Alison's Halo are getting a second life by way of Manufactured Recordings. The label rereleases the Tempe band's cult classic, Eyedazzler, via limited-edition CD, digital, and for the first time ever on vinyl on Friday, May 19. It's a collection of the band's songs from 1992 through 1996.
They're the latest band included in The Shoegaze Archives, a reissue project that also includes KG's Come Closer, We're Cool, and Bethany's Curve's Mee-Eaux. It's a series started by Manufactured Tracks in 2011 to shed light on bands that helped shape the genre.
"I thought the American aspect of this sort of music has been largely neglected, and I think Alison's Halo had a huge role in it and it needed to be shown to people who are fans of, say, Lush, Slowdive, etc., or even Pale Saints or Swallow," says Michael Sniper, founder of Manufactured Recordings.
Shoegaze has taken many different shapes and evolved in recent years — with help from bands like Silversun Pickups, M83, and No Joy. But all of it owes a debt to the pioneers that established the genre so identified with the 1990s scene it flourished in.
"I'd say sonically, it's rooted in punk and post-punk in approach," Sniper says, "but more about creating a dense wall of noise and playing with distortion and reverb in a melodic rather than 'noise for noise's sake' way."
That's exactly the kind of sound Alison's Halo would come to perfect. After a few different projects came and went, husband-and-wife duo Adam and Catherine Cooper officially formed Alison's Halo in October 1992, alongside Lynn Anderson on bass and an Alesis drum machine they affectionately referred to as "Alison."
They played their first show at an old Odd Fellows Hall that December, coincidentally the same night when Jimmy Eat World also made their debut (Adam's brother, Mason Cooper, was drumming with the fledgling emo band at the time.) From there, they quickly built a following, with their third show ever spent opening for New York's Ultra Vivid Scene.
They eventually settled into a lineup of the Coopers, Dave Rogers on bass and Roger Brogan on drums. They garnered significant buzz through college radio airplay and word of mouth from shows on both coasts.
In September 1995, they dropped their first 7-inch single, Dozen/Calendar, which would be the only piece released while the band was still together. They spent the next several years slowly chipping away at a full-length release, but ultimately, the process of recording became cumbersome at best.
"Our sound man offered to record us if we’d finance a cabinet-maker to build a rolling console for his recording gear, this massive thing we hauled to our rehearsal spot every time we wanted to track something," Adam says in press materials about the re-issue. "The process was slow and fraught with technical issues — otherwise it would have been a five- to seven-song EP.”
Brogan parted ways with Alison's Halo in 1997, and their momentum slowed further. The Coopers eventually moved to Chicago and shifted to new projects. But they never fully abandoned Alison's Halo, just shifted focus and changed names.
To that end, it wasn't the last the world would hear from them. The collection of songs recorded over the years, titled Eyedazzler 1992-1996, was released on Burnt Hair Records in 1998. It made the rounds at record stores and underground zines, falling into the hands of tastemakers who would champion them long after their heyday.
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A brief 2013 reunion for Phoenix's Beautiful Noise Festival was cancelled due to illness, but the future of the band is still open — if unclear. For now, they're thrilled to see Eyedazzler make a comeback.
“A generation of kids missed out on our music, so having it released on Manufactured Recordings is thrilling — and on vinyl, incredible!" Adam says. "There’s plenty of interest in spacier bands these days. These songs have held up pretty well over time, too."
Manufactured Recordings agrees, and is excited for fans to revisit this seminal band or discover the music for the first time.
Sometimes just putting something in print and the organic experience of listener-to-listener and record store buyers who are fans does wonders," Sniper says. "Reissues aren't meant to be a one-time-now kind of thing; reissues are always 'new.' The point is to make the music available, give it a push, and then the listeners will take it from there."