Halloween is this week! Here on 5 Songs we are giving you a 2 for 1. We are going to give you 5 songs that we really love this week so you can listen to them as you ramp up to Halloween this Friday, AND we are giving you a Halloween playlist so you can rock out in spooky style on Halloween proper. No tricks here, just treats.
Chance the Rapper and the Social Experiment – “No Better Blues”
Chance the Rapper is a positive guy. And his optimism has gotten him places. He released his album last year for free, and within a year his songs have nearly 8 million Youtube plays and he has headlined at major music festivals singing the line, “Everyday is wonderful.” So why release a song called “No Better Blues,” that’s basically is a checklist of everything he hates? Aside from saying that even stars can have days where they hate everything — which is valid — this song is a statement about pessimism. Chance flatly raps about hating everything. At first he takes aim at normal things that people complain about all the time. Jobs, friends, bars, and he just goes on hating everything. As he keeps complaining he sounds more and more absurd and his complaints begin to make him sound foolish.
This is musical satire. And as effective satire does, it shows the uselessness of its subject. He shows that pessimism serves no purpose. If you complain about everything, you’ll never like anything.
- Chance the Rapper has announced a new album! He says it will be called Surf, and it should be out by the end of the year. We do not know if “No Better Blues” will be on Surf.
- Listen if you like: High concept hip-hop, beautiful instrumentation, the SAVE MONEY crew.
Cayetana – “Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving”
Essential to any story's plot is a conflict that gives the story motion. Most songs don’t have a plot, let alone a solid conflict, in Cayetana’s new song there is both plot and conflict in the song title.
The song tells the story of a loud, messy, and emotional breakup. Guitars crash and cymbals clang as she sings, “The hardest part about moving out is that I remember moving in.” There is a cry in her voice. The last note in every verse comes out through exasperated lungs, as if the weight of this relationship is still on her chest.
- Cayeta’s new album, Nervous Like Me, is out now.
- Listen if you like: Camera Obscura’s “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken,” Alvvays’ “Archie, Marry Me.”
Field Report’s picks Blake Mills – “If I’m Unworthy”
Last week, on stage, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett declared Field Report Day in Milwaukee. Before this announcement, I took Field Report’s front man, Christopher Porterfield, aside. We had a conversation. I asked him for one song that he can’t stop listening to and he immediately declared ‘If I’m Unworthy” by Blake Mills. Hear Porterfield talk about Blake Mills in his intro to the song in the SoundCloud link below.
- Blake Mills’ album, Heigh Ho, is out now.
- Listen if you like: Ry Cooter, Field Report, American roots music.
Sleater-Kinney – “Bury Our Friends”
The guitar riff is an iconic tool in American music. In many ways the riff has shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll and guitar-based music for the past half century. But what is a riff? Technically, a riff is a brief, recognizable section of a song that is usually repeated on a guitar. When you hear the really good ones you kind of forget that they are not actually in the English language and you sing them out loud when you are signing the song. Some of my favorites:
- ”Girl is on my Mind” by the Black Keys
- “Dig, Lazarus Dig” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
- “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell and the Voidoids
- Anything by Chuck Berry
- “Black Moon Spell”by King Tuff
Today, I’m gonna put another on the list. The riff kicking off this Sleater-Kinney Song is amazing, and by the second time it comes in, after the first verse, I’m just singing along with it.
- Sleater-Kinney’s new album, No Cities To Love, will be released on January 20, 2015.
- Listen if you like: guitar riffs, Portlandia, riot grrrl stuff.
Bobby “Boris” Picket and the Crypt Kickers – “The Monster Mash”
Today is Halloween (at least if you're listening on the air). I think Halloween is the best holiday for music. It’s not sugar coated like Christmas. Halloween is dark, and weird, and mysterious. Just like some of my favorite music. For me, there is one song that completely captures Halloween — the original 1962 novelty hit, "The Monster Mash" by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers.
Picket’s voice is campy, but it is also charming in its depth. There are all these spooky Halloween sounds in it, beakers bubbling, door creaking, and a dubious overtone, but like Halloween itself, underneath the veil of darkness is lighthearted fun. Background singers sing their waaa ohhs, and ultimately, it is a song about monsters dancing with other monsters. So right now, let's pretend we are monsters, and do the monster mash together.
- Listen if you like: Halloween, campy fun, novelty songs
Bonus Halloween Playlist!