PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Alex G: DSU

Dorm-pop reaches its 2014 apotheosis on Alex G's first widespread release.

Alex G


Label: Orchid Tapes
US Release Date: 2014-07-17
UK Release Date: 2014-10-11

And we now enter the era of the bedroom lo-fi indie pop maestro who was born at the dawn of the Clinton Administration. If DSU, the latest from 22-year-old Pennsylvanian Alex Giannascoli (Alex G) is any indication of what to expect from the new crew of young music whizzes, then the kids are alright. (And they’re earning write-ups in Rolling Stone.)

He’s no out-of-nowhere ingénue: he’s been at it a while, releasing a handful of albums through Bandcamp dating back to 2010 and he’s ready for his (comparative) star turn. Don’t let that album cover fool you, though – this is no rah-rah, be-true-to-your-school, stadium-rocking affair. Indeed, when you learn that DSU stands for “Dream State University” everything clicks. DSU is very much the product of a young man crafting an album in his college dorm room, working out the thoughts and sounds in his head.

Not having seen his transcript, I can’t speak to G’s grades, but he’s clearly done his indie homework: opener “After UR Gone” could’ve found a home on the old Tiny Idols comps from a few years back: a celebration of synthy-squiggles leading to a shambling, strummy Guided By Voices riff. He’s also aced courses on Pavement (“Axelsteel”) and King of the Beach-era Wavves (“Black Hair”, the seemingly baby brother ode “Harvey”) and, class clown-style, does a mean impression of the dude from Telekinesis on a codeine bender (“Sorry”).

To his credit, though, Giannascoli is more than the sum of his well-known, well-worn influences. While there’s an admittedly thin line between lo-fi and half-finished, DSU generally lands on the happy side of that divide, with G exploring a sound or idea without wholly committing to it. To wit: “Serpent Is Lord” is a washed-out hymn, while “Promise”, with its synth-funk riff and ethereal piano, is an attempt to establish a colony of Ibiza on G’s Temple University campus. Meanwhile, “Skipper” and “Tripper” serve as brief sketches, with their wordless backing vocals and piano amble pushing the reset button between more far-afield experiments.

That said, G himself may be starting over, if the warning of “I am not the boy you know”, intoned over a clever, discordant piano line of closing “Boy” is to be believed. It’s DSU’s strongest, most fully realized track, and points to Giannascoli’s life outside of a dorm room cocoon.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.