When one thinks of Halloween music, the mind immediately turns to novelty chestnuts like "Monster Mash" or the oeuvre of the Misfits, but there are so many genuinely eerie songs that would perfectly soundtrack your next Halloween party and/or haunted house. To that end, we turned to Phantom Third Channel, the DJ behind the show of the same name on Rollins College's WPRK 91.5FM, to give us a playlist of lesser-known gems that are sure to curdle the blood. Continue on if you dare.
Violent Femmes – "Country Death Song"
More goth than a French cemetery full of black clad Cleopatra Records listeners, murder ballads are nothing new but Gordon Ganno and crew take the form to the depths of despair. A bleak trip through plain speak of a person lost in the banality of an evil act. “Take your lovely daughter and throw her in the well …” Truly terrifying.
Joy Division – "Dead Souls"
Martial beats, gunshot snare drum, languid drifting bassline, disassociated lead guitar. Claustrophobia and hulking menace are the sound of this dystopian symphony. History as an inescapable stalker in the murky black forest of time. When we finally hear a human voice to connect to, it intones “Someone take these dreams away” as if to remind us that the future is just as barren and crumbling. A nightmare from which we can never awake.
Sonic Youth- "In the Kingdom #19"
The careening looseness of the rhythm section elicits the freeform spacetime of the car crash described in the lyrics. The unpredictable shifts of tone, the confusion, Lee Renaldo's spectarelike commentary and shrieks work together like a short film wherein wanton self destruction doesn’t yield a blaze of glory ending but the disappointing emptiness as the survivor, bloodied and broken, “wanders off into the woods with the animals," leaving the protagonist on the pavement to die.
The Normal – "Warm Leatherette"
Destruction and pain as sexual turn on … A mechanical heartbeat and siren trill as the most primal mating sounds. Gore as romance. Darkness as beauty. “Join the car crash set.”. The essence of Halloween.
Suicide – "Ghost Rider"
A song about a comic book character? Really? A song about a comic book character? Obsessive bass loops and a single sound organ reach out and grab you like no comic book character ever would. Creepy societal underbelly fingers inching out to pull you into the darkened allies of America. “America, America is killing its youth”
Throbbing Gristle - "Hamburger Lady"
Because it wouldn’t feel like Halloween without Throbbing Gristle.
Because they showed us you don’t really need Halloween.
Because they kinda ARE Halloween.
Because real life is terrifying enough.