Astropop 3 – Life EP

Astropop 3
Life EP

Astropop 3 is one of those bands that would be just too cruel to hate. Singer Dan Villanueva is an excellent songwriter with a voice to kill for. The band’s last album, Allies and Stepping Stones, was a brilliant mix of fuzzy dream and power pop. Next from this group is a three-song EP, Life, from Planting Seeds Records.

The first song is “Life,” a Rick Nelson cover that starts off with Dan Villanueva strumming his guitar and his vocal version of the song. Eventually, we hear some strings, a tambourine, bass, percussion, and some background vocals (and whistles). I am not a big fan of covers, but this one actually does the original justice. I am probably in no position to say this, but I think Rick Nelson would have liked this version, which is from the forthcoming release of Easy to Be Free: The Songs of Rick Nelson, on Planting Seeds Records. Astropop 3’s mversion of “Life” is remarkably catchy and makes me want to dig up some more of Rick Nelson’s recordings. This is exactly what a cover song should do, and Astropop 3 delivers.

I wasn’t fully expecting to hear the next two songs on this EP. Gone are the fuzzy dream- and power-pop. Enter lap steel guitar and a stripped-down Astropop 3. After getting over the initial shock and digging out the band’s older albums (just to be sure I wasn’t mistaking the band for another), I listened with much more diligence. “All in Your Head” and “All You Want is Love” have the same Villanueva song writing. The band is just taking a different approach. A mix between Elliot Smith and the Beatles come to mind. Could Astropop 3 be making three tributes in one EP? Is this the band’s new sound? Has the influx of new band members influenced Villanueva to go retro with a little country twang?

Because of these questions, it is with much anticipation that I await the band’s next album, which the artists are recording now. I have to admit, if the band completely leaves its older sound, I would be quite disappointed. Whatever, though, these artists decide to do, short of death metal, I will listen. Villanueva is a remarkable songwriter, and however he decides to make up Astropop 3 is going to result in a heck of an album that even an oldtimer like Rick Nelson could appreciate if he was with us today.