Austin native, Alejandro Rose-Garcia is from an artistic family and as a kid he was encouraged to dream big. He has tried his hand at acting but, instead of overnight fame and fortune, he experienced only rejection and monotony.
Being reduced to a state of extreme boredom is reflected in Dining Alone which features woe is me lines such as “Nothing’s going to change for the same old me/Eat, sleep, do it again.”
Shakey Graves is a pseudonym that conjures up an image of a restless soul walking gingerly through an old cemetery contemplating past lives while reflecting on the fragility of his own existence.
He portentously says that 'Don't Wake Up' is "to a certain degree, a ‘Don’t kill yourself’ record" yet it doesn't strike me as being a particularly introspective or overly concerned with issues of life versus death.
The wake up call is presumably a reference to the bright melodies which are the antithesis of anything remotely Cohen-esque. In fact, they owe more to The Beatles and there's even a whimsical Ringo-like tune in the shape of Aibohphobia, an LSD influenced ditty built around an invented joke term for the irrational fear of palindromes.
It is his second official studio-album to follow up his previous Dualtone album, 2014’s 'And the War Came'. The thirteen songs make a show of the artist's eclecticism with cited influences including Harry Nilsson, Elliott Smith, early Beck and Built to Spill. Rose-Garcia comments: “It’s a dense album; there’s a lot of information going on.”.
There's a full indie-band sound thanks to collaborators drummer Christopher Boosahda, guitarist Patrick O’Connor, bass player Jonathan Shaw and honorary band member Rayland Baxter.
Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey, either doesn't take himself too seriously or, more probably, is resigned to the downsizing of his ambitions. This would explain the strong element of irony and self parody on display in the video for Kids These Days, a song which sends up the aspirations for rock stardom: “Everybody tries to be somebody/somebody’s wet dream prom king”.
Any darker themes are alluded to but never made explicit. For instance, Foot Of Your Bed tells of a man watching a woman sleep which could either be the account of a lovestruck partner or a creepy stalker.
The Wizard of Oz link in the closing track (Tin Man) suggests the songs were conceived in a feverish dream state more than to reflect nightmarish visions.
The ambiguity is what makes the record interesting but it never seems overly deep and leads me to suspect that Alejandro Rose-Garcia is more of a precocious than a prodigious talent.