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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