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
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.
“Juggernaut” Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Genre: Post Hardcore
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
Genre: Post Punk, Rock
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
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.
“You, In Weird Cities” Jeff Rosenstock
Genre: Post Punk
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
Genre: Metalcore, Metal
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
Genre: Post Punk
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
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
Genre: Post Punk, Rock
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
Genre: Alternative, Post Punk, Emo
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
Genre: Post Punk
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
Genre: Post Rock, Post Punk, Alternative
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
Genre: Post Punk
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
Genre: Metalcore, Deathcore
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.