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An Awesome Wave

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Editors’ Notes

Named after the keystroke for making a delta (i.e., triangle) sign on a Mac by holding down the Alt and J keys, the Leeds, England–based trio Alt-J is inspired by the symbol’s mathematical definition of change. This makes sense upon hearing the band’s handsome 2012 debut album, An Awesome Wave. Its take on postmodern pop mines the best elements from folk-rock, garage rock, dub-pop, indie rock, vintage cinema scores, and a cappella harmony before constructing layered, angular arrangements with sonic ore. Following a dramatic piano part, the opening “Intro” weaves heavily reverberated baritone guitar leads (à la Ennio Morricone) over and around looped beats and random vocal samples that all come together to play like the sons of The Beta Band. These contrast the pointed, geometric arrangements of “Tessellate” with Joe Newman’s flowing, throaty vocals and backing harmonies, which hover above the music like those of Fleet Foxes. Then, in “Breezeblocks”—a mechanically grooving standout in which a toy piano provides the lead—he inflects like Devendra Banhart imitating Jason Mraz, with overt affectation. "Hand Made” closes with folky minimalism.

Customer Reviews

Refreshing Sound

This is a really refreshing sound for music. There's a great mix of heavy drum beats with acoustic/indie instrumentals accompanied by a variety of vocal styles across the whole album. I came in unaware and came out a fan. A great download if you're looking for something to change up your jams.

ENGAGING

Definitely not something spit out of the pink slime music machine. Creative vocals and stimulating music that you want to listen to.

Please, please buy this album now. You need it.

Biography

Formed: 2008 in Leeds, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

English indie rockers Alt-J, named for the delta symbol that appears when pressing "Alt" and "J" on a Mac keyboard, first formed in 2008 under the moniker FILMS. The quartet members, all of whom met at Leeds University, spent two years rehearsing before inking a deal with Infectious Records in 2011. Their signature blend of layered, folk-inflected dub-pop and soaring alternative rock was first heard on the 2012 singles "Matilda" and "Fitzpleasure" with the group's full-length studio debut, An Awesome...
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An Awesome Wave, alt-J
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