File under Halloween-appropriate shows that you don't have to dress up for: Murder ballads — those creepy little tomes to our dark side — will be the fare tonight at the Echoplex for a group of artists assembled by the people behind the New Los Angeles Folk Festival.

And why not? “Murder ballads and songs of despair lie at the foundation of American folk music — right alongside gospel and patriotic songs. We are unique as humans, in that we are fascinated by our own transience and fantasies about demise,” writes James Cartwright, who runs the year-old L.A. imprint Trailer Fire Records. “Murder ballads give voice to our fears, our innate violence and our terrible inclinations, while also capturing a period in history rife with these extremes.”

Frank Fairfield (profiled here last year) tops the bill, which includes cult favorite Simon Stokes, members of Spindrift performing as Boy Scout Jamboree, Triple Chicken Foot, Vaud & the Villains and a “murder ballads supergroup” of Amanda Jo Williams, Horse Thieves and Olentangy John.

Elsewhere: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros return for an almost-hometown show at the Grove of Anaheim. … Lights hold forth at the El Rey Theatre. … And Giant Drag, joined by Lonely Trees and Square on Square, plays the Bootleg Theater.

Also: Reigning Sound (with the Ettes and the Shirley Rolls) at the Echo; HoneyHoney and Lara Kincanon at the Central in Santa Monica; Mad Planet and Ballerina Black at the Silverlake Lounge; Thrones and Christian Mistress at Spaceland; Never Shout Never at the Wiltern; Seabear and Grandchildren at the Troubadour; Selena Gomez's charity concert for UNICEF at the Roxy; Eliza Doolittle at the Hotel Cafe; Billy McLaughlin at the House of Blues; the Hollabacks and Sleeping With Angels at the Viper Room; the Mormons at the Redwood Bar and James Lavell's 7 p.m. in-store (DJ set) at Amoeba.

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