Its that time of year again. Do you go for sexy or try to look like as much of a prat as possible? Do you have a choice? Either way: hearing ‘Monster Mash’ for the 1000th time isn’t going to help your Halloween go of with the chills you long for, so try our playlist of alternative creepers to send shivers on Saturday night…
Nick Cave // Song of Joy
There’s never been an album that better epitomises a band than Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads. This, the opening track, is a typically haunting and darkly witty dirge. Filled with wailing strings and jackhammer piano strokes, it tells the tale of of a weary traveller recounting the death of his wife and two children; “Joy had been bound with electrical tape/In her mouth a gag/She’d been stabbed repeatedly/And stuffed into a sleeping bag/In their very cots my girls were robbed of their lives/Method of murder much the same as my wife’s” he leers over a jaunty cabaret tune that falls and crashes in waves. With both a Paradise Lost reference, and the unnerving implication that the traveller might have had more to do with their murder than he’s letting on; ‘Song Of Joy’ is the perfect soundtrack as night creeps over day on the eve of Halloween.
Liam Inscoe – Jones
Radiohead // Crawling Up The Walls
Perhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbtZyuOMdHIhaps the darkest moment on the brilliant OK Computer, this tensely atmospheric track is the only song that has ever genuinely terrified me. Unsurprisingly, given that it was reportedly inspired by Thom Yorke’s time working in a mental institution, it makes for uncomfortable listening: frenetic strings that wouldn’t sound out of place on a horror movie soundtrack, a solo that sounds more like a wailing siren than a guitar, and Yorke’s distorted vocals— “Either way you turn, I’ll be there”— giving way to a primal howl in the song’s closing moments. It’s cinematic, it’s nightmarish, and it’s probably not one to stick on during Halloween pre-drinks.
Heck // Pig
This isn’t a methodical skin crawler, or a psychological thriller that will get inside your head and send shivers down your spine. This is a visceral, in your face, beatdown that leaves you wondering what just happened, and how you got those bruises. Never one for subtlety, HECK have produced a terrifying gutbuster. A serving suggestion for extra effect is to watch this one live for a truly petrifying experience. If that isn’t an option just watch the blood-fueled music video, but don’t do it while eating. I’ll be damned if those aren’t the greatest Halloween costumes going.
Dr. Octagon // Blue Flowers
As you’re happily celebrating the debaucheries surrounding Halloween, it’d be in your best interest to make sure you don’t end up waking up on Dr. Octagon’s operating table in the early hours. With the searing violin haunting the backdrop, you hear Kool Keith’s abominable persona, the “paramedic fetus of the East”, detailing his daily routine. The vulnerability of being in the hands of the doctor never seemed so real as they are in this chilling track and are not forgotten easily after you hear the unsettling murmuring of the crazed doctor going “Delete beep beep beep”.
Blawan // Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?
Released in September 2012, ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’ is often considered one of the Barnsley-raised producer Blawan’s biggest tunes. As a former drummer it is unsurprising that the most potent elements of the track come through in the percussion, with an inescapably driving beat that burns itself onto the mind and refuses to leave for the many sleepless nights are sure to follow. However, it is the vocal samples that give the track it’s unsettlingly haunting edge, from the intermittent screeching to the infectious, almost sing-along chant. A dark song for dark places to be sure.
The Dream Syndicate // Halloween
Taken from The Dream Syndicate’s first album, The Days of Wine and Roses, ‘Halloween’ exemplifies the Los Angeles band’s interpretation of The Velvet Underground, Television and contemporary 80s west-coast rock. The song builds to a deafening barrage of guitars, before descending into a bass-driven climax, with lead singer Steve Wynn eerily sneering “Two steps forward / Don’t say I didn’t warn you”.
With long, feedback-drenched improvisations and Lou Reed-esque vocals, The Days of Wine and Roses can be seen as a precursor to the likes of Pavement and Sonic Youth, who were to make tuneful noise-rock popular around the world the following decade.
C.W. Stoneking // Zombie
‘Zombie’ is a heavy dosed blues swamp song from C.W Stoneking. The track is from the Australians latest album, ‘Gon’ Boogaloo’, which marks a move away from hokum inspired blues on resonators to a 40s style R&B, involving spooky back-up singers, distorted guitars and thumping drums.
The song starts with a walking double bass line followed by an eerie gust of wind. Stoneking’s twanging guitar then picks up the slow shuffle, which adds to the supernatural sound of the track. The premise is relatively innocent; ‘Zombie’ is a popular new dance. Stoneking’s lyricism however suggests otherwise, ‘i close my eyes, but why can i not rest, cos the fear of death that do not die unsettled me where i lie’. The various screams and cries for ‘mama’ and the authentic analogue sound of the track will be sure, as Stoneking puts it, to ‘give you a terrible fright’.
Ryan Adams // Halloweenhead
Taken from Adams’ 2007 LP Easy Tiger, ‘Halloweenhead’ may not immediately sound as spooky alongside your usual favourites like ‘Monster Mash’. Although the track opens with an eerie toll bell, the country rock and blues that has defined Adams’ career cuts in with boisterous vivacity. But rest assured; the references to a “head full of tricks and treats”, the “black cats and falling trees”, and the repeated, punchy refrain of “I got a Halloweenhead” will contribute undoubtedly to an evening of frightening festivities.
Image: Moyan Brenn