1. Forever Halloween – The Maine (2013)
This is by far the most accessible record on this list. The Maine, commonly known for their bubblegum pop stylings took a bit of a detour regarding lyrical content and overall mood on this record. Littered with tight arrangements and very catchy hooks, The Maine successfully evolved their songwriting in a way that allowed them to maintain their essence and interject just the right amount gloom.
Stand out tracks: F***ed Up Kids, Forever Halloween
“We aren’t models, we aren’t actors, we are those who sit up in the rafters. After all, that’s where you’ll find the action.”
– John O’Callaghan
2. Self-Titled – Dead Man’s Bones (2009)
Fronted by actor Ryan Gosling and friend Zach Shields, the two bonded over their love for classic horror films and created a rock band with a classic horror theme. Several of the songs feature the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir (started by Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers), which lends a spooky, ethereal sound to the arrangements. Gosling and Shields play all the instruments themselves, and the record is a perfect soundtrack for the Halloween season.
Stand out tracks: My Body’s a Zombie For You, In The room Where You Sleep
“Wherever you go, take a look at your feet and down six feet deep there’s dead men’s bones.”
– Ryan Gosling
3. Pagan Holiday – Harley Poe (2013)
Folk punk band, Harley Poe, is fronted by Joe Whiteford who delivers his love letter to all things Halloween, here. Whiteford directly refrences Pumpkinhead, Halloween, and even samples a sound from an old motion activated ghost decoration that would shake and light up (I hadn’t heard it since I was a kid). His signature voice coupled with these three movement punk epics celebrating this Pagan holiday is a must listen. This is also Harley Poe’s most accessible album in my opinion as Whiteford’s typical, lyrical black humor is absent.
Stand out tracks: Gorehoud, Vengeance The Demon
“I’m a gorehound, hell bound, horror movie lover.”
– Joe Whiteford
4. Self-titled – The Black Belles (2011)
This all female garage rock trio (formerly quartet) was discovered by Jack White and signed to his label, Third Man Records. Their lick heavy, simplistic delivery can be easily compared to The White Stripes but features a rockabilly influence.
Stand out tracks: Honky Tonk Horror, Breathing Down My Neck
“But in the end it was I who threw the dirt over him.”
– Shelby Lynne
5. Lullabies to Paralyze – Queens of the Stone Age (2005)
Fronted by the talented Josh Homme, this record has that dessert rock sound you come to expect from QOTSA. The lyrical content throughout the album is notably dark referencing witches, wolves, blood and the like. The chunky, layered guitar riffs are fantastic and make for perfect driving music. Homme’s turn of phrase and subtle syncopation elevate the record as well.
Stand out tracks: Tangled Up In Plaid, Broken Box
“I’ve got tomorrow. Shit… I’ve got today.”
– Josh Homme