On their new downloadable EP titled Liberties, Minneapolis-based indie veterans Halloween, Alaska offer up crisp, interpretations of a half-dozen songs made famous by other artists. Recorded and compiled over the last few years, this deliberately disparate collection draws on source material ranging from ‘80s radio hits to more recent alternative fare.
Journey’s “Only the Young” is transformed from an arena-sized teen anthem into a wistful, piano-laden meditation. Stevie Nicks’ dance-rock classic “Stand Back” is remade as a drowsy piece of modernist art-funk, while a woozy reworking of Portishead’s “Machine Gun” veers between stoic reflection and bursts of eerie guitar squall. Frontman James Diers remakes Pat Benatar’s Reagan-era radio staple “Love is a Battlefield” as a fragile, gently textured ballad before launching into a super-charged version of Neko Case’s haunting “Middle Cyclone.” Rounding out the EP is a slow-burning, cathartic take on “Love is Stronger Than Pride,” a fan favorite from British soul-pop icon Sade.
Since its earliest incarnation in 2003, Halloween, Alaska has released four full-length albums and assorted remix sets, embarking on sporadic tours and breaking off to perform with numerous other projects in-between. Drummer and founding member David King is known as one-third of the acclaimed alt-jazz trio The Bad Plus, while guitarist Jacob Hanson has toured widely with Twin Cities exports including Mason Jennings, Haley Bonar and Solid Gold. A fifth album of original Halloween, Alaska songs is slated to arrive in 2014.
TRACK LISTING & CREDITS
James Diers – voice, keys, guitar
Jacob Hanson — guitar, voice
David King — drums, keys
William Shaw — bass, voice
1. Only the Young
Written by Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry and Neal Schon. Performed by Halloween, Alaska. Additional vocal by Alicia Wiley. Additional percussion by Barnaby Dick. Recorded and mixed by Gordon Mills Jr. in Chertsey, UK. Additional recording by Brett Bullion at Near North in Minneapolis, MN. Original version performed by Journey appears on the soundtrack to the motion picture Vision Quest.
2. Stand Back
Written by Stevie Nicks and Prince. Performed by Halloween, Alaska. Recorded by Jason Orris & Rob Oesterlin at the Terrarium in Minneapolis, MN. Mixing and additional recording by Brett Bullion at Near North in Minneapolis, MN. Original version performed by Stevie Nicks appears on the album The Wild Heart.
3. Machine Gun
Written by Geoff Barrow and Beth Gibbons. Performed by Halloween, Alaska. Recorded and mixed by Paul Marino at Fuzzy Slippers in St. Paul, MN. Original version performed by Portishead appears on the album Third.
4. Love is a Battlefield
Written by Holly Knight and Mike Chapman. Performed by Halloween, Alaska. Recorded and mixed by Paul Marino at Fuzzy Slippers in St. Paul, MN. Original version performed by Pat Benatar appears on the album Live from Earth.
5. Middle Cyclone
Written by Neko Case. Performed by Halloween, Alaska. Recorded and mixed by Paul Marino at Fuzzy Slippers in St. Paul, MN. Original version performed by Neko Case appears on the album Middle Cyclone.
6. Love is Stronger Than Pride
Written by Sade Adu, Andrew Hale and Stuart Matthewman. Performed by Halloween, Alaska. Recorded and mixed by Lance Conrad at Humans Win! in Minneapolis, MN. Original version performed by Sade appears on the album Stronger Than Pride.