The stigma of your stereotypical “indie” artist is a tough one to break, unless of course, you manage to become so “indie” that nobody else is as “indie” as you. This is certainly the case for the outside-the-box sound which up-and-coming singer/songwriter Aaron Strumpel is responsible for. Strumpel’s latest album, Birds, is musical innovation at its finest with 12 groundbreaking tracks that are like nothing else you will find in the current market.
Because Strumpel remains indifferent to his current genre, it is hard to label him as anything. However, his sound is similar to artists such as Sufjan Stevens.
Second track “Angel” is extremely unique and creates a fusion between the worlds of folk and alternative rock. Strumpel does so in a way that is beautifully unique and enticing. The intense pounding drums and banjo make this tune a memorable one. With the addition of the horns, this track shows the instrumental diversity Strumpel is capable of.
The melodic “Maybe” has somewhat of a Radiohead vibe to it. The track features melodic and harmonious vocals that sound similar to those of Thom Yorke. The vocals with the combination of the mellow key and overall acoustic feel make this track an album best, and provide a reminder that Strumpel does what he wants and doesn’t follow popular opinions or genre stereotypes.
Following “Maybe” is “Never Finished,” a simply beautiful track. Its beauty can be found in how unusual it is. Strumpel combines his signature folk feel with entrancing strings and fitting drum beat. The complete picture is painted with the addition of Strumpel’s unique vocals. The song characterizes who he is as an artist, and is the most noteworthy off of an album that makes it difficult to pick a favorite.
The bright and exciting “Home on Your Heart” brings a completely different tone and feel from the previous songs. It’s very folk-dominated, but with an electronic feel. This song alone shows Strumpel’s indifference to making just a folk record, with a track that sets the bar high for other artists in the genre. The calm “Sixty One” redefines the rules further. It begins with an ensemble of horns, which are later complemented by an electronic beat and Strumpel’s signature vocals. From there it builds into an array of electronic beats. The track is representative of the previously mentioned folk of Sufjan Stevens as well as the electronic vibe of Radiohead.
It is often hard to listen to a guy with an acoustic guitar carry on for an entire album, but Strumpel manages to sound different than all the other acoustic guitar playing ‘indie’ artists out there. He sets himself apart with an album that is not only an indie folk release, but one that includes complexity and ingenuity. Birds is just as inspiring as it is easy listening, while being very addictive.
Aaron Strumpel currently exists under the radar, but hopefully not for long.