Halloween, Alaska

Halloween, Alaska

Independent release, 2023


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


This 20th anniversary reissue of the Minneapolis quartet Halloween, Alaska’s debut —originally released in 2003—comes with remastered audio, updated artwork, digital download availability and is on vinyl for the first time.

The buzzing and atmospheric “You’re It” opens the listen with soulful singing, playful bass and a nice balance between hazy rock and electro-pop sensibilities. “All The Arms Around You” follows, and presents a firm beat amid the swirling guitars and dense ambience.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first half of the listen finishes with the minimal but impactful drumming of “Des Moines,” where a dreamy demeanor unfolds with a very pretty delivery, and the melodic, shimmering indie-rock of the flowing and dynamic “Call It Clear.”

The second half leads with the darker spirited “Halloween,” where a distinct introspection unfolds with meticulous, slow-burning song craft, while “The Four Corners” is more rich in its scope that possesses much beauty thanks to the crisp drums, shimmering guitar and expressive singing.

The lone cover, Bruce Springsteen's “State Trooper,” arrives near the end, and uses bright keys and strategic repetition for the mesmerizing vision that you could dance to, and “Telling Me” exits with more emphasis on pop ideas that are aglow in warm and inviting musicianship.

On this recording, James Diers sings, plays guitar and keyboards; Ev handles keyboards, programming and singing; Matt Friesen holds down bass; and David King brings acoustic and electric drums, keyboards and percussion. These days, Ev and Friesen are missing from the line up and have been replaced by Bill Shaw and Jake Hanson, and Halloween, Alaska are still active, albeit in a part-time sort of way.

A first effort that gained them plenty of time on college radio, even though this was released 20 years ago, it sure still sounds very modern and in tune with today's version of indie-pop.

Rating: A-

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