Alexander Giannascoli has built his reputation around an intimate and distorted vision of indie rock. His latest release under the name (Sandy) Alex G, “Rocket,” finds the singer/songwriter running that signature sound through a more rootsy, Americana-influenced filter.
A young Bandcamp prodigy, Giannascoli began recording and producing in 2010 from his bedroom. Since then, he’s gained a cult following and collaborated with a variety of influential artists, including Frank Ocean on his albums “Endless” and “Blonde.”
After brushes with the mainstream, “Rocket” finds Giannascoli returning to his signature home-recording sound.
His raw production style enhances the intimate nature of his songs, while also showcasing their oddball structures.
Singles “Bobby” and “Proud” are twangy tokens set amongst a collage of tracks that sound just as obscure as his previous releases.
The basement-punk energy of “Brick” pairs Giannascoli’s far off shouts with sludgy guitar licks and queasy, distorted horns. In keeping with his reputation for ecclectism, he follows that track with the auto tuned piano ballad “Sportstar.”
Across his work, Giannascoli has shown a knack for subverting the traditional archetypes of song structure. His songwriting can be indirect and confusing, but after spending enough time with his warped pop, those same songs eventually become oddly soothing in their distinctiveness.
“County” and “Witch” feature the gentle falsetto harmonies and intimate guitars that shone on “Beach Music,” while “Alina” and “Big Fish” bring the album to a close with their cozy, compact sound.
Like the variety of his other releases, “Rocket” is a surprisingly soothing but overall dynamic record. Unlike so many of his industry fellows, Giannascoli doesn’t wear his music on his sleeve; with (Sandy) Alex G, you’re never quite sure what exactly the young songwriter is getting at.
Sometimes his music can be unsettling and anxious, other times its comfortable and profound. It’s not easy-listening by any means, but that’s what makes him stand out from all the other “lo-fi indie rockers” out there. His complexity isn’t sacrificed by his popularity (or lack thereof).
Regardless, “Rocket” is a seemingly quaint but sonically expansive release that will sit with us for at least the next few months while we try to unravel it.
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