If you are not all that familiar with (Sandy) Alex G’s music then now is the perfect time to climb aboard. G developed a reputation as a stalwart in the DIY scene back in 2010 through a series of band camp releases; proving to himself and aspiring artists alike, that talent, passion and ambition are the only ingredients necessary for making an impression. Whilst G’s unique approach to making music and quirky style makes him rather difficult to categorise, this unpredictability creates an even stronger allure for those who enjoy music that is not structurally sound but rather a little off-kilter. G’s latest LP ‘Rocket’ is actually his eighth studio album! Not bad for a 23 year old. Threading captivating narratives, experimenting with new soundscapes and exploring themes of entitlement, chaos and youth, ‘Rocket’ reminds us that G is still at the top of his game.
‘Rocket’ is a 14 track journey that traverses through some pretty strange territory both sonically and lyrically. Alex G fans will be sitting their saying, “well duh” but for those who are new to G’s catalogue, ‘Rocket’ will give the perfect dosage of the peculiar, authentic style that he has developed since his 2010 inception. The opening song “Poison Root”, introduces key themes that resonate throughout the album; with the most striking being G’s affinity for animals. Animals feature as song titles, cover art and open the album; as a barking dog, piano and creaky violin create a sharp gauntlet for G to drag his melancholic voice through. Juxtaposed by a happy-enough banjo, all three of these instrument are staple elements of ‘Rocket’ and are used to create other moods throughout the album.
Following the opening track comes “Proud”, which is perhaps the most accessible track here. With loose percussion, and a wandering dusty piano, G employs an unorthodox lyrical structure that is disorienting at first, but eventually subside within the familiar and addictive as the track draws to a close. The first single G released and the third track on the LP titled “Bobby”, sees the man share a beautiful harmony with long time collaborator Emily Yacina. The two characters who are entangled in a love tryst echo each others feelings over a beautifully crafted soundscape comprised of a lightly plucked banjo and Molly Germer’s violin. Germer’s addition to ‘Rocket’ on a number of different tracks is a defining feature, providing a nice country texture to the album as a whole.
Giannascoli uses ‘Rocket’ as a medium for his natural gift of storytelling. In “Powerful Man” G embodies an entitled know it all who recounts stories of his friends experiences and his own personal fantasies. With each circumstance G is positioned as the moral standard or ‘hero’ of the story. Similar to “Powerful Man”, G’s character in “Sportstar” comes across as self important and a little perverted. He’s employed auto tune in the past but “Sportstar” has unique defining features making it one of the many songs on the album that occupies it’s own category.
On “County”, G enlists the help of his touring band mates Samuel Acchione and and John Heywood who split his versus with a sensual jam on guitar and bass, eventually linking up again at the end to close out the track in similar fashion. Like many other folk artists, his lyrics are laced with ambiguity and places the meaning (if any) buried within a complex web of metaphors and riddles. Songs like “Witch” and “Big Fish” fall into this category. The title track “Rocket” is a short lived instrumental that’s made up of wistful guitar and the audio of what sounds like a tug of war between a dog and, it can be assumed, Giannascoli. Similar to “Poison Root”, “Rocket” also touches on a fair few of the album’s themes. At the end of the song G can be heard repetitively saying “Now I know everything” which again, plays into that youthful wisdom and ignorant exuberance that is threaded throughout the the album.
On the tail end of Rocket, G unveils a jazzier side of his music in a track called “Guilty”. When asked about his flavoursome catalogue that seems to transcend genres, he made note that he’s short attention span is the main reason behind his versatility, ultimately explaining this jazzy number. Playing out as one of the most straight up ‘cool’ moments of the album, “Guilty” is embellished with a saxophone, adding to the sing-a-long vibe and highlighting yet another example of G’s ability to seamlessly hop between genres in a quest to explore his uncharted talent.
Stream ‘Rocket’ in its entirety below: