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An Awesome Wave


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iTunes Review

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

Lead singer reminds me of . . . .

I hardly ever write music reviews, but I couldn't resist saying this:

Does anyone else think the lead singer of Alt-J sounds just like Adam Sandler singing his infamous songs on SNL?! The free track, "Fitzpleasure," especially reminds me of Sandler, in a great way! I sense this is a song, and band, that will grow on me!

If you love unusual, quirky bands, hit the download button and don't look back!

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.


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


Formed: 2008 in Leeds, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

English indie rockers Alt-J, named for the triangle that appears when pressing "Alt" and "J" on a Mac, 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. The group's signature blend of layered, folk-inflected dub-pop and soaring alternative rock, which has been compared to everyone from the Wild Beasts and Hot Chip to Coldplay,...
Full Bio
An Awesome Wave, alt-J
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Customer Ratings


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