Today marks the release of (Sandy) Alex G’s brand new album Rocket, an album that he played every song off of last night at a church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The show was super sold out, with dozens of people frantically looking for tickets on the Facebook event page. Singles like “Proud” and “Bobby” hinted at this possibly being his most polished work to date, and why shouldn’t it be? With an increased profile, there’s no longer a need to record the lo-fi way of his early work. He’s released 7 (!!) albums and just as many EPs since just 2011, making him one of the more prolific singer-songwriters of his generation. It’s landed him work with Frank Ocean and transcended early comparisons to Built To Spill and Elliott Smith.
As I write this, I’m spinning Rocket for the first time, still digging the already-released tracks and really excited to hear the ones that are brand new for me. “County,” for example, is eerie and effect-ridden, telling the story of a dude who swallowed a few bags of heroin and a razor blade before ironically ending the track with, the lyrics, “Hey why don’t you write that into a song maybe your fans will dig that.”
“Bobby,” the lead single for the album, is something that could be classified as alternative country if heard by the write ears. It’s twangy and folky, complete with violin and banjo, and for Christ’s sakes about a dude named “Bobby.” But it’s as good as the music written by veterans like Jeff Tweedy and Jim James: simple, beautiful, and totally heartfelt.
The whole point of the record release show last night was to recreate the album and perform its songs live, and so Alex brought violinist Molly Germer, vocalist Emily Yacina, saxophonist/keys player David Allen Scoli, and more along for the ride. The songs had big gaps of space between them for shifting instruments, which were peppered with awkward banter and more than a few “Thanks for coming out”s by the man himself. “This one’s really good,” he might say before jumping into one of the new songs. He may just be the most awkward and charismatic guy in the room.
After completing the album, the band opened the room up for requests, at which point the entire space was overtaken with screams of this song or that one from his many releases. It become clear that the audience was really into the material released previous to Rocket. The encore featured tongue-in-cheek, half-assed covers of Dave Matthews Band, Green Day, and Third Eye Blind, met with awkward laughter and sing-alongs from the crowd (especially the ones who weren’t afraid to wear their dMb love on their sleeve). Afterwords, Alex hustled back to the merch booth to sign and sell records, clearly not the least bit effected by his increasing profile, Frank Ocean association, or growing fanbase. He’s just a chill-ass dude who happens to make really awesome, weird, and diverse music.