Halloween’s just around the corner, and you’ll need a soundtrack for all of the trick-or-treating, parties, and all-around skullduggery. Doubtless, there’s a ton of horror-themed songs out there for your All Hallows Mix.
Northwest artists have generated their share of genuinely spooky/scary/horrific tunes, to be sure—enough to put together a pretty primo playlist. I’m not going to pretend the below selections represent a definitive selection (hit the Comments with your ideas, fellow Creatures of the Night). But you can’t go wrong by firing up your YouTube, and/or assembling the below tracks—all by great Northwest artists, and all verrrry scary.
“The Witch,” The Sonics:
I swore I’d confine this little list to one song per artist, which is the only reason you’re not seeing other Sonics classics like “Psycho” and “ Strychnine” here (feel free to add ‘em to your personal playlist, however: Unlike me, you don’t have to worry about your word count getting unwieldy). Tacoma’s favorite miscreant rock sons have often put horror and scariness to a rock and roll backbeat, but this song—with the organ, guitar, and sax stomping out a troglodyte melody, and singer Jerry Roslie’s soulful fire-and-brimstone warning vocals—just feels like the most Halloween-apropos. Oh, and in a totally perfect probably-not coincidence, they’re playing the Neptune tonight, too.
“The Skin,” Girl Trouble:
The Sonics’ fellow Tacomans Girl Trouble play gloriously bone-simple three-chord rock that sounds like the illegitimate love child of a makeout session between, well, The Sonics and The Cramps. This tune, with its lyrics equating a dance craze to a homicide-inducing disease, could be on the soundtrack of a David Cronenberg horror flick. If Cronenberg directed goofy fun B-horror flicks.
“Martha Splatterhead,” The Accused:
Seattle’s greatest metal-stoked punks—or are they punk-stoked metalheads?—have always made the scary a top priority in their lyrics and imagery: Hell, this song’s title character is a slathering, wired evil sister to Iron Maiden’s Eddie. Ripsaw power chords and Blaine Cook’s blood-curdling screamed lyrics (“Martha Splatterhead is a knife wielding maniac,” for sure) make this blast of noise perfect All Hallow’s Eve fodder.
“Living Nightmares,” Grayskul:
“Living Nightmares” embosses Rain City hip hop crew Grayskul’s beats with menacing B-movie horror keyboard whirrs and dive-bomb squeals. The tensely paranoid rhymes about descending into a literal and metaphoric nightmare (“I wanna wake up from this dream but it seems so real/I pinched my arm, but then my skin started to peel”) will give you the damn willies, even as you’re bobbing your head like a bad-ass.
“It’s a Good Life,” Atomic Bride:
If it’s slow-dance time at the Halloween party, you can’t get much better than this deliciously spooky cut from the late, great Seattle garage/psych/surf/new wave band Atomic Bride. Grab you favorite ghoul or boil, hold ‘em close, and sway to that shambling living-dead tempo while Rachel’s keyboards hum and moan like ghosts—or you’ll be banished to the cornfield.
You’re pretty much listening to Seattle’s first goth band when you dig the spidery guitars, menacing power chords, dark throbbing bass, and relentless coffin-kicking backbeat of Blackouts. It’s the spirit of Halloween in four black eyelinered minutes.
“Vampire Girl,” Dead Vampires:
The abject obscurity of Seattle’s late (undead?) great Dead Vampires pops up like a zombie clawing its way out of the frozen earth every Halloween. They were a goth-rocking pack of beasts in full monster regalia, but beyond that relative novelty, they were also a kick-ass rock band—epic, garage-y, and fully capable of blowing anything the post-Danzig Misfits ever did, out of the swamp water. Do the Pepsi Challenge and play DV’s “Vampire Girl” alongside The Misfits’ song of the same name: You’ll have your giant bat ears opened, big-time.
“Goin’ to the Graveyard,” Primate Five:
If you can’t appreciate five guys in ape masks, pounding out hyperdriven garage rock, with cartoon eerie Farfisa keyboards circling like a haunted-house spiral staircase, you’ve stumbled onto the wrong playlist by mistake, Bucky.
“Georgia Lee is Dead,” The Bad Things:
Maybe the afterlife is like some Tim Burton movie—morbid, full of playful monsters, ghosts, and beasts eager to get drunk and cut a rug for eternity. If that’s the case, the godparents of Seattle’s dark cabaret scene will more than likely be playing the accompanying dead man’s (and women’s) party. Go see ’em play the Cabaret Macabre at Columbia City Theater on Halloween.
“Night Sound,” Prom Queen:
To know Prom Queen’s twangy, noir-y, dark take on retro pop is to love it. And the slightly woozy, heady, ghostly yet sexy sway of this track makes for a perfect backdrop as Halloween night winds down and you shamble into the mists of midnight. Happy Halloween, Fiends and Neighbors.