(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, June 28, 2010

CD review - The Aliens, Luna (2008)

Somehow, the Aliens never found their way onto my radar. Out of the blue, I heard about the new special limited edition release of Luna, which comes with a book, chock full of pictures, poetry, etc. The hype included some samples of their music and I was hooked.

Luna is an engaging hour or so of early style, epic psychedelia. It's wonderful, showing similarities to Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, and It's A Beautiful Day. I can even catch a little Jefferson Airplane, too. There's enough electronic details lurking around to add a modern feel, though. The closest contemporary counterpart might be the Flaming Lips, but the Aliens sound more innocent and focused on the pure head experience.

Luna rolls out with a full trip journey that lasts more than 10 minutes. Bobby's Song strolls through a series of sections. The core starting melody is a little like the Dead's Mason's Children. It has the requisite heavy stereo effects, a throbbing bass, and slick harmonized vocals. There are tons of busy little details that evoke early Zappa and Pink Floyd. It's refreshing to hear a band give a song this kind of room to develop without turning into an easily dismissed example of random jam band excess. The song slows down and collapses to set up the next song, Amen, which closes it out with a bit of spacey ecstasy. The theme of Bobby's Song is reprised in the closing track Blue Mantle, as a mild gesture towards the ideal of a concept album.

Still trippy, but more pop oriented, Theremin sets up a lush world of sparkly chiming keys, Beach Boys' harmonies, and an R&B pop vibe. The aura of club-style electronica keyboard becomes dominant as the song shifts into meta-mode: the song fades down as the recording walks out to a car and gets ready to leave. The song comes back as a plodding jazz pop piece in the car's audio cassette, while the traffic zips past. The effortless flow of the meta story and pop appeal of the base song make this a catchy track.

Their video single, Magic Man, is another fine mix between old and new. The start sets up an electronic rhythm while the rest of the song layers on a Robyn Hitchcock pop/psychedelic feel. The video is a nice bit of eye candy from the OK Go school.

Enjoy a Maudite strong dark Belgian ale along with the sunny retro head music of Luna. If you can't afford the new special release, track down the regular CD.

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