Friday, February 4, 2011

Hello, Astronaut!!

As it's been a few weeks since I've updated (sorry guys, but college is hard lol), I thought I'd start off the new year with an artist that captured my attention so completely when I first heard his music that I have literally been listening to it for months now. I must admit though, rarely is a cover of a song done that propels not only the original artist back into the spotlight, but also has the potential to open the door for an entirely new talent. While it has happened before, as in the cases of Van Halen's cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and Marilyn Manson's cover of the Eurhythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," it's more of a rare treat than a common occurrence. Yet every once in a while an artist comes along with a cover that is so unique and different from the original, while still maintaining the magic that the original possessed, that it's impossible not to take notice. And that's where I find myself today: listening to a cover of a song that was great to begin with, but now seems otherworldly.
An acoustic-pop/electro-pop answer to the guitar-driven pop-punk groups occupying so many of the top spots on Purevolume, Hello, Astronaut is a sound full of possibilities in the vein of Owl City and Never Shout Never. The brainchild of 18-year-old multi-instrumentalist Jordan Palmer, Hello, Astronaut finds home and comfort in the pop-happy melody that comes from Palmer's keyboards and the chorals chimes of his voice. Surely Palmer's hamebase of Fresno, California must be going nuts with his songs pervading the atmosphere. One thing I'm sure of is that whatever fans he has in his hometown, they are going to be his biggest supporters, coming out to every show and doing what they can to show their support. And who could blame them? With melodies like these and a voice like the one he has, Palmer is sure to be on the same fast-track to notoriety and success as were Owl City and Never Shout Never before him.
Hello, Astronaut's sophomore EP, The Only One EP, is a collection of feel-good pop and relatable lyrics with enough rhythm to give a little extra kick to the tracks. I particularly love the intro to the song "Say Goodbye." A ukulele chord set owing to influences from Never Shout Never and Train, "Say Goodbye" immediately gears up and takes off as the ukulele strings fade out and the piano and drums come in. Palmer's voice is complemented perfectly by his double-tracked vocals in the background, giving an overall feel of choral tenacity to a track that shines because of it. With a melody and rhythm that is contagious to say the least, "Say Goodbye" is most certainly one of Hello, Astronaut's premier tracks. Sometimes it takes artists a number of albums and EP's to really find their sound. Yet there are other times when some artists can hit it out of the park on one swing, and Hello, Astronaut has certainly found a way. Whether this was a song Palmer worked on for a year or one that came to him in the middle of the night I have no idea, but one thing I do know is that whatever he's doing, it's working. Definitely one of the tracks that will be on my "most-played" list all week.
As "Say Goodbye" fades out, "The Only One" starts up, and from the start the rhythm and tone in this one is different. Here, Palmer has opted for an acoustic guitar over a ukulele for the intro, lending a more rock feel to the song. At just under 3:00, "The Only One" is most certainly the rock song on Hello, Astronaut's EP, showcasing power chords and palm-mutes sandwiched between catchy choruses and melodic verses. Palmer, however, has maintained his vocal power, dynamic in his tuneful presentation of his choruses with such an infectious air that I can't help but sing along. As Palmer winds down a bit towards the interlude, his keyboards continue to rock me back and forth in a wirldwind of melody and grace. "The Only One" has certainly earned its place as the title-track of the EP.
And yet, the song that drew me to Hello, Astronaut in the first place is neither on the the Only One or Paper! Snow! A Ghost! EP's, nor is written by Palmer. It's Palmer's cover of Vanessa Carlton's 2002 smash-hit "A Thousand Miles" that really floors me. The piano intro is just as soothing and melodic as in the original, but as the keys drain out, Palmer bursts in with a techno beat and electronic chimes that send this song to another world. His voice is nothing but pure pop brilliance, and his rearrangement of the song keeps the brilliantly written backbone and tune while at the same time exploring new territory in the pop-punk and electronic-rock arenas. The mix of Owl City-like beats and chimes coupled with Carlton's original lyrics and string arrangements makes this a slamdunk for Palmer. Hello, Astronaut's version of "A Thousand Miles" up for free download on the Hello, Astronaut Purevolume page will undoubtedly take the music community by storm. This remake is a viral hit if I ever heard one, and with this cover in pocket, Hello, Astronaut has struck musical and commercial gold. Certainly one of my favorite songs this month and for the next few, Hello, Astronaut's cover of "A Thousand Miles" speaks volumes to what Jordan Palmer is capable of.
With two EP's and a number of singles under his belt, Palmer should have no trouble at all accomplishing the feat of getting onto next year's Warped Tour, at the very least. Beyond that, I see him doing nothing short of following the path of Owl City and Never Shout Never, going national, and eventually international. Hello, Astronaut most definitely has what it takes to be the next pop viral sensation. Absolutely someone I'd bet on.

Sounds Like: Owl City, Never Shout Never, Tain, Forever the Sickest Kids

Key Tracks from The Only One EP and Covers (respectively): "Say Goodbye," "The Only One," "A Thousand Miles"

Check out Hello, Astronaut more at: and

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