Halloween Review – Bloody Jug Band’s “How to Train a Spooky Horse”

When looking for the right artist or band to soundtrack your Halloween, it’s hard to go wrong with this outfit out of Orlando, Florida. There’s all the blood, guts, horror, monsters, death, and despair to make it perfect for the hour of witching. But instead of relying on spooky sound effects and other clichés, this band puts together songs that are so wickedly infectious, they’ll have you throwing up devil horns all year long.

Forget Halloween or dark-sounding music for a second. The Bloody Jug Band releases some of the most entertaining songs you can find no matter the style, genre, or occasion. If this was the 1980s and college radio was still all the rage, they might be as big as the B-52s. As it is, they’re a super underground cult band with all the coolness and character of a horror comic that is limited to 200 autographed copies.

Their latest album How To Train a Spooky Horse slides right into the Bloody Jug Band’s killer catalog of albums and songs. They’ve never been a “country” band per se as much an amalgam of Gothic roots with a rock and roll heart. This album leans even more into the rock realm aside from the ever-present washboard and occasional mandolin and harmonica. But don’t get yourself tied in knots trying to assign a genre to them. They’re The Bloody Jug Band. That’s all you need to know.

The Bloody Jug Band are masters of character creation. “Willie McCoy” is a pool shark who in 2 1/2 minutes comes alive in your mind’s eye like Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.” “The Hound” puts you right into the skin of a Werewolf as he reconciles with his own sins and internal struggles in a way that makes you feel outright sentimental and sympathetic to his plight by the end.

Sometimes the premise is completely absurd, but you’re still on board. What is the relation between a rock-slinging street dealer in a track suit and the Loch Ness Monster? I’m not exactly sure, but “Jimmy The Loch” might be the funnest song of the nine-song set. Frontman and songwriter Cragmire Peace is so slick at composing insanely satisfying melodies, and the rest of the Bloody Jug Band turns them into these outright anthemic moments that have you singing along.

Rest assured though, The Bloody Jug Band is right peculiar, speaking about dark predilections that make you squirm like the best horror/Gothic/Halloween music is supposed to. It just happens to be that after all the trick-or-treaters have gone home, the animatronic spider is out of the front year and back in the attic, and you’ve stolen the last fun-sized Snickers out of your kid’s candy haul, you’ll still find yourself humming these tunes and re-racking How To Train a Spooky Horse to hear it again.

You can count on the whole catalog from The Bloody Jug Band when looking for what to listen to during the Halloween season. Their 2012 album Coffin Up Blood was so good, it got nominated for Saving Country Music’s 2012 Album of the Year. They do good cover songs too, like “Come On Up To The House” from Tom Waits that made it onto the new album.

It’s probably not for everyone. But those Baptized in the blood of The Bloody Jug Band swear by them, and there’s few if any places better to turn to for original music for Halloween.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)

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Other Select Original Halloween Albums & Songs for 2023:

Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks – Longing For Oblivion
Mike Kuster – Mountain Monsters of Maryland
Lincoln Durham – Resurrection Thorn
Amigo The Devil – “Cannibal Within”
Mamma Coal – “Ghost Town Get Down”

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