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