As an artist, I can only say that Astronautalis reminds me most of Beck. Their voices aren’t very similar, but their styles certainly are. Astronautalis mixes things up between rapping over hip hop beats and performing indie rock tracks with guitars and whatnot. Whereas Beck sounds like Beck no matter what he’s doing, Astronautalis switches up his voice. When rapping on tracks like “The River, The Woods” or “Thomas Jefferson” he drops his voice low and scruffy. It reminds me of performers like Buck 65 or Aesop Rock. But when he focuses more on singing, he comes off as a folksy type singer with perhaps not the greatest singing voice but certainly a passable one.
Overall, I do like Astronautalis and his album This Is Our Science. It keeps you on your toes with it changing of genres. Still, his style of rap is welcomed when the mainstream style of rap gets to be too much for you. Glorifying horrible behavior in music gets to me sometimes. I can’t just listen to the beats and not become numbed by lyrics that describe a lifestyle I have no desire to lead. Astronautalis just says it like it is “Our work is never done/We are Sysiphus”. And when he switches it up, the music shows a sophistication that isn’t guaranteed by all artists. Particularly on “Contrails” which features Tegan Quinn, you get the sense that Astronautalis isn’t just a rapper, but a full fledged musician.