Remember when you got home from trick-or-treating and found some anomaly in what was supposed to be a bag full of candy? Sometimes, it was a lame Wendy's Frosty coupon that cost a dollar—the price of a small Frosty—but is only good for a piddly junior Frosty. Or else it was stuff that's supposed to be good for you, such as toothbrushes or razor-blade-free apples. Oh, and those Jack Chick religious tracts disguised as mini-comics really sucked. Even worse, though, was the Great Halloween Tease, where some nice lady gave out scrumptious-looking homemade treats that ended up confiscated and thrown in the trash because your parents fear secret ingredients like anthrax or broken glass. (If only!)
Well, you're not getting candy here. Your treat is a playlist. Enjoy.
The Slow Poisoner, "Knives" from Ever Been Chewed Upon by Teeth as Sharp as Knives? (TheSlowPoisoner.com, 2014)
If you missed The Slow Poisoner's set at SLC Solo Fest in August, you should be sad. I know I am. The self-proclaimed "one-man weirdo garage band" from San Francisco is catnip for fans of music, horror movies and comic books. He's like Southern Culture on the Skids meets Joe Coleman meets Dan Clowes meets Abbott & Costello meets H.P. Lovecraft meets ... more references. This funky, roots-y, super-creepy reverb fest is one of his best. It starts with the line, "Ever been chewed upon by teeth as sharp as knives? Well, so have I," and finishes thusly: "Ever had your head removed by goblins in the woods? You know it's good." Ever had your spine chilled by The Slow Poisoner? You know it's good.
Goblin, Goblin Rebirth (Relapse, 2015)
Zombi, Shape Shift (Relapse, 2015)
Horror-film fans know Goblin's unsettling, atmospheric soundtracks from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead and Dario Argento's Suspiria. Goblin Rebirth is one of several versions of the Italian prog-rock band (these tend to feature one to four original members; this one has two: Fabio Pignatelli and Agostino Marangolo). Rebirth harks back to classic Goblin as heard in the films. It's airy, often sublime, but more often hair-raising. Taking its name from the Italian title of Romero's Dawn, Zombi does a spacey take on Goblin's sound, no doubt because spaghetti-splatter soundtrackers are a huge influence on keyboardist/composer Steve Moore (Red Sparowes, Panthers), who scores horror films (Gutterballs) himself. Both albums are a feast for horror and prog fans alike.
Acid King, "39 Lashes" from Busse Woods (Man's Ruin/Small Stone, reissue, 2004)
What could be more ominous than a song that starts with a bass guitar plucking notes as if counting, I dunno, something? Then a guitar comes in, intoning like a priest at an altar, until its strings fade into silence, which is broken by drums, before all three instruments come in behind vocals hissing, "One, two, three, four, five, six ..." all the way up to ragged, bloody 39? And, then, the bass resumes its numberless count, implying—in spite of the fact that this song ends after roughly 6 1/2 minutes—that the lashes continue.
The Dollyrots, "Punk Rock Werewolf" from Love Songs, Werewolves & Zombies (Arrested Youth, 2014)
As with most songs by these masters of catchy pop punk, this one's just fun. "Punk rock werewolf/ On the prowl/ Punk rock werewolf/ Hear me howl/ Punk rock werewolf/ Chasin' after you/ Baby, it's a full moon!" There's only one version, and it's acoustic—but the guitars still snarl, and that chorus sinks its teeth into you.
Herman Kopp, "Menschentrümmer 4" from Der Todesking OST (rare import, 1989)
"Menschentrümmer" is a German word that means "human debris." That, alone, is supremely freaky—and it doesn't scratch the surface when it comes to describing the extreme horror films of Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik, Schramm). Der Todesking (The Death King) is a hard-to-watch examination of death in seven vignettes, each focusing on the death of a different person, with interstitial time-lapse footage of an actual rotting corpse. "Menschentrümmer 4" is your standard glockenspiel/music-box horror music: almost soothing, but with a queasy undercurrent—perfect for juxtaposition with Buttgereit's twisted art-house horror.
Butt-Out, "Monsterous Problems" from The Swoody Spooky Halloween Party Mix (Swoody, 2015)
If you dig the weirdness, Blair Sterrett's Swoody Records label will do you right. This brand-new compilation is 22 tracks of goodness—seven from local acts, including Secret Abilities, Hell and the Graverobber, Michael Biggs, Shot in the Mountains, Valerie Rose Sterrett, NSPS and The Dawn and the Dew. Every juicily odd track is worth hearing, but the Randomizer landed on this mush-mouthed, lo-fi soul jam from Florida's Butt-Out, featuring blather from George W. Bush. You can stream the whole thing—available at pay-what-you-want pricing—here: SwoodyRecords.Bandcamp.com/album/the-swoody-spooky-halloween-party-mix.
Love, "Graveyard Hop" from Reel to Real (High Moon, 2015 reissue)
The second bonus track preview from the upcoming reissue of Love's 1974 album is a raw, punky, live-in-the-studio, one-time-only version of Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock." Frontguy Arthur Lee opens the tune with a howl, singing the remainders in a soulful rasp while cranking out licks that'd make Chuck Berry's ding-a-ling jump. Whoooo!