Before Car Seat Headrest barnstormed through Bandcamp to popular acclaim with DIY bedroom recordings, that trail was blazed by Alex Giannascoli. The Philadelphia-based multi-instrumentalist, Giannascoli, who has recorded under the monicker Alex G and now (Sandy) Alex G, drifted between labels and Bandcamp releasing his atmospheric fuzzy lo-fi indie rock to a growing following and building buzz. He started to make inroads into the mainstream indie world with the release of the album DSU in 2014 before signing to Domino Records and breaking out with the well-received Beach Music in 2015. Hailed as a musical genius by Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, Giannascoli was tapped to collaborate and play on Frank Ocean’s two 2016 albums, Endless and Blonde. Now, firmly riding a wave of critical praise and reverent fandom, (Sandy) Alex G has released Rocket, his latest album with Domino. Rocket is an eclectic exploration of musical styles that expands into Country, Jazz, R&B, and experimental noise rock. The tone and style shifts from song to song creating a patchwork of genres and emotions. Despite its discordant nature, the album is garnering positive reviews, with some hailing it as his most accomplished work. Celebrating the release, (Sandy) Alex G has hit the road for a headlining summer tour of North America. We caught the show, early in the run of dates at a sold-out Cat’s Cradle Back Room in Carrboro NC.
The Sunday night audience filling the Back Room was anything but sedate and laid back. Peppered with dedicated fans the crowd filled in early and was positively buzzing by the time (Sandy) Alex G kicked off his set with a slow burn, playing the lo-fi folky “Judge” from the new album before reaching back in his catalog and continuing the folky vibe with “Forever.” When not singing Alex was swaying from foot to foot playing guitar with a dreamy smile on his face. He continued to build the mood by shifting into a bit of alt-country flavor with “Bobby,” and “Proud” from Rocket. Presented live, the songs missed a bit of the country twang from their recorded counterparts, but gained more of an indie rock edge that resonated with the packed house. The tension continued to build with each new song played and the crowd got more and more amped. “Kicker and “Poison Root” both made an appearance in the set before the audience, bubbling like an active volcano, erupted as Alex delivered a fiercely cathartic verison of “Brick” that spawned wild dancing and a small mosh pit that was met with wide grins from the stage. “Horse” kept things at a fever pitch before downshifting with a trio of songs from Rocket. As the show continued, Alex shifted from guitar and spent some time behind the keyboard. Regardless of the instrument, he remained the center of attention and adoration from the wildly appreciative crowd. The set wound down with “Rocket” and “Guilty,” leaving both the band and the fans sweat soaked and emotionally drained.
The evening started with a set of punky power-pop from Cende. The Brooklyn-based band features guitarist and singer Cameron Wisch, who spends time drumming in Porches, and drummer Greg Rutkin from LVL UP. The band played songs from their debut EP and recently released debut album titled #1 Single. Next up, and coming off a spring tour opening for Slowdive, was the experimental pop of Japanese Breakfast. The solo project of Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast delivered a set of ambient shoegaze-tinged songs pulled primarily from 2016’s brilliant debut album Psychopomp. Zauner also played new single “Boyish,” which generated excitement for her upcoming sophomore release, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, due out in July. Photos of (Sandy) Alex G + Japanese Breakfast + Cende @ Cats Cradle Back Room – June 4th 2017