It’s hardly a secret that Halloween’s not really about getting scared anymore. Beyond just the silly costumes, anyone who’s heard “Monster Mash” a couple hundred times associates it more with some retro goofiness than anything legitimately scary.
But we must not forget that at the root of this holiday is our basic obsession with fear and unpredictability, which is why, here at CU Independent, we have devised this playlist to get you in the spirit of the season.
You and Whose Army? — Radiohead
A friend once told me that this song sounds like it was written by a ghost. Although eeriness is something that Radiohead has built their career on, rarely do they accomplish it with such minimalism. The question remains — is Thom Yorke’s cooing his version of a lullaby, or a funeral hymn?
Come to Daddy — Aphex Twin
Electronic Dance Music’s prodigy child, Aphex Twin, has always had a flair for the unsettling, but “Come To Daddy” is where he finally went full maniac. Taking his breakbeat chops to the drum n’ bass zone, Richard D. James’ howling metal riff is exactly as simple as it needs to be, while the chillingly absurd video has enough insane imagery to inspire a few nightmares.
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes — Modest Mouse
One of the more overtly psychedelic tracks on an already otherworldly album, “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” channels Isaac Brock’s typically apocalyptic imagery with a looping bass groove. Ghostly sound effects swirl around the paranoia while Brock conjures up one of his most haunting choruses: Does anybody know a way that a body could get away?
Doe Deer — Crystal Castles
More of a punk assault than their typical rave-friendly jams, Alice Glass’ distorted screaming makes this short hurricane of a track terrifyingly electric.
Dracula Mountain — Lightning Bolt
The Rhode Island duo’s furious flurry of noise is rarely as self-contained as on “Dracula Mountain” which speaks quite a bit to their madness. This rampage of riffs cycles through enough tempo changes and manic drum fills to make even the most ardent of math-rock bands’ heads spin. The killer is mere inches behind you. Run for your life.
A Forest — The Cure
Though Robert Smith and his band of troubadours would go on to sing about love cats and sentimental evenings, the Godfathers of Goth truly burst onto the scene with this haunting 1980 single. Even with its minimalist composition, “A Forest” still manages to create an atmosphere few bands have reached so succinctly.
Never Dead (Feat. M. Sayyid) — MF Doom (as Viktor Vaughn)
Hip-hop’s masked sensei tells many tales of inner city nightmares as his alter ego Viktor Vaughn, but “Never Dead” is where his beat making captures the horror to full effect. Heat Sensor’s string samples cast the sky as pitch black so that Doom and M. Sayyid can tell their story with the audience clutching their teddy bears in suspense.
Broken Witch — Liars
The opening track to Liars’ concept album about witch trials in Germany, “Broken Witch” is a would-be jam that seems to sputter and explode at a moment’s notice. Artsy to the fullest extent, the climax of the song finds the trio yelling “BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD” over and over again in what is debatably the greatest Halloween chorus of all time.
The Murder Mystery — The Velvet Underground
The penultimate track on what is otherwise Velvet Underground’s most peaceful record, “The Murder Mystery” lives up to its name with its highly experimental approach to lyrics. The verses juggle four different stories together, with each band member conveying a different section. Reciting prose at the same time, the band ultimately creates a song that haunts the listener, whether they know what’s going on or not.
Cuckoo Cuckoo — Animal Collective
The type of track that separates Animal devotees from the naysayers, this track’s dreamlike piano sample coupled with the dread-fueled background static tells a mournful story of a father grieving the death of his child. Whether it is his literal son or perhaps an optimistic side of him that has since vanished, we don’t know. But when the chorus bursts from its chains with brain-damaged drums, Avey Tare’s pain becomes all too real.
Guillotine — Death Grips
Seemingly attempting to inspire as much fear as possible with the smallest amount of sounds necessary, Death Grips’ debut single still remains one of their angriest tracks. The descending bass loop, the title-evoking slashes, MC Ride’s grunts of frustration — all of these small pieces come together to form a song with an enormous personality, and a menacing one at that.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sam Goldner at Samuel.firstname.lastname@example.org.