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 #2 – May 28, 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.

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.

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 “thumbs down,” or a stupid sticker or something. Anyways,

Enjoy the read! 

“Some Came Running” Bane

Rating: Whatever

Genre:  Hardcore

The Verdict: 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. Hardcore has always been stuck in too small a box. The whole genre blends together after you’ve listened to a bunch of stuff, and the bands start to sound the same. Candiria is my favorite hardcore band so I hope that puts it in perspective for you. This song does what it’s supposed to, but what it’s supposed to do has become boring over the years. The vocals really stand out, and not in a good way. Sometimes that constant yelling vocal style works for me, and most of the time it doesn’t. With this song, the latter is true.

“If He Dies, He Dies” Glass Cloud

Rating: Great

Genre:  Progressive Metalcore, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Glass Cloud is my favorite of these types of floaty 2009 to 2011 progressive metalcore bands, that share the same vein as bands like We Came As Romans, and The Color Morale. This particular song is not their most “progressive,” but it’s still a jam for those who appreciate this style. I’m not going to go into too much detail about stuff I already know well enough, because it doesn’t hold the same weight as actually knew discoveries. In short, I find it hard to get as excited about it when it’s not new, and therefore, I don’t feel like I’m doing it justice. I’ll just give them a high rating, and let you all check it out for yourselves.

“Oblivions Peak” Knocked Loose

Rating: Great. 

Genre:  Hardcore, Metalcore, Beatdown 

The Verdict: 

Knocked Loose is one of those bands that does the Hardcore thing right. Where my usual opinion is that to me, this genre is tired and worn out, when it incorporates elements from metalcore and deathcore, I tend to really love it. This song opens up with a really cool melodic deathmetal feel, with a super hard harmonized guitar riff. Of corse, it then evolves into a much more straight forward hardcore song. The drums move around a lot more than a traditional beatdown song, which keeps it interesting, and the guitars are HEAVY. If you haven’t checked out this band, do it. 

“Omni: First Temple” Eidola

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Hardcore, Progressive Metalcore

The Verdict: 

This is pretty much just a progressive metalcore song, but, it’s a great progressive metalcore song. It’s formulaic, but the riffs, the vocals, and the drums are just inventive enough, as well as just enough of a throwback to stay interesting. The guitar solo stood out to me particularly. I really thought it was going to go one way, the way most of these solos go, but it took an interesting turn, and I really liked that. The vocals feel much more real to me than most songs like this. A lot of other bands put a ton of emphasis on the squealing high male vocals, which is absolutely not a lot of these guys normal register. Fans get used to it one way, but throughout the tour, a lot of the bands end up down tuning for the live show, which throws fans off, and makes for a difficult show. Eidola’s vocal style conjures images of Bruce Dickinson, or Rob Halford. In other words, this song feels classic, even though it only came out a few years ago.

  

“Always Focused” Tiny Moving Parts

Rating: Great

Genre: Emo, Midwest Emo, Post Rock

The Verdict: 

I do like this band. They feel “midwesty” but don’t go all the way with it. They’ve got the twinkly guitars, but it’s not overbearing like a lot of bands in their class. They’ve got the goofy lyrics, but they feel just a little bit more adult than most. The song itself is great. It’s quick, the production is perfect, and its intricate, but not too much so to loose its fun factor. The addition of the cello at the end is a perfect touch. I agree it’s sorely overdone by now but “Always Focused” gets a pass, as it came out back in 2014, during the middle of the American Football, Foxing emo resurgence.

Bleeding In The Blur” Code Orange

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Rock, Hardcore, Grunge

The Verdict: 

I wrote this one off the second I saw it. I’m getting real tired of Spotify thinking I’m the worlds biggest hardcore fan. Giving it a listen, I realized immediately how wrong I was. This had that “soft-grunge” feel, with the heavy guitars we know Code Orange by. It had this feel like if Nirvana was still around, their stage performance would be proceeded by Code Orange playing only this song. I had to question myself, “was I just completely wrong about this band?” So I took a moment to listen around their catalog, and nope. I was right, they’re a hardcore, deathcore, slam band, and this was the only song I found that sounded like this. The chorus line was awesome, this guys clean vocals over such heavy guitars is a perfect melding. It felt like being lost in waves of chaotic crunch, and your only guiding light through it is this echoing voice reciting the top line, “bleeding in the blur.” Great top line, awesome production, killer songwriting. Code Orange, do more like this.

“Too Late to Dream” The Venetia Fair

Rating: Good

Genre: Progressive Metalcore, Rock

The Verdict: 

I usually hate these way to pretentious, super clean, “progressive” metalcore songs. They all seem to share the same chord charts, the same singer, and the same feel all together. This one was saved from the “Fine” rating by the use of horns, and it was kind of fun. There’s not much to say about it other than, it’s fast, it’s loud, it’s super silly, and I liked it.

“Every Pain in Monochrome” Gatherers

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

This is definitely not the best song I’ve heard from this band, but I generally enjoyed it. It feels just as sad, and cold as any good post hardcore song should, and it’s a solid listen. I feel this song would go better juxtaposed, as it should be, to the rest of the album it’s from (“We Are Alive Beyond Repair”). They do a very good job coupling very soft clean vocals, with wailing screams that sound, as they should, like the dude is sobbing to the heavens. I like that interesting take on the genre. For too long the high up, clenched nuts, male vocals have dominated this movement. I love the sound as much as the next person, but it’s always a breath of fresh air to hear a more sombre, softer voice carrying a song like this.

“Fear” Cursed Earth

Rating: Great

Genre: Deathcore

The Verdict: 

Beatdown beats at their finest. Deathcore is good for one thing in my world, aggression relief. If I’m listening to it, and my heart starts beating a little faster, my blood starts boiling, and my hair stands on end, it has done it’s job. Cursed Earth gets it very right with this song. Unfortunately I fear, like hardcore, there’s only room for a few of these bands on my pallet. If I get in too deep, it’s all going to wash together into one big sea of blood red noise. For now, I listen to enough of it to keep alive the thirst for more, but not enough for it to all together bore me. I like the sound these guys get, and maybe I can squeeze in one more deathcore band before I hit peak. Good job Cursed Earth, for making me want to punch a kitten instead of finish this review.

“Thrush” My Ticket Home

Rating: Good

Genre: Alternative

The Verdict: 

Pretty interesting. It reminds me of Trust Company, or The Exies. I like that a group of people had enough appreciation for that weird 2002 transitional time in music to make a whole band of it. I really liked the use of chorus pedal over distortion, if nothing else, that’s just a true and perfect homage to the era they are springing from. The production was even similar sounding to a lot of those older records. “Thrush” came out in 2017 by the way, so I’m not just raving about a song that’s actually older as if it’s an amazing modern throwback. Check this out if you like that kind of stuff.

“Sight” Wolf & Bear

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Math Rock, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

This is cool! I really liked how the guitars came through. There’s a sweet transparent overdrive on them that just layers over a little bit of crunch, but keeps the true tone of the guitar unfettered. The drums sound very clean, which I usually dislike, but here it works. It’s really the guitars that are being showcased anyway, so the drums don’t need to be at the forefront with a bunch of crazy processing on them. One thing that is absolutely terrible about this piece are the lyrics. They. Are. Bad. If you can get past that, the song is great. It uses the tried and true musical movements for this genre, and also throws some bits in that most listeners probably won’t be expecting. I always like when guitar lines start generically, but throw you for a loop at some point. This song is full of those moments. I definitely recommend this.

“How to Taste” Violent Soho

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Punk

The Verdict: 

Perfectly imperfect. That’s the best way I can describe this song. The writing is beautifully simple, the production is raw in the best sense of the term, and it’s heartfelt. My biggest issue with all things post recently is that it’s so over worked. It’s so meticulously crafted, and so perfect, that it loses sight of its entire purpose. Lost amongst all the edits, the hours of mixing, the producer, the expensive gear, and everything else, is the underlying feel of the genre. I fought myself on this for a while, I was recording guitars on a project I was working on at home, and I couldn’t get them to sound right after WEEKS of edits. Finally I just bussed the mix out, as it was, to an old blank cassette tape, recorded it back into Logic, and then had a listen to it. All of a sudden I had what I’d been missing, perfect imperfection. Let’s get back to making cheap and dirty records like this. Not all of them, there’s a time and place, but there are a lot of songs out there that could benefit from a little grit. Violent Soho get’s a big recommendation from me. I’m going to be listening to them for the next whole week.

 https://open.spotify.com/track/02M7Q68pgTW3LWGSHeV08N?si=RqVrOfWcQuyJPZnCuMVxew

“Live from Hell” Glowbug, Eddie Hermida

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Electronic, Pop, Dance, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Remember a while back when I said something about needing more cheap and dirty records? Yea, so the opposite is true with stuff like this. This song can only work as the egregiously overproduced garbage heap of pop madness that it is. Autotune, steel drums, bongos, faux horns, and scream vocals. WHAT IS THIS, AND WHY DO I LOVE IT? I think it works because it’s so unapologetically insane. I think it works because the artist had zero predispositions before writing it, and nobody over their shoulder saying “Hey I don’t think that steel drum is working for me right there…” Sometimes artists need producers. They need them to wrangle their weird ideas, and to keep them on track. But some artists have this innate musical sensibility. They can just know without knowing that certain things are going to jam. Why do bongos, autotune, and screams work together? Only Glowbug knows the answer, and I’m glad he does.

“Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should” KEN Mode

Rating: Good

Genre: Noise Rock, Punk

The Verdict: 

I loved the strange riffs, the wild overdriven vocals, and the drums, which had their moments. What bummed me out was the fact that it was two straight minutes of pretty much the same thing, and then right at the end, all of a sudden, they must’ve stomped a different pedal or something because the guitars got WAY heavier. It was different to the point where it sounded like a totally different song, from a totally different record. The two parts were sick though, I ultimately enjoyed this piece, I just wish it would have gone a little further, I wanted more.

“Pleased to Meet You” Trapped Under Ice

Rating: Good

Genre: Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Okay, it’s the chords. It’s the cool harmonies they get with the dueling guitars. It’s the fact that it’s short enough, and the movements change quick enough to not stagnate. This is JUST a hardcore song, I hadn’t heard it specifically before, but I found that I liked this one. It’s no Candiria, but it was still pretty good. I know I trash bands like this constantly, but something about this song works for me. I make no excuses for my vacillating taste.

“March to the Sea” Baroness

Rating: Good

Genre: Metal

The Verdict: 

This band is cool, but this is probably one of their weakest songs in my opinion. It’s just not nearly as weird and cool as some of the other choices from their catalog. Somehow this is their top song on Spotify, but considering everything they’ve done, I’ve always liked their 2015 release “Purple” the best. If you’re looking to get into this band, I suggest starting with that record.

“To the Wolves” Mandroid Echostar

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metalcore, Progressive Post Hardcore, Progressive Rock

The Verdict: 

I’m not going to go very deep into this band or this song. They may or may not come up as a topic in a future project I’ll be a part of. Listen to this band, they have a special place in my heart. That’s all I’m gonna say.

“Unbowed” To Kill

Rating: Good

Genre:  Metalcore

The Verdict: 

It’s good if you like old school metalcore, or hardcore. I already gave one hardcore song a good rating this time around, which is more than I usually give, so I must be feeling particularly HxC this week. Come to think of it, I’m currently wearing Adidas, and I’m eating a salad. Well, better get my “VEGAN STRAIGHT EDGE” face tattoo soon before the world explodes from the overproduction of deodorant. The song’s got a cool breakdown, and the production is just right there on that perfect edge of being bad. It was a fun tune for the 2:20 it lasted. It’s good.

“Amber” Stick To Your Guns

Rating: Great

Genre: Post Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I haven’t listened to this song in forever! Metalcore at its finest I think. This record came around near the end of the golden era for my relationship to this style. It was like the last bastion of hope for the style against hordes of fill-in-the-blank-core bands. Don’t get me wrong, I love that trashy “Stick Stickly” type stuff more than I probably should, but this was equally great. I really do love it, but I’m not going to call it my favorite thing. Honestly I’ll probably never seek out to listen to it, but it’s got some nostalgia cred’ so I’m happy it came up.

West by God” Left Behind

Rating: Great

Genre: Sludge, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I feel like someone needs to give this guy a hug. If anyone knows the lyricist, please just give them a hug, and tell them I sent you. I loved the guitar tone, it was super hard. The filthy riffs totally made up for the lack of much lyrical content. Of course, I always love the slow down parts designed to deliver even more mosh pit fuel. Whenever I get around to working out, I’ll remember this one.

“Charisma” Pianos Become The Teeth

Rating: Good

Genre: Alt Metal, Progressive Metal, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I have to be transparent with you. This song is suffering the effects of being so late in the playlist. Especially this week with all the Memorial Day festivities. I didn’t have a lot of time to space out my listening, so I’ve had to crunch a lot of music into a short time. I like the feel, I like this band, it’s got a fun soft-grunge edge to it which I wasn’t expecting, and the production sounds killer. It’s got everything it needs to bump up to a higher rating, but I’m not feeling it. I suspect that’s because of the aforementioned listener fatigue. I’ll review this song again at some point this week with fresh ears and get back to you.

“Daymare” Portrayal Of Guilt

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Metalcore, Noise Rock

The Verdict:

Despite having one of the all time dumbest song titles I’ve ever seen, I really liked this. It was filthy to its very core, and shared a similar level of controlled chaos to Norma Jean’s first outing (which also has really dumb song titles, maybe it’s a trend?). I really would like to understand how bands like this maintain an atmospheric, and distorted wall of sound with the guitars. I love it, and I would really like to incorporate it into my own stuff, but I’ve never been able to replicate it to a degree that it works as well as it does here. I can’t believe I missed this band, I can’t wait to delve deeper. What’s exciting is that they’re newer, finding them only 2 years after their first release gives me the opportunity to follow their career closely, and see how they develop.

“Your Skull Is Red – Live” Team Sleep

Rating: Great

Genre: Djent, Djazz, Trap, Electronic, Pop

The Verdict: 

I absolutely adore everything Chino Moreno has ever been a part of. Team Sleep is a killer band, but they feel the closest to just being Deftones recordings that never made it. I still love the whole catalog though. This being a live recording, makes it even more impressive. Chino always sounds great, but this is even cleaner than usual. If you haven’t listened to Team Sleep, and you like music, definitely give them a shot.

“Fake Dinosaur Bones” The Callous Daoboys

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Progressive Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Starting with “This may be the most chilling message you will ever hear” is a bold statement. Especially when your lyrics are shrouded in poetic allusions, and leave much to interpretation. “Did you know that we play house on the same moon?” We’ll did you? Do you even know how to answer that question? I’ll admit I’m not the best interpreter when it comes to lyrics, but I’m pretty sure the intention of this song is buried real deep. Musically, I loved it. I know things just took a sharp turn right there, but I know how I feel about stuff. I said it for the last song, I’ve got a thing for controlled chaos.

“Love Let Me Die” END

Rating: Great

Genre: Death Metal

The Verdict: 

Just your good old friendly neighborhood death metal band here. END doesn’t stand out in any particular way other than their production. Whoever worked with them got it so right. The guitars are so angry sounding, and the vocals are so chillingly distorted. If you you’re in a relationship that you don’t want to be in, and you’re way too much of a pushover to just break it off, just tell the parents of your insignificant other that this is your favorite song, and watch those people slowly disappear from your life. Again, there’s not a whole lot to say about it other than its very heavy, a little scary, and listening to it too much will slowly turn you into a very single person.

“First World Problem Child” Stray From The Path, Sam Carter

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Hardcore, Nu-Metalcore, Punk, Hip-Hop

The Verdict: 

This is one of those instances where you listened to a song a bunch, and then got over it, and stopped listening to it. Spotify sees that as an opportunity to be like: “hey remember that song you had on repeat during the 2016 election cycle?” Yes Spotify, I remember it, and I’ll listen to it again when I want to listen to it. Probably around 2019. If you haven’t Listened to Stray From The Path, they sound like if the Beastie Boys had the political charge of a punk band, a jazz drummer, and a bunch of metalcore guitarists. It’s super cool, and I absolutely love everything they’ve put out, but do I really need to get all hopped up on politics right now Spotify? Is that what you want from me? I’ve already got Cursed Earth, and END trying to get me all punchy, and now I’ve got Stray From The Path trying to get me all politically punchy. Anyways, definitely check this band out, I’m going to take a break from this for a minuet and talk to my dogs about the climate problem.

“A Live Nativity Scene” Six Gallery

Rating: Good

Genre: Emo, Midwest Emo, Alternative, Indie

The Verdict: 

Tappy lead guitars? Floating undercurrents? Unprocessed vocals? Sounds like Midwest Emo to me. I liked it for its constant rhythmic theme. It felt like I was floating in the middle of the ocean, being jostled by constant mild waves. The tapping from the guitar would be the through of the wave, and the drums constituted the crest. I really enjoyed when it sped up around 2:00 in. I thought that was a really smart move, and it gave the song more texture overall. I didn’t love their choice of tone when it came time to distort the guitars. They were very sharp and in a song like this, I would think it best to keep everything as rich and warm as possible. It really was a beautiful piece, but I always seem to struggle with the vocals in songs like this. Not that I dislike the unprocessed feel, but the fact that there’s another human directly involved, takes me out of the calm isolation I would be experiencing if there was no vocals at all. Explosions In The Sky is a perfect example of the feeling I’m trying to describe. It’s guitar driven, it’s got the same floating undercurrents, and most importantly to my case, it’s instrumental. Ultimately, this song got a favorite, and I added it to a playlist, but I think I did that as a “just in case” move. “I better save this just in case I ever want to hear it again,” because honestly it didn’t stand out enough. I’ll forget who it is, or what it is, almost immediately after I’m done reviewing it.  

“Lip Gloss And Black” Atreyu

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metalcore

The Verdict: 

Whatever part of Spotify’s algorithm thought I had never heard this song needs an update. I don’t want to insult it, because I would like to be favored during the robot uprising, I’m just suggesting it maybe get a few things worked out. Of course I love this song. I listened to it religiously when it came out. This was one of the first of the skramz bands I was really in to. The first was The Bled, “Last American Cowboy” was the first metalcore song I got my ears on, but not too long after that, I was introduced to Atreyu, and it was all down hill from there. Seeing that it’s 2019, I’m 27 years old, and I’m still listening to, and raving about emo, metalcore, and post punk, I’d say the introduction to this stuff had a most devastating effect on my faculties.

https://open.spotify.com/track/2Hy81a71pPf5lPWTq1o8ub?si=ogZ8Q-TYRDGDShFPQsq-AQ 

“Good Set” Sawce

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Alternative, Math Rock, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

Damn that opening riff is smooth! Thankfully the songwriters obviously realized that as well, because they play it a whole bunch. I tend to be on the fence with this style. Its usually way to conceited to be listenable, like every band is a bunch of white jazz elitists who want to play jazz, but their from Ohio so they’re contractually obliged by their local government to make emo music. I straight up love this song. It jams in all directions. That last statement means nothing, but if I keep saying it it’ll become a thing. Anyways, the use of the synthesizer is perfect, I’m not too sure I’m well versed enough in this genre to know if I’ve ever heard such a 80’s sounding synth patch be used to this effect. Killer guitar tones, awesome guitar work, the drums sound amazing, production is perfect, I’m not sure I’ve got anything bad to say about this. Hopefully the rest of their catalog holds up, I’ve been wanting to love this genre for a long time, but haven’t been able to find a band that vibes with me. This song VIBES with me.

“Fate I & II” Black Peaks

Rating: Fine

Genre: Alternative, Post Hardcore

The Verdict:

I think this is the first negative rating on the list, and check this out, this is a great song, and I think you all should go listen to it. Be aware though, it’s very similar in chordal structure to the whole of the 2017 release “Melancholia Hymns” by Arcane Roots. All together “Fate I & II” is a great song, it’s extremely epic, it tops out at near 7:00 long. It’s got killer high energy all the way up until it drops out for a huge build for the outro. The song sounds clean, and stays interesting throughout. Had I never heard of Arcane Roots before, this would have gotten a “Great” rating, or higher. But, I have heard of Arcane Roots, and particularly the song “Off The Floor” blows this one completely out of the water. If you haven’t heard of either of these bands, I suggest listening to this one first, enjoy it, let it sink in for a while, and then later listen to Arcane Roots. That way you don’t wreck Black Peaks’ chances before they even get a shot. Honestly I could be totally wrong, and this “Fate I & II” might be more your style. I’m not telling you how to live your life, I’m just saying Arcane Roots did it better. Fight me ‘bout it.

You know what, I’m still a little amped up from that Cursed Earth tune, I apologize for that outburst about Arcane Roots. So… I’m gonna go. Thanks for stopping by and chatting. We have a new one of these every Tuesday so drop by next week to see what Spotify makes me listen to.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist

Discover Briefly – May 21, 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.

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! 

“No Love From Above” Death of a Nation

Rating: Whatever

Genre:  Hardcore, Post Punk 

The Verdict: 

We get it, you’re not a fan of Mr. Jesus. Unfortunately it seems this topic has become worn out. Im all for expressing whatever you feel whenever you feel it, but it seems its become required for every hardcore band to make a song about this exact thing. Theres just not enough substance in this song to justify the simplicity of the lyrics. Topically worn out and it just feels silly. Moreover, the mood of the song is rather depressing, as if he’s going through a crisis as he’s realizing that he doesn’t need god. Maybe that was the point, or maybe they just missed the mark.

“The Baker Act” Artifex Pero 

Rating: Good

Genre:  Progressive Rock, Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Structurally, it was a little derivative. Very comparative to bands like Emarosa, Chiodos, Memphis May Fire, etc. I did however like the addition of the piano, and organ work. There are plenty of bands that do the same thing, but in this case, the addition put this song just above the rest. Vocals are okay, but a little drab, and fail to carry a song that has some interesting parts, but all together doesn’t explore everything it could have been. I’ll admit, I did favorite the song. I’ll be listening to the rest of this bands catalog, I’m not willing to give up on them just yet.

“You’ll Understand When You’re Older” Kaonashi

Rating: Great. 

Genre:  Progressive Hardcore. 

The Verdict: 

This song opens up like a sledgehammer opens up your head, and ends gracefully, with a cool, calm, and melodic breakdown. The vocals are raw and in your face, and the lyrics are almost painfully direct. Guitar tones are just the right amount of heavy, and just the right amount of warm. I wouldn’t call this the greatest show of hardcore technicality, but the simplicity works for this song. I recommend this band for fans of Knocked Loose and Varials, who are looking for something a little weirder.

“Autumnus” Reflections

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

It’s fine. It’s like they copy and pasted the perfect formula for a modern post hardcore song. Production was great, players were great, vocals were great. The guitar solos were sort of djenty and fun, but other than that, it’s just a post hardcore song.

“Two Birds With One Stone” Drop Dead, Gorgeous

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I love this band. I realize they’re hokey, but I’ve always loved their production and songwriting. Danny Stillman’s voice is fantastically chaotic, and stands as a perfect compliment to his angsty lyrics, and the band’s trashy instrumentation. They’re entire catalog sounds like it was recorded during a house fire. If you haven’t checked them out, and you’re a fan of this stuff. DO IT. And while you’re at it, Stillman has a newer project, Bleach Blonde, I recommend them for fans of The Used, Senses Fail, Alkaline Trio, early Fallout Boy and “Self Titled” era Blink-182.

Complexity of Light” Children of Nova

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Rock, Progressive Rock

The Verdict: 

This is what I look for with bands like this. Instead of the usual paint by numbers rabble with their moody atmospheric chords, noodling guitars, and contrived song structures. This song makes use of tremolo pedals, soaring falsetto vocals, weirdly placed stops, and interesting structure. This song is really eons ahead of what I hear from a lot of other bands in the same vein. The wild song structure shows the writers to be extremely talented, and fluent in a multitude of styles. It opened with bongos, kept my attention throughout, and finally ended with a screaming falsetto. I’m totally sold. Definitely recommend for fans of Circa Survive, Arcane Roots, and Fall of Troy.

“Midnight: Carroll Street” Into It, Over It

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Emo, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

“Somewhere between, caffeine and nicotine…” Not too much to say here, other than I love this band. Lyricism is great as usual, the honkey tonk toned piano in the bridge is a great addition to the song, and the overall mood is perfect. Check it out.

“Nosebleed” Tigerwine

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Grunge

The Verdict: 

Fist off, the guitar tones are brilliant. The song is filled with smart guitar riffs, and great production. I know I’ve been hounding other bands about standard song structure, but depending on the band, it usually works, and it does so well here. It’s and interesting mix of a post hardcore feel, with grungy sentiments. The real selling point tho is the vocals. The singer has a perfectly weird blend of Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups, and Scott Russo of Unwritten Law. I’ll definitely be diving head first into their catalog for more.

“The Family Disease” Oceana

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Metalcore, Post Hardcore, Emo

The Verdict: 

Unfortunately, it’s just boring. Maybe time wasn’t kind to this style, as this came out in 2009, but I for one am just over this specific sound. There were a huge number of bands that sounded exactly like this, and Oceana faded quickly into the white noise that just engulfed this scene around that time. It just sounds like everything else that came out. The only thing setting it apart is the guitar tone. Which sounds like it was recorded through a lead pipe. The vocals are just way too bland, and just can’t punch through the monotony. The choir bit during the bridge is pretty fun, but otherwise it’s just a post hardcore song. Skip it.

“Gun In Hands” Stutterfly

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Alt Metal, Nu Metal, Post Hardcore, Emo

The Verdict: 

This came out during a transitional point in time, 2005. Nu Metal was officially out, overproduced pop-hip hop was on the rise, and the weird kids needed a new underground movement to cling to. Enter the Emo bands. All things post became all the rage. They’re still existed tho some hangers on. Kids with one foot still planted  firmly in the Nu Metal scene, and the other venturing out into the post realm. Stutterfly was one of these bands, as well as Trust Company, Chevelle, Earshot, and Smile Empty Soul. I get it, I appreciate it, but I don’t really love it.

“Within My Reach” Sights & Sounds

Rating: Great

Genre: Rock, Post Punk

The Verdict: 

This was kind of fun. The guitars were just grimey enough to compliment the extreme amount of washy reverb on the vocals. At first I was hesitant, but the more they played that chorus, the more I liked it. They play the chorus a bunch of times, so I came to actually really love the song by the end. If you like your rock moody, and your guitars slightly on the harder side, I’d say check this song out.

“Stop searching” Valencia

Rating: Good

Genre: Post Rock, Post Punk, Rock

The Verdict: 

The piano backing the guitar is a nice touch, as was the acoustic guitar in the bridge, and I like the pop punk feel of the chorus. Otherwise, it’s kinda goofy. I’ve never heard a song by Valencia that I’ve really liked. They’ve always felt needlessly overdone. This one turned out better than most that I’ve heard, but I’m not sure that’s enough to make me want to listen again.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” No Home

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Post Hardcore, Post Punk, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

Knocked Loose is fun, Such Gold is fun, The Story Story So Far is fun. No Home is not. This is extremely contrived, and there’s unfortunately no redeeming qualities here for me. The spoken word bit really tried to be serious and heartfelt with lyrics like “hope exists if you let it,” but ultimately came across as kind of laughable. Honestly though, that’s probably because I’m closing in on 30 years old. Had I heard this in high school I probably would have loved it. Im getting too old for this.

“Change (House of Flies)” Architects

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metalcore, Rock, Metal

The Verdict: 

This was a Spotify single, recorded at Abbey Road. I was surprised that a band like Architects would be one to be selected for something like this. Not that Architects is bad, just that they’re an aging metalcore band. All together, it was amazing. Anyone who knows me knows Deftones is one of my all time favorites. Anyone who knows Deftones, knows they’ve produced some of the most inventive and interesting cover songs to date. So when I read the title of this one, and saw who the band was, I was skeptical. Again, not because I don’t like Architects, but because I’ve heard plenty of bad Deftones covers, and I just wasn’t ready to hear another one. This, to my elated surprise, was incredible. There were real strings in place of those eerie synth samples on the original track. The strings were orchestrated through the entire song adding a new layer to the already sonically dense piece. The orchestration gave the song a whole new flavor, it felt like a really dark Bond film into, instead of a cold alt Metal track. I couldn’t believe how epic it had become. Chino’s vocals on this track will never be matched in my mind, so I’m a bit biased, but I’m still going to critique. The new vocals felt a bit bored, I feel like they could have done more. Now I’m probably just nit picking, but the gated reverb on the snare was really not great. It took me halfway through the song to notice it because I was so blown away, but I did notice it. Otherwise, those STRINGS. Seriously incredible. If there was a college degree in proper cover song creation, this should be the 101 corse.

“Dads” DADS, Berried Alive, Lucas Mann

Rating: Good

Genre: Progressive Metal, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

Not really my style, but it was sure interesting. The guitar work was pretty crazy, and I liked the synth sounds they chose. They had and interesting trap, or hip hop influence, djenty time signatures, and really weird album art. I don’t love it, but I’m totally for it.

“Big Bear and the Hour of Chaos” Unearth

Rating: Fine

Genre: Metal, Metalcore

The Verdict: I’m pretty sure I remember this album coming out, and I don’t remember Unearth sounding like Amon Amarth. I don’t dislike it, there’s nothing bad I can say about it. I like that it’s instrumental, I like the feel, the bridge is cool, I just don’t love it…

Well I needed some context, so I went and listened to some of this record, and it totally DOES sound like Amon Amarth. I’m changing my rating to GOOD. I like what they were going for here, like a Metalcore approach to melodic death metal. If it was just a one off song on a record filled with the usual hardcore, post hardcore stuff I remember them for, it wouldn’t work. It has to be surrounded contextually in order for it to meld properly. Since they were dedicated to making a Metalcore version of an Amon Amarth record, and they saw it through, I’m into it.

“Caution: Dangerous Curves Ahead” Maylene and the Sons of Disaster

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Metalcore, Southern Rock.

The Verdict: 

This band rules. I listen to the so regularly, I’m wondering why they popped up on this playlist. They are so silly. I mean southern rock and metalcore, Who’da thought? Anyways, Dallas Taylor used to sing for Underoath, then he left and started Maylene. The two bands sound nothing alike so if you’re an Underoath fan, don’t expect any similarities here. This particular song rips, as a good most of their songs do. I was fortunate enough to see Maylene and Underoath on tour together years ago, and from that point forward, I was sold on both bands. If you haven’t already, check them out if you like any metalcore at all.

“Skylasher” Lee McKinney

Rating: Good

Genre:  Progressive Metal, Instrumental

The Verdict: 

If you enjoy the sound of dudes stroking their own egos, you’ll love it!

 I kid, I kid. 

The level of guitar chops in any of these types of bands is extreme. I’m talking about Joe Satriani, and Polyphia, as well as guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, and John Petrucci. Those super high level performers that solo like crazy, and whatever band they’re in, the whole thing is about their skill. There seem to be more and more of these instrumental, guitar shredder bands popping up everywhere lately. I’ll attribute the influx to the ease of home recording, and the fact that nobody else wants to be in a band where one guy is literally the whole draw. These things are always impressive, but not really my jam.

“Rise Above” SET SIGHTS

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Punk, Hardcore

The Verdict: 

Pretty standard. Everything sounds good, they did a good job writing a standard post punk song. I’ve heard this a million times, disguised as different songs. I bet this song would rip live, but the coffee shop patio at which I’m listening to this isn’t really the right setting. There’s an argument you could make there, “Well it’s all about the setting, it’s made for live…” To that I’ve got to ask, “if your music is only any good live, why bother recording it?” Anyways, I can really get into other songs like this by bands like Gallows, but I think there’s only room for one or two of these types on my pallet. If you’re just getting in to hardcore, post hardcore, punk, etc. I’d say check it out. If you’re a seasoned Rights of Spring fan, I’d say you’ve probably heard it before.

Flowermouth ( The Leech)” Code Orange Kids

Rating: Good

Genre: Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I feel almost the same here as I did with the previous song. If I want beat down style hardcore, I’ve got a playlist full of Earth Crisis, Raised Fist, and Downset. I think that the rules that make the genre the genre are too constricting, there’s just isn’t enough room in the to explore. When I look for hardcore bands, I prefer those like Candiria, Youth of Today, and Gorilla Biscuits to bands like this. This song does what it’s supposed to, but again, I’ve heard it a million times.

“Luna” Invent, Animate

Rating: Good

Genre: Alt Metal, Progressive Metal, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

There’s plenty of these pretty, twinkly, and heavy Mother Earth metal bands. I’ve always kind of enjoyed it, but not enough to actively seek it out. I liked this, but I kept comparing it to the band Erra, which is a great band if you haven’t yet taken listen. If you like metal, read your horoscopes, and see sacred geometry everywhere, this might be for you.

“Footsteps In the Distance” envy

Rating: Awesome

Genre: Post Hardcore, Emo, Post Punk

The Verdict:

I’ll probably do a whole piece on this in the future, but I love the Japanese scene, for a lot of reasons. This song is killer, and I’m glad Spotify realizes my love for Japanese emo stuff. It’s got great unexpected turns through the chorus, and an awesome feel. Also, I noticed these weird pauses that sound almost accidental, but consistent, so maybe they were planned? Whatever they were, they worked for me, it made the song very human. What stands out most is the spoken word verses. They might be hokey and lame, but it’s all in Japanese, so I have no clue what they’re saying. In other words, it’s nice to not have to take the lyrics into account. For me, a lot of the time, especially with this kind of music, lyrics can make or break a song. And even tho the lyrics are probably very dumb, I like not being able to tell. I will always urge readers to join me down this weird rabbit hole of Japanese post, because it’s always a surprise, and its usually a good one.

“Look But Don’t Touch” Polyphia, Lewis Grant

Rating: Great

Genre: Djent, Djazz, Trap, Electronic, Pop

The Verdict: 

Hey didn’t we just mention these guys? I love what they’re doing here, I’ve heard them release a few songs like this, with jazzy guitars over trap beats, and big djent style chorus bits. Usually they stick to instrumental arrangements, but this time they brought in a vocalist. My only real gripe, is that the vocals came in so late in the song, that it was a little jarring. Like it was two different pieces that they just slammed together. It wasn’t horrible, the singing was great, lyrics were just fine, and they tied it all together well enough. BUT. In my opinion, the song could have benefited from axing the vocals all together, or putting them through the whole thing.

“Wax Simulacra” The Mars Volta

Rating: Awesome

Genre:  Progressive Rock, Alternative

The Verdict: 

Its always funny when I find one of my favorite songs by a particular artist on my discover weekly playlist. I suppose it’s been quite a while since I’ve listened to it. Shout out to Spotify for reminding me I need to sit down with this record again. Everyone else should too, preferably while intoxicated.

“Beautiful Night” Burden Brothers

Rating: Great

Genre: Punk

 The Verdict: 

What a jam. Loved the production with the super trashy cymbals, loved the goofy sad punk boy lyrics, and the vocals were killer. I put this in the same category with bands like Lit, and Finch, or Toadies, and Future Leaders of the World. Favorited this one, can’t wait to bust it out next time I finally get the girl in a 90’s teen drama.

“On Her Mind” Volumes, Pouya 

Rating: Skip It

Genre: Nu Metal, Djent, Hip-Hop, Rap Rock

The Verdict: 

For the purpose of this project, I rarely skip tracks within the first 30 seconds. I really try not to, so I can make sure to give you my full and honest reactions, and informed opinions. But I think I get a pass for this one. I never want this genre to come back, why is it coming back?

“Disease” Beartooth

Rating: Fine

Genre: Post Hardcore, Metalcore

The Verdict: 

I look at Beartooth as the blink-182 of metalcore. I don’t hate them, I just feel like their comparatively vanilla. Caleb Shomo’s lyrics feel forced, like someone told him that in order to make it big, he has to ONLY ever sing about his drug problem. I’m not discrediting his struggles, and if this is what helps him get past it, more power to him. His simple straight forward lyrical approach just doesn’t resonate with me. The music was too well produced. Structure was very standard for a metalcore outing, there wasn’t much I particularly loved, although I did really like the breakdown bit, it was smartly put together, and I’ll bet its very cool live.

“Collector” Red Handed Denial 

Rating: Good – Great 

Genre: Metalcore, Progressive Post Hardcore

The Verdict: 

I can’t tell if I like it or love it. I have to look at their catalog to figure this out. If this is their best song, I’m not interested. But, there is the potential for me to love it. I could see myself listening to this a whole bunch if they had other similar songs to enjoy alongside “Collector”. Context is key sometimes. The mix was a little odd. Could have been my ears, but the vocals seemed way louder then they needed to be, while the selling point, the crazy noodling guitars, were way far in the background. This song has all the fixings to be great, and it was ALMOST there. I’ll report back with more information after I’ve given them a solid chance.

“Acid Rain” Cane Hill

Rating: Fine

Genre: Alternative Rock, Grunge

The Verdict: 

Well, someone listens to way too much REAL ROCK RADIO. I was surprised to find this came out last year instead of in 1997. It sounds exactly like a Pearl Jam track, or a Creed track, all the way down to the singing style. You know, where every vowel is just an R in disguise? It’s fine if you’re in to that stuff, I can’t stand it, and I feel like it’s better left in the past. Some interesting things going on here, with the mild distortion on his voice, and it works for the type of music that its trying to fit in with.

“I Killed Arbor Day For You” Panucci’s Pizza

Rating: Whatever

Genre: Midwest Emo

The Verdict:

Dime a dozen type band. Silly names, really corny lyrics about love and loss, twinkling tapped guitars, decent drumming, etc. If I was super in the mood, I could gather all the names of all the modern Midwest emo bands on scraps of paper, tape them to a wall, and do a round of blindfolded darts. Wherever the darts land are the bands I listen to. It wouldn’t matter at all, because all these bands sound exactly the same, and I’d be hard pressed to know the difference between them. Granted near the end of this song, I did enjoy the guitar riff. It was amazing, after the singer shut up about ripping his own heart out, and gave the guitar some room to breathe, I started to enjoy it. There are times when all I want to hear is Midwest emo, sometimes I’ll get a daily mix of exclusively that. This is not one of those times.

Thats it! Thanks for the read, its been real. We’ll have a new one of these every Tuesday so drop by next week to see what Spotify makes me listen to.

Stay Ghostly,

Kolby Bergquist


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