Christ religion

“God Save the Animals”, new album, religion and songwriting – Rolling Stone

Last year Alex Giannascoli was ready to change. After years of nomadic life around Philadelphia, the oracular singer-songwriter who plays the role of Alex G felt like settling down. So he and his longtime partner, violinist Molly Germer, bought their own house. “We had this old house and spent a few months removing wallpaper and putting up ceilings and all that,” says Giannascoli, 29. “It’s pretty cool in there now.”

Since releasing his first demos on Bandcamp as a teenager over a decade ago, Alex G has steadily grown in influence and popularity, with each album and tour being bigger than the last. He is considered a peer by generational talents like Frank Ocean, who invited Giannascoli to play guitar in 2016. Blond and a few live dates that followed – and, like Ocean, he’s revered by a cult of fans who see something pure and real in his emotionally direct, lyrically cryptic songs and carefully guarded public presence.

Alex G’s latest album, god save the animals, is a tour de force, grappling with big ideas about life, religion, and art without ever being clear about what he thinks about any of these topics. Its choruses are haunting, its vibrations deep. It seems guaranteed to add to an audience that’s already big enough to sell out multiple nights at venues like New York’s Webster Hall. And with very few exceptions, this is an album that follows the same creative paths that Giannascoli has trusted since his breakthrough in 2014, memorandum of understanding, in his freshman year at Temple University. He writes the songs himself, meticulously recording each instrumental part layer by layer and tweaking the lyrics in search of the right feeling; if he feels like a song needs something more, he’ll bring in one of his bandmates to play drums, bass, or guitar.

“There’s no philosophy about it,” says Giannascoli. “I’m like, ‘That’s what brought me here, to do it like this.'” He thought about it a bit more, weighing his feelings about the success he had had in being himself. “I don’t want to jinx it,” he finally adds.

The tracklist of god save the animals features four songs recorded with contributions from his friends Sam Acchione on lead guitar, John Heywood on bass and Tom Kelly on drums, and a couple with strings played and arranged by Germer. The rest of the album, for the most part, is all Alex. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell the difference between these two modes without consulting the liner notes: “Runner,” for example, which summons a heartfelt rock band energy reminiscent of Tom Petty, is a solo joint, with Giannascoli listed as playing drums, acoustic and electric guitar, bass guitar, piano and synthesizer. “Blessing”, an eerily compelling nu-metal/whisper-rock/chamber music experience that sounds to the world like something a guy like Giannascoli might cook up in an empty room on a series of late nights, features the full band behind him.

“I’m good at guitar, but Sam is really good,” he says when I ask him about the laid-back ballad “Early Morning Waiting.” “So I sent him the song, like, ‘Can you play on top of that?’ And he shredded. For him, it seems like an obvious choice. The same goes for his music and his lyrics, more or less – a series of well-worn forks in a creative path that has yet to lead him astray. “I’m not necessarily a word specialist,” he says. “I know how to do it by spitting shit. Maybe it’s true, maybe not. Maybe it’s just random shit.

The idea of ​​fame has always baffled him a bit. When he watches a few thousand people gathered to hear him play, he sometimes wonders who they are. “As the crowd grows, the percentage of people who are like, ‘What the fuck?’ keeps growing,” he says. “It’s complicated, I guess. I’m so grateful.

In fact, Alex G’s career exists at the level it is because his fans find his music deeply meaningful. During his shows, they are silent while listening to the first solo songs like those of 2012, quietly devastating “To change”; when he changes the mood with an unexpected shouto interlude, they love it too. The fact that he has almost no social media presence or celebrity profile compared to many of his indie-rock peers seems to add to the devotion of these fans: it’s a mystery people can project oneself.

“That’s how I listen to music,” he says. “When I was younger, I had Modest Mouse, then Elliott Smith, then Radiohead, one at a time — like, ‘I’m obsessed with you.’… They seem like they’re your friends. He’s a kinda trippy to think that’s what my music does [for other people].”

“It’s a sea change, if you want to take that leap of faith.”

Sacha Lecca for Rolling Stone

The most recent and striking aspect of god save the animals is a persistent interest in religious themes. The opening words of the album, over a sequence of gently descending chords, are: “People come and people go / Yeah, but God, with me he stayed.” A few tracks later, through a heavy haze of vocal processing, he plays with another way of thinking about divine power: “God is my designer/Jesus is my advocate.”

Giannascoli says these patterns aren’t indicative of a major shift in his own thinking – “I don’t have a real consistent statement on this” – just a reflection of something he observed around him. “A few people close to me suddenly became religious,” he says. “It’s a sea change, if you want to take that leap of faith.” He recently read author Joy Williams’ 2016 microfiction collection 99 stories of God“I don’t know if that was his intention, but it exposed me to the idea that you can just throw these themes out and not know where they’re going to land.”

The album’s finest song, “Miracles,” is written from the perspective of someone dealing with adult responsibilities. “You say someday we should have a baby / Right now, baby, I fight, we’ll see,” he sings over Germer’s sweet country strings. In the next verse, he wonders, “How many more songs do I have to write? / Before I turn it off and say goodnight.”

Giannascoli, who turns 30 in February, says he wrote the song based on “a capricious feeling”, with no deeper intention than to express the thought that crossed his mind that day. “A lot of times I sit down, try to write, and that feeling never comes, so I don’t do anything,” he says. “And honestly, as I get older, there’s less and less stuff that brings me there. So who knows? It’s not that I’ve waited so long to make this record, but it will take me probably a little longer each time.

He shrugs. “Any form of trying to control it is embarrassing,” he says. “You just have to drop it.”