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