Alison's Halo

Eyedazzler 1992-1996

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AllMusic Review by

Alison's Halo managed but one first-rate 7" single on Independent Project, and compilation tracks. This, then, is the album they should have released five years prior, when, along with their friends Half String, Scenic, and For Against, they were one of the best "beautiful noise" bands in America (a more apt, less disparaging term they'd coined for the more directly emotional brand of American "shoegaze" or "dream pop"). While the incredible Half String often struggled with vocals, Scenic did without them altogether, and For Against singer Jeffrey Runnings was a smidgen boyish, Alison's Halo's singer wowed everyone. Catherine Cooper is just dynamite, one-third Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser, one-sixth Slowdive/Mojave 3's Rachel Goswell, one-sixth Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, and one-third a tone and voice her own. Talk about your siren call! Guitarist/writer Adam Cooper displayed a talent for both songs and guitar effects pyrotechnics that often matched the predominating, sparkling English bands Ride, Lush, Pale Saints, Moose, the Boo Radleys, Chapterhouse, and the Telescopes. Like Catherine Wheel and Kitchens of Distinction, he sometimes went back further, to the more dramatic, riff/melody-driven, spooky-pretty sound of the House of Love (most of all) and 1983-1987 Echo & the Bunnymen. He was also obviously enamored with the Cocteaus' Robin Guthrie and Slowdive's Neil Halstead's cathedral-like layering of sonic waves. But unlike them, Adam's best work (the first half here) married the sound to upbeat, bubbling, singalong pop. Underneath his pedals, Catherine's rhythm guitar, David Rogers' bass, and Roger Brogan's wonderful, tom-heavy drums kept the rhythms tasteful yet propulsive. There's more where this came from. For Eyedazzler, AH chose from multiple studio recordings (the last two songs are from the 1995 Phoenix "Beautiful Noise Festival"), too fastidious and critical to release them then, or at least waiting too long for a bigger label to finance more expensive recording, when IPR would gladly have released this years ago. But better late than never, Alison's Halo prove here that even earthbound by two-, four-, and eight-track tapes, they were an aural feast.

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