One of the best-loved tracks in the decade-long history of Halloween, Alaska, was its cover of LL Cool J’s “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” on the 2005 album “Too Tall to Hide.” The Minneapolis-based electro-whir quartet stripped the hip-hop classic down to its melodic core and added an elegant electronic ambience without any hipster irony. Frontman James Diers and his bandmates (Dave King, Bill Shaw, Jacob Hanson) have taken that formula and applied it to a new six-song covers EP, “Liberties,” which is now for sale as a $5-$7 download via Amble Down Records. It'll also be available on iTunes, Spotify, etc., in the coming weeks. Here’s the tracklist:
1. “Only the Young” (originally by Journey)
2. “Stand Back” (Stevie Nicks)
3. “Machine Gun” (Portishead)
4. “Love Is a Battlefield” (Pat Benatar)
5. “Middle Cyclone” (Neko Case)
6. “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” (Sade)
The opening track (posted below) is the highlight, thanks in part to to some gorgeously ethereal guitar work and angelic backing vocals by Hanson's All Eyes bandmate Alicia Wiley. And that’s the opinion of someone who firmly equates Journey to mush. “Love Is a Battlefield,” however, might get the most attention, given its hushed and outright chilling tone, wildly different from the original. “Machine Gun” offers quite a wicked sonic contrast to the rest of the EP, with King providing a heavy touch there. All told, though, this is one covers collection that doesn’t just sound like a for-the-fun-of-it exercise. But I bet it was very fun to make.