Emery – “Now What” (Single)

New Release!

I’m biased. Emery is one of my favorite acts in the genre they work in. While there have been a few records that didn’t resonate with me over the years, they’ve always stayed true to themselves, and I respect that. 

I just recently got to see them live for the first time since I was maybe 13 and, my god, it was fantastic. Collectively, their hair is beginning to gray, and wrinkles are starting to show on their faces, but the energy they bring to each new performance is more intense than most younger bands I’ve seen lately. 

Live they were incredible. I hadn’t seen a more energetic group of musicians in quite a while (probably since last I saw Enter Shikari). On record, that energy is much more controlled; the music doesn’t feel nearly as explosive as it is live, and I’m unsure why that might be. 

Obviously a concert is much louder than your car stereo, and watching an involved performance can add a bit of weight to the music, but I’m not sure that’s the only difference. It seems like this band has never been properly captured. The guitarists have such an incredible sense of harmony in their writing, and it never comes across as well record as well as it did from the stage the other night. 

Toby Morrell has one of the most unique set of pipes amongst his contemporaries, which was one of the more intriguing parts of their live show. Over my many years of listening I had never picked up on how smooth his vocals were, outside of the “You Were Never Alone” track “Thrash”. To me, that voice would be the first thing I would want to preserve while doing a mix, but it, like the guitar harmonies, never came through while listening to their albums.

Again, I saw them when I was around 13 years old, and immediately after that show I really liked them. Over time though, I couldn’t remember what it was at the core that attracted me to the music. 15 years later, the other night at the Crescent Ballroom, I was reminded. Everything came together so well in a live setting.

Emery is fantastic on record, their songwriting is incredible, and their production always sounds good, but none of the previous recordings really capture how they actually play. They have such a clear distinction between guitar parts, live. They achieve a perfect harmony and timbre with their vocals, the way they fit the synths into the picture is smart; all of it gave a lot of previously unrecognized life to the songs I’d been listening to for ages.

With “Now What” I felt differently. I could really feel the weight of the instruments, the emotion behind the lyrics, the definition between guitars, and voices as well. This was, in my opinion, the best mix that Emery has ever put out. Of course ease of access to new technology, and better recording practices can contribute to the overall sound, but I didn’t feel this way about their last release, “Eve”. It was a great record, but I feel like it also suffered from the ail that plagued their other releases; it didn’t feel like Emery does live.

I really enjoyed the new track thru and thru. It felt like an Emery track in all it’s post-y glory, from the immersive, and intriguing guitar work, to the duo vocal performances. It’s full of old post hardcore soul, but at the same time, can definitely stack up against some of the more popular releases of the day. Everyone should absolutely be listening to this band in 2019, they’re just as good now as they’ve always been, if not better. The new single is fantastic, and Im very excited for this new record to drop.

Everyone who has ever been a fan of post hardcore needs to see this act live, they are the one band I can say it is an absolute must. And while I do really enjoy the mix on this new single, I don’t think it’s possible for an recording engineer to capture what they truly put forward in concert. I suppose it must be more than just a mix, it must be an energy. A pure, honest, and genuine energy that can only be experienced from the crowd.

Oh, Sleeper – “Bloodied / Unbowed”

Oh, Sleeper
Oh, Sleeper – Live in Phoenix, AZ at the Crescent Ballroom

I absolutely love this band. They were actually one of the first heavy acts I ever saw live. I believe it was on one of their earlier tours when they were playing with Norma Jean. I wanted to review this record right as it came out, but I decided to wait. I had seen that Oh, Sleeper would be coming through Phoenix supporting Emery and Hawthorne Heights, and had decided to wait until I saw the record live to do a full review. I am very glad I took that route. 

Firstly, Oh, Sleeper commands a crushing force of from their stage; something more than just their presence, and style. At this point, each band member has been touring to some capacity in one band or another since the late 90’s, and you can really feel that experienced energy they give off as a group. Micah Kinard’s vocals rip through the crowd like a chainsaw. Throughout the show, I caught quite a few “wow” looks from the crowd, specifically during the middle of “Vices Like Vipers” (if you know the track you know the part I’m talking about). I don’t think I’ve seen a more consistent or better sounding vocalist in the metalcore scene. In my opinion, Kinard should be heralded as one of the best metal voices of our time. 

Zac Mayfield’s holds everything down, from the crushingly heavy breakdowns, to the technical movements. Not only is he an impressive drummer, but he’s just as fun to watch play as any of the other members. 

Of course we can’t continue on without mentioning Shane Blay. He’s a well accomplished guitarist who has also been a part of the band Between The Buried And Me since 2005. It’s always more fun to see guitarists like this play at smaller clubs; you can watch just how intricate the parts are, and zoom in on their play style. Watching him shred through songs like “Endseekers” was truly impressive. 

Finally, Seth Webster, the band’s current touring bassist, is by far one of the most energetic bass players I’ve seen live. I remember saying to myself at quite a few instances, “damn, that guy’s having a good time!” 

The band themselves were great, and the set was awesome. They played a perfect mix of new and old songs which I think was the best way for them to do this tour. Being able to hear tracks from “Bloodied / Unbowed” juxtaposed with songs off of their earlier records is what really solidified my feelings about their newest release.

Oh, Sleeper - Green
Oh, Sleeper – Live in Phoenix at the Crescent Ballroom

Metalcore has had its ups and downs in recent years. The genre as a whole is certainly not as popular as it was a decade ago, and the biggest names in the scene have taken plenty of missteps. The Devil Wears Prada announced a few years ago that they wouldn’t be playing anything from their early records in a live setting anymore, which was effectively a slap in the face to anyone like myself who hold that material as some of their best work. Underoath’s newest release dropped to mixed reviews, and a lot of confusion, Bring Me The Horizon’s most recent records show them distancing themselves from their original sound. Effectively, things have been fairly inconsistent in this scene, and there are few acts anymore that fans of the genre can really count on for persistent, true to form releases. Oh, Sleeper has always been one of those bands.

“Bloodied / Unbowed” feels like the perfect next step for Oh, Sleeper. It’s been quite a while since their last record, but this new one feels so true to their other works, it’s like they never left. The band has always had a very specific flavor to their music; a certain theme that distinguishes them from the rest. 

Each record they’ve put out feels like a new take on the same thematic elements. Therefore, each new release sounds familiar, and yet also completely new. You can really hear this theme come forward during the lead line in the beginning of “Endseekers” as well as though the chaotic riffing in “We Are The Archers”. More importantly to me though, you can also hear this theme right up front in new tracks like “Decimation & Burial”, “The Island”, and “Of Bane & Disease”. 

This record is not at all a departure from their signature sound, but at the same time, it doesn’t suffer from the repetitiveness that plagues so many other bands. The songwriting across the whole of “Bloodied / Unbowed” feels experienced, artistic, and downright smart. There were plenty of moments throughout that surprised me, like I was being lead to expect a certain cliche was approaching, only for that expectation to be crushed with some brilliantly written, and totally unpredictable movement. 

“Bloodied / Unbowed” is all together a monster of a record, one of the best metalcore outings I’ve listened to in quite some time. It shows that the guys in Oh, Sleeper are far from being done, and very far from being out of ideas. 

This band is absolutely one of the best in the metalcore business, their wealth of experience runs very deep, and it shows. Their dedication to their craft is commendable, and they have the musical skill to match their ambition. I’m very happy to see these guys at it again, and I’m already anxious to hear what’s next for them. 

The Violent Femmes – “Hotel Last Resort”

I could never put my finger down on exactly why I loved The Violent Femmes, but now, after hearing this I can tell you why.

Their self titled record from 1983 had energy!

The simple riffs were played with intent, the lyrics were sung with commitment, and force, the music was sort of silly, but it was extremely danceable nonetheless. That record is near perfect in its execution and style, and there is nothing in its same vein that can compete.

This record “Hotel Last Resort” is none of those things. Lyrically it may be a little more grown up, but so is the music in the worst way possible. I can imagine if the band itself was an entity it would at this point be an aging music fan who spent too many nights drunkenly dancing around and now his knees shake as he struggles to get out of bed. The record sounds like a version of The Violent Femmes, but without the gusto that made them so great.

I had a hard time listening to this to be honest. A more mature, and better informed music fan would probably laugh at my taste for disliking this so much, but in my world The Violent Femmes exist to dance to; while fully clothed or otherwise, sober or otherwise, and vertically or otherwise. I don’t really care what the lyrics are about, they were just sung with such conviction and intensity on that self titled record that it doesn’t matter what they’re saying. On this release, nothing feels intense, it’s too grown up for what I love about this band.

Kolby Bergquist

Sum 41 – “Order In Decline”

The new record is interesting. Its not terribly good, but it’s also not a bad record as a whole. There are quite a few songs that go absolutely nowhere, and just sort of meander around a riff or two, but there are also some great tracks as well. “Turning Away” “Out For Blood” and “A Death In The Family” are all great punk tracks, that feel like both a departure from their original body of work, as well as a new direction.

These tracks feel way less like the goofy pop punk icons they once were, and much more like standard punk fair for the common man. On the other side of the coin, the rest of the songs, save one, are very boring. I suppose this is what we all must accept sooner rather than later, artists sell singles now, not records. Most of the tracks feel like filler, in stark contrast to their 2001 release which was in fact all killer.

As a whole this record feels so average. They did a good job hyping it up,
releasing songs like “Out For Blood” first. I was extremely excited about the heavier feel of that track and was itching for more like it. Unfortunately it’s the only song that sounds like that on the whole record; everything else is very standard.

By far the most exciting song on the record is “The People Vs…” which is a pulse pounding, punk track played ad breakneck speed. The chord structure of that song is interesting, inventive, and downright cool. Hearing that piece near the end of the album just sort of ruined the rest of it for me. The whole record is standard and at times very boring, and then out of nowhere this blazing fast, well written, excellent punk song. So now we know they had that in their back pocket the whole time they were writing, why aren’t the rest of the songs nearly as well done?

Discover Briefly #9. July, 17, 2019

A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

#9. July, 17, 2019

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

Enjoy the read! 

Side note this week, in preparation for the rest of the new content I’ve had to shorten this week’s issue as well. Plus the playlist was a mix of a bunch of terrible songs that I already knew, and some really good stuff that I wanted to go more in depth on than I normally do. Anyways, here we go!

“Take On Me” Cap’n Jazz
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Punk, Punk, Indie 
The Verdict: 

This is excellent. I always feel that if you’re going to do a cover, you have to change a lot about the piece to make it stand out. I’ll note that New Found Glory does an excellent job with their “Kiss Me” cover. Because of their distinctive pop punk style, and Jordan Pundik’s unique voice, the song stands on its own; completely separate from the original track.

Another great example of working around a cover was the act of replacing all the synths and samples of the original Deftones track “Change (In The House Of Flies)” with a beautifully orchestrated string section for Architects version of the song. The original track still has it’s own appeal, with the dark synth patches and atonality, but the Architects cover has its own appeal as well; sounding like a very dark James Bond theme or something. 

This track works perfectly. It sets itself apart from the clean 80’s pop production of the original, by being the filthiest, goofiest, and most interesting version of this song I’ve ever heard. There are plenty of shot for shot remakes of this track, but how many times do you get to hear a cover of an 80’s pop hit played so sloppily? Just as the Ah Ha version has its own appeal, so does this one. It won’t resonate with the masses like the original, but it sure will make a few people like me very happy.

“Hour Of Rats” The Red Chord 
Rating: Awesome
Genre:  Technical Death Metal, Metalcore, Deathcore
The Verdict: 

This song perfectly encapsulates everything necessary for success in this genre. Melodically, it flows between two or three scale types that dominate the track and keep the listener invested in the song. The guitar work takes you on a journey, on an ever winding path through a dark and chaotic scene. Structurally, there is so much going on. I think one of the most exciting things about this song, is the amount of times it tricks you. You imagine they might be building for a breakdown, but then it hits you with a solo. If you think it’s about to open up into a melodic scape, it will probably tighten up, and play the verse again with a slightly different drum pattern. It’s maniacal, chaotic, and ultimately beautiful. 

Finally, it’s overall tone is perfect. When it needs to be heavy, it is extremely heavy, and when the song needs space to play a melody it does exactly that. This is an expertly written piece of music. The Red Chord was one of the first technical death metal, bands that achieved this level of precision with their songwriting. Unfortunately I wasn’t in to this stuff as this was coming out, but nowadays, among countless “mathy” metal bands that do it so wrong, it’s nice to be reminded of the bands who did it right.

“We Are All Going Home in an Ambulance” Reuben
Rating: Awesome
Genre:  Post Hardcore, Metalcore, Alternative Metal, Mathcore
The Verdict: 

This band accomplishes something that so many post hardcore, metalcore/ math bands don’t even attempt; mixing clean vocals with such wild melodic structure. 

Firstly, their music is wonderful, and if I had to place it, they would fit perfectly next to other noisy outfits like Norma Jean, The Chariot, Converge, or The Dillinger Escape Plan. 

Secondly, the way they incorporate clean vocals works so well, it’s almost like they’re not doing anything particularly difficult. However, it is difficult to write parts like that. Discordant or ugly sections of songs don’t usually play well with melodies capable of singing over. I’m not saying it’s impossible, and I’m not saying this band is the only one who does this. What impressed me about this band was the simple fact that they write these difficult parts so often in their catalog, and so often does it work out fantastically. Check this stuff out.

“Virus:// Vibrance” Vein
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Hardcore, Noise Rock, Electronic, Alternative
The Verdict: 

This is the only time I’ve ever heard sampled breakbeats used to this effect in a post hardcore or noise track. 

This was a huge breath of fresh air, as so many of these types of bands just try to fit the mold. It’s a silly concept that there even IS a mold to fit for a noisy post hardcore band, but judging by how many groups of that nature sound similar, I guess we have to assume their is. I can’t stress enough how great this track is. It feels so true to the genre, while at the same time feeling new. The production is perfect for an act like this as well. It needs to be a little bit cleaner to make the electronic sample sections really pop out, but it also needs to feel a little underground in order to properly resonate with fans. This is really quite interesting stuff, and if you’ve ever been interested in noisier, heavier, or wilder music, I really suggest giving this band a listen.

“Beautiful Ruin” Make Good Your Escape
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Punk, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, 
The Verdict: 

This is hands down one of the best opening riffs ever. Had this band come out just a few years earlier, this track could have been one of those genre defining tracks for the emo world. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the band was just a bit too late to the game, and went in a slightly different direction with a lot of their other music. 

Alas, while this track is certainly popular to an extent, with about 300,000 plays on Spotify, I wouldn’t call it particularly influential. 

The whole song feels like a river. It ebbs and flows between the main riff and the rest of the track washing over you with deep reverb and perfectly performed vocal tracks. This is one of those songs that perfectly represents the era in which it was made, and if you feel like reliving a few minutes of 2006, just put this track on an get lost.

The Anticipation” Orthodox
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Noise Rock, Hardcore, Post Hardcore
The Verdict: 

This is pretty much just a hardcore/ metalcore band, and the rest of this album is okay, but it’s still pretty much the “same old same old.” This song however is a very interesting take on what you can do with the genre. 

Of course I was waiting for the caveman breakdown the whole time I was listening, but it never happened. It was effectively a noise piece with hardcore sentiments, a perfect mess of hardcore tropes not clearly defined; everything that makes a hardcore song what it is, and nothing like a hardcore song all at once. 

I hope this group makes more music like this, it is absolutely perfect, and if it gains any traction, it could inspire a real shift towards innovation in a genre that’s gone stale over the many years it’s been stagnant. Unfortunately, I suspect it probably wont, seeing that this is one of those christian hardcore bands like The Crucified, No Innocent Victim, xDISCIPLEx A.D., and Unashamed. There’s nothing wrong with any of these groups, their just as preachy as any other hardcore band, but in this day and age, I feel like the message will turn more people off to them then it would have even 5 years ago. If you can’t get passed that, you’re really missing out. This stuff is hardcore gold.

“Cut Self Not” Faraquet
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Emo, Post Punk, Indie
The Verdict: 

They’ve gone with a very progressive song structure here, and it works for them much better than it does for a lot of songs in the same vein. It works because they have defined movements, they regularly call back to previous moments in the song, and tie everything together expertly with interesting chord shifts. 

I am always absolutely supportive of an artist’s exploration in sound and structure, but it’s too often that bands go too far with it. At some point you have to remember that you’re making a song for people to connect with, not a performance for people to ogle at. The guitar tone they’ve chosen is perfectly clean and crisp, and it leaves enough sonic space for itself to really shine through. Everything on this track is clearly defined and beautifully written. A+ gang.

Thats it! Thanks for dropping by. I suppose I should let you in on some of the things we’re preparing for over here at Soundworks Media. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting together some amazing talent, and some more writers in order to bring you guys more content. If you haven’t seen, Soundworks Media has partnered with some great content creators from around the Phoenix area, and we’re ever expanding our capabilities. We are on schedule to bring you some great podcasts, youtube content, and more blogs as well as a few more things we have in the hopper. Thank’s for sticking with us through it all, everyone involved is doing this unpaid with a hope that someday we can make this a central focus in our careers. We love you all. All 4 of you.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly

A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

#8.2. July 12, 2019

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! 

“You’re Not Alone” Home Grown
Rating: Good
Genre:  Pop Punk
The Verdict: 

I used to have this record on CD so I’m not going to go too far into it. It’s a pretty fair little pop punk record, that came in probably a little too late in the game to gain any real traction. 

I will say that you can really hear how this whole album was influenced back in 2002 by the coming wave of emo bands. It’s a little sadder sounding than anything this bad had released previously, and a lot of the emo tropes are present here on this particular outing. Check it out, just don’t expect much outside of regular old pop punk, with an emo flair.

“December” Introvert 
Rating: Good
Genre:  Hard Rock
The Verdict: 

This is a fairly decent hard rock track, but there’s not much to it. The chord structure and feel of the song reminds me of that early 0’s alt metal movement with bands like Trust Company, and I do like that. 

All together though, it doesn’t do very much for me. At least with Trust Company, I have some nostalgic feelings towards them; playing the Disney Skateboarding Adventure video game on ps2, eating Doritos till your face hurts, those were the days. And don’t tell me you don’t remember Disney Skateboarding Adventure, I can’t be the only one.

“2rak005” Bracket
Rating: Awesome 
Genre:  Punk, Pop Punk
The Verdict: 

Where do I know this song from? I think it’s a great track. The vocal melodies play well with the chord progression, the mix feels clean but raw, and the lyrics aren’t so incredibly self indulgent it becomes noticeable and annoying like a lot of punk tracks have been lately. 

In fact the lyrics here are pretty self deprecating, which is a bummer, I wish this guy was having a better day, but I can get behind those lyrics a lot easier; I can feel with the singer, and connect with the song.

“Still Burning” Incendiary
Rating: Good
Genre: Post Hardcore, Hardcore
The Verdict: 

I’m not in the mood for hardcore, I have definitely not been in quite some time. This had a few really interesting moments, but it’s still caveman beats and yelling. 

Honestly though, I will say it captured my attention enough to where I’m going to come back to this after a while. The song moved around enough to be interesting, and there was about as much exploration in the guitar work as can be afforded by the genre.

Lay Low” Fiddlehead
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Post Punk, Indie
The Verdict: 

It’s just boring. It seems to revel in its simplicity at the chorus, but at the same time it uses a lot of intricate chords during the verses. Even through some of the more complicated parts of the song, I felt uninterested. 

They just missed out on something that could have been great here, with a little more thought they could have worked in some really cool stuff.

“Chump Chance” Big Business
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Metal, Rock
The Verdict: 

I’m pretty sure the first time I heard this song was live, but I could be wrong. Big Business is very cool, they have that 70’s metal revival feel down to a science, from the lyrics to the production, everything is perfect. Check it out.

“Be Beheaded” Soulskin
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Alt Metal, Hard Rock, Rock
The Verdict: 

You can tell what this band is going to be just by the name. My least favorite genre of music is 90’s alt Metal. Faith No More, Soudgarden, Alice In Chains, etc. Naturally i would also dislike bands who are heavily inspired by that genre. 

Soulskin is totally a 90’s alt metal revival band, and I will never be into this kind of stuff.

“Puddle of Blood” Hard Girls
Rating: Good
Genre: Post Punk, Indie Rock
The Verdict: 

It’s a good post punk song, but there’s not much else to say about it. It’s just about as innovative as any other post punk band is, it has that annoying story telling lyrical approach that’s been haunting me lately, and throughout the song nothing jumps out as being amazing. 

The song as a whole is fun though. It moves through different sections seamlessly, it’s got some pieces that really jam, and the vocals sound very good. There’s nothing wrong with it per-say, but there’s nothing exceptional about it either.

“Drive” Blind Iris
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Alt Metal, Nu Metal, Hard Rock
The Verdict: 

Why is this happening right now? What gave Spotify the idea that I want to listen to 90’s Alt Metal? 

Anyway, this particular song is the worst kind of that genre in every way. It’s boring, the vocals are horrible, the production is absolutely awful, and the music is extremely derivative. Skip It. 

“3’s & 7’s” Queens of the Stone Age
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Stoner Rock
The Verdict: 

WOW I’VE NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE!

Of course I have, this is one of the greatest rock bands to ever be. Josh Homme is a powerhouse musician, and everything he touches turns to gold. This is a very good record as a whole, but I think I’m not alone in saying this bands two previous releases were better. 

This track is one of their more tame pieces, but it’s still wonderful. If you haven’t listened to them before, do it now. Start with “Songs For The Deaf”, and work your way through everything they’ve ever done, you won’t be disappointed.

“Creatures (For a While)” 311
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Alternative Rock
The Verdict: 

NOPE.

“I’m Not Invisible” Rocket From The Crypt
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Punk, Post Punk, Ska Punk
The Verdict: 

Yes! This is my favorite track from them. I have had this CD for years, and I have loved this song particularly since I was probably 13. Check them out if you haven’t, aside from having one of the coolest band name’s in the game, they’re just one of the best punk bands of the era.

“Dead End Friends” Them Crooked Vultures
Rating: Good
Genre: Hard Rock
The Verdict: 

I feel the same about this as I do with any super group. They always sound like a neutered version of one of the bands represented. In this case, Them Crooked Vultures sounds like any other Queens of the Stone Age record but without any teeth. 

It’s as if there’s always the predominant and best songwriter of the bunch, in this case Josh Homme, who gets constrained by the idea of working with a few other rock legends, and therefore doesn’t go nearly as far as they normally would to write a great record. This song in particular sounds like a rejected QOTSA track, without all the strangeness Homme usually infuses into his work. 

Them Crooked Vultures is by no means a terrible band, but I feel like they would be a much better band had I never heard a Queens record before.

ghostly“Breakfast of Champions” Rainer Maria 
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Punk, Indie Rock, Emo
The Verdict: 

Yes, I like this. It very much fits my taste for early emo junk. I appreciate the fact that they manage to get such a big sound as a three piece, one of my projects is also a three piece, and I always feel like we might be missing something. Of course we aren’t, but that’s always in the back of my mind. It’s nice to see someone made it work, so I can put my mind at ease.

The song itself is awesome. The energy it brings feels both melancholy, and exciting, like a lot of those early emo bands. I’ll have to go through their catalog now and find some songs to put on my playlist next to The Promise Ring, and Christie Front Drive.

“Kept” Movements
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Alternative
The Verdict:

This is a very cool song. The chords they use are hauntingly beautiful, and the structure of the song keeps you invested throughout. It’s a very good piece of post hardcore songwriting. It’s always important to note that this genre is supposed to have a very specific feel. Too many bands miss that, and I’m glad to finally hear one that is getting it right.

Well that was a bore fest today wasn’t it? We’ll try again next week!

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly

A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

#8.1. July 11, 2019

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.

Sorry for the late posts, I’ve been dealing with some technical difficulties lately, as well as working on some new content for the website so, keep your eyes open for that.

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! 

“Tumoric” Frontierer
Rating: Good
Genre:  Metal, Noise, Grindcore 
The Verdict: 

This is probably one of the noisiest tracks I’ve ever heard. There’s almost zero tonality to the instrumentation, and the only definable cadence comes from the snare, which changes signature so often it’s near impossible to nail down. Despite all this, I think it works. I think when the music does come to a definable cadence, it becomes extremely hard. I felt myself drawn to deeper listening with this song; I want to pull back the shroud of sonic chaos to understand what’s really going on underneath it all.

ghostly“Raspberry Cough” Coletta 
Rating: Awesome
Genre:  Post Hardcore, Progressive Hard Rock, Alternative, Electronic, 
The Verdict: 

This is so fun! The choices of synth patches are so perfect, and the guitar work is incredible. They really made some very cool chordal choices, and built a very pop sensible song around a jazz structure. 

The vocals are so stupidly over produced, and I do really dislike that, but I think it comes with the territory with this stuff, and it’s something we’ll have to get over. This song is much more about the music than the vocals anyway, and I really had a lot of fun listening to this. Top pick material already!

“Dark Matter” Household

Rating: Awesome 

Genre:  Post Punk, Indie, Emo

The Verdict: 

That last one was going to be very hard to follow. I feel this song would have been better had it not been immediately after Colette. I’m giving it the high rating because of that. As of now, I’d probably put it at “Great” but I feel like at any other time I would really love it. I thought that the vocals were very well done. 

His vocal approach is rather soft and calm, which is in contrast to a lot of bands like this, and I liked that. As for the vocal harmonies, I thought those were very well done, and there were definitely plenty of them. 

Musically, I was very into it. I thought all the guitar work felt complete, and sounded awesome, from the tone, to the beautiful writing. All together this was a very solid post punk song. Listen to it.

“Paragons of Virtue” Hesitation Wounds

Rating: Good

Genre: Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

This song leans a little closer to the “hardcore” part of the “post hardcore” denotation. Again, there are a lot of bands that do this stuff. It’s not bad, but there are many groups sound very similar to this. I don’t hate this song, in fact there were a few places in the song where I really got into it. But as far as this style goes as a whole, it’s a very crowded scene. Plus most of the time, if I’m in the mood for this flavor of heavy music, I’d rather listen to modern grindcore acts like God Mother, or Cult Leader.

“Make It Good” Berried Alive
Rating: Good
Genre: Progressive Hard Rock, Electronic, Djent
The Verdict: 

They have a silly name, themed track titles, and djent. What’s not to love? Oh yea, djent. I have found tracks I enjoy by this band, but I can never listen to a whole album from them, or any djent band for that matter. 

I can really enjoy it from time to time, but it’s got to be exceptionally special. Like hardcore, the genre became too crowded, much too quickly, with bands that sounded far too similar.  

I appreciated the exploration here, with a low and chill vocal approach, but I don’t think it worked. The music has too much force behind it, and because the vocals are so relaxed, the production team has to push the volume way up to compensate, and it sounds fake.

The synth work is cool and all, but when you can’t tell weather you’re listening to a synth or a guitar in a guitar dominated genre, you sort of feel cheated. It’s almost like they’re trying to hide their sins with layers of synth work, and disguising different instruments as something they aren’t.

I Want A Lot Now (So Come On)” Murder City Devils
Rating: Whatever
Genre: Punk
The Verdict: 

I generally like this band. They have a very goofy 50’s Sci Fi feel about them, and a great singer who imbues each track with the undeniable essence of punk. Any songs they do without showcasing their spooky organ though, fall very short of the songs where they do. In the case of this particular track, it falls short by a huge margin. 

The band becomes a very boring punk outfit without the addition of the silly organ, and looses all of its charm and appeal. This song is really no different from any other song made by any other punk band in 1998, and therefore I can’t get too into it.

“Betterment” Baptists
Rating: Fine
Genre: Post Hardcore, Hardcore, Sludge
The Verdict: 

Why do the guitars sound like they’re side chained to the kick like the synths in an end track? I get the idea they were going for, and the approach sort of works on similar tracks, but the reaction from the side chain was way too intense here. The effect gave the song too much room to breathe, and it didn’t feel as intense as it should have. 

This track had some interesting moments, but like I always say, a hardcore band is a hardcore band is a hardcore band; no amount of sludge or “cool effects” is going to change the fact that they sound just like everyone else.

“Your Little Hoodrat Friend” The Hold Steady
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Post Punk, Indie, Alternative
The Verdict: 

The organ is cool, the rest of it is actually pretty annoying. I really don’t care about this guy’s dumb story, and that’s what killed this track for me. That’s always the risk you take with this kind of lyrical approach, if your story doesn’t resonate, then it doesn’t work. 

And I realize this band is popular, and I’m taking an unpopular position by trashing them so in order to keep the wolves at bay, while the poetic voice and skill is impressive, the story he told wasn’t something that connected with me personally. If it connected with you personally, then good, I’m so glad, congratulations. 

“Mariana’s Trench” August Burns Red
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Metalcore, Progressive Post Hardcore, Mathcore
The Verdict: 

I love this band. I got to see them in Tucson years ago while they were on tour with Bring Me The Horizon. Anyone who knows about this band knows the drum work from Matt Greiner is always exceptional on record, and nothing less than astounding live. After the show my buddies and I were wandering around trying to find a place to eat, we came across Matt, who was sitting on the curb on the phone with his girlfriend. After he hung up, he came up to us, chatted for a while, and then came with us to dinner. We all had a great time, he was a very sweet guy, he talked with us for a few hours, and then spent time giving me a few tips on practicing blast beats, and building endurance for metal drumming. It was a cool experience for 17 year old me, to the point that I’m still talking about it.

August Burns Red is one of those extremely hard working, super talented, and incredibly genuine group of dudes in the whole metalcore scene. That is the reason they’ve had longevity in their careers as metalcore musicians. Not the talent, not the songwriting, but a true understanding of who they are as a band, a willingness to interface with fans, and a dedication to their work. As for this song, it’s amazing; it’s one of the best off of my favorite record from them. Check it out.

“Fatalist” Cursed
Rating: Fine
Genre: Post Hardcore, Metalcore, Sludge Metal
The Verdict: 

I was really into this band for a minute, but I’m realizing everything they’ve ever put out is near impossible to listen to in a sober and analytical state of mind. 

It’s heavy stuff, but it’s not stoner metal. It’s effectively metalcore, but it somehow transcends that genre, and calls for a specific type of setting. 

I don’t feel this way about most metalcore acts, usually I can just play them in the background and go about my day. Cursed calls for a deeper listening. Cursed needs to be enjoyed in a dark room with some candles and ceremonial herb.

“I Am A Trans – Continental Railroad, Please Run A Train On Me” SeeYouSpaceCowboy
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Hardcore, Grindcore, Progressive Rock, Mathcore
The Verdict: 

If you like your music as wild as possible, this is the band for you. This music is like a fever dream; it’s chaos that’s constrained to any semblance of form by a thread, and it’s beautiful. 

It really is reminiscent of that short explosion of crazy mathcore bands in the late 90’s to early 0’s, and I would happily accept a new wave of that stuff. 

SeeYouSpaceCowboy popped up on a discover weekly playlist a while back, and I’ve been very into them ever since. I feel like I’ve listened to them recently but I suppose I haven’t. This must be a case of me NOT  listening to them in quite some time, and Spotify feeling the need to remind me to do so. 

“Blasted” Torche
Rating: Fine
Genre: Rock, Alternative Metal
The Verdict: 

I really loved the tone and effect of the guitars, but the riff is too simple and ineffective to play through the entire song at nauseam as it does. It just turns into a very boring piece, that feels much longer than it is. 

A little more time in the writing process could have done wonders for this one, production wise it was near perfection.

“A Pillar Of Salt” The Thermals
Rating: Whatever
Genre: Punk
The Verdict: 

The music was great, specifically the lead guitar lines; but my issue with this, and so many punk bands right now is their “holier than thou attitude.” They aren’t really saying anything the DNC isn’t also saying this election cycle, but they all still have this arrogant “smarter than you” feel about their lyrics. The lyricist always seems to sound like they think they’re some sort of living prophet of liberalism, even while every band says the same thing. 

RANT TIME!

I was very involved in the punk scene here for quite a while, and for all that time, I never felt like I was welcome. For a community who prides itself on being all inclusive and open, they’re some of the most exclusive, unsupportive, and generally closed off people I’ve ever come across. 

So when a band stands up on the stage, mounts their high horse, and shouts about gay rights, border issues, and communism, it feels to me like they’re doing it for street cred’ rather than doing it to create change. 

Stop using serious issues as a means to get laid. We all want change, but self indulgent slam poetry with music is absolutely not going to do anything but turn more people off to what you’re saying.

I’m not saying all punks or all punk bands are like this, I’m just saying it’s the general sentiment people on the outside (and some on the inside) have towards the community. 

Fat Mike saying it’s good that country music fans were killed in a mass shooting, and after that statement received cheers from the crowd. I thought punks were generally for gun control laws? Or what about The Dickies bashing women at their Warped Tour performance, and then being defended by the punk community? I thought punks were generally against the mistreatment of women for being women? It’s become more of a cult of personalities than a movement towards change.

Y’all have come a long way from gay bashing and parading around in swastikas, but you still need to keep moving forward. 

Be inclusive, practice what you preach, and show up.

And stop making your lyrics sound so pompous, trust me when I say, you don’t sound nearly as cool as you think you do, especially when your “radical” ideas are shared by most of the democratic party nowadays.

“Now, When I’m This” The Black Queen
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Electronic, Darkwave
The Verdict: 

One of the most interesting projects to come out in a long time. I don’t say that because of the content; while they do make really good music, it’s just a darkwave band with a slightly harsher edge. I say that because this band is made up of members of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Nine Inch Nails. Try that on for size.

“Unconditional” The Bravery
Rating: Good
Genre: Pop Rock, Indie, Alternative
The Verdict: 

Every time one of these old alternative tracks comes up, it makes me long for another indie alternative movement to spring up, and take over again. Sure I hated The Bravery when they were popular, I hated Urban Outfitters, and Hollister, American Eagle, and the local alternative radio station, all those places that constantly played this band and bands like them. I wanted my music as heavy as I could find it at that time. 

Now, I’m hindsight, while I do appreciate the new hip hop movements, the fact that Souncloud and Spotify are killing the predatory record companies, I still like all that indie alternative a whole lot more. This song in particular is not the best, but I do appreciate it now more than I did before. I would have probably put it at “Great” but hearing it bummed me out, so it gets a demotion.

Thats it! Thanks for the read.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly

A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

#7.2. July 3, 2019

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!

“Buried” Spraynard
Rating: 
Good
Genre: Punk, Pop Punk, Emo
The Verdict:
Again, this is just solid. It’s very much a simple post punk song, but it’s fast, it’s hard, and it’s fun. Spraynard has always been one of those go too bands when you want to listen to this stuff. It’s very good, but it doesn’t get in the way of your regular thought process, there’s nothing that stands out too far to capture your attention.

https://open.spotify.com/track/6FktNUVmUJAkBnwgciw5Ik? si=R8Z6iBHHSVub_Vigxw6osw

“How Selfish I Seem” Trash Boat
Rating: Skip It
Genre: Pop Punk, Post Punk
The Verdict:

Sum 41 was already a band guys, this stuff’s been done a million times. This really does sound like a mix between Sum 41 and The Story So Far, but it isn’t as good as either.

https://open.spotify.com/track/7JCzncOsHUjTUQcyC0iDHP? si=xPF3j29ZQqyM0gFFWBOBdA

“We Who Looked Like Giants” Death Cab For Cutie
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Emo, Indie, Post Punk
The Verdict:

Okay, so of course this was one of my favorite albums from my early days. Their music is perfectly crafted, their lyrics are smartly played and poetic, and I still love it to this day. Give it a listen if you haven’t already, but I’m guessing you have if you follow me at all.

“Punks” FIDLAR
Rating: 
Awesome
Genre: Post Punk, Punk, Alternative
The Verdict:
I love this band. They’ve been nothing but consistent since they released this record, and just about everything has been amazing. I love the production on this record specifically. It revels in how trashy it sounds, and it creates such a huge atmosphere to exist in. This particular song is a huge and wide open rock track. It sounds a little blues inspired, and obviously punk inspired, and is definitely worth a listen.

“Isolate” …Bender
Rating: 
Fine
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative, Hard Rock, Nu Metal
The Verdict:
This band is part of that weird transition between Grunge and Post Hardcore. Trust Company was my favorite from that vein of musical style. That whole era was not bad, but it was also not that good. The market was flooded with bands like this for a short minute, and each had maybe one stand out song.

I had never heard of this particular band, but I liked the music. It was cool, they presented a nice atmosphere with their chord structure, and I felt like it could have been very good. But that voice! It’s so annoying! It’s everything I hate about that whole grunge movement. There were a few great artists, but anyone who incorporated the singing style that replaced all the vowels with R’s drives me insane. That simple fact ruined the whole piece for me.

https://open.spotify.com/track/7iTpGVso8hAz7q8fR9tfjG? si=dL0-5rEwRzaRJngu4_Q17g

House of Cards” Madina Lake
Rating: Good
Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Alternative
The Verdict:

Hey! I saw these guys at a christian music festival way back when. I got something signed by them I think, without knowing anything about them, after which I felt like I had to buy their CD. I was underwhelmed then as I’m under whelmed now.

“House of Cards” has an interesting Muse-ish quality to it, and there are plenty of very cool moments of songwriting on this track, but ultimately I find it a little bland. The whole album sounds like a weird rip off of The Used, with all the breaks for strange samples, and electronics, but it just falls a little short of greatness.

There was a song I really liked on this record but I don’t remember which one it was, and the more I’m listening to this one, the more I doubt I’m going to like anything off this record.

https://open.spotify.com/track/4orQFDcvhvyaPx8PPf35iI? si=Y_7YLXRoQHaZM1L64cYhTQ

“PDA” Interpol
Rating: 
Awesome
Genre: Post Punk, Electronic, Indie Rock
The Verdict:
This is one of my favorite Interpol tracks. The lyrics are so strange and the music has a beautiful 80’s goth quality. I love this band, listen to this song, please and thank you.

https://open.spotify.com/track/4Jcg7RJGHyCOjvALY6NAkx? si=ve6f9aYDRtGEAW4zFJAeyA

“Even Rats” The Slip
Rating: 
Awesome
Genre: Experimental Rock, Indie Rock, Emo, Post Punk
The Verdict:
This is perfectly chill. I really enjoyed the low key and muted approach they took here. I believe this can be put into the Emotronic category?

Whatever it is, the synths are so incredibly spacey, and play perfectly with the guitars, which are written very well. The final movement of the song was by far my favorite, it caught my attention with a very stand out riff, and held me till the very end.

https://open.spotify.com/track/0JbWsz5FEJuSuWHF9FGVS5? si=kyPwdgV5T7CiRRDa9LuUvw

“A Dozen Roses” Braid
Rating: 
Skip It
Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Indie Rock
The Verdict:
The guitar work was just too messy for my taste. It’s one thing to use tri-tones, and chromatic scales, for tension’s sake, but this was just gross. It felt like there were a lot of missing pieces, like the song wasn’t fully formed and they just left a bunch of filler sections in the song. It wasn’t good on any level for me. Production was trashy, guitar work was poor, song structure was boring, and the vocals were so insanely boring.

https://open.spotify.com/track/47wLFLAPdyFwQWn294xDcf? si=PtJVku76S7CGfjykHyemng

ghostly“Checkerboards & Cigarettes” Megosh
Rating: 
Awesome
Genre: Post Hardcore, Progressive Rock, Emo, Rock
The Verdict:
This was really cool. The vocal melodies were haunting, and were backed perfectly by equally entrancing guitar work. There were moments that were undeniably progressive, complimented by easy to follow, and relatively pop sensible verses. The vocals were top tier, the songwriting was beautiful from the driving and heavy intro to the creepy and childlike end. Definitely top pick material here.

https://open.spotify.com/track/1k4OxQVZjCnzgqxkmQz5mc? si=fn9USi6MRw60OxbKnsUxUA

“Please Don’t Tell My Father That I Used His 1996 Honda Accord To Destroy the Town of Willow, Pennsylvania in 2002”
Pet Symmetry
Rating: 
Fine
Genre: Post Punk, Emo

The Verdict:

Man, I kind of enjoyed the song, with the smartly written horns, and consistent driving beat, but I really don’t care about the dumb story. I’ve heard it too many times, and it’s overdone; the one crazy night filled with teenage angst and reckless abandon spelled out in great detail to a rhyme scheme and a simple beat. Plus, it’s easily recognizable that the band tried very hard to make the song title as long as they did, and it’s just obnoxious. Just call it “Honda Accord” there I fixed it, leave something vague why don’t you?

https://open.spotify.com/track/2xnRe4ajdGpRjWVB0loSHx?si=af- CVILgRvmuhS7Gy_fnmA

“Music Is Worth Living For” Andrew W.K.
Rating: 
Awesome
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Alternative, Pop Punk
The Verdict:
I really just don’t like you if you can’t admit that Andrew W.K.’s music is at the very least, extremely fun. The guy is so goofy, he had a TV show on a children’s network.

I really enjoy the musical scale he works in, it gives his tunes an epic feel, and yet his lyrics are so silly and playful.

His music is a real dichotomy of feelings, and I appreciate that. This song isn’t his best, but I still find it as fun as the rest of his catalog. Party Metal, rock on.

https://open.spotify.com/track/5AVPiOi3De9WVR8ExWdyh3?si=-GvLUo7- TCmFNAZl5xFBhg

“Hinged by Spine” PEARS
Rating: Awesome
Genre: Post Punk, Punk
The Verdict:

These guys are one of my favorite newer punk bands. They always have really interesting chord structures, great vocals, and the speed and intensity you’d expect from a punk band. I really appreciate all the stops and starts in this song, I can just imagine how fun the show could get with all that happening. Check these guys out, they’re always awesome.

https://open.spotify.com/track/3lYEqnZ9PVQNteUaSB3A1d? si=Fnb54qHMRl-2xWjP3ZJd_A

“Give It Up” Midtown
Rating: 
Fine
Genre: Post Punk, Pop Punk, Emo
The Verdict:
I really loved this bands 2002 release “Living Well is the Best Revenge” I thought it was a lot of fun, and it had some great moments of pop punk writing. This song is off their next release, which by 2004, was pretty old hat. I didn’t think it stood out as much as their previous work, because it was by that point, swimming amongst a litany of other records that sounded too similar, or were better. Midtown might have been one of the earlier acts doing this sort of stuff, but they needed to do a little extra on their next release in order to stand out, and they didn’t. Seeing that this was their last record, I think they saw the writing on the wall as well, the scene had become overly flooded, and it was going to be very difficult to stand out anymore.

https://open.spotify.com/track/15VojnPQuAQleWQCBkcS5i? si=0zKOtSFaS96GTfA4XYf0_w

“Blast Off” Rivers Cumo
Rating: 
Skip It
Genre: Post Punk, Alternative, Indie
The Verdict:
I wish I liked this more, but I just don’t. I did enjoy the vocoder, I thought that was kind of fun, but everything else sounded like the MOST quintessential Weezer piece, bordering on self parody. I like Weezer sometimes, but not enough to enjoy this one at all. Sorry Rivers.

https://open.spotify.com/track/23Y8W5rtryzPiioTpzaiKW? si=jA1LnwClSySDhuOERycPmg

Cool, thanks gang. Happy America Day!

Stay Ghostly, Kolby Bergquist

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


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