The Aliens, ‘Astronomy for Dogs’ (Astralwerks)
While Beta Band’s electronica-tinged, late-’90s psychedelic pop was influencing Oasis and Radiohead alike, founding member Gordon Anderson underwent shock therapy. Now he’s fronting a trio completed by Beta alumni that’s even trippier, poppier, heavier, and more experimental. Bouncy bits assert Anderson’s improved mental health (“The Happy Song”), but there are also astoundingly poignant passages (“She Don’t Love Me No More”) where rough harmonies and vibrant tunes reveal the fragile soul behind the freak-outs. Seldom do aural hallucinations feel this triumphant — or this real.