Gothic, spooky-old, polka. You might not have known it even existed. Today, I am ashamed I didn’t know. Polka occasionally makes its way to our consciences around this time of year, mostly diluted by distractions at Oktoberfests, but Veronique Chevalier…aka the “Weird Val” of Dark Cabaret…is changing how we think of the accordion with her compilation, “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation.”
POLKA HAUNT US!!! The name alone is enough to kill me, and from the moment I listened to the first track – “The Beer Hall In Hell” – I couldn’t stop smiling. Honestly. Polka Haunt Us. Weird Val may have been gonged off the first season of America’s Got Talent, but all I know is, this is the stuff for me. And I’m not alone. “Polka Haunt Us” was an official selection for Best Polka in the 51st Grammy’s Ballot.
Veronique acted as Executive Producer and lyricist on the compilation, bringing together talent from the polka (and greater) sphere to perform on each track. Really, “Polka Haunt Us” is a concept album, filled with stories from mythology and folklore from across the globe. While it’s definitely the season for gothic polka, these creepy narratives transcend Halloween. There’s an obvious labor of mad love behind Veronique’s research, lyrics, and song titles.
There’s no way to argue this isn’t without its hokiness. (Polka-hokey-ness.) But it’s rooted in cabaret! If we can’t be campy here, where can we? Plus, there’s talent behind the strange. Check out the video for my personal favorite, “Fisher Bird Girl,” based on a Norwegian folktale.
And if that was more seriously surreal than you expected, check out more light-hearted polka fare with “Vampire Surprise,” which tells the tale of an enterprising cook “turning the tables” on bothersome vamps.
Like any concept album, “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation” is best heard in full. Experienced is probably the better word than “heard,” because even after a total listen, my brain still can’t quite process the awesome oddity of this album. Stream it at Reverbnation or buy it at PolkaHaunt.Us.