(Sandy) Alex G Credit: Tonje Thilesen

In April, about a month before he released his second Domino album, Rocket, Philadelphia experimental rocker Alexander Giannascoli altered the stage name he’d used since 2010, adding “(Sandy)” to “Alex G,” the parenthetical a reference to the first song he posted on Bandcamp way back in June 2011. As Spin magazine discovered, LA musician Alexandra Gronlund had put a trademark on “Alex G” in late 2015, forcing Giannascoli to make an awkward adjustment just as he was about to take a big step in his career. Despite the name augmentation, (Sandy) Alex G on Rocket is more or less the same as Alex G ever was—which is to say the album’s music follows no traceable progression and changes wildly while retaining an intimate complexity unique to Giannascoli. He mumbles over a clamoring collection of banjo notes, booming piano keys, acoustic-guitar reverberations, and galloping violins (“Poison Root”); he heartily sings over an ambling country instrumental (“Proud”); he duets with an overdubbed, high-pitched recording of his voice atop crystalline guitars fit for a minimal emo tune (“Witch”); and he belts out stentorian, staccato screams over blown-out, industrial percussion and damaged, lo-fi guitars (“Brick”). And that’s just at the album’s halfway mark. Giannascoli makes sense of it all over the course of the record, and by swerving into prickly, confrontational melodies he strengthens his quietest moments. The vulnerable “Sportstar,” where Giannascoli lays his watery vocals atop an echoing piano and guitars that evaporate as they ripple upward, gets a power-up from following the tank blast of “Brick.” If you can follow Giannascoli’s trip, a name change is nothing.   v