By Eli Shively, Music Director
I never use my Spotify Discover Weekly, and yes, it’s definitely a pride thing. As someone who spent the majority of their formative years poring over Wikipedia articles and exploring the darkest corners of YouTube in order to find music (sort of like the 21st-century answer to good old-fashioned crate digging, if you think about it) using a personally curated playlist in order to find good stuff I haven’t heard of seemed like the poser’s way out. A shortcut. A cheat code to music nerd-dom. ‘No way,’ I always think to myself whenever I’m bored with my current listening rotation and tempted to dive in, ‘you’re better than that.’
However, since I’ve been putting off doing one of these ever since our brilliant Rock Lobster team came up with this equally as brilliant idea about a year or so ago, I’m taking a much-needed break from my “one album review a week” routine and writing about what Spotify’s algorithm thinks I should listen to instead. To my surprise, I came away from the experience quite humbled and with a boatload of new music to explore. That algorithm sure knows what it’s doing. Here are the ten tracks that impressed me the most.
Gøggs – “She Got Harder”
This takes me back to being 16, blasting Pissed Jeans and No Age in my 2003 Honda Accord on the drive home from school like the misunderstood adolescent boy I was. It’s fast, crunchy, loud, kind of sounds like The Hives, and keeps the BPM locked into peak headbanging tempo. What’s not to love?
Surf Curse – “Christine F”
Okay, I’ve technically heard this song a bunch of times before and am still listening to it on (at least) a twice-daily basis, but dang, isn’t Surf Curse incredible? This track is proof that it only takes a few simple things to win my heart: Starting a two-piece garage rock band, naming said band “Surf ___,” and writing a few catchy lines about being a depressed introvert. That’s literally it. Free 10/10 reviews for life.
Joy Again – “Another Song About Ghosts”
“I’ve got nothing to lose / Except my physical form, which I barely use” is officially one of my favorite lyrics of all time now. I said it on the Internet, so everyone reading this has to hold me to it. I have a feeling I’m going to have a special relationship with this song in the future and I’m very excited for that to happen. The way it deals with a topic that’s been especially anxiety-inducing to me throughout my life — death, dying, ghosts, being alive, etc. — in such a carefree and self-assured way mesmerized me. Joy Again did something special with this one.
Leapling – “Don’t Move Too Fast”
This is a pretty typical, straightforward indie rock tune — the only reason I felt like it was worth talking about was the fact that there seems to be a phaser effect on the drum track, which is pretty nuts. It actually becomes kind of distracting as the song goes on, now that I think about it. Just a little “whoosh” noise every time the drummer hits the snare. What a weird idea.
Sea Ghost – “Blood”
The way this song uses synth, keyboard, and even mallet percussion sounds to support its excellent power chord groove is pretty incredible. A good balance of dreaminess and urgency is what made it stand out.
Enemies – “Play Fire”
I’m a sucker for noodly, atmospheric rock to begin with, but add 3/4 time to the mix and there’s pretty much no way I’ll want to listen to another song for days on end. Definitely will coming back to listen to the rest of this record at some point.
The Luyas – “Self-Unemployed”
The fact that this song exists and was released in the year of our lord twenty-seventeen is all the proof we need that the guy from the Dirty Projectors was definitely wrong about all indie rock being bad nowadays. I can picture him listening to this song and slowly becoming very embarrassed and upset with himself, realizing (as everyone who’s ever said something similar will hopefully eventually realize) that he just wasn’t looking in the right places. It’s a nice thought. Seriously though, what sounds are these? What notes are those? What instrument is that? What dimension was this written in?
Ka – “Conflicted”
I’ve been listening to a lot of Liquid Swords lately, so this track being included was probably a direct result of that as well as a pleasant departure from the standard “indie rock” fare making up the majority of the playlist. Not only is the record it’s off of called Honor Killed The Samurai, there’s also an obviously Wu-Tang inspired Japanese movie sample at the beginning. Nice. Aesthetic aside, Ka really goes in here. The beat’s very minimal but he douses it with enough developed and vivid imagery so that the song as a whole doesn’t feel watery or weak. It’s no GZA, but it’s a solid alternative for fans looking for something new.
American Wolf – “Our Weight”
Oh my god, I am positive I’ve never been so instantly and deeply drawn into a song by an opening snare drum roll in my life. I want to bathe in that snare roll. I want to pry the sixteenth notes apart and crawl inside of it and like, take a nice little nap inside of it or something. The rest of the song is pretty good, but if you just want to keep pausing the song at the eight-second mark and hitting the back button (which is what I did for a good minute or so after hearing that glorious, glorious snare roll for the first time) I wouldn’t blame you one bit for doing so. Whoever produced the drums on this record should be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
The Weakerthans – “(manifest)”
Being a white college-aged male involved in punk rock circles, I get hit with my fair share of Weakerthans hype on a day to day basis from around the web. It kind of annoyed me for a while to the point where I gave them “band I keep saying I’ll get around to checking out but know deep down I never will” status, so yes, this was my FIRST WEAKERTHANS SONG — and to tell you the truth, I was very impressed. Nothing too unexpected, just fantastic lyrics with a distinctly anthemic vibe to the whole instrumental scope of the thing. Next time I’m craving On The Impossible Past I think I’ll try this instead.