Back to Music

Low, orange skies

Running through dark alleys with Grave Babies

Walking down the dark alleys of Grave Babies. Photo credit: Eleanor Petry

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

There's an art to creating music mixes for Halloween. First off, if you're going to include "Monster Mash," then you need to be able to back it up. Either commit to the idea of novelty songs soundtracking your Halloween season, or surround Bobby "Boris" Pickett's with truly terrifying fair. From era to era, different people will have different ideas of what constitutes horrifying pop music. My dad was fond of including It's a Beautiful Day's absolutely chilling "Girl With No Eyes" on his playlists - even though, as a frightened young me would tell you, he had no compunction about playing it for me the rest of the year.

My dad never waded into the depths of goth and post-punk, so he had no need for those spooky sounds to be playing as trick-or-treaters came up to the house. Moon puns and existential nightmares like "Girl With No Eyes" were good enough for him. Little did he know that, while he was raising my brother and I in the ‘80s, there was a chilling underground shaping young, mascaraed minds in the UK and the U.S. Post-punk and goth began intermingling and forming sullen coalitions with the likes of the Cure and Bauhaus. Halloween was essentially being given its own section of the record stores, which became exclusive clubs for the sort of artists and recluses who would then go on to inspire generations of gloomy folks who would never think of dressing up as a sexy cat.

Grave Babies are just one in a litany of bands that has adopted this sound and pushed it back onto the forefront of indie rock. The ‘80s laid the groundwork, the ‘90s solidified a concept, and the ‘00s reinvigorated the cassette culture that would lend texture and availability to a new crop of goths and post-punk devotees. Grave Babies have done their part to take this momentum and push it forward. For nostalgists, there is a boneyard of influences to comb through, but the vigor and energy that Grave Babies bring to the table reinvigorates a genre that can easily slip into navel-gazing and laziness.

On Grave Babies' latest album, Holographic Violence, they are recording in a proper studio for the first time, lending a sheen that was missing from their previous outings. Still, with the relative professionalism that has been brought to their sound, Grave Babies maintain a frightening rawness that matches their earlier efforts for muscle and impact. Low skies, tinted with orange from the light pollution of a city, have always hung over the music of Grave Babies, and a better fidelity only paints this in a higher relief.

I've written before about how listening to certain bands reminds one of taking a long drive in a car, or about how some bands seem to evoke a bar fight, but Grave Babies bring to mind a totally different image - that of walking alone at night, headphones in ears, as you cut through a dark alley to save time. A sense of impending danger permeates all that Grave Babies make, even if nothing were to ever come of it. A dark alley is a warning, an implicit nod to the unpredictability of the nighttime. The music of Grave Babies can easily act as the soundtrack to your moody night at home, or as the last sounds you hear as someone emerges from the shadows.

Halloween is coming soon, and it deserves music that can capture unease at a molecular level. "Girl With No Eyes" may have scarred me, but it's ultimately a fantasy. Grave Babies have hit upon a muscular piece of dread, and they're willing and able to milk it for all it's worth.

733, w/ Charms, Season of Strangers, Saturday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m., cover TBA, 733 Commerce St., Tacoma, 253.344.3104

Read next close


Sometimes a fantasy

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search