Showtime’s Twin Peaks: The Return has had me distracted the last few days, but I did want to write a bit about (Sandy) Alex G’s fantastic new record, Rocket.
(Sandy) Alex G is Alexander Giannascoli, a young songwriter from Philadelphia who drifts back and forth between focused, fairly traditional indie rock and more complex sound experiments.
The first time I heard Rocket, I fell in love with it almost immediately. Opener “Poison Root” sounds like a lost track from one of The Books’ first two albums, with acoustic guitars, sweeping strings and other noises all competing for attention. The very next song, “Proud,” is much more straightforward, reminding me of something by Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Woods, or Real Estate. I’m so proud of you, he sings. And everything that you do/ Doesn’t matter what I said/ I’m better off dead.
My absolute favorite song on Rocket, and one of the best songs I’ve heard all year, is “Bobby,” a sleepy slice of Americana that proudly wears its heavy country influence on its sleeves. (Sandy) Alex G sings the song as a duet with Emily Yacina, and their voices sound fantastic together. When I first heard “Bobby,” I listened to it two or three times in a row just to make sure I was catching as many details as possible. If you check out nothing else on this album, make sure you listen to this one at least once!
Another clear highlight is “Sportstar,” which finds (Sandy) Alex G distorting his own vocals while singing over a jittery piano loop. I’m not quite sure what he’s singing here and I really don’t care; he’s setting a powerful scene, one that is both eerie and emotional at the same time.
Part me wonders what it would sound like if (Sandy) Alex G put together an entire album in the style of “Proud,” “Bobby,” or even “Sportstar,” yet another part of me is thrilled that he refuses to stick to one sound. Instead, the album includes a variety of styles, from abstract tracks such as “Witch” and “Horse” to “Brick,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Animal Collective LP. Ultimately, it’s this variety that makes Rocket such a fascinating album and one that I’m sure I’ll be going back to again and again throughout the year. As “Guilty” closes the album with its Built to Spill-like noodling and unexpected saxophone blasts, it’s clear that anything is possible when you listen to (Sandy) Alex G. And I like living in a world where anything is possible, even if just for a little while.
Listen to the full album below: