December 11, 2015 1:59 am

2015 has been a big year for Eskimeaux, the solo project of songwriter producer Gabrielle Smith. While she has been recording as Eskimeaux since 2007, this year marks the first time she has garnered wider recognition from her own music.

As a frequent collaborator and friend of bigger names in the lo-fi/bedroom pop world, like Frankie Cosmos and Mitski, Eskimeaux released her own album O.K. to an unforeseen amount of positive response. The release garnered critical acclaim, successfully catapulted her from the insular Brooklyn indie scene to a more nationally recognized Indie stage. NPR’s host of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen, picked Eskimeaux’s album as one of his top 10 of the year along with bigger name acts like Courtney Barnett and Girlpool. Rolling Stone declared her one of the artists you need to know this year. Stereogum selected the album as their “album of the week” above more prominent artists The Tallest Man On Earth and Snoop Dog.

Yet with all of this publicity and high praise, it’s likely that most of you haven’t heard Esimeaux before. Luckily with music, it’s never too late to get started.

O.K. is a beautiful collection of eloquent and earnest bedroom-pop. The confessions she makes cut pretty deep, yet the precision with which she molds her lyrics into pristine melodies functions as a haunting juxtaposition to the darkness in her stories. Above a soundscape of beautifully layered keyboards and fuzzy guitars, Smith’s voice floats in a realm of its own—too present to be labeled ethereal yet too aloof to be fully comforting.

The breakout track from the album, “I Admit I’m Scared,” is a masterpiece in the art of understatement. Reworked from an earlier version of the same song, the version that appears on O.K. is a beautiful example of when music and lyrics come together to create something larger than the sum of their parts. The track begins with a nervous and unsteady confession, “I admit I’m scared.” A softly strummed banjo complements the naïve lyrics. Yet as the song continues and the narrator becomes more confident in her confession, booming percussion and guitars chime in to ensure the narrator’s intensity echoes out to the listener. There is a true beauty to Smith’s lyrical and musical method of storytelling – reminiscent of a film score. With a little luck and some excellent sync/licensing placement in the indie film/television world, Eskimeaux could easily become a household staple.

As we near the end of the year, it’s important to remember all of the things that stood out to us about the year. Music discovery is no exception. With an oversaturated market, it’s easy to miss something great and difficult to go back and revisit stuff you may have overlooked. Do not make that mistake with Eskimeaux. Go home, put on the record and give it the full listen that it deserves. You just might find that it sticks.

November 16, 2015 8:08 am

In celebration of his new album Beach Music, Philly-based musician Alex G played a sold-out show at the First Unitarian Church this past Saturday.


Alex Giannascoli, aka Alex G rose to prominence in the Philly DIY scene while studying at Temple University and has been quickly gaining recognition for his homegrown approach to music. The indie rock/lo-fi artist is known for recording alone in his bedroom, a factor that aids in creating a sound that’s uniquely his own.

Joining him for this special hometown show was folk punk duo Girlpool, as well as Brooklyn’s Eskimeaux and one-man electropop act Brandon Can’t Dance, whom I particularly enjoyed.  I was also excited to see Girlpool after hearing about them through friends, and I was not disappointed. I had never heard of Eskimeaux prior to this show but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by front-woman Gabrielle Smith’s vocals and low-key disposition.

At around 9:45, Alex G took to the stage and was met with enthusiastic cheers from the crowd of mostly teens and 20-somethings. Being that this was a hometown show, many of the attendees were personal friends of Alex or fellow musicians showing their support.  Alex played a long set of both old and new songs (Beach Music is his seventh album!) and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.  It seemed like almost everyone in the room was dancing, or at least swaying from side to side, and Alex even busted out a few of his own moves at one point.

In all honesty, this was probably one of the most intimate shows I’ve ever attended, due to both the size of the venue and the feeling of love and support that filled the room.  Alex G is without a doubt one of Philadelphia’s finest young musicians, and I can’t wait to see where his career takes him.