While it took ’90s lo-fi heroes like Lou Barlow and Elliott Smith years to gain a following with their self-released four-track recordings, Alexander Giannascoli — formerly known as Alex G and now going by (Sandy) Alex G — quickly became a big deal among underground indie circles with the help of music streaming site Bandcamp. But it’s also this deft method of distributing his music that’s allowed (Sandy) Alex G to freely experiment with so many varied sounds and genres without wasting precious studio time or vinyl pressing costs.
Perhaps that’s why Rocket, G’s purported foray into “country” music, comes across so damn confident and well conceived. Celebrated since day one for his sharp and inventive melodies, he mumbles his way through album opener “Poison Root” while still managing to craft something engrossing and emotional. But although he manages to throw honky-tonk piano (“Proud”), cascading fiddles (“Bobby”), and autoharp (“Witch”) into the mix, it’s clear that the Philly musician merely treats these sounds as reference points in order to properly delve into his own brand of sonic deconstruction. To prove this point, G fills the middle third of his album with some of his more shapeless but nonetheless excellent material, producing ear-splitting noise pieces (“Brick”), and effects-saturated vocal exercises (“Judge”).
Alex G then ends the 14-track LP with some of his most focused and honest material to date, just to show that he’s not fucking around. Rocket is a true tour de force that cements (Sandy) Alex G snugly in the company of indie rock’s great auteurs. (Domino)