October 29, 2012

Songs for Halloween

"Do They Know It's Halloween?"

A still from the North American Halloween Prevention Initiative’s “Do They Know It’s Halloween?”

In anticipation for Halloween, I have assembled the ultimate scary mixtape comprised of my favourite Canadian musicians. Get ready for a spooky musical tour of Canada’s finest!

1. Buck 65 – “Zombie Delight”

Buck 65 has been making music since the 1990’s. If you listen to the CBC then you should recognize him as Rich Terfry, the voice of CBC Radio 2 Drive. “Zombie Delight,” from his record 20 Odd Years, was just released early this year. The music video was filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, just outside of Buck 65′s hometown in Mt. Uniacke. This song offers an informative examination and deconstruction of the characteristics of a zombie. If you didn’t know that zombies are excellent dancers, then it’s best you have a listen to this.

2. You Say Party – “Monster”

Here we have Vancouver’s You Say Party with “Monster,” a track off of their 2007 album Lose All Time. I love the juxtaposition in Becky Ninkovic’s sweet, delicate delivery of the lyric, “it wants to rip our skins apart, tear out the strings connected to our hearts.” This is the gruesome blood and guts portion of the mixtape.

3. Timber Timbre – “Demon Host”

Taylor Kirk is the man behind Brooklin, Ontario’s Timber Timbre. Realistically I could fill this entire mixtape with all four of Timber Timbre’s albums and not have a single song seem out of place. Many people have been calling this music “swamp rock,” a pretty good descriptor that evokes gothic imagery and emotion. Timber Timbre’s music is transporting: put a record on and suddenly it’s dark, the moon is full, and you’re in a cabin in the woods or a graveyard late at night.

4. Sunset Rubdown – “A Day In The Graveyard”

No lyrics in this track by Montreal’s Sunset Rubdown, just an emotional experience guided by its title. Spencer Krug is a prolific presence in Canadian music, contributing to a handful of great bands including Fifths of Seven, Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Destroyer, Wolf Parade & his latest solo effort, Moonface. It’s the tremolo effect put on the initial melody line that really gets me. It’s chilling. And then the keyboard kicks in. A ghost is haunting me & it feels so good.

5. Memphis – “A Ghost Story”

Torquil Campbell of Montreal band Stars and his longtime friend Chris Dumont perform here as the duo, Memphis. From their 2006 release entitled A Little Place In The Wilderness, we hear Torquil’s hushed vocals relay the story of a child and his history with ghosts.

6. Chad VanGaalen – “Cries Of The Dead”

Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen is a powerhouse. In an interview, he admitted that during the time he took between releasing 2008’s Soft Airplane and this year’s Diaper Island, he wrote and recorded 11 albums worth of songs. Chad’s lyrics are often written as stream of consciousness. Death is a reoccurring theme. The melody and instrumentation of “Cries Of The Dead” lighten up the energy on this mixtape while still staying true to its subject matter.

7. Dead Man’s Bones – “In The Room Where You Sleep”

Although not technically recognized as a Canadian band, one half of the duo Dead Man’s Bones was born and bred in Cornwall, Ontario. Actor Ryan Gosling and his co-collaborator Zach Shields met in 2005 and quickly bonded over a shared appreciation for all things spooky. In 2010, the pair rehearsed and performed with a children’s choir from each city they visited and dressed the children up in Halloween garb. These are doo-wop love songs for ghosts and goblins.

8. The North American Halloween Prevention Initiative – “Do They Know It’s Halloween”

Montrealers Nick Diamond (The Unicorns, Islands, Human Highway) and Adam Gollner are the pair behind this facetious response to the 1984 Band Aid super collaboration, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” This 2005 recording features huge Canadian acts including Arcade Fire, Buck 65, Feist, Islands, Nardwuar The Human Serviette, Peaches, Tagaq, Sloan, Sum 41 and Wolf Parade. “Do They Know It’s Halloween?” was created in partnership with UNICEF and all money generated by its sales went to the charity.

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Cody Alan Gregory

    Here’s an addition from Chad VanGaalen called “Graveyard.” Thanks to @Flemisheye for the tip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHdgN95UgjU

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kAXcIlA1MI
    This Vangaalen scares me.
    Also an excellent animation.

    • Davina Choy

      Wow! That’s pretty disturbing, but ripe for Halloween. For any kid’s out there, maybe skip the above link, which includes some animated nudity. For adults: enjoy the music and animation. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Awwww, hell yeah, Buck 65!!!!!


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Cody Alan Gregory

About Cody Alan Gregory

Cody Alan Gregory is a writer, musician and zine publisher living in Vancouver, BC. He hosted an all-Canadian independent radio program for 3 years on CFUV 101.9FM, UVIC's campus radio. He has interviewed and written about many homegrown artists. He currently runs Red, White and You, a music blog dedicated to the discovery of Canadian musicians, old and new.

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