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