Alex G

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Race (2010), 5/10
Winner (2011), 5/10
Rules (2012), 4.5/10
Trick (2012), 4/10
DSU (2014), , 5/10
Beach Music (2015), 5.5/10
Rocket (2017), 6/10
House of Sugar (2019), 6/10
God Save the Animals (2022), 6.5/10

Pennsylvania's singer-songwriter Alex "G" Giannascoli debuted with the cassette Race (2010) whose banjo-driven Remember recalls an "indie" version of the Everly Brothers. But the highlight of the cassette was his guitar style, the creative quasi-psychedelic fingerpicking of Gnaw and the Byrds-ian space elegy Race. The digital download Winner (2011) contains shy, whispered litanies like Hitting So Hard and the anemic Freedom, but also the faster and harsher space-rock Stop and lively ditties like Big World bordering on bubblegum pop. Loud grunge-style guitar distortion is the norm on Rules (2012), even in simple singalongs like the Elliott Smith-esque Come Back, but his guitar skills are better demonstrated in the rowdy instrumental Master. In general, the songs increasingly imitate the vocal harmonies of the 1960s, notably Rules and Wicked Boy. A scattershot experience. The prolific G should have thought twice before releasing two albums in the same year. Trick (2012) counts on the country-rock of Forever and the acid litany Advice, but little else. It's mostly filler. DSU (Orchid Tapes, 2014) contains the silly and catchy Harvey, the catchy and less silly Boy, and some of his dreamiest guitar work in one of his anemic litanies, Hollow. The steady piano beat collides with a loud guitar riff in After Ur Gone, and neoclassical tiptoeing propels Serpent is Lord. Beach Music (Domino, 2015) is a tad more experimental. Salt is his most atmospheric song yet, thanks to a combination of rhythm, desolate guitar riff and melancholy singing. Bug and Kicker share the same lazy rhythm, mildly melodic and mildly dissonant, but this time there is more variety, from the bubblegum-pop ditty Brite Boy to the slow bluesy piano ballad In Love via one of his most delicated whispered elegies, Mud, and finally some solemn drama in Ready. Meanwhile, Alex started calling himself Sandy. Rocket (2017) is mostly divided between folk-rock (the trotting Bobby, the mildly dissonant Poison Root, and especially the fiddle-driven Powerful Man) and surreal experiments (the booming rap-rock Brick, the piano reggae shuffle Sportstar, the floating serenade Alina, the Irish carillon of the instrumental Rocket), although his most compelling song yet, the Byrds-ian country-rocker Proud, with counterpoint of saloon piano, falls into neither camp, nor does the simple Elliott Smith-esque Big Fish. House of Sugar (2019) definitely confirmed his credentials as composer of catchy ditties like Hope, the childish nursery rhyme Taking, and the waltzing singalong Southern Sky. More importantly, it delivered the complex elegy Gretel, the hypnotic oneiric Caribbean shuffle Near, with an intriguing rhythm, and the swirling disorienting psychedelic raga Walk Away, somewhere between the Animal Collective and the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. Unfortunately, the second half of the album is mostly filler, with the magniloquent instrumental Sugar and the romantic ballad In My Arms pointing at a future career in mainstream pop.

The elegantly produced God Save the Animals (2022) showcases, first and foremost, Alex Giannascoli's ability to "impersonate" different voices, from the imitation of a children's choir in After All to the psychotic whisper of Blessing, from Immunity, auto-tuned again to sound like a child, to space-out standout Cross the Sea, in which he sounds like a drunk aging Nashville star. Then Runner is the most immediate ditty (Billy Joel-era power-pop), followed by the catchy and subdued country tune Early Morning Waiting. Miracles (the second standout) is a sorrowful gospel-country halfway between the Band and Neil Young's Harvest. To cap this eclectic parade, Headroom Piano is a noisy psychedelic instrumental. At least Cross the Sea and Miracles belong to his major canon.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )