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Creepy, multi-genre party music for Halloween

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You can make The Braineaters (channeling The Misfits’ horror-punk) part of your Halloween 2019 soundtrack. - AMY THURSTON / INEFFABLE EXPOSURE
  • Amy Thurston / Ineffable Exposure
  • You can make The Braineaters (channeling The Misfits’ horror-punk) part of your Halloween 2019 soundtrack.
While both conventional wisdom and the conduct of most countries outside the U.S. dictate that Halloween is a holiday for children, firsthand evidence certainly suggests otherwise. Halloween seems to have taken on an extended life — ah, Jack Chick’s druids would be proud—and if you’re going to check out some local music over the course of the week, you’ll probably also find yourself attending or throwing at least one Halloween party.

Now, while you could just play Andrew Gold’s 1996 masterpiece “Spooky Scary Skeletons” on repeat all night, you might want to occasionally change it up. So here are some suggestions to help you become the ghost... I mean, HOST... with the most.

Of course, few bands exude the Halloween spirit like horror-punk pioneers The Misfits, who have been marrying ghoulish lyrical conceits to rather inspired pop songcraft since 1977. At this point, the band has permeated popular consciousness to the point where you’ve probably heard at least one of their Roy Orbison-meets-Roger Corman masterpieces, like “Last Caress” or “Hybrid Moments,” and most of their material is iconic enough to feel like you already know it. That said, the band’s complicated discography has plenty of macabre gems to unearth. Their very first release, the 7-inch single “Cough/Cool,” features some truly strange, frenzied electric piano courtesy of frontman Glenn Danzig in lieu of any guitars, and offers a glimpse of what could have morphed into an even weirder band.

Founding members Danzig and Jerry Only have sporadically toured together in a very unlikely reunion lineup since 2016, and the band has seen so many personnel changes over the years that many members of the extended Misfits family have performed locally, such as Michale Graves’ recent stop at Sunshine Studios. You can catch a local take on the Misfits canon courtesy of tribute act The Braineaters, who perform at the Zodiac on Nov. 1 and Bar-K on Nov. 15.
The ’80s nostalgia kick, much like a horde of ravenous zombies, has refused to die since roughly 2007, so it stands to reason that there’s a wealth of spooky, synthesizer-based music out there. The godfather of horror synthesizer, in my mind, would have to be legendary director and composer John Carpenter, who is responsible for some of horror’s most acclaimed films and soundtracks... such as, well, you know, Halloween.

Carpenter has turned almost exclusively to music in recent years, touring with a full band featuring his son Cody Carpenter and guitarist Daniel Davies (son of The Kinks’ Dave Davies), and releasing both new material (the LPs Lost Themes and Lost Themes II in 2015 and 2016, respectively) and terrific new full-band interpretations of his beloved movie themes (2017’s Anthology).



The shadow of Carpenter’s dark sonic wizardry has loomed large over the past couple decades, rather obviously influencing French synthwave artist Carpenter Brut — whose 2015 compilation Trilogy and 2018 LP Leather Teeth are devilish fun — the harsh-edged dance sounds of ghoulish Memphis producer GosT, and French composer Perturbator, who provided the retro-synth scores to the Hotline Miami video games.

Oh, and if you have some sort of hipster at your party who thinks Carpenter is too mainstream, you can always throw on some Goblin, who provided the prog-rock-inspired scores to many of Italian giallo/horror maestro Dario Argento’s films, including Suspiria. If that’s still not niche or Italian enough, you can move on to the quite far-out material of Fabio Frizzi, who scored many of the visceral, gore-filled films of Dr. Lucio Fulci.

Finally, Halloween really wouldn’t be complete without some great horror-inspired hip-hop — an esteemed crossover tradition that has existed since Jimmy Spicer rapped about meeting Dracula on the 1980 12-inch single “Adventures of Super Rhyme.”

While rock’s spookier corners are now generally perceived as tongue-in-cheek, good clean fun, hip-hop’s forays into horror territory have often been much more controversial, with artists such as Mars, Brotha Lynch Hung and Insane Clown Posse cited as dangerous; even as having the ability to incite criminal activity. That’s a can of worms that could take up an entire book, so for brevity’s sake, I’d just remind everyone that literary devices, irony, kayfabe and, indeed, the entire concept of fiction are not limited to a single genre or art form. Mars, himself, referred to his music as Stephen King or Wes Craven delivered over a beat.

One of the earliest groups to integrate horror into rap were Houston’s infamous Geto Boys, whose tracks such as “Chuckie” and “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” are essentially the aural equivalent of slasher films, and there’s a reason those are timeless. Los Angeles-based underground emcee BONES is a master at crafting bleak, unsettling hip-hop inspired by the murkier textures of goth-rock, and experimental hip-hop trio clipping. draws from noise, shoegaze and industrial to create wildly creative, gruesome sonic experiences.

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