1. Alex G. - DSU
(June 2014 Orchid Tapes)
Though I do my best as a reviewer to ignore hype, I couldn't help getting excited for the most recent Alex G LP. It's an underdog story that seems nearly too idyllic to be true: the Pennsylvanian songwriter's charming, yet undeniably inventive nuggets of lo-fi pop, (seldom greater than three minutes in length), had garnered the attention and praise of major music outlets like Fader, Spin and even Rolling Stone, coverage unheard of for an artist releasing music exclusively on Bandcamp. It was no surprise to me that Alex G had escaped the boundaries of his cozy lo-fi niche. His music bore a faint, magical quality; it stayed true to the shared lo-fi ethos of his peers and contemporaries, yet it also seemed to go deeper than that, its songwriting exhibiting the punk polish of Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, perhaps even Neil Young.
DSU did not just live up to my expectations of "the internet's best secret singer-songwriter", it exceeded them, narrowing the broad scope of previous releases down to a more cohesive focus: quirky noise-pop that mirrors the early experimentation of Modest Mouse and Built to Spill. There's a balance between minimal pop gems like "Harvey" (one of Rolling Stones' 50 tracks of the year), noisy cuts like "Axesteel", and lush, jazzy tunes like the album's closer, "Boy". There's nothing too flashy about DSU. It does everything correctly, and consistent, making for a near-perfect listen.