(Sandy) Alex G

S&S Presents

(Sandy) Alex G

Japanese Breakfast, Cende

Sat, June 24, 2017

7:00 pm

Kilby Court

Salt Lake City, UT

$13 ADV / $16 DOS

(Sandy) Alex G
(Sandy) Alex G
Not long after he finished recording Beach Music, his seventh full-length and Domino debut, Alex Giannascoli found himself in unfamiliar territory. "I took the record to a studio," he says, "to get it mixed and mastered by some pros. But I was really nervous—usually, I'd just do everything myself and then put it out myself. I have this really precise vision and the best understanding of what I want to do." Over the course of six self-recorded and mostly self-released LPs, that vision has come to bear in frequently breathtaking, innately melodic forms. As Alex G, the Philadelphian singer-songwriter has built and feverishly shared a body of work unassuming in its presentation but astounding in its depth, a stream of recordings so rich and expansive that settling on a favorite song is nearly impossible: The moment you finally choose one, you discover another you hadn't heard yet. Beach Music was written and recorded in Giannascoli's apartment, between the Fall of 2014 and the Spring of 2015, during breaks from touring with the likes of Elvis Depressedly, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Gardens & Villa. While its predecessors often came in uninterrupted bursts—from his head to his Bandcamp page in a matter of hours and days—Beach Music was shaped in part by Giannascoli adapting to life as a touring musician. Songs were written within months of one another rather than all at once, with influences ranging from noise music to piano-based laments to Southern rock to the rhythmic focus of techno—whatever he happened to be most interested in at the time. "Every song is coming from a different place," he says. "It branches off in all these directions, but it has its own sound. It's not something I do intentionally, but I'm the common thread." The result is Giannascoli's most cohesive and beautiful work to date, as heard in the iridescent guitars of "Bug," the starlit whispers of "Mud," and the singularly strange harmonics of "Brite Boy." Some feature parts of songs that he began writing as a kid; all are haunting additions to a songbook whose rewards continue to evolve and multiply with every listen. "I wanted this album to sound really warm and unpretentious and unfiltered," he says. "I wanted to make music that was completely honest, music that was coming really naturally to me. I don't know what or who I am if I'm not writing songs."
Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast
"The title Soft Sounds From Another Planet alludes to the promise of something that may or may not be there. Like a hope in something more. The songs are about human resilience and the strength it takes to claw out of the darkest of spaces.”
Michelle Zauner wrote the debut Japanese Breakfast album in the weeks after her mother died of cancer, thinking she would quit music entirely once it was done. That wasn’t the case. When Psychopomp was released to acclaim in 2016, she was forced to confront her grief. Zauner would find find herself reliving traumatic memories multiple times a day during interviews, trying to remain composed while discussing the most painful experience of her life. Her sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, is a transmutation of mourning, a reflection that turns back on the cosmos in search of healing.
“I want to be a woman of regimen,” Zauner sings over a burbling synth on the album’s opening track “Diving Woman.” This serves as Zauner’s mission statement: stick to the routine lest you get derailed, don’t cling to the past, don’t descend. In fact, ascend to the stars; Zauner found artistic solace removed from Earth, in outer space and science fiction. “I used the theme as a means to disassociate from trauma,” she explains. “Space used as a place of fantasy.”
And yet, Soft Sounds From Another Planet isn’t a concept album. Over the course of 12 tracks, Zauner explores an expansive thematic universe, a cohesive outpouring of unlike parts structured to create a galaxy of her own design. In the instrumental “Planetary Ambience,” synths communicate the way extraterrestrials might, and on the shapeshifting single “Machinist,” which Zauner has been performing live for over a year now, she details the sci-fi narrative of a woman falling in love with a machine. “It’s pure fiction,” she explains, “But it can map onto real relationships in a relevant way.” The track, which begins with spoken-word ambience, moves into autotune ‘80s pop bliss and ends with a sultry saxophone solo, perfectly marries the experience: there’s a perceptible humanity in mechanical, bodily events.
Within its astral production, much of Soft Sounds From Another Planet stays grounded. “Road Head” is the last chest compression in attempt to resuscitate a doomed relationship, while the penultimate track “This House” is an acoustic dirge that honors Zauner’s chosen family. The baroque pop “Boyish” has a haunting, crystalline clarity that recalls the pathos of a Roy Orbison ballad, while “Body is a Blade” embraces the dark intimacy of Zauner’s Pacific Northwest heroes Elliott Smith and Mount Eerie.
With help from co-producer Craig Hendrix (who also co-produced Little Big League’s debut) and Jorge Elbrecht, (Ariel Pink, Tamaryn) who mixed the album, Zauner recontextualizes her bedroom pop beginnings, expanding and maturing her sound. The sheer massiveness of the big room production on Soft Sounds From Another Planet introduces listeners to a new Japanese Breakfast. Zauner’s familiar, capacious voice will serve as their guide.
“Your body is a blade that moves while your brain is writhing,” she sings. “Knuckled under pain you mourn but your blood is flowing.” There’s discernible pain in the phrasing, Zauner recognizing limitation, a lack of control, but then subverting the feeling, creating her own musical language for confronting trauma. Where Psychopomp introduced the world to Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds dives deeper. It builds space where there is none, and suggests that in the face of tragedy, we find ways to keep on living.
Venue Information:
Kilby Court
741 Kilby Court
Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
http://kilbycourt.com/kilbycourt/calendar/listing.html