Allah-Las, Amplifier Heads, Drew Beskin, Freedom Fry, Gerard Way, Greg Pope, Ken Sharp, Kickstand Band, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, The Easy Button, The Embrooks, The Lag Mags, U.S. Highball, Vista Blue
Welcome to Poprock Record’s first-ever hook-filled Halloween special post! I mean, why should some 2000+ year old’s birthday get all the holiday music attention? To rectify that unhappy state of affairs we’ve assembled a guitar-wielding crew of scary monsters and super freaks to haunt your All Hallow’s Eve with some seasonally appropriate tune-age. Get ready to mash!
Normally I’d say Detroit’s Kickstand Band offer up heavenly vocal harmonies but this time they’re drawing from their darker angels for a Halloween Special double-sided single. “Under a Bad Sign” sets the tone for our horror-accented musical proceedings with its eerie, otherworldly ambience. It’s a song that wouldn’t be out of place in a Russ Meyer film circa Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Then we get right into substance of fright night with Freedom Fry’s wonderfully eccentric “Monster,” complete with distant church bells and a xylophone right out of B-movie sound-effects central-casting. Did you know things get scary in Edmonton? They do, if The Lad Mags’ “Dig My Grave” is anything to go by. It’s a 45 where festive moaning and groaning gives way to a groovy go go dance beat that will have you snapping your fingers and shaking your groove thing. Nashville’s fave pop punkers Vista Blue go all out for this holiday with a new EP New Nightmares that celebrates all that slasher movie mayhem. The four contributions are maximum fun but just a bit more maximum-er for me is “Where Do You Want to Sleep?” with its Beach Boys-meets-The Ramones vibe. Ok, these next two numbers come completely out of left field. Drew Beskin’s double-barreled contribution to the season is the swinging poppy “Lisa Simpson Fangs” backed with the more mellow “Horror Movie Plot.” The two sides blow hot and cold, one boppy and catchy, the other languid and serene. Former My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way strips things back to their hooky essentials on “Baby You’re a Haunted House.” Besides providing our ever-so-appropriate mast graphic, his ‘skeleton’ crew really deliver the goods with a great noisy – yet still melodic – wonder.
Now that we’re in the mood, it’s time to turn to the creatures of the night, the real stars of this holiday. They’re probably coming to your door right now, eager for candy, itching to unleash some tricks. Ken Sharp welcomes a “Hellcat” to the usual menagerie of Halloween’s ghoulish guest stars. Ok, maybe his use is more metaphoric than literal but I couldn’t help adding it to the playlist with its captivating bubblegum-glam shuffle sound and Sharp’s beguiling vocals. The Embrooks welcome one of the evening’s usual suspects, a 1960s garage-psych “Human Living Vampire.” Think Christopher Lee as the mod, mod prince of darkness put in charge of the Hi-Fi. Boston’s Amplifier Heads have got a thing about ghosts, with three different songs titled for those otherworldly apparitions. “Ghost Song” from Music for Abandoned Amusement Parks invokes October’s chill and a night so still over a hooky “Needles and Pins” ish set of chords. LA’s Allah-Las have got that spooky desert vibe going strong with their killer instrumental “No Werewolf” from 2014’s Worship the Sun. This is definitely music to not ‘open that door’ or ‘go down into the basement’ to. Glaswegians U.S. Highball do a jangle makeover on a classic holiday monster with “My Frankenstein” and you won’t recognize the results. Can you say well-adjusted much? This time the brutish creation is a happy go lucky tune that will have you humming with contented delight. Pop iconoclasts Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin round out the cast of scary characters with “All Hail Dracula.” It’s a pro-vampire kind of take on demon/non-demon relationships, delivered with a slew of cool indie hooks.
And now for something not quite completely different, one of our fave poprockers has expanded into filmmaking. If you’re looking for something seasonally appropriate in terms of scary things to watch, check out the original popmonster Greg Pope’s new movie, There’s Something in the Lake. He did the music (duh!) but also wrote and directed it. It’s scary how talented that guy is. You can watch the short film it was based on and rent the full feature here.
Hey, thanks for making this Hallo-scene, our inaugural celebration of the candy-laden dark holiday. Now it wouldn’t be complete without a closing anthem of sorts and Tampa’s The Easy Button have conveniently supplied one, a ringing chordy number appropriately titled “Happy Halloscene.” Click on the band hyperlinks to complete your Halloween hits collection or just check out these bands’ many other musical treats on offer.