Growing up and still to this day, Halloween is my favourite time of the year. I equate my fondness for the day with a collection of my most vivid and immediate memories that happened on or around celebrating Halloween. For example, there was a particular supermarket (now, under new ownership) that instantly reminds me of the spooky season. When I was a lot younger, maybe eight or nine, I would go to this specific supermarket with my mom, to do a haul of curly kale to put through mash potatoes for dinner, apples to bob, chocolate to eat until you shook with the sugar intake and brack for the novelty of winning a pound or a ring that would be too big. Any trip to that supermarket thereafter became associated with autumn and feeling excited to get into costume.
Standout memories of celebrating the scariest night of the year include helping a lost little Boo Peep find her friends, kissing a Shepard holding a toy sheep and stopping myself from arguing with a misinformed James Joyce. This year, I carved a pumpkin a little too early in the month and now it and its pumpkin pals have tragically moulded. Hmm, The Mouldy Pumpkins, that sounds like a terrible tribute band that perform a mixture of The Mouldy Peaches and The Smashing Pumpkins. I think we might be on to something. The boundless and increasingly abstract way our creativity goes with Halloween is rubbing off on my way of coming up with impossible scenarios. I also went to the cinema to watch Francis Ford Coppola’s depiction of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, for the first time, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie, even with Keanu Reeves’ horrific acting and British accent. It’s safe to say that this year’s weekend of frightening festivities will be remembered fondly.
The Shins – ‘Dead Alive’ (Columbia)
Nine years ago The Shins released Wincing The Night Away, an album that featured in everyone’s cd collection and list of cool bands that they just looooove. After a taking a brief hiatus induced by the pressures of such attention, The Shins have returned with ‘Dead Alive’, a strong single which has been given the Halloween treatment with a really enjoyable music video. A sleepy James Mercer is none the wiser when a very large hand takes his television for a brief cruise around the local town. If ever there was a video to get you in the mood to watch a load of lo-fi horror movies it’s this one.
Lost Animal – ‘It’s Too Late To Die Young’
Hanging out with kids at a party and eating cake and then soaking in a bath is how Jerrod Quarrell contemplates the awakening that it it too late to die young. While one might feel that they have achieved something by surviving the age of twenty-seven (especially when they are in the music industry) it would seem that Quarell is slightly wistful. Lost Animal is comprised of Quarrell and Shags Chamberlain whom also collaborates and plays with Ariel Pink, so that kind of laissez-faire attitude to making music with really great results is the sound and style to expect from this duo. I’m sure the Melbourne musician is happy with ‘It’s Too Late To Die Young’, much like the frontman’s persona the song could be accused of being a little nonchalant and mundane but there’s a really nice kick in halfway through.
Blood Orange – ‘I Know’ (Domino)
The muscle definition on Dev Hynes’ dance companion in the video for ‘I Know’, is just mesmerising. It also shouldn’t technically be the main focus of the latest to develop the aesthetic accompaniment to the stories of Blood Orange’s latest album, Freetown Sound but when you see the dancer’s leg extension I highly doubt your jaw won’t drop in shock. ‘Augustine’ was a really promising introduction to the very 80s influenced album however I found it easy to grow tired with the sameness of some of the songs and therefore, I stepped away from Hynes’ third record as Blood Orange. ‘I Know’ brought me back to the seventeen songs of social injustices, defining one’s identity and love. It’s a fine song and a good video.
Wilco – ‘Someone To Lose’ (Anti)
Schmilco is, in increments, one of my favourite albums of this year. It’s an unassuming record composed of twelve wistful songs about adolescence and the process and preparation of losing love, but in a way in which they don’t take themselves too seriously. So carefree are Wilco, now in their twenty-second year as a band, they enlisted Joseph Baughman to direct a wonderful claymation video featuring a griffin, a cupcake, a wedding cake and wormy characters. It’s colourful and fun and makes you think how hard Baughman and his team must have worked on making the video as it’s incredibly detailed and developed and as we know from watching behind the scenes programs about Wallace and Gromit, claymation takes a long time. Fair play, Wilco and Joseph Baughman.
Hazel English – ‘Make It Better’ (Marathon Artists)
This video is a reminder of how visually sumptuous and energetic the golden era of cinema was when the studios were in control. This three minute video collage is comprised of famous dance scenes from movies from the 1950s such as Singin’ in the Rain, and Funny Face. If you’re growing tired of your trustee signature dance move then you should watch this video for inspiration. As with Blood Orange’s video, I’m always so surprised by how nimble and expressive bodies can be without saying a word. ‘Make It Better’, is the second single from Hazel English, an Australian-born-Californian-based singer-songwriter with an penchant for the sounds of the past combined with timeless lyrics of crushes and general wading through your twenties.