CD of the Month - October 2015
Alex G - Beach Music
Sept. 30th, 2015
Since independent artists have turned to using the online music platform Bandcamp to share their music, many incredibly great bands have gained popularity because of it. Most notably, bands such as Car Seat Headrest, Saint Pepsi/Skylar Spence and Teen Suicide have all gone from recording music in their bedrooms to being discovered on Bandcamp and subsequently signing to major record labels. In this same musical realm, there is a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia named Alex Giannascoli that makes music under the moniker Alex G. This bedroom pop musician creates an esoteric sonic world through sound that invokes deep emotion upon the listener. Though Alex G mainly records with standard rock instrumentation his style of songwriting conjures the state between ambivalence, melancholy and apathy in a young adult. His utilization of melodic lines and mid-tempos with a delicate and close vocal style immediately draws comparisons to Elliott Smith by fans and critics alike. But with further examination, it's apparent that Alex G is influenced heavily by old school emo and 90's indie pop.
His first two long-running albums Tricky and DSU became underground hits because of their clever songwriting, catchiness and infectious esoteric nature. Since these two albums were so successful on a small scale, it evidently caught the attention of more people and record labels. Come 2015 Alex G ha signed to large indie record label Domino Records and announced his proper studio LP Beach Music. Though is was exciting to hear that Alex G was signed to a major label, words of concern were had between fans about how his music and image would change because of it.
Thankfully after the release of Beach Music, it's safe to say that, for the better, not much has changed.Beach Music starts off with an introduction that is close to a minute of pure musical cacophony. The cascades of manipulated drums and guitar eventually fade away into the second track, which happens to be the incredibly catchy lead single "Bug". Though the melodies are simple and has a major-key tone, the track is still incredibly emotive and strange. With a dramatic and off-putting pitch shift in the vocals, the second chorus is weird but ultimately engaging. "Brite Boy" is an acoustic love song that features a tender, child-like vocal guest that brings a sense of innocence to the mix. With heartfelt, yearning lyrics and a warm, inviting atmosphere, "Brite Boy" is one of the best on the album.
Undoubtedly, the fourth track "Kicker" is one of the catchiest and most memorable on Beach Boy. The vocals and guitar leads move together in a way unlike most that get the melody stuck in your head in an instant. The track sounds like an emo-tinged cross between Built to Spill and Heatmiser. The next track "Salt" is one of the strangest, sonically, on the album and features a dark, late night tone. The guitars are watery and shimmering like the tone found in the beginning of Nirvana's "Drain You" but played at a slow, walking speed that is both unsettling and comforting. The rest of the album explores further sonic territory by stepping into different offshoots of indie rock and eve tiptoes into jazz.
Though the record doesn't have the same homey quality that Trick or DSU possessed, Alex G uses the better production value to point out the strange details in his pop songs. With that, the production value doesn't hinder on his ability to sound idiosyncratic, strange and emotionally evocative. Tracks such as "Brite Boy" and "In Love" contain lyrics that may be his most confessional to date. With this added clarity we see Alex G growing both as a songwriter and a composer. Rather than these songs sounding like sketches, each composition is more fleshed-out and actualized than his early work. With Beach Music it's clear that Alex G knows how to write a damn catchy song and may be the pop genius that this musical world needs right now.
Out now on Domino Records Beach Music by Alex G is Radio 1190's CD of the Month for October.