Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

What is the awesomest part about flying across the country on Halloween? Is it that the stewardesses pass out fun-size candy bars to everyone on the plane at six in the morning? That people in the airport are dressed like clowns and witches and TSA officers? (Well, I guess that last one makes sense.) That I gained three more hours of Halloween when I reached Los Angeles? All of these things are pretty fantastic, but the best, most awesomest part of this Halloween is that in just a few hours, I'll be seeing Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark herself, do her stage show at Knott's Scary Farm!

Elvira did many Halloween shows at Knott's throughout the 80s and 90s, but in 2001 she and the park's new management disagreed over her contract and she hadn't done a show there since. Until now! The photos and video footage of her new show, Sinema Seance, look amazing, and I can't wait to see it in person! Here's hoping she revives the old pastie routine from the Elvira, Mistress of the Dark movie.

So what is this Halloween's most special non-"Monster Mash" song? Well, of course it has to come from Elvira. As luck would have it, she just released a new 7" on Jack White's Third Man label, featuring two songs written by Fred Schneider of the B-52s: "2 Big Pumpkins" and "13 Nights of Halloween." The packaging is super-cool--the record is pressed on purple vinyl and the sleeve is heat reactive, so when heat is applied to the Elvira-shaped black blobs on the front and back, her image is revealed. 

As luck would not have it, though, it took so long to get the packaging complete that after releasing the record for a day, Third Man decided to pull it and release it next Halloween instead. I was one of the lucky ones who ordered the album the day it was released, so I currently have one in my hot little hands. Sadly you'll have to wait until next year to hear the songs on this blog, though! Until then, here's my all-time favorite Elvira song, from her 1994 Halloween compilation Elvira Presents Monster Hits. The monster roll-call at the end always gives me the warm fuzzies--they're the monsters I adore, full of blood and guts and gore! They make me wanna scream and holler, more and more and more and aaaaahhhhhh!

Now get out there and wreak some havoc, I know I'm going to. And until we meet again next year, can't we all try a little harder to make every day more like Halloween? Remember, it's not just about the candy and the costumes and the monsters and the mischief... oh wait, yes it is. It's exactly about all those things. Happy Halloween and STAY SICK!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nativity in Black

What if the devil fell in love and decided to clean up his act? Surely out of all the bands out there, he would most appreciate Black Sabbath telling his story, as they did in "N.I.B." on their self-titled 1970 debut album. They took their name from a Boris Karloff horror film called Black Sabbath after guitarist Tony Iommi noticed people lining up around the block to pay to be scared, and with that revelation, music history was forever changed for the darker. Black Sabbath basically defined heavy metal as a genre, with its sludgy tempos, tuned-down guitars, and lyrics dealing with horror/occult themes. 

While heavy metal lore has long held that "N.I.B." stands for "Nativity in Black," and three Black Sabbath tribute albums have been released with that name, the writer of the song, bassist Geezer Butler, swears it was a nickname for their drummer Bill Ward, whose beard looked like a pen nib. The song's storyline is unambiguous, though: "My name is Lucifer," Ozzy wails in the verses, "please take my hand." 

Even though many of Sabbath's songs deal with scary stuff, however, most are scary in much more realistic ways than "N.I.B." Songs such as "Children of the Grave," "War Pigs," and "Paranoid," are about non-violent revolution, the horrors of war, and mental instability. Their lyrics often shared peace-loving sentiments with the hippie/folk culture, but the head-on way they faced the despair and menace they saw in the world peeled away flower power's cheerful veneer and unveiled its angry underside.

After releasing eight classic albums, the band gave Ozzy the boot in 1979 because of his drug abuse and he went on to a stellar solo career. Black Sabbath continued with various singers and musicians, but in recent years, the original line-up has reunited for shows and just released their first studio album with Ozzy since 1979, titled 13. Forty-plus years ago, who would've thought these scruffy guys from Birmingham singing a love song about the devil would still be making music together today, or that they would've changed the course of music history? But they are, and they did.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Aquabats vs. Hot Topic!

Hard to believe it's almost the end of this year's Halloweek! October has flown by on leathery bat wings, but it's not over yet--still two more days of hell to raise until the big day, and I plan to celebrate right up until the end. In fact, I'll be traveling to a different time zone on Thursday just to have the longest (and best?) Halloween ever!

After traveling back in time over the last few days to relive the gloomiest glory days of goth, I thought it would be a good idea to get out the cold cream today and wash off the pancake make-up. I mean, looking undead is great and all, but let's face it--if you don't take off the white face every now and then, you'll get zits. So if the songs from the past few days have made your lust for the funereal get a little out of hand, today's song is offered as an antidote.

"Fashion Zombies" by the Aquabats comes from their 2005 album Charge!! and spins a cautionary tale of what happens when you only shop at Hot Topic. Lest you be offended by the band's depiction of goths, however, keep in mind that this missive is coming from a group of paunchy adult men who dress in skin-tight superhero costumes and go by names like "MC Bat Commander" and "Eagle 'Bones' Falconhawk." 
The Aquabats started out in 1994 as a ska band, but in the years since, their sound has evolved to incorporate punk, New Wave, surf, and other influences. Since March of last year, they have even starred in their own children's TV show called The Aquabats! Super Show!, which is based on the band's superhero mythology and follows in the footsteps of other great children's variety shows like Sid and Marty Kroft and Pee-Wee's Playhouse. 

The video for "Fashion Zombies" gives a good feel for the band's child-friendly but adult-clever style. Is it wrong that I love this song but also own most of the clothing items lambasted in its lyrics? Aquabats, you have divided my black little heart against itself.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trick or treat, the bitter and the sweet...

...and in the case of "Halloween" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, mostly bitter. She wears her silence like a mask, her memories like a shroud, and murmurs like a ghost--oh 1981 goth, how gloriously brooding you were!

"Halloween" comes from one of Siouxsie and the Banshees' masterwork albums, Ju Ju, which helped define goth as a genre. At the same time, the band denied the goth label: "Gothic in its purest sense is actually a very powerful, twisted genre," Siouxsie Sioux said, "but the way it was being used by jouralists--'goff' with a double 'f'--always seemed to me to be about tacky harum scarum horror, and I find that anything but scary. That wasn't what we were about at all."

Well, I'm all for tacky harum scarum horror, but certainly the haunting memory the band presents in this song is scarier than red devils or dancing undead. The band's artistry and seriousness have stood the test of time--they stayed together for twenty years, from 1976 to 1996, and have been a major influence on a vast array of musicians, from Morrissey to the Scissor Sisters. Much of the reason for that is Siouxsie Sioux herself, whose art punk style and vocals have made her one of the most iconic frontwomen in all of rock. Here she is gazing at you with her scorpion eyes:

R.I.P. Lou Reed

To honor the passing of the great Lou Reed, Sunday's post is pre-empted by a re-posting of a song of his used last year called "Halloween Parade." He was something, to be sure, and will be greatly missed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hot metal and methadrine.

Who's got two thumbs and is using them to paint her nails black tonight and put on cat eye make-up? This girl! Yes, it's back to the old good ol' goth days for me this weekend, so it's fitting that today's song was written for one of the founding ladies of goth, bassist Patricia Morrison.

Morrison was in several punk and goth bands in the 70s and 80s, and joined The Sisters of Mercy in the mid-80s. The band's singer and songwriter, Andrew Eldritch, said he thought of her as a Lucrezia Borgia-type person, so he wrote "Lucretia, My Reflection" with her in mind. The song concerns a society's downfall and contains a repeated entreaty from Eldritch for Lucretia to dance the ghost with him. 

The Sisters of Mercy formed in the late 70s and were part of the first wave of goth. Although none of the original members remain besides Eldritch, he continues to tour under The Sisters of Mercy name. They were always a bit more rock-n-roll than many other early goth bands, and "Lucretia, My Reflection," with its dystopian lyrics and mechanical beat, became a big influence on industrial music that followed. Patricia Morrison wanders through an urban wasteland in the song's video. With its grinding machinery and her Victorian goth style, it's almost a steampunk how-to.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The bats have left the bell tower.

American Goths
Remember when they didn't sell fangs and red contacts at the mall, and you actually had to put forth quite a bit of effort if you wanted to look undead? Back in my day, we painted our fingernails black with Sharpies, drove an hour to find a store that sold fishnet stockings, and tattooed ourselves with a sewing needle and India ink... and we liked it! Kids these days sure have it easy, with their Hot Topics and their Nightmare Before Christmas backpacks and their Kiss of Death lipstick...

Ok, enough fuddy-gothiness, but it is the last weekend before Halloween, so what better way to celebrate our impending doom than with three days of classic goth songs? First up is the band that started it all, with the song that started it all--"Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus

Bauhaus formed in England in 1978, and their sound picked up the jagged pieces punk had left behind and added a hefty dose of gloom to them. Their slowed-down tempos, ominous synthesizers, and doleful lyrics set the mold for dozens of bands that followed their footsteps in the years after their 1983 break-up. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" was the band's first single, released in 1979, and is not only considered to be the first goth record ever released, but is still goth's greatest anthem. Raise your devil horns in salute \m/ \m/!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monsters invade Bakersfield!

While monsters are not allowed to Mash on this blog, they are allowed (and encouraged!) to celebrate their very own holiday in other ways, such as breathing down Buck Owens' neck and putting him on the run.

Owens released "Monsters' Holiday" in 1974 and it ended up becoming one of his last big solo hits. After his longtime guitarist Don Rich died in a July 1974 motorcycle accident, Owens began to relinquish creative control to producers. As a result, his music began to sound more like country-pop than his hard-edged Bakersfield sound, which was originally a reaction against over-produced Nashville records. 

"Monster's Holiday" still rocks with Owens' signature Bakersfield style, though: electric and stripped-down with a big drum beat. These monsters are hardcore honky-tonkin' Californians, through and through! In case of confusion, this "Monsters' Holiday" is not the same-named 1962 Christmas follow-up to "The Monster Mash" by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers. These monsters aren't decorating a tree or making a wishlist, they're on a West Coast rampage! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lobotomized von Trapps

What does one have to do to win the title of Worst Band in the World? To start, one might be forced to play and perform by one's father, who believes his wife has forseen his daughters' rise to stardom in a family band. This was the case with The Shaggs, who released their only album in 1969, Philosophy of the World.

The New Yorker described their album as "hauntingly bad," and Rolling Stone said the group sounded like "lobotomized Trapp Family singers," but for a group considered so inept, it's strange how widely they have been reviewed and even lauded. Some of the band's celebrity fans, like Frank Zappa and the band NRBQ, claimed to find genius in the four Wiggin sisters' out-of-tune and arrhythmic playing, and this attention helped push them past the remainder bin. As a result, Philosophy of the World has been reissued a number of times, along with previously unreleased tracks.

The Shaggs disbanded in 1975 after the death of their father, but ongoing interest in them have produced a 2001 tribute album by the band's admirers, a 2003 stage musical about the band, and a soon-to-be-released solo album by former Shagg Dot Wiggin! Here are the original Shaggs doing their homage to Halloween in their (luckily) inimitable style:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Glamour is my only weapon.

Hot child, hot rod, hot blood, hot dog! Somehow in three years of doing this blog, I have failed to include one of the bands I consider part of the unholy rock-n-roll triumvirate, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (along with The Misfits and The Cramps). But that sorry state of affairs changes today! 

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (TKK) was originally conceived in 1987 as an art film in the style of Russ Myer and John Waters by the two founding members, Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy. The film was never completed, but the music they recorded for the soundtrack was picked up by the Wax Trax! label and released as an EP. TKK helped develop the industrial music scene of which they were a part, but their music has gone far beyond that genre in the ten albums they've released since that first EP. They regularly incorporate elements of disco, funk, and heavy metal, and layer their songs with samples from B-movies and lyrics reflecting horror and sleaze.

TKK hits a high point of B-movie worship in today's song, taken from 1995's Hit and Run Holiday album. The song "Mission: Stardust" is based on a notoriously bad Italian sci-fi movie of the same name from 1967. The movie concerns a group of astronauts sent on a secret mission to the moon based on a discovery of a previously unknown precious metal. There they discover a disabled spaceship manned by two members of an advanced alien race, one of which is a bitchy but beautiful platinum blonde in a skintight spacesuit named Thora. TKK's song seems to be Thora's theme--she's a vicious vixen who wants more than cheap kisses in your little dirty movies!

Bonus! Groove on this sexplosion of psychedelic inanity!

Monday, October 21, 2013

For richer or for horror.

What does Dracula fear most--a well-aimed wooden stake? A garlic necklace? A sunny Myrtle Beach vacation? No! Turns out Dracula is more like us than we'd care to imagine: his greatest fear is commitment.

"Dracula's Wedding" is from OutKast's 2003 double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year. The song is on the Andre 3000 half of the album, The Love Below, who takes on the role of Dracula and opens his heart to his Queen, Kelis, about how terrified he is of being rejected by her. "Don't run, I'm not the sun!" she reassures him, and promises she can count and make great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Who could shut out a ghoul who gives The Count from Sesame Street a shout-out? Dracula, you better let somebody love you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The eyes have it.

The movie today's song comes from had every reason to be great--it claimed to be a Rocky Horror-meets-Bladerunner rock opera, and features both Joan Jett and Sarah Brightman--but it doesn't live up to its influences, or to the talent of its guest stars. The premise of Repo! The Genetic Opera involves a worldwide epidemic of organ failures and the brutal company that repossesses organs from clients who have failed to pay for their transplants. Excellent material for a musical, right? Maybe not so much.

I fast-forwarded through much of the film, but the scenes with Joan Jett and Sarah Brightman are still worth seeking out. Joan only has one minor scene, but Sarah is a main character named Blind Mag, who is GeneCo's celebrity spokesperson/opera singer. She is permanently indebted to the company for her surgically enhanced eyes. In this, her final scene, she of course sings the bejeebus out of her song as only Sarah Brightman can, and outdoes her Phantom of the Opera goth opera cred as she sticks it to GeneCo in a spectacularly gut-churning way. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Since this weekend is all about music from horror musicals, and my home Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast is playing their first-ever show at The Radford Theatre tonight in Radford, Virginia (just a few miles from where I grew up! where I had my first date!), of course today's song has to come from Rocky. 

Rocky Horror songs are no stranger to this blog--both "The Time Warp" and "Science Fiction, Double Feature" have been featured in years past--but we've yet to hear the signature song of our handsome queen, Dr. Frank N. Furter. Tim Curry joined the London cast of Rocky Horror as Dr. Frank in 1968 and later immortalized that role in the 1975 film. For a long time, he was reluctant to embrace the rabid fandom that has surrounded Rocky over the past 35 years, but in recent years, he's been more accepting, even appearing at the 35th anniversary celebration and doing the Time Warp onstage.

Here he is as the sweetest transvestite that ever was, from Transsexual, Transylvaniaaaaa-a-a! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't feed the plants!

Last year we spent a weekend honoring music from animated horror, and since nothing can enhance the horror movie experience quite like singing about it, this year we're going to dig up some songs from live-action horror films. The first is from one of my all-time favorite movies, 1986's Little Shop of Horrors. 

The movie has a long lineage--the original story came from a 1960 non-musical Roger Corman film (featuring a very young Jack Nicholson), which was then developed into an off-Broadway musical in 1982 that later became the 1986 movie. The basic storyline stayed the same throughout: a nerdy florist finds fame, fortune, and romance by nurturing a carnivorous plant that soon becomes too monstrous for him to handle. 

The original Corman film was famously shot in only two days, but the musical version has much higher production values. It was directed by Frank Oz, whose vast experience as a Muppeteer led to the elaborate creation of Audrey II (the man-eating plant), which seems like a truly living creature throughout the film. Puppets for the plant were made in six stages of its growth, and the final one required 60 technicians to operate it! 

Oz also filmed an intricate Godzilla-style ending to the film, which never made it to screen. The plant wins in that version, and although that ending holds true to the original movie and stage musical, test audiences found it too depressing. The original ending can still be seen and it's truly impressive, but I'm afraid I have to agree with those original test audiences. I mean, who wants to see lovely Audrey devoured by the plant?

The whole soundtrack is worth checking out for the songs themselves, as well as the talented singers who sing them. Since the movie takes place in the early 60s, the songs were written in the style of early doo-wop, Motown, and rock and roll, and a genuine Motown R&B star is the voice of Audrey II--Levi Stubbs, lead singer for the Four Tops. Here he is (or his voice, anyway) in the climactic scene where the plant reveals its true origin and intentions to Seymour. 
Look out, here comes Audrey II!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Juvenile delinquent... from beyond the grave!

Today's song is a terrifying story of today's "beat" generation, starring The Raveonettes! It comes from the Danish duo's 2002 EP, Whip It On, which introduced the world to their noisy but melodic, garage-y but cinematic style. Imagine if Marlon Brando's character from The Wild One fronted The Jesus and Mary Chain, and you'd have something close to The Raveonettes. 

The video for this song plays out like a classic juvenile delinquent film (a la The Wild One), but this one has a twist. Although our motorcycle-riding hero gets sentenced to the chair, he becomes the ultimate rebel and returns from the dead to ride again. Not to mention to romance his girl. He's hell on wheels and she's fired up for any thrill!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weird science!

Today's song is a reprise of last weekend's theme featuring They Might Be Giants. I'm going to see them in concert tonight, and besides that, we've only barely scratched the surface of their Halloween-worthy songs! 

"Edison Museum" is about the home and laboratory (haunted, according to the song) of Thomas Edison in West Orange, New Jersey, where he lived and worked from 1886 until his death in 1931. It was here that he developed the phonograph, storage battery, and motion picture camera. 

Contrary to what the song says, the complex is open to the public a few days a week, but is undeniably creepy, and made all the more so by the ancient scientific implements that fill it. Just by looking at it, one can imagine ghostly voices and spectral figures leaping from their wax cylinders and film frames to roam its halls. So when your children quarrel and nothing seems to quell them, just tell them that you'll take them to the Edison Museum!

Bonus! A version of the same song recorded at the Edison Museum on a wax cylinder!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The damned are back, seeking beatbox revival!

Are there words to describe the bizarre wonderfulness that is Leslie and the Lys? If there are, I don't think I know them. The band is the brainchild of Leslie Hall, a native of Ames, Iowa, who describes her appeal better than anyone else ever could: "[When I go out,] I wanna see a 200-plus pound lady in solid gold, with dance moves like a firecracker exploding in a bucket of ranch dressing, making songs about being the coolest person in Ames, Iowa. It's my destiny, I'm gonna do this till peeps stop showing."

Peeps are definitely still showing--she's released five albums since her debut Gold Pants in 2005, which contained the song that has become her signature, "Gem Sweater." The song and video led fans to begin donating their own gem sweaters to Leslie, who is now preserving them for posterity in her very own Gem Sweater Museum, which she often tours with. 

Today's song comes from the album Cewebrity, and as Vincent Price famously narrated Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Elvira provides narration for Leslie and the Ly's "Zombie Killer"! This video is almost more awesomeness than I can handle--makes me wanna put on a gold jumpsuit and go shoot some zombies in the brains.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The power of Ghost compels you!

It's a good week for live music here in Knoxville--in addition to They Might Be Giants playing on Wednesday, the creepy Swedish metal band Ghost is playing here tonight! The band has been together since 2008 and just released their major label debut album this year, Infestissumam

Their sound is reminiscent of early melodic metal, like Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate, and their look is straight from the grave--the lead singer, Papa Emeritus, wears skull make-up and a Cardinal's robes, and the other band members, the Nameless Ghouls, wear hooded monk-like robes. Their lyrics are overtly Satanic, but the band makes a point to say that it's all tongue-in-cheek and that their mission is to put on a show. "We want people to go into the experience the same way that you would lose yourself in a horror movie for an hour or two," says one Ghoul. They've even covered an ABBA song! That's the kind of musical versatility I can appreciate. 

Here's a touching power ballad about a zombie queen. Black light guides you, ghuleh!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The devil don't surf.

Or does he? According to John Flansburgh, fire and water do mix and the devil can hang a mean ten. Oh, and John Linnell has finally revealed the truth about Iowa--she's a witch.

In the late 90s, both of the Johns from They Might Be Giants released solo projects, Flansburgh with his band Mono Puff and Linnell with his State Songs concept album. While their complementary styles are normally melded together on TMBG albums, it is interesting to hear them pulled apart in these two projects, making it clear what each brings to the TMBG creative mix. Flansburgh's style is funky and eclectic, while Linnell is much more focused on melody and story.

Today's Mono Puff song, "The Devil Went Down to Newport," comes from their 1996 album Unsupervised. On this journey, ol' Scratch is still looking for souls to steal, but this time he's not fiddling for them, he's surfing. The video below isn't the best quality--it was recorded from MTV's 120 Minutes--but it's the only one I can find of the original video made for the song. It's pretty cool--looks like the devil is having a big head day!

John Linnell claims his idea for his State Songs concept album came "as a way of avoiding having to come up with song titles. I suddenly had fifty song titles and I could write fifty songs based on that." While each of the 16 songs on the album (except the theme song) does bear the name of a U.S. state, the subjects of the songs are not strictly, or even remotely, about the states for which they are named. For instance, "Montana" seems to be the code name for someone's injured leg, "West Virginia" is concentric in its form, and, as mentioned earlier, "Iowa" is a witch. There she goes now, casting a spell on Vermont! Girl, if your broom don't fly, I'm gonna buy you a Dustbuster.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Robots on parade!

While They Might Be Gaints' clever and playful tunes were always fairly well-suited for children (and those of us choosing to continue our childhoods as adults), the band released their first album geared specifically toward children in 2002. The album is called No! (yes!), and contains many valuable lessons for kids in songs such as "Fibber Island," "I Am Not Your Broom," and today's song, "Robot Parade."

Now we all love cute and cuddly robots like Robby and Wall-E, but should we really trust these soulless creatures borne of man's hubris? Today's song proves we should not. They just want to take over, just as I've always suspected! And it's not just the robots--children are in on it, too. So parents, if your little one asks for a robotics kit this Christmas, you might want to lock them in the thinking closet until they learn better than to try to take over the world with a robot army.

And the adult version!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quick, behind you!

Since They Might Be Giants are woefully underrepresented on this blog and are also playing a show in Knoxville this coming week, this weekend we're going to feature nothing but TMBG (and TMBG-related) tunes!

The two Johns have been together as They Might Be Giants since 1982 and in that time they have used their bizarre humor and avant-garde sensibility to embrace a wide range of topics and musical styles. Who else could make classic hits out of Istanbul not being Constantinople and blue canaries in the outlet by the light switch wanting to be your friend? In addition to their dozen+ albums of alt-rock, they have also released multiple children's records and recorded several TV theme songs (The Daily Show and Malcolm in the Middle, most notably)

Almost all of TMBG's songs contain elements of the strange, and some are eerie enough to be Halloween-worthy, such as today's selection, "Where Your Eyes Don't Go," from their 1988 album Lincoln. In this song, all of your worst nightmares come true--you know that bad thing you always thought was lurking just past your range vision? It's totally there.


In 2002, John and John created a commercial for the excellent (and spooky) cartoon Courage the Cowardly Dog, and here it is! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Everything is gettin kinda groovy.

Today's song might be a bit of a cheat because it's already played a little too often around this time of year, but then again, this isn't the version most often played. While most oldies station favor "Spooky" as sung by The Classics IV, this one is by the sultriest of the blue-eyed (with a healthy dose of black eyeliner) soul singers, Dusty Springfield!

Dusty was already a major recording star by the time her version of "Spooky" was released in 1970, just a year after her seminal album Dusty in Memphis was released. Her credibility as a soul singer was increasing during this time, and although her record sales had begun to decline, she was still largely responsible for bringing the Motown sound to her native UK. And her look is almost as iconic as her breathy, sensuous voice--bleached blonde bouffant, evening gowns, and Cleopatra eyes. Spookilicious!

Here she is in a PVC box(?!):

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You better burn, witch!

Once upon a time there was a little dead girl... who was actually a boy who won RuPaul's Drag Race in 2012 with her ghoulish fabulosity! Before Sharon Needles was America's next drag superstar, however, she was a child of the corn in Newton, Iowa, and then a high-fashion vampire on Pittsburgh's nightclub and underground arts scene.   

In January of this year, Needles released her first album, titled PG-13. It's a macabre blend of clubby pop and tongue-in-cheek horror movie lyrics, with titles like "Call Me on the Ouija Board," "Dead Girls Never Say No," and today's song, "This Club is a Haunted House." The song's video was filmed in New York's long-abandoned and newly repurposed McKittrick Hotel. It was directed by Michael Sharkey, who has also worked with Boy George, Adele, and Elton John.

Needles is just at the start of her ascent to the stratosphere of sickening dragdom--she's currently on a world tour, has been a horror hostess on the Logo network, and is even a spokesperson for PETA (as seen at right). Sharon Needles, you are FEARCE!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


How many songs about Vampira does this world need? Trick question! The answer, of course, is an infinite number. While The Misfits' song about her might be more well-known (profiled on this blog here), Bobby Bare sang about the scream queen around the time Glenn Danzig was completing potty training.

The song was first released in 1958, near the beginning of Bare's career, as a 45 on the short-lived Jackpot label out of Hollywood. Although he went on to make many somber and serious hits, he is no stranger to songs of the strange and humorous, as we heard in last year's "Marie Laveau." Seems he has quite a thing for ladies of the dark, and who can blame him? Oh Vampira, what you do to me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What would Cthulhu do?

According to H.P. Lovecraft, Cthulhu would probably rise from his underwater lair and devour me as I type, but luckily the stars have not yet aligned to enact this eventuality.

British prog-rock band Caravan present a healthy--and catchy!--fear of Cthulhu's return in their song "C'thlu Tulu" from their 1973 album For Girls Who Go Plump in the Night. The group has been together fairly consistently since the late '60s and still tours today, so evidently it's pretty easy to publicly taunt Cthulhu and get away with it.

Thanks to Caffeinated Joe, who first posted this song!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Trashy Devils

Continuing to highlight local (to me) music today with Knoxville lo-fi horror punk band La Basura Del Diablo, or, en ingles, The Devil's Trash. While not well-known here in the states, they are garage punk titans in Europe, where many of their 7-inches sell out soon after they are released. There's some sizable Misfits damage in their sound, from their classic horror-inspired lyrics and warp speed melodies to their crude recording quality. Who wants a song called "Bloody Eye" to sound polished, though?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Think Globally, Scare Locally

This weekend we're highlighting local (to me) music, starting with Knoxvillain rockabilly trio The Royal Hounds! The song is the title cut from their debut album, I'm in Love with a Zombie, and it showcases their high energy and wry wit. They're playing several gigs in Knoxville this month, so if you're in the area, go see 'em. They wanna necro-feel-ya-up!

Friday, October 4, 2013

10/4, Good Buddy

Today is 10/4, so that means it's time to hit the open road and ride our thumbs to hell and back in a big rig of the damned!

While this selection is the most classic hitchhiker-gets-picked-up-by-a-ghost song ever recorded --"Phantom 309"--it's not the version most of us are probably used to hearing. This one comes from Tom Waits and is much more whiskey-soaked than the original Red Sovine version, profiled here a couple years ago. No less creepy, though--in this version, the hitchhiker sounds almost as spooky as the ghost driver. Waits uses Sovine's basic story, but tells it in his own way and in his words.

Keep your eyes open if you're out thumbin tonight because every now and then, when the moon's holding water, they say Big Joe will stop and give you a ride...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Qu'est-ce que c'est ?

Still riding yesterday's New Wave to bring today's ghastly selection, "Psycho Killer" by The Talking Heads. The song appeared on their debut album, Talking Heads: 77, and was the only song from the album to hit the Billboard top 100 chart. It's gone on to become a classic, and has been covered extensively and featured in numerous TV shows and movies.

The lyrics represent the thoughts of a serial killer, and the bridge of the song is in French:

Ce que j'ai fait ce soir-là
Ce qu'elle a dit ce soir-là
Réalisant mon espoir
Je me lance vers la gloire... OK

What I did, that evening
What she said, that evening
Fulfilling my hope
Headlong I go for glory... OK

Ooo la la, Cara mia, you know what French does to me...

David Byrne said that when he started writing the song, he imagined Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad. "Both the Joker and Hannibal Lecter were much more fascinating than the good guys," he said. "Everybody sort of roots for the bad guys in movies."

Heck yes they do! Pass the fava beans, Clarice!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


The devil's in my car! Or in the B-52's car, at least, and they're burning up the road on the Freeway to Hell. Is that anywhere near the Highway to Hell? Maybe it's a loop route.

This song comes from the B-52's second album, Wild Planet, released in 1980 when the band was fresh out of Athens, Georgia and just starting their ascent to the top of the New Wave oddball party band heap. Their trademark sound was already well-formed, though, and can be heard here in Fred and the girls' call and response vocals, the song's dancey beat, and its campy lyrics. I've got devil juice in my CARburater! 

Wait... devil juice???

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Back in black!

Art by Sol Rac
Wait, who am I kidding? I never took off last year's black! At any rate, it's that time of year again--I'm all hopped up on candy corn and ready to hurl the best non-Monster Mash songs at your crusty ears!

In accordance with the prophesy, the first song is from The Cramps, who were the original inspiration for this blog. The song is the Human Fly, about a tender soul with 96 tears in his 96 eyes. Won't you open your screen door for him and let him give you a buzz?