From adding a modifier to his name so he wouldn’t be confused with a female pop musician using the same moniker, to touring with the likes of Japanese Breakfast and Cende and releasing one of his most cohesive and unorthodox albums to date, (Sandy) Alex G had a busy 2017. As one of the first musicians to “make it” from the D.I.Y. music streaming website, Bandcamp, his discography reads more like a scrapbook of halfway thoughts and strained vocal harmonies than a highly groomed, professional catalog of music. Listening to Alex G feels like reading someone’s diary, forenames are scattered across his tracklists like a middle school yearbook and his lyrics toe the line between curiosity-driven relationships and straight up obsession. For these reasons, each Alex G album tends to be a disorganized amalgamation of stories that resonate with listeners over time, but take a minute to get used to. That said, have no fear. Impact 89FM is here to guide you through his most overlooked work.
OVERRATED: Beach Music
Beach Music was thought to be Alex’s most complete project before the release of his pseudo-psych country album, Rocket. It carries quite a few grunge overtones and full instrumental sections compared to his earlier albums that consist of mostly acoustic guitar and Garage Band synths. Tracks like “Bug” and “Kicker” display Alex’s growing knack for healthy, full songs rather than a musical collection of ideas, and the brilliant harmony and steady escalation in “Mud” stacks up against his best songs across any era. Nonetheless, Beach Music falls flat when Alex takes same of these little ideas and stretches them across a three or four-minute song just for the sake of being three or four minutes. “Salt” could be cut in half without losing any importance or weight, but instead it overstays its welcome and makes the album harder to trudge through. The beauty in Alex G’s music stems from its brevity and intimate nature, both are lost on Beach Music when he sacrifices his succinctness for a perceived maturation in his songwriting through track length.
DSU is the place where absurdist, short-lived folk songs reach an exploratory high. Thirteen fragmented tracks, scattered dreams of melodies, amateur album art — it’s a perfect example of what bedroom-pop represents. With its creativity through limits, ingenuity with finite resources and strokes of beauty with a crappy old childhood guitar. “Harvey,” only a minute and a half long, immediately spins a fantasy tale with one of the most longingly nostalgic melodies in modern indie music. “Hollow” takes equal inspiration from Pavement and Slowdive, Alex’s airy head-voice barely has enough strength to push out his tired words. Songs come and go on DSU, never staying long enough to be irritating, in fact, most songs are just short enough that they reward repeat listens under a microscope. A band wouldn’t be capable of producing music like DSU, it’s the product of a kid’s bedroom with weird wallpaper and clothes scattered across the floor, a tiny “‘recording studio”’ tucked away in the corner and a microphone or two. Give it a listen if you’ve ever been a lonely kid too.