The Halloween Playlist

For starters, we have to get the classics out of the way: Marilyn Manson's cover of "This is Halloween," Michael Jackson's "Thriller," and maybe even the original Ghostbuster's theme.

But there are some great songs that are perfectly capable of complementing the Halloween classics--even if they weren't made with Halloween in mind. Let's get started...

1. The Used - "Blood On My Hands"
So, the Used are getting a little weird. And by weird, I mean dark. And by dark, I mean creepy. And what's more Halloween than a creepy song about murdering people? Check out the video for "Blood On My Hands" below.

2. The Fashion - "Dead Boys"
In "Dead Boys," this indie-pop band sings about how they're "coming out tonight" and how they used to be "sleeping in the ground." Sounds to me like these are some ZOMBIE dead boys. Take a listen below:

3. Saves the Day - "As Your Ghost Takes Flight"
First, ghosts are scary as hell. But if that wasn't enough, Saves the Day singer Chris Conley sings, "I drink your blood and feel it dripping down my throat as it heads for my heart." Thanks Conley, you're a creep.

4. The Smashing Pumpkins - "The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning"
Ready for the best association of all time? Ok, so this rarely heard Smashing Pumpkins song was featured in the trailer for The Watchmen and NOTHING is scarier than Dr. Manhattan's giant blue penis. Nothing.

5. The Veils - "Vicious Traditions"
Another movie association. This song came in at the end of the movie Mr. Brooks, just as (spoiler alert!) Kevin Costner got his throat slit and the credits started rolling. It starts of slow with Finn Andrews crooning drowned in heavy reverb. As the drums add in over what was first only a bass and some low guitar, and the lead guitar trickles through, the song climaxes a few minutes in with Andrews belting, "Fight your way out of this one! Fight your way out of this one!" It's like being trapped in a never ending version of Goosebumps with Kevin Costner hunting you down with his gun.

6. Armor For Sleep - "Basement Ghost Singing"
The original idea behind Halloween is Dia De La Muerte, the Day of the Dead. And Armor For Sleep's second album, What To Do When You're Dead, is a guide for being dead. So really, What To Do is a guide to Halloween.

7. Band of Horses - "Is There A Ghost?"
Well, is there? If you consider a bed sheet with holes in it a ghost, then yes.

8. Bat For Lashes - "What's A Girl To Do?"
As I said on the show last night, this is probably one of the creepiest songs I've ever heard. And the video isn't much better. Check it out here (Embedding is disabled).

"Their First Album Was So Much Better"

Everybody loved Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends, but when they lost two band members and released Where You Want to Be, their fand base was troubled. Message boards were slammed with skepticism about the band's future--even before the record was released. Now, two albums later, the band is still going strong with an avid fan base. However, many people still believe that Tell All Your Friends is the best Taking Back Sunday record of all time.

Taking Back Sunday stands as one example of a band that had it made when they got started, but lost their momentum as their career started up. With that, we introduce this week's theme: "Their First Album Was So Much Better."

So tune in tonight at 6 p.m. (EST) on to follow along as we run through some other bands that started great and then lost it.

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Allison Francis

She stands idle and alone at the center of a black stage with an acoustic Fender six-string around her neck. The flashiest apparel she wears is her pair of red and white Nike kicks that walk life into the rest of her otherwise plain outfit: a white T-shirt and jeans. Her physical appearance is unassuming and pure. The look on her face is half mystified and half terrified as she looks out at a sea of people crowding the basement of BU Central. And then she sings, and the depth within Allison Francis is released.

Her voice is rough—like a smoker who has lit enough cigarettes to make her voice warm and scratchy, but not enough to warrant a laryngectomy. She remains humble when the first song ends, saying thank you between sips of her water bottle before quickly launching into the next folk tune.
It is this simple and grateful attitude that sets her apart from an indie-alternative Boston music scene that spins around music snobbery and elitism. What Francis has that the rest are lacking? Authenticity.

Many artists these days spend their time trying to convince other people how ironic their lives are because of how misunderstood they are, says Conor Loughman, the founder of Base Trip Records who signed Francis in the summer of 2008. “There’s a hipster folk scene but I don’t think many of them actually like folk. They’re just trying to be cool,” he said.

The 21-year-old folk singer-songwriter will not admit to being better than the other musicians of her genre, because that would not be her style, and that would not fit her description here. “I think it’s so funny that people take themselves so seriously,” Francis said, and that is about all she has to say on the matter.

Loughman met Allison Francis in a dining hall while she was telling people about her music. While some artists would waste money and time coming up with fancy promotional artwork and designs, she was handing out pieces of paper torn from her notebook with her MySpace address written on them, Loughman said.

In some ways, though, Francis fits the mold perfectly. She presents an alternative image, but only as though it was an accident. She fantasizes about fronting a flashy indie band but worries that it would come across disingenuous. And after spending the entire summer collaborating with other songwriters and playing in parks in and around Boston, she said that she has found new confidence in more natural song writing. “It’s the only way I can really get high these days,” she said.

Despite a more sophisticated musical style and significant street cred among other musicians, Francis is not ashamed to say that she started playing guitar seven years ago because of an obsession with Avril Lavigne—someone to whom most people would not admit listening.

The paradox is thus: she is as much a part of the hipster, indie-folk-rock scene as horn-rimmed glasses and plaid t-shirts, but she sets herself apart from it with her down to earth perspective. The odd thing, Loughman said, is that she is secretly confident. “It’s this weird contrast where she doesn’t think she is better than anyone, but she still knows she is awesome,” he said.

Stephanie Barrak, another singer signed to Base Trip Records describes it as subdued determination. Francis is able to express and share her talent to other people without being overpowering. “Some people whore their music out, but she doesn’t do that,” Barrak said.

The simple fact is that Francis fits into the indie-music scene because that is where she has made friends and set up her life. She enjoys the niche of artists that has cropped up around Boston University, but wishes that there was more of an overlap between genres. “Most people here appreciate good home grown music,” she said, and that is enough to satisfy her.

It is clear, though, that Francis’ relationship with music is more than one of appreciation. “I think music can connect with people in their soul almost. It connects with emotions that they’re not necessarily even conscious of or in touch with,” she said.

Jennifer Brown, the music director at WTBU, Boston University’s student-run radio station, said that Francis offers more than the average indie musician and has the opportunity to fill a void in the music industry that is lacking a female folk musician like her. “She captures something real about the way human beings are,” she said. “She’s not afraid to show who she is in her lyrics and to put it all out there.”

Francis does not have much to say about all of this except that she has nothing to hide. “I do not usually try and disguise what I am saying in my songs.” She insists that music will always be a part of her life and if she is able to make a career out of it then that is just an added bonus. “I just want to make music that connects on a really personal level with people.”

Back at BU Central, the cluster of people who have gathered to see Francis play sit on the floor in total silence, taking in every word out of her mouth and every chord from her guitar. The room is comfortable, like a gathering of friends enjoying some honest music. “I liked that one,” someone comments between songs. Clearly, connecting with people is something that she can check off of her bucket list.

Allison Francis Live

Tomorrow on the Fleshy Fresh Allison Francis will be in the studio for a live performance and a chat. She has come to visit us before, and as always, it should be an exciting adventure. So you know what's in store, check out her myspace:

Tomorrow's show: 6-8 p.m. BUTV Channel 6

Jeremy Messersmith Video

New Tunes Tuesday - Monsters of Folk

If you've been listening to the Fleshy Fresh lately you've probably heard The Monsters of Folk. They are the musical collaboration between Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), M. Ward (of...himself), Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket) and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes/Saddle Creek Recording Producer/Genius behind the early Bright Eyes records). I wish I knew more about how this project got started. I'm more concerned with the music that comes out of it. It sounds a lot like the latest Conor Oberst album. Anyway, their record, Monsters of Folk, was just released. Listen to "Say Please" below. I think you'll enjoy, it's my favorite so far.

Kanye West...

In case you're wondering The Fleshy Fresh's official stance on Kanye West...I hate him.

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Show Re-Cap

Ben Folds
@ Lizard Lounge

Ben Folds
@ Symphony Hall

Jay Reatard
@ Harpers Ferry

Brandi Carlile
@ House of Blues

w. The Ting Tings
@ TD Banknorth

Michael Jackson Tribute Concert
@ BU Central

The Honorary Title
@ Harpers Ferry

Allison Francis
@ BU Central

Every Time I Die
w. The Architects, Bring Me the Horizon
@ House of Blues

Relient K
w. Barcelona, Copeland
@ Paradise Rock Club

Senses Fail
@ Harpers Ferry

The Bravery
@ House of Blues

Built To Spill
@ Middle East Downstairs