Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

The most wonderful day of the year has finally arrived! It's always a little bittersweet because that means Halloween is over for now, but it's also time to start making plans for next October. For me, it'll be a tall order to top this one--Sharon Needles, the B-52, a visit to one of Poe's homes, horror films galore, a Halloween party filled with friends last night, and tons of trick or treaters tonight--but I'm up for the challenge!

The last song of this year is also bittersweet because it comes from one of the saddest losses of a year filled with sad losses. "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" comes from David Bowie's 1980 album of the same name. Bowie's influence on those of us who love the inventive, the strange, the glamorous, and fearless risk-taking can't be measured. He's left this realm, but the dead are always closest to us on Halloween, and we can still celebrate the immense body of amazing music he left us throughout his long and eclectic career. So until next year, let's dance! 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shake it like an Egyptian!

The most wonderful time of the year just keeps getting more wonderfuller! Last night I fulfilled a bucket list item by seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, the B-52s, play their Halloween Scream show. Naturally, it was a scream! The B-52s still rock the house down almost 40 years into their existence. They played plenty of classics and some of my particular faves--finally got to hear Fred Schneider say "Going to the store for hot dogs and wine" in person when they played "Is That You Modean?"! Also decided my next pet is going to be named Modean. 

Although Fred, Kate, and Cindy were the spectacular main event last night, I was also excited to be introduced to their excellent opening band, Mother Feather! They are a local NYC group who recently released their first full-length album on Metal Blade. Imagine if Siouxsie Sioux started a metal band and hired Gozer to play keyboards, and maybe added a dash of Peaches. Aural ecstasy! They also look pretty fine too, as you can see in the video for today's song, "Egyptology." Why bother walking like an Egyptian when you can shake it like one?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Who's going to build my death ray?

While off traveling the country on my custom Sanderson Sister vacuum cleaner over the past week, I left the blog in the care of my so-called trusty henchmen. And what did they do while I was gone? Not a damn thing! It's so hard to find good toadies these days. Next time I'll just snatch a few toads and make my own.

Only a couple days left before the big day, and so much spooky music still to cover! So why not start up where we left off? This song is another from Mono Puff, whom we heard a little from last week. While "Pretty Fly" was an acapella number sung by the lead singer's wife, "Poison Flowers" is by the usual Mono Puff lineup with John Flansberg on vocals. It's the lament of a man who worries over who will continue his nefarious deeds when he is back in school, like typing his manifesto and growing poison flowers. I'm so glad I'm not the only one with minion trouble! You better listen closely to this one, Igor... your job is on the line.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It's a hard world for little things.

One of my favorite scary films isn't a horror film, but a film noir built on childhood fantasies/nightmares called Night of the Hunter. It was made in 1955 and is the only film actor Charles Laughton ever directed. Robert Mitchum gives a career-high performance as the evil Reverend Harry Powell who menaces a little boy and girl because they know the whereabouts of some money he wants. They flee down the river in one of the most beautifully eerie sequences ever filmed. As John and Pearl drift through the night on a rowboat, we see a star-speckled sky, luminous cattails, a frog, a turtle, and rabbits--all of nature combining to give the film the look and feel of a surreal storybook. Pearl sings a haunting song called "Pretty Fly" as they float, which you can hear below. The scene continues after the song, so enjoy more of the Expressionist spell Laughton cast upon this film! Too bad it wasn't well-received when it was released, or maybe we would have more masterpieces like this from him.

In the late 90s, the band Mono Puff included a cover of "Pretty Fly" on their album It's Fun to Steal. It's acapella, with just the sound of crickets in the background as accompaniment, so it casts a similar spell as the original. The singer is Robin Goldwasser, wife of Mono Puff/They Might Be Giants founder John Flansberg. Check out her plaintive rendition below and see how you think she measures up to the timeless Pearl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sing along with the Munsters!

All that talk last week about the Addams Family got me missing The Munsters something fierce! While I love both families, The Munsters hold an extra-soft spot in my heart. It's been a while since we visited with them, and although we've heard their theme song before, we haven't yet heard it with lyrics!

Nothing can really improve on the original surfy instrumental theme song, which is so good it was nominated for a Grammy in 1965 and remains iconic today. Still, it's fun to hear the words one of the show's producers came up with to describe the Munsters. The version with lyrics was never used on the show, but was included on a 1964 album called At Home With The Munsters. It includes such neighborly numbers as "Everyone Is Welcome," "Meet Our Pets," and "I Wish Everyone Was Born This Way." So if you hear mysterious feet at night and find the Munsters are following you, don't scream and run away! Just turn around, shake their clammy hands, and accept their invitation for a hot drink from the cauldron.

And what goes better with some classic Munsters than a nice bowl of cereal? This weekend I went to the Halloween edition of "Spoons, Toons, & Booze" at a local movie theater, where they show beloved cartoons on the big screen, have an open cereal bar, and serve cereal-infused cocktails. I was enjoying my Halloween Cap'n Crunch (it turns your milk green!) just fine through Halloween episodes of Beetlejuice, DuckTales, and Pinky and the Brain until a disturbing majority of the audience voted to watch Rugrats as the last selection of the day. Talk about frightening! We had the opportunity to watch some little-seen gems, like Count Duckula, The Real Ghostbusters, or Groovie Goolies, and they picked that dirty diaper full of baby talk. Barf! To make it all better, let's enjoy some Cheerios with Herman Munster. After all, they're the greatest things since bat wings!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Dukes of Alhazred

Last night I saw a RadioTheatreNYC performance of two of H.P. Lovecraft's classic horror stories, "The Horror in the Museum" and "The Call of Cthulhu." I saw this company perform some Edgar Allan Poe stories a few months ago, and once again they delivered the bone-chilling goods with just their voices, a few sound effects, and simple lighting. Who needs lame digital effects and movie theaters that rain on you when you can get more and better frights from real people who know how to deliver a scary story?

Since last night was all about the Old Ones and the Outer Gods, today we're going "Down to Dunwich" with The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets to see what that noise in the barn is all about. The Thickets are a Canadian group that specialize in songs about H.P. Lovecraft's extensive mythology. That's quite a specific niche, but so far they've gotten four full-length albums out of it and toured with groups like Bad Brains, GWAR, and They Might Be Giants. Even their name is taken from a Lovecraft story, "The Tomb": "I will tell only of the lone tomb in the darkest of the hillside thickets."

"Down to Dunwich" focuses on Lovecraft's story "The Dunwich Horror," written in 1928 and published in Weird Tales magazine. The story concerns Wilbur Whateley, a man of unfortunate parentage (his dad is Outer God Yog-Sothoth) who is shunned by the townsfolk and their animals for being so ugly and strange. Luckily his grandfather is a sorcerer and teaches him some very important life skills, like how to keep his invisible twin brother alive in the barn by feeding him cows. The story was made into a fun film in 1970 that doesn't completely follow the original plot, but is worth seeing anyway.
Hug Yog!

So are you ready to go out to the barn and see what that noise was? And where did that slime in the kitchen come from, anyway? Maybe you should bring a cow along, just to be safe...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bloodsucking vampire? Too bad, so sad.

I'll skip the blood today, thanks. Instead, I'm a sucker for any song that opens with a thunder storm, like "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath, "Dirty Black Summer" by Danzig, and today's song,"Keep on Runnin' (The Vampire Song)" by The Hot Toddies. All I know about this band is they're from Oakland, they're all women, and they wrote the poppiest song I've ever heard about a vampire. It even name checks Mary Poppins! That's more than enough for me. Besides, isn't it time we visit with some lady bloodsuckers again? The Hot Toddies haven't put out an album in a while (2013), but they're still playing shows here and there, so we can hope the future will bring more infectious songs about the heartsickening troubles that come with graveyard love.