Welcome to The Soundtrack, a column where we plumb the depths of our musical knowledge to bring you the best* (subjective) music to listen to for very specific life situations. This week, we got your back with music to revive a dead Halloween Party, because it falls on a freakin’ Monday this year so any sensible person will be waiting till next weekend. If you’re not big on the dedication/cleanup that comes with an actual *party* there are plenty of Halloween-themed gigs around for you to attend after you’ve had your fill at home as well. And like last week, each and every track in this Halloween edition of The Soundtrack is from Australia-based artists.
I know there are a lot of people out there who recoil in disgust at the idea of Halloween IN AUSTRALIA. “But that’s an AMERICAN thing!!!!” they gasp, hands over their mouths and feet itching to scurry away from anything that might be kinda fun. And sure. Yes, the USA has the market on commercially-driven Halloween activities well and truly cornered. Besides, it’s not like we celebrate any other Pagan-origin holidays in this country, like Christmas or Easter. But what is truly flabbergasting about these people is that this is the only situation in living memory where Australians have not only turned down, but outright BALKED at the opportunity to get shitfaced with their mates. TLDR; Get over yourselves and learn to have fun.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what Halloween parties are actually like. People in stupid costumes (“going as yourself” counts as the stupidest of all costumes), check. Free-flowing booze, check. Music – erm. Sort of check? The music selection at Halloween parties tends towards the camp, the overplayed, the cheesy and regrettable. The same damn twenty songs on repeat. You know what I mean. Thriller. The Monster Mash. Ghostbusters. Anything from Rocky Horror. It’s fun the first time this happens, but if I don’t think I’m alone in saying if I have to do the time warp again this year I’ll jump to the left straight outta that party. Don’t let it happen. I don’t care if you’re the host or not. Grab this playlist on Spotify and snatch the AUX as fast as you can.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand
Nick Cave’s music is full of creepy AF themes, some downright disturbing and yuck. This is probably his least #problematic of the songs in that particular vein (I wouldn’t advise putting a song that discusses sexual violence on at a party for many reasons, all of which should be obvious). The tolling bells and rich, descriptive narrative in the lyrics make this track feel like you’re being told a ghost story by your weird uncle. Except this ghost story is actually kinda scary, because it doesn’t start with a chaste couple in their car at Makeout Point or end in something about a hook hand. This is a good ‘un for when guests are still trickling in. A real mood-setter, if you will.
Ecca Vandal – End Of Time
Anyone who hasn’t gotten on board the Ecca Vandal train is missing the hell out, my dudes. She’s an unapologetically powerful presence and a genuinely innovative musician and we are so here. for. that. There are so many seriously disquieting musical elements to this track – her snarling vocals that trail out in a threatening whisper, the shadowy pulsating synths, the eerie twinkle of keys. Even the artwork for Ecca Vandal’s EP (of which this is the title track) houses some pretty blatant nods to Halloween-y themes. Skulls and B&W aesthetics and creepy font-faces, oh my!
Nightcrawler – Planète
Okay, time to step back and remember this is a party, not a dedicated “spookiest Aussie tracks” listening sesh. Although hey, if that’s what you’re all about then more power to you. But every party needs a solid, driving electro track with no pesky words to distract you from whatever that kind of obnoxious but admittedly really funny dude over on the couch is saying now. (There’s always one. At every single party.) You also don’t want the ~spooky~ vibes to dissipate, though, so it’s not like you can chuck on something euphoric like Wave Racer, so get the goods from Melbourne producer Planète instead.
Violent Soho – Son Of Sam
This crunchy, grungy Soho track from their eponymous first album is a fittingly brutal number that is also named after a serial killer. That serial killer terrorized New York City in the late 70s until he was caught because he went to a police station to pay a parking ticket and they recognised his handwriting. So, you know. Not the brightest serial killer in the world. But a pretty fun Party Anecdote (TM) for you to share with everyone while you let this track simultaneously energise you and make you sorta uncomfortable with its loud/quiet/loud dynamic. It’s also pretty fun to chuck on early Soho tracks and just ruminate on how far they’ve come. That’s not to say that their early work feels lacking or unfinished in any way – far from it. But the sound has definitely morphed into something less heavy, in a traditional sense. Not knocking that, though. Look where it’s got them. Bloody legends the lot of them.
LUCIANBLOMKAMP – Help Me Out
This is best left till everyone is basically completely off their heads, because it doesn’t start out sounding like a party track but hooooo boy is that build worth it. Atmospheric and tense till a meticulous, dark release, Help Me Out is the brainchild of LUCIANBLOMKAMP (yes that is actually his real name), who won FBi’s coveted Northern Lights competition some time back. I caught him at my very first BIGSOUND a few years ago and he blew my goddamn mind. There’s something truly unsettling about the way this song unfurls – is it the pitched-down vocals? The building synths? Who knows/cares, all that matters is this is the perfect post-midnight addition to your Halloween playlist. Just try not to lose vital parts of your ~super topical~ costume as you thrash around like an actual possessed person to this one.
Image: Know Your Meme