Before you buy one of those horrid Halloween compilation CDs featuring generic re-recorded hits, have you considered looking in your own library first? You really should. Outside of the classics — “Monster Mash” by Bobby Boris Pickett and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” — the best All Hallows' Eve party soundtrack is curated directly from your crypt.
Here’s some song suggestions, all of which can be streamed and or downloaded from your favorite digital service:
“Let’s Hang Together,” Twin Temple: One of the most “killer” acts to hit the Los Angeles underground in some time has a sound that’s both soulful, horn heavy and dark, with arrangements so groovy they’d make the late Anton LaVey blush. Don’t believe me? Go check out their music videos at YouTube to see what I mean. Bless yourselves and expect a live Bakersfield booking soon. Download at iTunes or twintemple.bandcamp.com.
“Grey Matter,” Oingo Boingo: There is no such thing as Halloween without the music of Oingo Boingo. Normally I’d include “Dead Man's Party,” but, for me, this track pulled from the band’s 1982’s classic “Nothing To Fear” is appropriate given our very scary and comedic political climate.
“I Put a Spell On You,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: Before Alice Cooper, blues howler Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was rolling out some of the best graveyard rhythm and blues of all time. Rising from his onstage coffin during live shows, his amazing catalog of music is underrated. Covered by everyone from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Diamanda Galas, there’s no beating the 1956 original.
“Lon Chaney,” Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra: A killer big band update of the original 1965 single by Sir Lord Comic and The Skatalites, this version also features an appearance by Hepcat vocalist Alex Desert. If Frankenstein and the Wolfman went dancing in the dance halls of Jamaica, this is what they’d be skanking too. Check out the accompanying music video on YouTube.
“Matador,” Los Fabulosos Cadillacs: When the Latin alternative music craze of the late '90s finally reached America, Argentina’s heroes of the genre had already created a stir around the globe with this monster hit. Detailing the hunting down of a revolutionary amid a country in chaos, the mix of infectious Brazilian drums, horns and violently memorable lyrics make it one the musical sub-genres most referenced hits.
“Ghost Town,” The Specials: Released as a swan song by the iconic British Two Tone ska act, the storyline of this 1981 classic follows the demise of the group’s once, happy-go-lucky music and social scene. Violence has overtaken shows, the streets are empty, and "… bands won’t play no more." Despite the topic, everybody does the obligatory ghost dance when this hits the speakers.
Trick or treat!
In the studio with The Soul Chance
Jamaica’s golden era is alive and skanking in Bakersfield with the addition of The Soul Chance to local sound systems.
An all-star studio group featuring carefully handpicked musicians well-versed in vintage sounds and aesthetics from the '60s and '70s, The Soul Chance's brief presence locally has already reverberated far beyond Kern County following the debut of the its first grouping of five singles posted online.
Carefully crafted with an almost obsessive attention to detail, the opening rim shot of drummer Chris Borbon on “Give Love a Try” acts as a call to gently sway along the soulful vocals of Nico Collins.
Group rhythm guitarist and studio engineer AJ (just AJ) says finding the perfect musical blend requires patience.
“There's a particular sound, from a certain era, that I just can't escape. I've been recording off and on for years with limited numbers of people, but have finally found a full group of people that can recreate that particular sound. This is when The Soul Chance came to be. The name was created by both myself and Nico.”
The influences in Collins voice can be heard straddling from both the island as well as stateside.
“Although (vocalists) Pat Kelly and Phyllis Dillon are major influences in this particular genre, I can't forget to mention other greats like Whitney Houston and Sharon Jones whose vocal stylings creep in my head every now and then when I sing,” she said.
Those familiar with AJ’s previous work with his former group The Soulsteppers, along with The Capsouls, will find The Soul Chance as an extension of those two projects and then some.
“Collectively, we each have written music and/or songs outside of The Soul Chance and have a decent basis of knowledge for the process. This is great because that means the burden of songwriting isn't given to just one person — we collaborate and all have a part in creating our sound,” said Collins.
For AJ, who oversees the majority of the studio processes, a no stress, no frills attitude suits the group.
“It usually takes about a week to complete a recording, but it can take longer depending on the availability of the members. To date, five songs have been written for this musical project, with more in the works.”
Joined by musicians Biddhu (lead guitar and bass), trombonist Omar M., Raphi Scorcher on keys, drummer Evan Ware and Kris Tiner on trumpet, AJ plans to continue expanding the working nature of the project to include a revolving door of musicians in the studio.
According to AJ, the feedback on the group’s initial releases has fueled some serious interest.
“We're receiving very positive responses from people all over the globe. Our songs have been featured on radio stations here in the States, The Reggae Connection KXLU 88.7 FM and Rub-a-Dub Radio WWSP 90 FM, along with Top Five Club on Le Mellotron, a radio broadcast in Paris, France.”
While no plans for a live performance are in the works just yet, AJ says is eager to finish up for music for launch, including a 7-inch vinyl.
“Currently, The Soul Chance is solely a studio project. We have plans for a 45 release by the end of the year, followed by a few more single releases in the beginning of the new year. We're working with a few independent record labels whose names are to be announced. We all are excited about this project and can't wait to share the finished product with everyone.”
“The Soul Chance is a collaborative effort, and we all value each other's input when it comes to decisions for the progression of our music,” said Collins.
I can dig that.
Adam Carolla at Temblor
Temblor Brewing Co. has rolled out quite the comedy lineup this fall, which kicks off with the live recording of "The Adam Carolla Show" podcast on Friday. His guest will be fellow comedian Jay Mohr.
The event was originally scheduled for Thursday, so those who can't make the the show at 8 p.m. can receive a refund. Tickets are $37.92, which includes service charge. Temblor Brewing is located at 3200 Buck Owens Blvd. For more information call 489-4855 or visit temblorbrewing.com.
Strangelove: The Depeche Mode Experience, 8 p.m. Friday, B Ryder’s, 7401 White Lane. $17. 397-7304.
Missed out on Depeche Mode's recent string of Hollywood Bowl shows? Then make plans to catch this amazing tribute to the band. Expect all the hits, all the memories and, of course, all the dancing you can handle. Also performing is Central California synth/pop duo Personal Computer.
Disco Sundae, 9 p.m. Friday, Sandrini’s, 1918 Eye St. $5. 322-8900.
Wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts. If there’s one thing Bakersfield loves, it’s dueling pianos and tribute acts. Newcomer Disco Sundae — featuring fellow Californian music columnist Cesareo Garasa on drums — promises to "play the hits you love and make you love the songs you hate," from the era of polyester, platforms and Studio 54-style shenanigans. Also spinning at the breaks is DJ Josex.
Halloween Fiesta with Ozomatli, 5 p.m. Saturday, Spectrum Amphitheatre, 11200 Stockdale Highway. $15-$75 plus service charge; tickets at axs.com.
Named after the Aztec god of dance, these Los Angeles Latin funk maestros continue to spread their infectious message of unity and ritmos with the same fierceness they’ve always had. The group’s latest album, “Non-Stop: Mexico To Jamaica,” features a collection of reimagined Latin classics by Selena, Los Tigres del Norte and more done in a Jamaican style. Also appearing is Bakersfield’s very own Velorio, who just released its long-awaited new single “Tus Labios,” produced by Ozomatli bassist Wil-Dog Abers. Highly recommended.