Add a local twist to your Halloween playlist.
Music -- as we note every year about this time -- is an essential component to any Halloween Party. And sure, there's plenty to choose from, even without resorting to "The Monster Mash.'' But why not take an opportunity to support local music by throwing some artists with ties to the region into the mix? It's a win-win: You get some great tunes to play, and your guests get exposed to some great music they might not have previously known. Here are a few devilish suggestions:
*The Evil Streaks: Rife with ouijia boards, serial killers and what may be vengeful spirits, both of this band's albums -- "Talk To the Dead'' and "Go Go to Hell'' -- are excellent fodder for a Halloween party. Songs such as "Little Witch Stomp,'' "Stay With Me,'' "What Does Franny Know'' and "All Good Things'' are excellent garage punk with a delicious wicked streak, and a holiday-appropriate glee in the macabre and spooky. And if you want to see them for yourself to be sure, you can catch them Oct. 25 at Ralph's Chadwick Square Diner.
*The Deadites: From outrageously funny in a macabre sort of way, to eerie, atmospheric and beautifully gothic, this costumed electropop outfit adds a vibe to any playlist that's both spooky and danceable.
*Teeel: OK, this band is from Brooklyn, but it's playing with the aforementioned Deadites Oct. 26 at The Lucky Dog Music Hall, and as one local musician told us, their music is "very influenced by horror music and '80s culture,'' which are both pretty scary! There's a nice ominous gloom to the band's brand of electronic, and you can hear some strands of the darker new wave stuff in the music's DNA:
*Aslan King: If you need to turn things up a notch with a song that's both loud and a little goofy, "Punk Rock Zombie'' by Aslan King -- who is performing Oct. 25 at the Raven Music Hall -- is a great choice, with its old school punk feel, in the vein of the Ramones. Also? Zombies. Zombies are still cool.
*James Keyes: OK, as good a musician as James Keyes is, he might not scream "Halloween'' to anyone. But some of his songs, such as "Old Rider,'' off "Devil Take the Hindmost,'' have a great, sinister undertow that's perfect to break up a mix and slow things down for a moment.
*Samantha Milowsky: While this Southboro-based singer-songwriter has a gothy streak in her, we wouldn't normally categorize her music that way. Her voice is too sweet and pretty for that moniker, and her music too indie-rock ethereal. But we've not yet decided if her recent song, "Idol,'' is utterly sincere and sweet or a little stalkerish and creepy. And we've listened to it over and over again trying to decide, and still really like the song. So that's got to count for something, right?
*The River Neva: Halloween seems a natural season for a lot of metal and hard-core bands, doesn't it? There's something about that brand of music that makes musicians want to reach into the darkness for material. And with songs such as "Corpse in Blistered Feet'' and "Knight of the Long Knives,'' The River Neva -- which is performing Oct. 29 at the Lucky Dog Music Hall -- adds a sense of menace to any mix. What's even better, this band's work, with its surprisingly melodic components plays well with other genres you might have on your playlist, which isn't always a guarantee with the harder stuff.
*Scott Ricciuti & Pistol Whipped: The late Scott Ricciuti left behind a treasure trove of fantastic music, but there's something particularly haunting about his song "Like the Red Haunts the Wine,'' with its sense of absence and its poetic, foreboding lyrics: "I'm not here/I'm somewhere else/if I seem I'm not myself/I occupy the same space in time/like the red haunts the wine.'' Sad and beautiful.
*Speaker For the Dead: With a name like that, you'd think this "clusterfolk'' band would be a little scarier, but on the whole it's an upbeat and positive group. But we'd be terribly remiss to not end this list with Speaker's "If You're Dead Please Raise Your Hand'': "if you're dead please raise your hand/ we'll tell you what to do/ and if you lived in Worcester please be sure/ someone's singing, somewhere for you/ and if massachusetts is a coffin/ then Worcester has the perfect funeral for you.''
And that should be enough to get you started. Happy Halloween!