Release Date: Nov 10, 2014
Record label: Lucky Number
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Those hoping a politically charged voice of revolution might rise from the underbelly of the web may be disappointed to find that a 21-year-old slacker has been heralded by reputable sources as the “internet’s secret best songwriter”. Alex Giannascoli’s DSU went straight to Bandcamp earlier this year, and has organically gained praise for its delicate remould of Generation X angst-makers and post-grunge icons such as Lilys, Silver Jews and Pavement. Taking a couple of tracks to ease into itself, the Philadelphian’s sound gradually teeters out of its comfort zone (Promise’s synthy Seinfeld funk is an awkward delight; Tripper’s piano interlude could have crawled from Elliott Smith’s Figure 8), with some Stephen Malkmus-inspired lyrical riddles along the way.
At just 21, Alex Giannascoli has released five albums. ‘DSU’, his latest, was made in his bedroom in Philadelphia, where he is at university. Initially released on tiny Brooklyn label Orchid Tapes this summer, it skilfully combines Neil Young’s dusty American songcraft with scratchy lo-fi and wandering electronic influences. ‘Serpent Is Lord’ is built on dissonant guitar and percussive clatter that echo Parquet Courts, while warm guitar billows through ‘Rejoyce’.
It's all too easy to slap the 'bedroom pop' label on Alex G. Okay, he did record this album in his actual bedroom, but DSU is so much more than a loner making scuzzy, distorted tracks after school. Recently signed to Lucky Number/Domino Publishing for the release this side of the Atlantic, the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter has been tucked into the music collections of Bandcamp fanatics for quite a few years now.
An unspoken ideal behind the quest for below-the-radar music is that somewhere out there, a random stranger might be churning out homemade songs that're better than the ones you can find through more established channels. The methods of discovery, the sub-genre descriptors, and the artist names change, but that faith in some undiscovered loner who defies the odds and draws a diehard following (at least somewhat) independently has remained constant. In 2014, one of the most enticing of these bedroom singer/songwriters is Alex Giannascoli, a Temple University student who has built up an audience through putting material out there on the internet.
The internet is a cold, frustrating, dog-eat-dog vacuum, but at least it gave us Alex Giannascoli, aka Alex G, a 21-year-old songwriter from Philadelphia who has, rather quietly, become one of the best and most prolific “bedroom pop” artists in recent years. Perhaps more importantly, his music transcends both the genre he finds himself lumped into and the method of discovery for most of his growing fan base. Take one of Giannascoli’s career highlights, for instance: “Forever”, off of 2012’s TRICK.
Poll a dozen young indie-rock heads about their favorite Internet-only cult acts, and there's a decent chance at least one will mention Philadelphia's Alex G. A 21-year-old college kid with an uncanny ear for sad, pretty melodies and trebly riffs, he's been uploading his DIY dorm-room jams to increasing online acclaim since 2010. With any luck, this accomplished full-length debut will be his ticket to a wider audience.
The Internet’s made it simpler than ever to share your homegrown sounds with the ears of the world. While that naturally breeds some utter dross, shimmering beauty manages to eke through that perhaps would get otherwise overlooked by the traditional channels. In the latter camp, we have Alex Giannascoli, or as he’s better known, Alex G. Giannscoli has been cultivating a cultish flock since 2010 with his output on bandcamp, but it's only fairly recently that he's managed to emerge from the e-underground into the limelight and wider consciousness.
Near the end of his debut LP for Orchid Tapes, Alex Giannascoli has a song called simply, Sorry. It starts with one guitar, a minor chord, a sense of unease. Then the drums drop in, scuttling beneath Alex G’s nervously greasy, adolescent vocals. And the chorus: “I look at you and feel the same/Could you forgive me for that pain?” It’s a chest-tightening, oppressively sad kind of song that doesn’t lend itself to multi-tasking.
They say it's the little things that count, they say that, and they might still be right. You might not have heard of Alex G yet, he's a 21 year old kid from Philadelphia, one of those outsider artist prodigy types. He's an oxymoron incarnate; the workaholic slacker, the quiet kid with lots to say, the talented musician that plays simple songs. He grew up playing basement shows with his friends, recording his songs on his laptop, uploading them onto the internet and steadily building a quietly fanatical following.