Infinite Shuffle

June 27, 2012

118 – Alt-J

Filed under: A, England — assman41 @ 2:04 am

When I received the text message a few weeks ago, I was excited, but also a little nervous. My friend, Scott, who is one of the few people I respect when it comes to their taste in music, sent me word that I needed to immediately check out the group Alt-J and that their debut album, An Awesome Wave, was easily one of the best of the year.

Naturally, I was intrigued. Usually, before checking out a band, I’ve at least heard a minor mention of it once or twice via various sources. But when I downloaded and first listened to Alt-J, I was flying completely blind.

Upon the first listen, I immediately classified it as “an acquired taste.” It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was gonna take a few more listens before anything grew on me. And, as I suspected, after a handful of spins, I’ve grown — not exactly fond, but — accustomed to the mixture of influences. From Junip to modern Radiohead to some other hard-to-pinpoint elements, Alt-J churn out some tunes that are at times funky, at times electro, but always chill.

As described on their page, the music is …

… alt-pop that draws on poignant folk verses, crushing synths, smart hip-hop syncopations and tight vocal harmonies.

The quartet formed in 2007 while the four members were all students at Leeds University in England. Known first as Daljit Dhaliwal then FILMS, the band eventually took on the moniker ∆, which is the symbol that results from hitting Alt + J on a Mac computer. I’m on the fence as to whether that’s incredibly awesome or totally pretentious.

Nevertheless, they worked on their sound for several years and eventually gained a local following. After a four-track demo, they put out a pair of 7″ records and eventually released the full-length debut this May.

While Alt-J almost certainly will not be making an appearance on my best-of-the-year post, I wouldn’t kick them out of bed for eating crackers.

(I apologize if that last clause was confusing. It’s something one of my college roommates used to always say, and it occasionally pops into my head.)



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