the same awesome wall of sound as achieved here, but by utilizing group vocals, and having 7 guitars play at once. I really did like the chord structure, and the guitar work on this track, but I just got a little bored with it about half way through. This song unfortunately just falls flat in the wake of thousands of other similar projects. Thankfully, there was a moment near the end that saved it. The bridge, comes with a half time shift, and a breakdown into a section of the song that can only be described as having a huge dub influence. That was a really nice touch, and having just seen The Specials a few days ago, I found it especially cool.

“Chinatown” Jets To Brazil
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Post Punk, Indie
The Verdict:

If you’re in to indie rock, or early emo, this is a song for you.
This particular piece isn’t doing it for me today. It just doesn’t jump out and catch

my attention. I regularly listen to bands like Christie Front Drive, The Promise Ring, and Boys Night Out, so I tend to enjoy songs like this, but this one’s just boring. I say skip it, unless you’re really in the mood.

ghostly“You, In Weird Cities” Jeff Rosenstock
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Punk
The Verdict:

This is just the type of anthemic punk rock I love. This was great, everything from the production, to the vocal style and silly sad lyrics; from the crunchy guitars to the fast and dirty drums. This rips! I really liked the song structure, it kept the music moving at a relentlessly quick pace without sacrificing musicality. Even in the bridge where it quiets down, the drums keep the frantic feel intact with quick fills, that are always interesting. The production was smart; it was good, but not too good. It was clean, but it wasn’t overproduced. This is what I would like to see more of for this particular genre. There are too many projects that go too far in one direction, either it sounds like it was recorded with a repurposed toaster oven, or it sounds like it was heavily produced by a certain Swedish billionaire. This song finds that middle ground and it works so well. The lyrical approach is very much a situation of controlled chaos. It was mostly in time, mostly on pitch, but it also strayed from rigidity in a few key places. This gave the illusion of a bedroom style, quick and dirty recording, without sacrificing fidelity.

This is top pick material.

The Light That Blinds” Shadows Fall
Rating: Good
Genre: Metalcore, Metal
The Verdict:

Oh god. This just took me back to a very embarrassing period in my life. I haven’t heard this in forever. I’m pretty sure this was on my iPod in high school.

Shadows Fall isn’t really my style, I loved Killswitch Engage, and In Flames’ “A Sense Of Purpose” is controversially one of my favorite melodic death metal records. But outside of this particular song, Shadows Fall never really did it for me. I always hated the vocals, and I felt like they didn’t know if they wanted to be metalcore or not.

I do like this song though, as much as I hate to admit it. If you like your metalcore really melodic, check this out, if you’re one of those metal purists, stay far away.

“Two Notes Shy of an Octave” Red City Radio
Rating: Fine
Genre: Post Punk
The Verdict:

This is fine. As far as anthemic post punk, the Jeff Rosenstock track just above is much better. The production finds that same pocket of “not horrible, but not over done.” I really enjoyed the timbre of this guy’s voice, its just perfect for punk, and I think it’s unique enough to poke through all the gang vocals.

Honestly, I feel like this song suffers from coming up on the playlist after “You, In Weird Cities”.

“Get Clean” Anarchy Club
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Hardcore, Punk
The Verdict:

I really hated this. It had all the elements of pure bore as any bland over produced punk track, with the added annoyance of radio rock sounding vocals. This song was just bad on so many levels, Skip it.

“Lost” Wailin’ Storms
Rating: Great
Genre: Post Punk, Rock
The Verdict:

This is a much better approach to atmospheric rock than Culture Abuse, but it still wasn’t quite as cool as the aforementioned Teksti-TV 666.

First off, I loved the noise bits they threw in. Is it any wonder at this point? All together, this had a very horror punk feel. If most post punk bands use bands like Decendents, or The Jam, or Buzzcocks, as a jumping off point, Wailin’ Storms draws heavily from The Misfits.

I thought this was really cool, but again, there’s too many bands that sound too similar. While they have found a few creative ways around that fact, it’s not quite enough. It really is just the overall feel that so many bands are looking for these days. They all make big rock songs with a ton of reverb. It’s a cool sound that is captured, but unfortunately, so many bands are trying to capture it now.

This is however is only one song. I’m excited to listen to this particular record, and really get a feel for how this band makes music. Hopefully they were able to find more interesting ways around the fact that they exist in a crowded genre.

“Is This Thing On?” The Promise Ring
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Alternative, Post Punk, Emo
The Verdict:

Listen to The Promise Ring. If you haven’t yet, stop reading this, and go listen to The Promise Ring. This particular song is my absolute top pick from their catalog, so you don’t even have to dig, just go listen to this one. If you’re just getting into this style of music, or just need of more 1990’s emo in your life, get a hold of this whole record, in fact, buy it twice, it’s brilliant.

“Grim Reefer” Jank
Rating: Great
Genre: Post Punk
The Verdict:

Pretty basic, and usually that’s a critique, but I actually loved the simplicity. Generally, I think the guitar is the big defining characteristic of this song, and I think it was very well written. I liked all the individual parts, and while each one was very different from each other, the band tied it all together quite well.

The most difficult part in writing a song for me personally, is writing good transitions. Keeping a solid flow through the whole song is extremely important, and it’s hard to get it just right. I think this was a solid little post punk track, and I think you should go have a listen.

“Sun Burn” Dimond
Rating: 
Awesome
Genre: Post Rock, Post Punk, Alternative
The Verdict:
The shining achievement of this song is the structure. Each part in and of itself isn’t overly strong, but the piece is so well put together that it keeps you enthralled even through the generally cookie cutter post punk track. I thought the vocals were very well done, you can tell that he’s a good enough singer to where there didn’t need to be much processing. The guitar work was very straightforward and simple, but in order to serve the song, it needed to be. The chorus is just killer. I thought it was one of the better lead parts in anything I’ve listened to today. Absolutely lend your ears to this, it’s a lot of fun.

“Needle in the Hay” Bad Astronaut
Rating: Fine
Genre: Post Punk
The Verdict:

Yup, it’s a post punk song. There’s nothing really to it other than the really cool chorus line. This is a song that I would have enjoyed listening as the background music to one one of my many manual labor jobs; but at the forefront of my mind, it falls flat in a lot of places. Nothing happens throughout the song, its the super standard A-B-A-B-C-A structure with a pretty uninspired chord progression.

People seem to like Bad Astronaut a lot, but I’ve never given them a listen. I’ll have to go a little deeper to really find the appeal, I’m sure it’s there, I’m just missing it with this song.

“On Wings Of Lead” Bleeding Through
Rating: Great
Genre: Metalcore, Deathcore
The Verdict:

I will never understand why Spotify wants me to like this band so much. This album particularly, shows up on all of my Daily Mixes nearly every day. Don’t get me wrong, this album is really cool, but I almost never listen to it. It came out in 2003, in an age where things were truly new to this genre. So the creepy horror movie style synth that covers this record was actually pretty new and actually pretty interesting. Even listening today, it’s nice to hear a relatively early deathcore track with these kind of synths. Of course this would become a wildly overdone trope by the early 10’s, but in 2003 the synths were for the fantasy metal bands. I really do like this song, this whole record rather, but it’s just not something I listen to as much anymore. That being said, I do think that you should go have yourself a listen. It is a really cool record.

Thats it! I use my phone to listen to the playlist, and I cracked the hell out of the screen after getting sucker punched by an old dude at The Specials show a few days ago,shout out to you, you giant fart stain.

I’ve been battling with only being able to use half the screen for a few days now until I have the time to take it in. As of right now, just now, the screen is completely blank. I can’t review the last song, because I can see the play button, or the name, or anything. Which means I can’t get you the links either. So you’ll have to figure it out all by yourselves, I’m sure you’ll manage.

Thanks for the read, see you next week.

P.S. To the guy who owes me a phone screen, watch ya’ neck.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly #4. June 11, 2019

A bi-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.

Twice 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! 

Here we go again…

“Pain” Bilmuri

Rating: Fine

Genre:  Hardcore, Post Punk 

The Verdict: 

Fist off, clever band name. So, this was pretty bland. I enjoyed the chord structure, but it only stayed interesting for a few minuets, maybe one round of verse-chorus. The outro was quite a bit better than the rest of the song, and had there been a little more movement throughout the rest of the song, I think it would have tied everything together a bit better; it just felt forced. 

I wanted to get a little more context, so I went to check out their top songs, and they’re way better than this one! This band is cool, they’re last few releases are a mix of post hardcore with some emotronic songs, I fully support that approach. “Pain” just missed the mark for me, I like where they’re headed though, keep it up Bill Murray.

“Follows” Tigers Jaw

Rating: Good

Genre:  Post Hardcore, Soft Grunge, Emo

The Verdict: 

If it wasn’t a punishing 108 degrees outside when I was listening to this, I might have liked it a whole lot better. This record in particular always sounded like it calls for a dark and rainy day, and I really love how they’ve captured that.

This song isn’t the best I’ve heard from them, but it totally fits with what I like about their catalog; it’s straightforward, its a little bit sad, and its easy to listen to. There was something about this song that just didn’t resonate with me as much as a song like “June” or their entire 2010 self titled album. I think those releases just stand out amongst the hordes of other soft grunge, 2010’s emo bands that are out there. 

Honestly, I think I might be dealing with a case of Arizona summer fatigue, it only just now got hot and I’m already over it. 

“Trainspotting Seamlessly” Push Over

Rating: Good 

Genre:  Post Hardcore 

The Verdict: 

I enjoyed this. The guitars reminded me of the band Fall Of Troy, they had a very similar timbre, and writing structure. The song sounded somewhere between 2007 and today, it had a very modern feel, but a whole lot of old style. It might have been the vocals, it might have been the drums, but something sure did make me stop and reminisce. I think my love for that period of music really shoved a pair of rose colored glasses over my face for this song though. Upon a second more dedicated listen, I found some problems, not least of which, THERE’S TOO MUCH GOING ON. The guitars almost never slow down through the whole piece, and the drums follow close behind. The songwriting is just a little too messy. I’m positive they’ve got some serious jams hidden somewhere in their catalog, but I wasn’t super in to this one.

“Mandibles” E-Town Concrete

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Hardcore

The Verdict: 

I hate this. I hate it so much. It’s a fun idea, and it’s executed well, but man do I hate it.

“Anyone, Evermore” The Great Divide

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

I’m not going to go too far into it because I’ve heard it already, and I really like it, but I will say this: If you’re going to do hardcore these days, do it like this. The Great Divide is an awesome example of a band who incorporates elements of 90’s hardcore, but doesn’t overdo it, and seamlessly adds the post elements of noise rock, and emo. This album is killer, check it out. 

Shark Ethic” Most Precious Blood

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Hardcore, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

How could I not have heard this? I was 14 when it came out, I was obsessed with this stuff, of course I heard the theme song of the entire genre for the year 2005. I’m actually pretty sure I heard this play on the sports reels my dad watched that year, which is funny to think of watching ESPN and then suddenly being reminded of the plight of the dairy cow. Yes, of course Most Precious Blood is a vegan straight edge band. 

The opening riff is so perfect, you almost forget you’re listening to hardcore, it feels like a movie soundtrack. This song is just so good, “Shark Ethic” is the required listening for the week, you just must hear it.

“Burning Sheep” Sainthood Reps

Rating: Good

Genre: Post Hardcore, Rock

The Verdict: 

Some of the guitar work was interesting, and I loved the amount of noise, but otherwise, its a pretty basic, but very solid slow burn post hardcore song. I enjoyed the level of effects on the voice, the reverb was just on the edge of drenching the sound, but never became too much. The guitar tones were huge and tuned very low for this kind of a song; I liked that. 

The few parts where the guitars carried the melody, they soared. I wish there would have been more of those moments throughout the song, because they were really the stand out moments. I realize you can definitely over do it with the strong parts of your music, but I think “Burning Sheep” could have hugely benefited from a little extra from the guitar. All in all I thought it was a pretty good tune, but I didn’t quite make the “Great” rating. 

“Aunt Betty” Middle Class Rut

Rating: Great

Genre: Rock

The Verdict: 

This was pretty cool. I think the one glairing issue I have with it, that keeps it from being “Awesome” is the fact that if the production was cleaner, it would border too close to being a butt rock song. 

I’ve seen that the Nashville based recording engineer Vance Powell pumps his room mics through guitar pedals to give them an overdriven edge; that’s what this sounds like. Except for instead of just the room mics, its every mic in the room. I really enjoyed the production on this song, I think the addition of all of that crunch was exactly what this song needed. 

It took me a listen or two to nail it down, but this really reminded me of something. I think I’ve got it now: Jane’s Addiction. This guy’s voice sounds identical to Perry Farrell’s, and the guitar work sounds like something Dave Navaro might do. I did really like this song, the drums keep a “When The Levee Breaks”, very “headbangable” groove, the guitars are bluesy cool, and the vocal work is top tier. Ultimately though, it’s the production that puts this to the next level for me. 

ghostly“I Spend My Days” Employed To Serve

Rating: Fine

Genre: Metalcore

The Verdict: 

This song sounded a whole lot like Korn. It’s very simple, very straightforward drop tuned guitar riff, clicky bass, and angry lyrics were all the indicative qualities of a piece of Korn’s making.

All together, it sounded like it could have been a Nu metal song had the vocals not been screamed all the way through, and because of that, I didn’t really enjoy it. For what it is, it works very well, but it just didn’t resonate with me.

“Re-Ignition” Bad Brains

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Punk, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Bad Brains is awesome. Listen to Bad Brains. I love it, you should love it, if you don’t love it, we can’t be friends anymore. This record “I Against I” contains in my opinion, some of their best work. The title track was recently covered by Burn The Priest, Lamb of God’s original band/ now side project, and both their version, and the original are fantastic pieces of music. Listen to Bad Brains.

“Sucker Punch” Charlatan 

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Metal

The Verdict: 

Calling there particular flavor of music “Scrap Metal” as the band does, actually describes it perfectly. Their self written biography for their Spotify page is a perfect show of what type of band this is. It reads: “Suck it, ‘cause who knows, you just might like it.” Obviously these guys aren’t interested in fame, money, or appealing to the masses; they’re in it for the music.

Sonically, it’s as if you grabbed a handful of all the defining characteristics of punk, metal, noise, hardcore, pop, and whatever else, threw it at a wall, and whatever suck, becomes your sound. I think they really did a great job on this particular song incorporating all these elements together to produce a very well put together piece of music.

Really, this song could be broken down into three parts, the fist part, and the bridge, and the outro. The first part is wild, it’s crazed, but not quite chaotic. This is where the song moves from one thematic element to the next extremely quickly. This approach to songwriting works as a way to really keep the listener zero focused on the music; where it fails, is when there’s a part that the listener really enjoys, and doesn’t get the chance to marinate on it for more than a few seconds.

The bridge is where we finally get a breather. It slows down, and opens into a dark expanse filled with little samples and interesting noise. The only way I can describe it in words is this: Imagine you were drifting through space, weightless, and yet being pushed around by solar winds. All the while you were carrying a small radio with you. Every so often the radio would catch little bits of damaged broadcasts from earth. You would hear voices, you might recognize some words, but they would be such short bursts of captured broadcast you probably couldn’t make them out. During your long journey, you were starting to loose it, hearing a man singing in your head, and the only constant that was keeping your breaking mind tethered to reality was a constant, steady pulse of guitar energy. This was the most stoner thing I’ve ever wrote, but that’s how this part of the song sounds, it’s very cool.

Then the outro (and final chorus) explodes into a wild screaming death dive into beautiful chaos. As if you had now been caught in the gravitational pull of a dying star. The final chorus is somehow bigger than the rest, and I can’t put my finger on how. I believe it to be an A+ songwriting effort. The band did so well building to that point that the final chorus seems bigger, but nothing had really changed. 

Definitely check this out.

“Lazy Minds” Mo Lowda & The Humble

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Rock, Post Punk, Emo, Rock

The Verdict: 

I think the prevailing element of this song is the vocals. He has a very Chicago style blues quality to his voice, and I think it blends well with the kind of post rock/blues mashup they’ve got going here. I thought this sounded stellar. The blues rock kind of solo was an awesome touch, but I still think maybe it could have benefited with one more musical theme throughout. This song is really interesting, I love the perspective taken, I thought it flowed very well, and I liked all the pieces, especially the instrumental “Explosions In The Sky “ style outro. 

“Overstepping” Belmont

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Post Hardcore, Post Punk, Pop Punk

The Verdict: 

I always enjoy Belmont, this song is really one of the better ones as well. I really enjoyed this era of revivalist “pop punk,” it was really progressive, and the genre was full of talent. Unfortunately it seems to have been quickly fizzling out over the last few years, and I rarely hear bands like this come up in conversation anymore. Belmont is one of the best at this sort of stuff, them, Such Gold, and The Story So Far. While The Story So Far is pretty straightforward, and technically simplistic in their approach to songwriting, and Such Gold is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, Belmont has to be one of the most progressive. This song really showcases their technical guitar work, and how they work that element in to the outer shell of a pop punk song. I give all my big recommendations for these guys, they are really on top of their game.

“Brief Exchange” Chino Moreno

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Rock, Metal, Alt Metal

The Verdict: 

This piece came out in 2018, and yet it sounds a whole lot like an old “Around The Fur” Deftones piece. I love that era of their catalog, It works for when it was put out, and the songs stand the test of time, but I don’t love this. It sounds like a cheap knockoff, as if it wasn’t Chino at all. 

Deftones has moved on as a band, they’ve evolved from their early style into a much more interesting, progressive, and cool band; and we’ve grow with them. Chino Moreno, being a part of something like 5 active side projects, has also grown past this style of songwriting, and I think it shows. “Around The Fur” was awesome because the band was in the right mindset, to make that record. I think Chino doing a song like this now, weather to call back to that time or not, just doesn’t work today as it would have 20 years ago.

“Smokedance” Silver Snakes, Death And The Moon,

Rating: Great

Genre: Industrial, Electronic

The Verdict: 

Finally something that’s not post! 

It sounds like it could be an early Nine Inch Nails track, and I really like that. The main synth riff during the verses is beautifully designed and articulated to sound like its stepping almost out of key. In fact, the synth stays in key the whole time, but the illusion is there, and that little tweak gives this otherwise very rigid song a bit of movement. I wish there would have been a little more grit on his voice, because it seems too clean against all the dirt on the rest of the song. 

There’s not too much to say, as this is a pretty basic industrial track, but I’m happy something like this finally showed up, my efforts in trying to diversify my Discover Weekly playlist are starting to show signs of success.

Alright everybody, check back tomorrow for part 2!

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist


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