Although formed in 2005, all three members of retro-futurist group the Aliens had previously played together in the Beta Band, a cult-favorite Scottish outfit. Singers/guitarists Steve Mason and Gordon Anderson formed the Betas in Edinburgh in 1996. Originally dubbed the Pigeons, the duo added bassist Steve Duffield, drummer Robin Jones, and DJ/keyboardist John Maclean during production on their landmark debut EP, Champion Versions. Soon after completing those recording sessions, Anderson fell ill and left the Beta Band, subsequently cutting a series of self-released LPs under the name Lone Pigeon (including 28 Secret Tracks, Moses, and Auckley Craw). In the meantime, the Beta Band emerged as darlings of the international music press, culminating in the 1998 release of their classic The Three E.P.'s. Although follow-ups like 2001's Hot Shots II and 2004's Heroes to Zeros enjoyed critical acclaim and consistently reached the upper rungs of the British pop charts, the Beta Band was openly critical of its own efforts and played a farewell show in Edinburgh on December 5, 2004. Shortly after the split, Maclean and Jones resumed their collaboration with Anderson as the Aliens, and the trio made its studio debut in mid-2006 with an EP titled Alienoid Starmonica. Eschewing the Betas' dub and trip-hop influences for psychedelia and glam, the record earned a positive critical response and set the stage for the full-length Astronomy for Dogs, released one year later. Gordon Anderson struggled with health problems throughout the first half of 2008, prompting the Aliens to cancel a string of shows and briefly shelve their plans for a second album. Upon his recovery, the group performed at several European festivals and found time to record Luna, which was released in the U.K. later that year. A stateside release followed in 2009. ~ Jason Ankeny
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