Let’s just get this out of the way: This list could be 50 songs long and wouldn’t even cover half of the great songs written and recorded by Alex Giannascoli, the prolific indie rocker known to most as Alex G.
But, in honor of his 30th birthday on February 3rd, 2023, we’re going to attempt to do the impossible: narrow it down to 10.
Even as a fledgling teenager growing up in sleepy suburbs of Philadelphia, Alex wrote haunting acoustic numbers with a keen wit that belied his youth, often conveyed with a homespun, lo-fi charm. As his star has grown, so has his dexterity, finding ways to make his formula feel fresh without losing his DIY essence.
From YouTube rarities to indie staples, we’ve given our best shot at narrowing down Alex G’s top 10 songs below. Scroll to the end for a playlist of every track (minus one unreleased rarity).
Comparisons to artists like Elliott Smith, Pavement, and Sparklehorse have plagued Alex since his music first reached an audience beyond Bandcamp. But with the brooding cadence of “Bug,” an essential track off his 2015 album Beach Music, you can start to see Alex come into his own as not just a talented singer-songwriter, but someone whose influence has already started to leave a wave of its own that’ll last through the coming decades. “Bug” seems normal until its final moments, when a shrill pitch-shifted voice sings “bug in the crosshair,” perhaps an indicator of all the personalities Alex brings into his songwriting world. — Abby Jones
Alex’s songs tend to put him in the place of a narrator other than himself. Such is the case with 2012’s “Adam,” a song that — much like its story — feels subtly romantic under its pensive, dismal exterior. Over a chugging, somewhat funereal piano melody, Alex sings from the point of view of a school bully hellbent on assuaging his forbidden crush the only way he knows how: by physically and mentally tormenting him. It’s a scarily nuanced look at the extremities of emotional manipulation; after bringing Adam to tears by stealing his lunchbox and battering him at the pool, the bully of “Adam” gets a sliver of satisfaction by knowing that his taboo flame is thinking of him at home, one way or another. — A.J.
08. “Not So Tough”
The most fervent of Alex G fans would die on the hill of their favorite unreleased track, and for good reason: Many of them are really great, despite their obscurity. But “Not So Tough” is one of his strongest, a dose of folksy dream-pop in which Alex sings over a chorus of guitars. They dwindle and echo, but he never lets them go too far off track. “Don’t talk to me and pretend you care/ You’re not here, you’re not there, you’re not anywhere,” go the track’s final lines, a perfect example of the multifaceted meanings Alex can convey in simple language — an insult and eulogy all at once. –– A.J.