Monday, October 28, 2013

Spooky Music for Halloween & the Day of the Dead (Updated for 2015)

It's that time of year for scary, spooky music. And whether you want such tunes for a party, your workplace, or just to listen to at home, we're got some options below—and you can listen to some of them free online.

Scary classical music for Halloween- album cover
One of the inexpensive Halloween albums on sale at

Pandora has a few Halloween-themed stations this year. I've been listening to the Spooky Symphonies Playlist, which includes scary or creepy classical pieces like "Night on Bald Mountain" and Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt suite. Pandora also has Halloween Party, which lets you rock out to familiar Halloween pop tunes like "Monster Mash."

If you've got young people around, the Family Halloween Playlist might be more appropriate, with its holiday-themed songs designed not to strike fear into the hearts of children.

Interested in buying and keeping some ghoulish music? has a number of albums for the occasion. For example, there are two "Halloween Haunted House" collections for just three dollars each. One features 250 songs and sound effects for spooking your friends and other guests, while the other offers a continuous music playlist.

And there are soundtracks to movies including "Rosemary's Baby" and "Halloween II." 

Similar to Pandora's "Spooky Symphonies" playlist is Amazon's "99 Must-Have Halloween Classics" for $5.49, and "Scary Classical Music for Halloween" for $5.99 $7.99. They include familiar pieces such as the theme from "The Exorcist," "Ride of the Valkyries," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," and several selections from "The Rite of Spring." (Note: both the Pandora and Amazon collections contain songs that aren't really spooky per se, but sound dramatic, or were used in a dramatic movement of a movie (such as tunes from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Harry Potter" films.)

If you want to observe Day of the Dead, check out my post from a couple of years back, "Spooky Spanish Tunes for Day of the Dead," which features videos from NPR Music's Alt.Latino program, and a list of the songs used in a seasonal episode of the defunct music podcast Ritmo Latino.

Update, Nov. 2015: Alt.Latino has put out a new Day of the Dead music mix this year, which it's calling the "horror movie mix-tape." See the tunes and listen to it here

Also new (new us) for 2015: Songwriter Andrew Gold (who penned such hits as "Thank You for Being a Friend" and "Lonely Boy") has a collection of Halloween songs for young people & adults called "Halloween Howls," which you can listen to on SoundCloud.

Happy scary listening!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2013 CMJ Music Marathon - Picks On What to See

UPDATE for 2014: See our write-up on the good stuff to see at CMJ 2014!

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Yes, we're a couple of days late here, but the almost-24-hours-a-day extravaganza known as the CMJ Music Marathon is once again upon us.

It's on, now! See CMJ recommendations & more below.

For all the music showcases, panels, and other events, see the official CMJ schedule. You can also find some recommendations here:
Among the acts playing tonight, Oct. 17th: Body Parts at Piano's Upstairs, Tift Merritt and Over the Rhine at the Highline Ballroom, The Head and the Heart at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Real Estate at Bowery Ballroom, and Diane Birch at Gramercy Theatre.

KEXP is once again doing live broadcasts from CMJ in the daytime (Friday is the last one), and the shows are free and open to all ages. And you can stream tracks from CMJ 2013 artists at CMJ Radio.  (Also, don't forget to check out the free download of the latest CMJ mixtape.)

The CMJ Music Marathon runs through Saturday, Oct. 19th (actually, into the wee hours of Sunday morning). Check the CMJ schedule and get out and enjoy the abundance of live music in town this week!

Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 CBGB Fest Is On Now: Picks on What to See

The second-annual CBGB Festival is underway at venues near and far from the original Lower East Side club, and music lovers will be able to continue their festival bingeing when the CMJ Music Marathon starts on Oct. 15th. Here are some places to find listings of the many events, with picks by music critics and other sources.

CBGB festival poster
The CBGB Festival is back, with shows throughout the city.

See the official 2013 CBGB Festival schedule to get the lay of the land for the showcases, panels, films, and more still to come. The Village Voice offers its picks for bands and speakers to see, and for music-only events, check out the Oh My Rockness guide to the CBGB Festival.

As with last year's CBGB Fest, there will be a free concert in Times Square with multiple stages, and it's taking place tomorrow from 10 a.m. till 7 p.m. The festival says there will be five stages and more than two dozen bands and performers. The South Stage will feature Lisa Loeb, The Wallflowers, a DJ set by James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem), and My Morning Jacket.

The North Stage will have "up and coming artists," the site says, as well as supergroupthe Divine Fits and Brooklyn indie favs Grizzly Bear. There will also be music on acoustic stages.

Last year's free Times Square show was fun (though eerily sparsely attended until the late afternoon), and featured performances by The Hold Steady and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, among others. 

Out in the clubs, tomorrow features highlights including Bell X1 at Bowery Ballroom and Meat Puppets at Brooklyn Bowl. On Sunday, the festival's final day, the schedule looks to be all films, except for one notable live music event: legendary rock and jazz drummer Ginger Baker at Iridium.