Grace Jones is a cannibal, Glass Candy play trick or treat and Sonic Youth get spooky in the best under-the-radar anthems for All Hallows' Eve
Halloween has once again descended upon us like a murder of crows, which comes with the standard spooked-out perennials. You'd be hard-pressed to find a party this weekend that isn't rinsing "Monster Mash", "Thriller" or the "Ghostbusters Theme" – but for a weirder twist on All Hallows' Eve, don't miss these ten essential tracks to get truly freaked out to.
DAVID LYNCH – “CRAZY CLOWN TIME”
This intensely psychotic creation from filmmaker, visual artist and occasional author David Lynch is almost torturous, with its repetitively tense rhythms, chainsaw reverb and Lynch’s creepy, childlike falsetto. Like his cult films, (Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), Mullholland Drive (2001)), “Crazy Clown Time” is difficult to digest but too weird to ignore. It’s a brilliantly visceral track that’s best enjoyed at 4am, alone in the garden.
GRACE JONES – “CORPORATE CANNIBAL”
There’s something sexy about this ominous and devilish track from Grace Jones, in which she reveals that she’s a man-eating machine in such throaty, lustrous tones. However, the subject matter is more scary than sexy (although the two aren’t, of course, mutually exclusive) as it delves into the obscenities of modern corporate greed. ''I'll consume my consumers, with no sense of humor," Jones growls, before the track rumbles into distorted guitar, which is swamped beneath thumping, echoing electronica and dark, dub brushstrokes.
GLASS CANDY – “HALLOWEEN”
Glass Candy's “Halloween” is as haunting as the the 1978 John Carpenter film of the same name. The Italians Do It Better duo released the track in 2011 as a taster for their upcoming album Body Work (which hasn’t yet been released), where singer Ida No’s heavy-lidded, syrupy vocals discordantly glide over Johnny Jewel's chiming synths and juicy, thumping beats. It’s a Halloween anthem at it’s most stylish.
TYLER, THE CREATOR – “TRANSYLVANIA”
Tyler, The Creator's 2011 debut album Goblin shared his love of porn, hatred for collard greens and basically told the world to fuck itself in frequently transgressive, creative and obscene ways. You could actually stick most of the tracks from it on your Halloween playlist, but “Transylvania” is the most outright ghoulish, as the OFWGKTA rapper claims he’s Dracula and that Buffy keeps trying to hunt him down (“She keeps sending me garlic/How many times I gotta tell her I’m allergic?”). It’s a brilliant and absurdly brutal track that’s delivered with the force of a demon exorcism.
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES – “SPELLBOUND”
Queen of the night Siouxsie Sioux is post-punk's priestess of goth, and her magic was never as potent as on "Spellbound", a spooky standout from 1981's Juju. Speaking about it decades later, Siouxsie said, “Gothic in its purest sense is actually a very powerful, twisted genre, but the way it was being used by journalists – "goff" with a double "f" – always seemed to me to be about tacky harum-scarum horror, and I find that anything but scary. That wasn't what we were about at all." With it’s haunting, jangling guitar and hollow-sounding drums, “Spellbound” is a poised, effortless exercise in magic realism: it’s a track steeped in brooding suspense, capturing the Banshees at their darkest and most powerful.
VIOLENT FEMMES – “COUNTRY DEATH SONG”
What's Halloween without some good old-fashioned scary stories? Or, in this case, a murderous tale of a father shoving his youngest daughter down an endless, black well because he was bored. This deeply unsettling, wonderfully creepy folk-infused track from Violent Femmes' second album Hallowed Ground was written by frontman Gordon Gano when he was just 15 years old, and is based on a true story from a 1962 news article. Nothing is scarier than the truth.
LYDIA LUNCH – “SPOOKY”
Lydia Lunch's pop lullaby for the dead “Spooky” is only one of 21 cover versions of the Mike Shapiro original, but her eerie, sultry version is our hands-down Halloween favourite. Last year, she told us "It was just an act of instinct, as all my music is. I was stoned and watching a lot of cartoons… It was very unusual at the time and I guess it still is.” Despite her modesty, Lunch’s distinctive and stylish delivery makes thsi track the most weridly seductive soundtrack to Halloween flirtation.
TRICKY – “PUMPKIN”
Taken from his darkly atmospheric debut solo album, this is a must for the Halloween come-down twilight hour. It’s rich and textural, featuring a just-starting-out Alison Goldfrapp, who’s haunting vocals are layered over lulling guitar and echoing, trip-hop style drums, while Tricky’s eerie, whispering vocals intersperse like scratches in an oil painting. Stick "Pumpkin" on while carving your very own.
BOTTIN – “HORROR DISCO”
Italian’s Do It Better cohrort Bottin welds cinematic, horror-painted scariness and electronic dance music into one micro movement. The Venice-based DJ and sound designer's creepy creation sounds like it’s straight out of a Halloween slasher-movie – two parts banger, one part kitsch – but in this case, our villain is wielding a synth, not an axe.
SONIC YOUTH – “HALLOWE’EN”
“There’s something shifting in the distance/don’t know what it is”, intones Kim Gordon in breathy, pensive tones on this early track, which originally appeared as a bonus track on 1985's no-wave/alt rock classic Bad Moon Rising. The record poetically explores the dark underbelly of America, with discussion of Satanism and Charles Manson, insanity and obsession – “Hallowe’en” expertly honing in on the latter.