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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Aliens: "Astronomy for Dogs"

The Beta Band. You've either heard of them or you haven't. One of the most talented bands of the last decade, The Beta Band got tons of critical acclaim but never received the kind of success that they truly deserved. The Aliens, a band made up of three former Beta Banders, continue that tradition of releasing great records. "Astronomy for Dogs" may not be The Beta Band, but it is a fantastic album from this new group.

The album begins with what is also probably the strongest song on the album, "Setting Sun." The song describes a failed relationship and the desire to just get away from it all "just like the setting sun." The song utilizes a really cool guitar progression and layer upon layer of vocals to form a really lush 60s-style pop/rock song. In fact, many, if not all of the songs on "Astronomy for Dogs" feels like it was ripped right out of the 60s or 70s.

Take, for example, the awesome "Robot Man," with it's slurring synths, funky bass line, and steady groove. It feels like it's straight out of the disco era, right down to the ridiculous lyrics "I am the robot man!" Eventually, it collapses into a more traditional, radio-friendly song that sounds more like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists than anything else. "I Am the Unknown" is another fantastic song that features some fantastic harmonizing and really deep production. It too feels like a song that could've been from the 60s.

"Rox" is a great song. It sounds like a straight up tribute to the Bee Gee's classic "Staying Alive" before breaking down into a more modern techno song. "She Don't Love Me" is your token ballad complete with a string reprise, because, let's face it, you can't very well have a 60s tribute album without a ballad. At over seven minutes long, it feels like they're milking it a little too hard, but it's never as distracting as it could be.

The album's major flaw is the lyrics. There's nothing truly memorable about any of these lyrics, and more often than not they just feel like shallow sing-alongs than anything else. "The Happy Song," for example, is downright childish. However, what The Aliens lack in substance, they more than make up for with style. "Astronomy for Dogs" is a fantastic album, and The Aliens do a great job of playing this style of music. Though I would've preferred a deeper album, lyrically, I'll gladly take this one for the time being.

Recommended for fans of The Beta Band and anyone who really liked the 60s.

Key Tracks:
1. "Setting Sun"
2. "Robot Man"
3. "I am the Unknown"
4. "Rox"
5. "Honest Again"

7 out of 10 Stars

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