Halloween cometh and to celebrate, we at Scaryogum have been sharing some spooktastic articles with you, our loyal ghouls. Kelly Conaboy ranked budget musician Halloween costumes, Lindsey Rhoades had an in-depth conversation with gothic avant-gardist Diamanda Galás, and our very own Tom Breihan profiled Julien Baker, who is not scary, but she does sing about death and stuff which definitely counts as creepy. To top it all off, the Scaryogum staff published our annual 40 Best New Bands list, which features a subtly spooky graphic.
Speaking of spooky Scaryogum aesthetics: If you haven’t been watching our Facebook Live sessions, you absolutely should start! Chris Farren stopped by to play a lovely rendition of Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” with Jeff Rosenstock on Monday, and Cam Boucher of Sorority Noise debuted a cover of “Sally’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas yesterday. Creepy stuff! Check out the five best songs of the week below — don’t get too spooked!
Very few Future full-lengths are stacked with hits front to back if we’re being honest (and I believe Nayvadius himself would expect nothing less). Unless you’re an obsessive-compulsive completist, that’s not really a problem. Dude’s self-titled release from earlier this year is proof that even if his albums can become endurance tests, all that bleary sameness is a worthy creative exertion when it yields a single as exemplary as “Mask Off.” So even if aligning with longtime foil Young Thug did not result in the instant-classic event album of our collective imagination, it’s likely at least one monster jam will emerge from the haze to join the pantheon. Early impressions indicate “Patek Water” is the banger of choice. Offset’s in the mix, too, recasting these three ATLiens as some alternate-universe iteration of Migos. Together they spew rapid-fire syllables over Southside’s head-bob trap music with an energy that suggests Future’s eyelids may be all the way open and a focus that finds Thugger reining his livewire impulses into a disciplined three-man weave. The end product is the rap equivalent of a finely crafted Swiss watch. –Chris
John Maus may be a man of many words, but his songs contain remarkably few. The lyrics on “Touchdown” consist almost entirely of Maus’ deep deadpan baritone drawling “Go for the touchdown!” over and over again, but there’s nothing remotely triumphant or inspiring about it. Instead, it feels like a song about football written by an alien trying to understand human pop culture and not quite getting there. Backed by simultaneously twinkling and buzzing John Carpenter synthesizers and a rubbery bassline, “the touchdown” feels less like a desired outcome and more like an ominous threat looming just over the horizon. It’s kitschy and weird and very, very John Maus. –Peter
“Dark Come Soon” is one of Tegan Quin’s best songs, an example of how her often circuitous writing shades in the edges just a little bit more each time, so that an identical line lands with a different resonance when it comes around again. It’s a dynamic way of expressing a repetitive thought cycle while still gaining some emotional progression within a song, and Grimes and HANA’s version of “Dark Come Soon” (as Trashique) for The Con cover album understands and deepens the meaning of it completely. Whereas the original feels as though it’s prickling against the loved ones who attempt to intervene during a downward spiral, this one uses pillowy beats and a sense of calm reverie to evoke the haunting loneliness and desire for connection that isolation provides. Or, taken in the song’s terms, it’s more “I need you now” than “get back for me now.” It’s an exceedingly lovely take on the song, and the production on it is impeccable. (Grimes says that was mostly HANA’s doing and she just provided vocals while having strep throat.) Grimes largely eschews the vocal manipulation that was so present on Art Angels (or at least presents a facsimile that scans as natural) and HANA’s guitar lines and percussion that snake throughout, especially in that stunning outro, are simply gorgeous. Their version of “Dark Come Soon” does exactly what a great cover is supposed to do: color in new parts of a song that you might not have noticed before, strengthening the original and providing a worthy alternative. –James
English composer Poppy Ackroyd already has a few records of beautiful, spare neo-classical music to her name, albums often based on just piano and violin. But her forthcoming record Resolve — her first for One Little Indian — finds her expanding the palette, involving other musicians for the first time. “The Calm Before” is the first preview we’ve heard, and it’s hard to imagine a better introduction: The whole song is a depiction of growing outward, upward, in all directions. It flutters throughout, moving in and out of swells that initially suggest an approaching climax, only to settle back down into a calm glide. Initially, it’s an ebb and flow that can suggest tension, taking the title as a preface to an expected storm. But the tone is hopeful, not foreboding. When the main melody returns towards the song’s end, it’s been recontextualized; you could almost read it as unnerving at first, but by the conclusion of “The Calm Before,” Ackroyd has chosen, well, resolve. –Ryan
This right here? This is the collaboration dorks dream about. On “Only Once Away My Son,” Brian Eno and Kevin Shields got together to make something that sounds like it descended from an astral plane, a little slice of some other world. It opens with a low, hollow thrum and slowly grinds to pitchy static, over which a series of small, sparkling motifs dance and circle one another. And that’s kind of what Eno and Shields’ individual influences do: dance and circle around one another without one overpowering or impairing the other’s abilities. It’s not always possible for two icons to collaborate and make something that doesn’t disappoint, and “Only Once Away My Son” is nine minutes of evidence that sometimes it’s worth giving it a shot. –Gabriela