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

Discover Briefly #5 June 19, 2019

A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

Every week I pray that the Spotify gods be good to me as I check my Discover Weekly playlist. They’ve lead astray once or twice, but they’ve also lead me to find some truly awesome tunes. So I’ve decided to use this platform to share my findings with you.

Twice a week, I’ll share with you my playlist, rate the songs, and give my opinions on each track. Hopefully, you can use this as a way to discover new artists, find what to avoid, and grow your catalog.

Scale from best to worst

Awesome – Great – Good – Fine – Whatever – Skip it

I’ll pick a favorite of the week, you’ll know it when you see the ghost. I will not pick my least favorite. You should be able to figure that out for yourselves anyway, and I’m already ripping into a band’s hard work, so theres no need for me to add insult to injury with a stupid sticker or something. Anyways,

Enjoy the read! 

“Doublespeek” Veil Of Maya

Rating: Whatever

Genre:  Djent, Progressive Metal

The Verdict: 

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

“New Dark Ages” Bad Religion 

Rating: Good

Genre:  Punk

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

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

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

“Antpile” Kublai Khan

Rating: Skip It 

Genre:  Hardcore, Metalcore 

The Verdict: 

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

“End Of The World” The Living End

Rating: Fine

Genre: Punk, Rockabilly

The Verdict: 

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

“Wish” Nine Inch Nails

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Industrial, Electronic, Rock

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

Stick ‘Em Up” Masked Intruder

Rating: Great

Genre: Pop Punk, Punk

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

“Worship the Serpent” Zealot R.I.P.

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Rise Above” Black Flag

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Hardcore, Punk

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

ghostly“Little Hospitals” Biffy Clyro 

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Punk

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Bigger Than Kiss” Teenage Bottlerocket

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Punk

The Verdict: 

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

“Sweet Willy Rollbar” Melvins

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Sludge Metal, Alternative Metal, Grunge, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

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

“Libra” Intervals

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Metal, Djent

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Reciprocation” Whale Bones

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Punk, Alternative

The Verdict: 

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

“Sun of Pearl” An Endless Sporadic

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Math Rock, Metal, Prog Rock, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Aliens Exist” blink-182

Rating: Good

Genre: Pop Punk

The Verdict: 

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

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

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly #5. June 12, 2019

A weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

Every week I pray that the Spotify gods be good to me as I check my Discover Weekly playlist. They’ve lead astray once or twice, but they’ve also lead me to find some truly awesome tunes. So I’ve decided to use this platform to share my findings with you.

Twice a week, I’ll share with you my playlist, rate the songs, and give my opinions on each track. Hopefully, you can use this as a way to discover new artists, find what to avoid, and grow your catalog.

Scale from best to worst

Awesome – Great – Good – Fine – Whatever – Skip it

I’ll pick a favorite of the week, you’ll know it when you see the ghost. I will not pick my least favorite. You should be able to figure that out for yourselves anyway, and I’m already ripping into a band’s hard work, so theres no need for me to add insult to injury with a stupid sticker or something. Anyways,

Enjoy the read!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is top pick material.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for the read, see you next week.

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

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly #4. June 11, 2019

A bi-weekly breakdown of my Spotify playlists.

By Kolby Bergquist

Every week I pray that the Spotify gods be good to me as I check my Discover Weekly playlist. They’ve lead astray once or twice, but they’ve also lead me to find some truly awesome tunes. So I’ve decided to use this platform to share my findings with you.

Twice a week, I’ll share with you my playlist, rate the songs, and give my opinions on each track. Hopefully, you can use this as a way to discover new artists, find what to avoid, and grow your catalog.

Scale from best to worst

Awesome – Great – Good – Fine – Whatever – Skip it

I’ll pick a favorite of the week, you’ll know it when you see the ghost. I will not pick my least favorite. You should be able to figure that out for yourselves anyway, and I’m already ripping into a band’s hard work, so theres no need for me to add insult to injury with a stupid sticker or something. Anyways,

Enjoy the read! 

Here we go again…

“Pain” Bilmuri

Rating: Fine

Genre:  Hardcore, Post Punk 

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Follows” Tigers Jaw

Rating: Good

Genre:  Post Hardcore, Soft Grunge, Emo

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

“Trainspotting Seamlessly” Push Over

Rating: Good 

Genre:  Post Hardcore 

The Verdict: 

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

“Mandibles” E-Town Concrete

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Hardcore

The Verdict: 

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

“Anyone, Evermore” The Great Divide

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

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

Shark Ethic” Most Precious Blood

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Hardcore, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Burning Sheep” Sainthood Reps

Rating: Good

Genre: Post Hardcore, Rock

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Aunt Betty” Middle Class Rut

Rating: Great

Genre: Rock

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

ghostly“I Spend My Days” Employed To Serve

Rating: Fine

Genre: Metalcore

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Re-Ignition” Bad Brains

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Punk, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

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

“Sucker Punch” Charlatan 

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Metal

The Verdict: 

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely check this out.

“Lazy Minds” Mo Lowda & The Humble

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Rock, Post Punk, Emo, Rock

The Verdict: 

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

“Overstepping” Belmont

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Post Hardcore, Post Punk, Pop Punk

The Verdict: 

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

“Brief Exchange” Chino Moreno

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Rock, Metal, Alt Metal

The Verdict: 

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

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

“Smokedance” Silver Snakes, Death And The Moon,

Rating: Great

Genre: Industrial, Electronic

The Verdict: 

Finally something that’s not post! 

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

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

Alright everybody, check back tomorrow for part 2!

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly #3. June 4, 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.

Once 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.

Next week I’ll be trying out a new format. I’m going to split these up into part one and two. The current format is making for really long blog posts, and it takes a long time to get them done.

This week’s playlist was pretty terrible, there were only a few good ones, and the rest I had either already heard, or were just bad examples of things I regularly talk about on here. I got really bored with it really fast, so this time around, I’m only going to talk about a few songs that really stood out to me. Otherwise, it’s just going to look like I’m whining.

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! 

“Be Here” Orchids

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Rock, Alt Pop 

The Verdict: 

It’s not the greatest, most inventive thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s definitely fun. The chorus was really pretty, for lack of a more descriptive word, and I love the crazy effects on the guitar. The pitched up delay they use during the verses gives everything a slight pop quality and I think it works very well. Her voice fits the rest of the band very well, and it’s nice to hear an actual female vocalist on this kind of stuff, in place of a whiny, nasaly dude. I say definitely give it a listen. It’s cool, it’s got an interesting vibe, and I really enjoyed it.

“Unending” Lume

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Soft Grunge

The Verdict: 

This song is just a long rising wave that eventually smashes into you, and keeps you drowning in it for the final two minutes. It’s the weird chord progression that really makes this piece interesting. The guitar sways back and forth, maintaining a beautifully dark character throughout. I thought the mix served the song perfectly, where the guitars were warm, and deep, and all the way up front. The vocals were right in that same pocket of frequencies, but managed to cut through just enough. 

Finally, when the song does erupt, it’s epic. The dark tone of the rest of the song is maintained, but with the addition huge drums, and of walls of screaming feedback. I thought it was fantastically put together, the overall structure was solid. The different movements were rigid, and well defined, but the music and vocals flowed seamlessly between themes. It is actually difficult to write a song in this way, and I think Lume pulled it off very well.

“Mullally” And So I Watched You From Afar

Rating: Great 

Genre:  Progressive Rock, Instrumental 

The Verdict: 

By this point I was getting a little annoyed by this playlist. It’s just bad versions of songs we always talk about, and I was struggling to find different words to explain things I’ve explained a million times. This song started out and I almost gave up. “Another jangly instrumental song. Great” I thought. All in all, it’s pretty basic, I was underwhelmed, until 1:41. 

Just within that single movement, there were elements of pop punk, easycore, noise rock, Midwest emo, jazz, and all those pieces were put together SO WELL. The entirety of the song itself got infinitely better after that “breakdown” I guess you could call it? I was getting very classic rock vibes from the guitar work for the rest of the song. In fact, there is a specific song that it reminds me of, the guitars have the same timbre, and they harmonize in the same way. I cannot remember the name of that song, and it’s absolutely killing me. So if anyone gets the same vibe while listening to this tune, and knows what song I’m thinking of, PLEASE, let me know what it is. This has nothing to do with the song a all, but the art for this record was hilarious.

“Fractional” Hundred Suns

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Hardcore, Rock

The Verdict: 

I wanted to like this. I really did. I’d been meaning to sit down and listen to this band for a while, seeing that it’s made up of members of Norma Jean and Every Time I Die. Both of those bands are legendary, they’ve both put out consistently killer albums, so I thought Hundred Suns would be absolutely stellar. 

Turns out, when members of two progressive post hardcore bands get together, the result is just really bland and flavorless radio rock. These guys suffered from expectation, but when you bill yourselves as being a sort of progressive super group, there’s no avoiding expectation. I’m still interested in this hearing more. I want to get a little deeper into their catalog. I honestly refuse to believe these guys didn’t throw in some prog bits here and there, and I’m sure this song is just one bore-fest in the midst of an otherwise great record. I’m sure they’ve written plenty of gems, but I didn’t feel this to be one if them.

“Dark Stone” Holy Fawn

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Soft Grunge

The Verdict: 

I like soft grunge a lot. I think it allows for a lot of exploration. I think it perfectly incorporates all the cool dark genres like goth, and doom, and rock, and post punk, and presents them in a way that’s much easier to process. I think this particular song is great, it’s atmospheric, its dark and moody; essentially, it does what it’s supposed to do. At least for me, the genre isn’t too played out yet, so a relatively basic song like this can still feel very new and interesting. I really appreciated how long this song was. I feel like the length gave it a lot more space to grow, and develop, and more time to sink in. It really just had all the marks of a good soft grunge song. If you don’t listen to soft grunge, I’d say this, as well as Title Fight’s “Hyperview” are a really good way into the genre. Check it out.

Narrow Mouth” The Early November

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Rock

The Verdict: 

This is the early November? I guess I haven’t followed them very sincerely since “The Moth, The Mechanic, And The Path”. I know that they were a little bit more post punkish in the beginning, but got more acoustic and poppy during the era when The All American Rejects dominated radio stations. This song harkens back to their first two records. It has the heavy guitars, the post punk elements, and it has added layers of dreamy noise. There’s a very cool feel that they got with this one. All together the mix is clean and definitely digital, but you can feel the weight of the song. There is absolutely nothing wrong with digital recording, and if you have a serious problem with it, then you should stop listening to music right now. SOMETIMES, when an engineer gets it wrong, you miss the weight of a song. While the instrumentation can be extremely well crafted, if the whole song sounds too digital, the feel just doesn’t translate as well.

Anyways, the song still has that slight pop sensibility that I know The Early November for, but it feels good. This song seems to be a solid middle ground between their two distinct styles. I really liked the bass guitar tones, and that rarely sticks out to me. They are lightly overdriven, and punchy, and that adds a layer of crunch to an otherwise clean mix. During the verses, there’s a synth pad that floats through the other instruments, and adds an air of noise in mix. During the days of tape, there was always noise no matter what you did, and since the digital age, we’ve been trying to get that noise back. There was just something about it I think that musical society didn’t realize until it was gone. I think synth pads are an interesting way of adding it back in, with a musical touch. There were lots of very smart moves in both the engineering, as well as the songwriting, I was impressed.

ghostly“The Skin Thief” Nekrogoblikon

Rating: Great

Genre: Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore, Electronic Rock

The Verdict: 

What? I mean, I know this band, but I don’t follow them at all. I think their shtick is funny, but I’ve never been super in to bands like this, or GWAR. It’s not the theatrics I dislike, Ghost is one of my favorite bands after all, but its the silly subject matter. I don’t really watch comedy, and that translates to my musical tastes. Of course every now and then its fun to binge Weird Al records, but I don’t want to listen to metal about goblin problems. It would be one thing if the band itself was fantastic, but they’re really only okay. Its hard for me to get into something that I have a predisposition to hate, but you know what, this week, Nekrogoblikon was a breath of fresh air. I think this song is really fun, mostly because of the synthesizers. Im usually going to love the addition of synths, and this song got a huge boost from their presence. They used big bell synths to back the biggest hits in the song, and the mono synth solo was just campy enough to be fun, and just impressive enough to be cool. The song really kept my attention, all the way through, it was full of really cool guitar work, and the drums were insanely fast throughout. This was also the first time I could ever get behind this guy’s voice, but that’s probably because I’ve been wading through a mess of contrived post hardcore for the past two days. My love for this song will probably wear off pretty quickly but I think for now it’s pretty close to top pick material.

“Freya” The Sword

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metal, Doom Metal, Stoner Rock

The Verdict: 

I cannot explain to you how welcome this song was. It was like the lighthouse in a storm. This week was a hard one, I’ve spent forever trying to explain things I felt I had been explaining for weeks. At one point I found myself trying to use different terminology to trick you guys into thinking I was saying something new and interesting when I wasn’t. It was a little rough. Finally, at the end of the playlist, The Sword. There was something I could actually talk about. 

The Sword is a really neat band. While they’re pretty much a dime a dozen stoner rock type group, there’s something they do on every record that I have come to love. The cymbals are HUGE! The engineer must just crank those overhead channels way up and leave it, because they are always ringing, and they are always loud to an extreme level. When I first heard it, I hated it, “why bog down the rest of the mix with all this washy high end?” But very soon after, I started to realize that this one little tweak they do, makes the songs feel huge in a modern sense, but maintain the 1970’s Black Sabbath feel. There’s no overtly modern processing going on here, it sounds very direct to tape, and yet they’ve managed to sound just as massive as any other modern doom metal band. 

This album “Age of Winters” is probably their best, so if you haven’t heard them yet, and want to check them out, start here.

Well that was un-fun. I’m only going to listen to doom and gloom for the rest of the week and we’ll see where that gets us. 

Stay Ghostly

Kolby Bergquist


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