Alex G

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A singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer, Alex Giannascoli — better known as Alex G — built his reputation with an intimate lo-fi pop that combined strong melodic sensibilities and intimate vocals with an impulsive-sounding performance style. He is also known for diversions into recording experiments and noise. After releasing a dozen combined albums and EPs on his own or on smaller labels, his Domino Records debut, 2015′s Beach Music, landed on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and led to guitar spots for Frank Ocean. He retained his idiosyncratic, turbulent style even as he began working with collaborators, expanding his sound, and working in studios, as on 2019′s House of Sugar. His fourth album for Domino, 2022′s disjointed God Save the Animals found him working with a half-dozen engineers, each at a different studio, and all were given the instruction to produce their highest-quality recorded material, arguably resulting in G’s most challenging album yet.
As a teenager, Alexander Giannascoli, a Pennsylvania native, wrote and recorded music in his bedroom, producing a sound that channeled the likes of Elliott Smith and Built to Spill. His first album, 2010′s Race, appeared on the cassette label Gold Soundz. He followed it a year later with the self-issued Winner. While enrolled at Temple University in 2012, he came to the attention of musician Mat Cothran of Elvis Depressedly, who subsequently shared the homemade demos and approached Giannascoli to play his first live show. That year, he released two more long-players, Rules (Birdtapes) and Trick (Haze Tapes). In 2013, by then going by simply Alex G, he signed with the indie label Orchid Tapes, the home of a community of songwriters, including Cothran and Sam Ray (Teen Suicide). Orchid released the home-recorded DSU in 2014 to some acclaim, and Giannascoli dropped out of school to pursue music.
The U.K. label Lucky Number mastered and released a couple of Alex G’s earlier D.I.Y. albums, Trick and Rules, in early 2015, and he signed with Domino Records for his DSU follow-up, Beach Music, issued in October of that year. Peaking at number nine on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart, that record expanded his audience and furthered his reputation, and in 2016 his guitar work appeared on the Frank Ocean albums Endless and Blond. The following April, with no formal explanation given, he officially adopted the moniker (Sandy) Alex G for his second Domino release, May 2017′s Rocket. Still home-recorded, it was a more collaborative effort, featuring members of his touring band, violinist Molly Germer, and prior guest vocalist Emily Yacina. It reached number 23 on Billboard’s independent albums chart. Later that year, he appeared on-stage with Ocean and opened shows for Fleet Foxes, amid headlining tour dates. The concert album Live at Third Man Records followed in mid-2018.
Alex G’s first album to emerge from outside of home, House of Sugar was recorded with Beach Music and Rocket mixer Jacob Portrait at his studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Again using the name (Sandy) Alex G, it arrived on Domino in September 2019 and went on hit the Top 30 of the Billboard alternative and independent albums charts as well as the Top Five of the Heatseekers chart. In January 2021, a horror film he scored, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, had its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Meanwhile, he dropped the “(Sandy)” designation and used the demos for his ninth studio album to a half-dozen engineers (including Portrait) at studios across the Northeast. The complex results of requesting the “best” recording quality from each studio were evident on the off-kilter and dynamic God Save the Animals in September 2022. It also featured contributions from Germer, singer Jessica Lea Mayfield, and guitarist/banjo player Samuel Acchione, among others. A limited-edition, vinyl-only LP, Live from Union Transfer, followed on Domino in June 2023, capturing a November 2022 show in Philadelphia with his band. He went on to tour internationally, including dates in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, with Alvvays before the end of the year. ~ Marcy Donelson & Scott Kerr