Three non-Halloween (but spooky) albums to stream this weekend

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

Spooky season is upon us again, and while many of us may not be tricking or treating due to the pandemic, it doesn’t mean that we can’t get into the spirit with some albums perfectly fit for Halloween listening.

From the October neo-soul classics to some experimental hip-hop straight out of a horror flick and everything in-between, we’ve curated three more non-Halloween albums that are sure to set the mood for your 31st.

So throw on your masks, both costume-oriented and otherwise, and enjoy these three albums essential for Halloween listening.

Dorian Electra – “My Agenda” (2020)

With several admirable collaborations under their belt, including a feature on Charli XCX’s “Pop 2” and several collabs with both members of 100 gecs, pop sensation Dorian Electra has made quite the name for themselves in the eccentric world of PC music.

Their debut album, “Flamboyant,” was not only a cunning narrative on gender politics, but an unapologetic bubblegum-bass rollercoaster; a non-stop alternation between buoyant, colorful ballads such as “Career Boy,” and jagged glitch-pop cuts like “fReAkY 4 Life.”

Their new project, however, reveals a darker side of Electra’s sonic talent. “My Agenda” is a concept album that underscores the culture of the incel and “edgelord” community (one of the tracks, featuring Rebecca Black, aptly titled “Edgelord”). And while Electra explores these communities through first-person facetiousness and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, it’s clear that “My Agenda” has a far gloomier tone than anything in their discography in terms of sound.

Upon delving into the album, listeners are presented with “F the World,” a raucous track that starts off with a sinister synth progression, setting the tone for the remainder of a very hardcore album. After Electra breaks into a forwardly spiteful chorus, the song bursts into a drum-heavy breakdown that is only amplified by a feature from Cali-rock band The Garden, who perform a full-out screamo section over Electra’s unmistakable production.

“F the World” then seamlessly flows into the next track, “My Agenda,” which features a perfectly eccentric collaboration of late 70’s superstars the Village People and Moscow-based pop group Pussy Riot. The song, while poking fun at the idea of an “agenda” pushed by the LGBT+ community, is sung over an orchestra of heavy-metal guitar strums and reverberating drum patterns, making for a certainly frightening stand-out in the album’s tracklist.

Similarly tumultuous on this record is “Ram It Down,” which meshes Electra’s screamo vocals and electric guitar production with a vicious EDM-esque bridge. While “My Agenda” is admirable for its quaint narrative on discriminatory internet culture, the album’s production is brilliantly dark, and makes for a perfectly-fit Halloweekend album.

Spooky Highlights: “F the World” featuring The Garden, Quay Dash & dollywood1, “My Agenda” featuring Village People & Pussy Riot, “M’lady,” “Edgelord” featuring Rebecca Black, “Ram It Down” featuring Mood Killer, Lil Mariko & Lil Texas.

clipping. – “There Existed an Addiction to Blood” (2019)

One of the most groundbreaking and intuitive groups in modern-day music is none other than LA-based experimental hip-hop trio, clipping. Following their hiatus from performing as a group, and their newly-adopted pattern of dropping projects on the week of Halloween, we would be remiss to not acknowledge their long-awaited 2019 release, “There Existed an Addiction to Blood.”

This project brings the rap group back together in such a fashion that it seems like there was no time taken apart from each other at all. While clipping. is known for releasing conceptually constructed projects, and are no strangers to inducing fear within their lyrics, this album is drastically different from the rest.

Containing extensively gruesome lyrics and in-depth descriptions of morbid scenarios, “There Existed an Addiction to Blood” is arguably horror-core, so much to the point that it even samples real-life vintage haunting tapes as its interludes.

Songs like “Nothing is Safe” feels like something straight out of a John Carpenter movie, as frontman Daveed Diggs raps over cold, lonesome piano keys before breaking into a synth-driven chorus that consumes the listener with noise.

On the other hand, the track “Club Down” is a more industrial cut, complete with a bell-tower-esque sample and Diggs telling a straight-up horror story throughout his lyrics.

The song “He Dead,” featuring Ed Balloon, perhaps most adequately captures the eeriness and bluntness of the album, as Balloon sings a verse centralized on police corruption over an ambiance-driven, droning beat, truly capturing the listener through his vocal performance and lyricism.

With “There Existed an Addiction to Blood” consisting of grim lyrics, ghastly production, and bloodthirsty energy from each member of the trio, it’s no surprise that it lands a spot on our list.

Spooky Highlights: “Nothing is Safe,” “He Dead” featuring Ed Balloon, “La Mala Ordina (with the Rita)” featuring Elcamino & Benny the Butcher, “Club Down” featuring Sarah Bernat, “Blood of the Fang.”

Amy Winehouse – “Back to Black” (2006)

While pop legend Amy Winehouse is not the first thing that pops into peoples’ minds when pondering Halloween-esque albums, it’s undeniable that no one has managed to capture the hauntingly soulful sound that she has.

When paired with the gorgeously jazzy, 60’s soul production on her 2006 release “Back to Black,” Winehouse impeccably sets the scene of a crisp October evening, complete with crunchy leaves, hot cider and all.

Take the notorious intro track, “Rehab,” for example. On the surface, the track is a heart-wrenching ballad in which Winehouse wails adamancy against drug and alcohol rehabilitation. However, if the listener is able to separate the song’s production from its lyrical content, the juxtaposition of these lyrics to the glorious horns beneath Winehouse’s belting voice makes for a very apt fall tune.

The song “You Know I’m No Good” is delivered in a similar fashion; while Winehouse introspectively explores her remorseful wrongdoings in the game of love, her vocals are met with swinging, swaying horn sections and smooth drum-and-bass that sound like something straight off an Addams Family soundtrack.

The title track’s outro is another stand-out moment from this record, as the track collapses into a slow, sultry repetition of Winehouse singing the word “black;” it’s only one of the album’s many sequences that are scarily beautiful.

Even the slower, more melancholy tracks on this thing, like “Love Is a Losing Game,” hold some kind of fall vibe to them; the track sounds as if it’s meant to be played on a grainy record player, accompanied by the warmth of a crackling fireplace, snow flurries gently draping the windowsills.

Conceptually, “Back to Black” is a heartbreaking tale of the singer’s untimely death, featuring both introspection and admission on Winehouse’s part of her self-destructive and self-sabotaging ways. Sonically, however, the album is brilliantly upbeat, is so masked by its crisp production that it forces a second listen-through for the listener to truly understand Winehouse’s peril, making the record terribly bittersweet.

While her career did unfortunately have a tragic ending, “Back to Black” features the singer turning a new leaf towards self-recognition, similar to how the leaves turn their colors in autumn.

Spooky Highlights: “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good,” “Back to Black,” “Love Is a Losing Game,” “Tears Dry On Their Own.”