|Add Date:||2018-01-10|| ||Pull Date:||2018-03-14|| |
Much like Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest, Alex Giannascoli is a guitarist who’s built up quite a back catalog on Bandcamp, and only signed to a record label a couple years ago. But the similarities end there: Where Car Seat Headrest is scrappier and more rock-oriented, (Sandy) Alex G is softer, favoring an acoustic guitar on this album. Like Car Seat Headrest, Giannascoli may be compared to indie legends that he doesn’t sound all that much like, such as Guided by Voices or Pavement, though he does take pages from their opaque lyricism and short, linear song structure. The most accurate sonic comparison I can make is Elliott Smith. Giannascoli specializes in acoustic songs with little flourishes of instrumentation, save for a few exceptions. The favorites on this thing are excellent, so keep this album in frequent rotation.|
Favorites: 2, 4, 5, 8, 14
1) “Poison Root” (2:25) – Strummed acoustic guitar with minimal touches of banjo, string, and piano—kind of a mix of indie folk and alt-country. Abrupt ending.
2) “Proud” (4:59)* – A leisurely, rootsy Americana tune dominated by acoustic guitar. If I heard it on a playlist of alt-country in the ’90s it’d fit right in. The good news is, we got an FCC-clean version of this song; while the omission of the expletive is obvious (the song goes completely silent for a half-second), this means the song is safe to play. Yay!
3) “County” (3:02) – A peculiar, gently psychedelic track that sounds almost like something The Flaming Lips would do. It’s tonally at odds with the lyrical content, which is about a kid who dies of a drug overdose in county jail—and our fascination with such stories.
4) “Bobby” (3:43)* – Song sits at the happy midpoint between “Poison Root” and “Proud”—a laid-back alt-country number. Strummed acoustic guitar with a prominent use of fiddle.
5) “Witch” (2:40)* – An oddly haunting track that folds in electric guitar, piano, and drums over a repeated acoustic guitar riff. It makes me think of something The Shins or Animal Collective would’ve done in the mid-2000s.
6) “Horse” (2:04) – A disorienting instrumental with clattering percussion, jittery piano, and a queasy, distorted bass riff. Not much reason to play this one on the air.
7) “Brick” (2:12) – FCC “f***.” A brash, lo-fi punk rock song. In fact, it makes me wonder if someone slipped a Death Grips song onto the album as a prank. The lyrics are pretty much unintelligible, but Giannascoli drops repeated F-bombs in the choruses. I didn’t care much for this track, and if you don’t like Death Grips, neither will you.
8) “Sportstar” (3:51)* – A very odd song. On one hand, it’s a piano ballad, but the vocals are Auto-Tuned, and there’s a choppy, distorted electric guitar in the first half. Giannascoli worked with Frank Ocean on Blonde, and the latter’s influence is clear here.
9) “Judge” (2:30) – A rhythmic, oddly-shaped acoustic guitar riff anchors the song. Other than intrusions of guitar feedback and some sort of high-pitched instrument, I’m having a hard time coming up with other notable qualities of this song.
10) “Rocket” (1:59) – Piano and mandolin make this instrumental a much more folk-indebted, less unsettling instrumental than “Horse.” Still, nothing I’d play for listeners.
11) “Powerful Man” (3:39) – The alt-country vibes return in full force on this track, with its acoustic guitar, plinking piano and hearty fiddle. Giannascoli’s lyrics about a friend going to jail and a stressed-out mother are some of his most straightforward and affecting writing on the album. That said...watch out for the abrupt ending.
12) “Alina” (3:03) – This song seems to pick up right where the last one left off, but at the same time it’s a lot like “Witch” in that it has a strong flavor of early Animal Collective. It’s a lush little piece with acoustic guitar, piano, and a gentle click-clack of percussion.
13) “Big Fish” (2:12) – A practically spartan track with Giannascoli’s hushed singing and softly-strummed acoustic guitar, and subtle squeaks and whirrs of electric guitar.
14) “Guilty” (3:34)* – This track sounds like a pastiche of cocktail jazz, and it works surprisingly well. It’s got this smooth, jazzy saxophone and a bossa nova-inspired rhythm section—the bass line is delicious—but then there’s a soft, pillowy synthesizer filling up the empty space of the song and a noodly, clean electric guitar. Ends abruptly.