The leaves starts to fall. A slight chill fills the misty air. Pumpkin spice invades everything.
It’s almost spooky season … but how can one get into that frightful mood? One possibility: A new compilation album, It Came From the Desert, featuring Halloween songs by local musicians.
“I’m always looking for ways to showcase local artists,” said Matt King, the mastermind behind It Came From the Desert (and, as you probably know, a writer for the Independent). “My friend Derek Timmons had put together a local Christmas album, and I thought doing the same with a Halloween-themed album was a great way to promote other local artists.”
With encouragement from Timmons, King began contacting local groups in hopes of featuring them on the album. Taking inspiration from the Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs From the Deaf, the album is structured like an old-time radio broadcast. It’s just a normal day at a radio station on the Salton Sea for DJ Timmons—until creatures begin to emerge from the murky waters. By the end of the broadcast, Timmons must save himself from an attacking fish monster—which, it just so happens, is featured on the album’s cover art, by Fever Dog’s Danny Graham (whose music also appears on the album).
King’s other inspiration for It Came From the Desert was the havoc wreaked on the local music scene due to COVID-19. So many bands disbanded during the pandemic, and King wanted to give those that survived an opportunity for exposure. King said he reached out to about 30 bands, and 13 participated—including King’s own Matt and the Kings, and his new project, Salton City Surf Club. While a few bands submitted established works, most of the album consists of original pieces.
“It was such a cool thing to have these bands want to create something new for this album,” King said. “There are so many great tracks on here. I’m just really excited it came together.”
It Came From the Desert will be released on various streaming platforms on Saturday, Oct. 1. A limited number of CDs will available at the album’s two release events. The Sieve and the Saddle, Blue Sun and Empty Seat will perform at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23, at the Coachella Valley Brewing Co.; and Analog Lab, Labia Minora, Matt and the Kings and Holy Corrupt will plat at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 25, at Coachella Bar. After the shows, any CDs that remain will be available via participating bands.
Labia Minora contributed the track “Something Wicked” to the album. It was actually the first track the new band—featuring Karla Anderson, Travis Rockwell and Crystal Hernandez—ever recorded.
“I had been working on a song to process the Uvalde shooting and the Roe vs. Wade decision,” said Anderson, Labia Minora’s frontwoman. “I had some lyrics, but I was stuck. As soon as Matt said, ‘Halloween album,’ everything just came pouring out.”
Even though “Something Wicked” wound up becoming a Halloween song, it has a deeper meaning to Anderson.
“How someone interprets ‘Something Wicked’ is a personal experience. I want the meaning to be specific to the person listening to the song,” Anderson said.
Anderson said she hopes It Came From the Desert makes people more aware of local artists.
“There is a lot of talent in this valley; there really is,” Anderson said. “Every weekend, I go and see a local band. Palm Springs and the valley have really just become another suburb of Los Angeles, and we deserve the recognition.”
It Came From the Desert is a passion project for King, who is only 20 and works three part-time jobs while being a full-time student and playing in three bands.
“It is just so much fun playing music. It’s how I love to spend my time, and it’s a great way for me to de-stress,” King said. “I just want to thank all the bands that are a part of It Came From the Desert, and I hope a lot of people decide to come out to the release shows and show support.”
If sales go well, King is already thinking of a follow-up. In fact, he said he already has artwork and bands in mind.
“Hopefully, the success of this album will encourage more local bands to want to be involved with a second one,” said King.
Kevin Mann is the Independent’s editorial intern; his internship is funded by the Coachella Valley Journalism Foundation. Kevin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.