Sidney Alexis was born in Paris, but grew up in the United States in various places, attending eleven different schools during his formal education before heading off to Europe again and living in a commune in southern Spain for awhile. His vagabond life has figured heavily into his songwriting and lyrics and his first album The Shining Example Is Lying On The Floor was compared to both Sparklehorse and Wilco. While those comparisons are apt in places, his second release finds him branching out in completely different directions as well.
This newest release probably still falls into the Americana genre, but it's certainly not typical. Alexis isn't afraid to tinge his songs with analogue synths, lots of vibes and slide guitar and otherwise spectral sounds, giving them an often haunted quality that fits well alongside his world-weary vocals. Tracks like "San Diego Backslide" sound traditional from the outset, with smokey curls of lap steel and simple percussion alongside acoustic guitars and vocals, but halfway through, the track spirals upwards with multiple layers of synths, guitar e-bow and organ.
Although his more traditional fare is strong, Goliath, I'm On Your Side is at its best when it veers away from the standard lineup. "Suddenly, It's You & Me" strips things down to vibes, synth, more lap steel, toy piano and theremin while Alexis' crackling voice tells a tale of lost friends. "Silver Waves Crash Through The Canyons" is another standout, packing what are easily the most hummable melodies together into a two-minute track that offers up a slight smile on an album that doesn't have very many lighter moments.
The album gets downright tripped-out in several places, and it's on these longer tracks that the group pushes forward into some places that are absolutely stunning. The nineteen-minute "Hummingbird/Indian Dog" (which takes up almost one-third of the album running length) could probably be classified as some sort of freak folk, but it moves from spacey ambient chants to a noisy psych-inspired mid-section and finally to quieter end section that reminds me a bit of the back-porch weirdness of the Animal Collective side project Campfire Songs.
On "Oh, The Loneliness" the group stretches some heavily-reverbed vibraphone notes, bass, and sparse guitar into an eight-minute meditation that's dreamtime beautiful, with walking, overlapping tones that mingle together in gorgeous ways. Given the interesting sonic inclusions in the more structured tracks, the experimental moments don't seem to stick out quite as much as they should. Goliath, I'm On Your Side is a great second album from a young artist who's just really starting to carve out his own way.