by Logan Deiner
As someone who likes to listen to a lot of music both old and new, I often find that every decade in recent history has a kind of music that defines it. Two decades that break this rule are the 70s and 90s. In these decades, the industry did not follow trends as much as other decades, but rather broke music up into smaller sub-segments. In the 70s, bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Judas Priest were constantly pushing the bar and experimenting with heavier music, but there were also bands like The Eagles, Billy Joel, and Elton John who were taking music in an entirely different direction, making it softer, more lyric driven, and more accessible. Similarly, during the 90s, while bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Marilyn Manson pushed music in a darker experimental direction, pop acts like Hanson, NSYNC, and The Backstreet Boys got even more accessible and were able to reach an even bigger audience. For both decades, the focus was less on following a trend, and the record labels allowed the artists to be more creative, pushing the boundaries of what music was capable of more so than at any other time. Alex Galiatsatos, otherwise known as Alexander Gallows, seems to agree, as his musical tastes and influences tend to go in a very similar direction. He put out an album a few years ago that takes a lot of cues from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and just recently released a new single covering the Michael Jackson hit “Billie Jean,” in the style of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden, and in my opinion, does it better than both of them.
For Alexander Gallows, enthusiasm for music began at a very young age. He was about 9 when he got his first acoustic guitar and would eventually go on to teach himself how to play. Aerosmith was one of his early influences, specifically their self-titled album. “My brother and parents listened to music a lot, but the Aerosmith album really made music a major focus for me,” he said in an interview. “I used to play the CD over and over again and then try to learn the Joe Perry licks. This album started it all, and classic rock, folk, and jazz came afterwards. When I was young, I always turned to the guitar, and I would sit in my room, figure songs out, and write new ones.” Along with Aerosmith, some other influences included Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, and David Bowie. Bowie was especially big for Alexander in terms of songwriting.
Even though he has only released one album, Solitude in 2017, the album paints a nice picture of what is to come. The closest comparison would no doubt be to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and in some ways, it feels like a long overdue sequel to the landmark Deja Vu album. Alexander’s songwriting chops are top notch, and the album, whether by accident or not, is even mastered to sound like it is from that time period, with a warm and rich feel to it. From the political “Love Will Trump All,” to the folk ballad title track which perfectly captures the feelings of loneliness, to the more traditional folk style storytelling of The Crow, Alexander tries and succeeds in emulating his folk heroes. It calls back to a part of the 1970s that unfortunately does not get nearly enough attention in the retro revival community. Although Solitude contains many well-crafted elements, Alex will admit that he has grown as an artist since this album and considers it to be a bit rough. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on him as he improves as an artist.
Alexander’s newest musical contribution is a cover of “Billie Jean”. While it is obviously more inspired by Chris Cornell’s version as opposed to the Michael Jackson original, Alexander makes some well needed changes that gives his version an edge over both. Chris Cornell’s cover strips the original dance and funk pop classic down to its very roots, turning it into a blues heavy ballad with an underlying melancholy to it. Alexander has a leg up, however, for one simple reason – his passion, not just in his voice, but in his instruments. He plays it with such gusto that people who might not know better would swear he was the person who wrote it. As a result, this is by far the heaviest song Alexander has released so far on the major streaming platforms. It includes a killer guitar solo, adding to the already dark atmosphere with an even greater feeling of emptiness and heartbreak. Alexander recorded a music video for the cover which can be viewed on YouTube. It is not super flashy, but it does not need to be. It perfectly captures the somber mood of the song.
If “Billie Jean” is any indication, the future of Alexander Gallows looks very bright. He is planning on releasing a more acoustic driven project in the near future. Along with Alex, tt includes Missy Curl as the secondary vocalist, Robert Colemen on bass, and Jason Mullinax on drums. He met Missy and Robert at the University of Maryland and works with Jason at the Richardson School of Music where they both teach. According to Alexander, “It has been amazing working with them. They took some songs that I had been playing solo and added a whole new dimension to them.” The band is currently working on an EP and expects it to be released sometime next year. Alex and Missy are also going to be performing at the Bump and Grind on September 27th and College Park on October 18th. The full band will perform at the 7 Locks Brewery on November 9th.
A lot can be said about Alexander Gallows and his musical journey with more to come in the future. He has some amazing lyrical content with a great sound that is only getting better.
Listen to his music on Spotify.
Logan Deiner is a writer and journalist who enjoys hanging out with friends and listening to music in his spare time. He enjoys most genres of music, and has a vinyl collection of over 500 records.