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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Five Bands Vol. 3 - Halloween Music!!

It's been a long time since I did a music post and there's no better time to put together a "Five Bands" list than October.  There are a ton of great bands out there who choose to adopt horror imagery for their album covers, videos or general attire, but there are far less who actually make genuinely creepy music.  So don't get upset if you don't see your favorites like Oingo Boingo, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper or The Cramps on here.  We're going to go a little off the beaten path to see what we can find.

1.  Midnight Syndicate 

I found out about these guys in the best possible place you could: Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery in Salem, MA!  As we wandered among the wax figures from some of our favorite horror films, my wife and I kept commenting on how cool the music was.  Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and asked one of the attendants.  This is the music you want playing on the front porch as the kids come up for candy.  It's creepy music written specifically to scare.  These guys have a number of albums out and almost every track is perfect to be played on Halloween night.  Definitely check them out!

2.  Dark Sanctuary

With a name like this, you probably expect a super heavy, Black Metal band.  You'd be so, so wrong.  This French band creates classically inspired songs about death, cemeteries and all things gothic.  In fact, think of them as goth opera.  The music is as cold and stark as winter snow on a marble headstone.  

Now the rough part about this band for many here in the States is that their songs are sung in French.  For my Canadian brethren, this may not pose a problem at all (Susan Tate, I'm looking at you).  For the rest of us, it's well worth your time to look up a translation or two if you want to get creeped out.  For instance, take the lyrics to the song "Reve Mortuaire" which translates to Mortuary Dream.

Sleep, sleep, little angel, and dream of Death
Sleep, sleep, little angel, tomorrow shall you be dead
Sleep, sleep, little angel, tomorrow shan't you live anymore
Sleep, sleep, little angel, tomorrow shall I be there
Sleep, sleep, little angel, sleep and dream of me.

See what I mean?  This stuff is Dark with a capital "D".

3.  The Pine Hill Haints

Okay, enough with this classical/electronic music stuff.  We want some roots based Halloween music!  Well, look no further than The Pine Hill Haints.  This band hails from Alabama and describes what they do as "Alabama ghost music".  Expect traditional instruments like mandolin, guitar, washboard and even accordion on occasion.  My favorite though is when the "singing saw" comes out.  Their lyrics run the gamut from ghostly trains to wanting to be a "Jack O'Fire" as in the clip above.  This band gets played on my iPod year round.

4.  Dr. John

So you don't want something as classy as the first two but you don't want traditional roots music either?  It's time for an American icon: Dr. John.  There may be no cooler man alive than Dr. John.  A New Orleans jazz giant if ever there was one, Dr. John's voodoo/rootwork imagery goes beyond just the way he carries himself.  If you listen to the lyrics of the song above (Walk on Gilded Splinters), you'll hear him referencing all kinds of folk magic terms as he sings about putting the hex on his enemies and wonders aloud, "Did I murder?"  His album Gris-Gris is a marvelous concoction of blues, jazz and voodoo imagery.  I highly, highly recommend this!

5.  The Cramps

So I lied. Of course The Cramps are going to be on this list.  I'm not sure there's another band out there who captures the fun, the goofy and the dangerous side of Halloween better than The Cramps. Above is a link to a live version of "TV Set".  It's an uplifting song about how lead singer, Lux Interior, is going to cut you up and use your body parts as accessories for different appliances around his house.  It's actually a very funny song despite the grotesque imagery.  Unfortunately, Lux died during a show in 2009.  His wife, Poison Ivy (the red-haired guitarist seen on the right of the stage), rightfully decided that the band could not go on without him.  

Even though The Cramps are no more, you can still access the entire concert above right at this link.  If you decide to search further though, just be aware that you may come across Lux wearing fishnets, heels and electrical tape while performing.  Pushing boundaries was one of the guiding forces behind this band, but that's for another music post at another time.

For now, that's it for this Five Bands post.  Let me know what your favorite "Halloween" bands are!

P.S.  After writing this post, the first album I put on was Dr. John's Gris-Gris.  Just sayin'!

Don't forget you can pick up my novel The Wash either as an ebook for Kindle or one of those old timey paper versions exclusively at Amazon!

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