Alex G – ‘DSU’ album review
Looking for a vital new indie voice? It ain’t nothin’ but a G thang
Fri Nov 21 2014
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Don’t you dare call Alex Giannascoli a slacker. He may have long hair, a battered electric guitar and the requisite set of grainy press shots, but at the age of 21 this kid from Philadelphia has already used the Bandcamp website to self-release four albums of beautifully twisted lo-fi guitar pop. ‘DSU’ is the fifth, but the first to get a full physical issue, and it could turn him from a cult hero into a proper rising star.
Alex G is the most exciting heir in ages to the Troubled White Dude tradition: a line of introverted US singer-songwriters that leads via Elliott Smith, Kurt Cobain and Daniel Johnston all the way back to Big Star’s Alex Chilton. But that makes ‘DSU’ sound navel-gazingly bleak, which it decidedly isn’t. Giannascoli occasionally shakes things up with injections of psych-pop and dreamy funk, while ‘Boy’ and ‘Rejoyce’ possess the same lo-fi drive as the first two Pavement albums. Most importantly, the songs are there: ‘DSU’ is crammed with strong but subtle melodies and gently brilliant turns of phrase.
But there is something dark and weird that sometimes cracks the surface of this LP. The blissy groove of ‘Black Hair’ masks some less-than-sunny lyrics, while ‘Axesteel’ is punctured exactly 52 seconds in by a blood-chilling screaming noise. Haunting little fragments of piano and guitar litter the tracks like nightmares leaking into daydreams.
Incredibly, ‘DSU’ was put together in Alex G’s bedroom using a MacBook and a single microphone duct-taped to the desk. But it isn’t just a homemade gem: it’s an instant classic, the kind of window into a fascinating mind that you wish every solo album could be. Makes you think: if only Kurt Cobain had had a Bandcamp account, things might have gone better for the poor sod.
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Listen to ‘DSU’ on Spotify
- Critics choice
Until lately Alex Giannascoli was just another English major at Temple University in his home town of Philadelphia. But now his cracked, home-recorded, slightly Elliot Smith-ish indie songs have started to get some pretty serious attention, and he’s dropped out of college to present them to the world with the help of a talented band. His London shows
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