Alt-J's Debut Album: An Awesome Wave
Posted by Ryan J. Beard on Sep 12, 2012 - 11:09:07 AM
CAMBRIDGE, UK—A new band from Cambridge is pushing the limits of
alternative rock to the edge. With transient beats, folksy guitars, layered
vocals, and unpredictable song structures, Alt-J’s debut album titled “An
Awesome Wave” takes listeners to another world of music.
Alt-J, deriving its name from the delta symbol formed when
pressing the alt key and the J key on a computer keyboard, formed at Leeds
University in 2007. Guitarist and lead vocalist Joe Newman played bass player
Gwil several of his own songs. Gwil was inspired to record and produce the
songs in his dorm room using Garage Band. Soon after, Thom Green joined the
band on drums, later on saying, “It was music I was looking for, I just didn’t
know I was. I just loved it.” The band was completed when Gus Unger-Hamilton
joined the band on keyboard.
The music the quartet produces is nearly impossible to
compare to anything else. The band is somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead or Moby
with a mixture of genres in their music. At certain points, Texas based instrumental
band, Explosions in the Sky, comes to mind with a dreamy amnesiac sound; yet
overall Alt-J is wading out into new waters. There are hints of folk with
gentle picking on the guitar, dub step with heavily distorted bass and effects,
and tribal or worldly influences with primal drumbeats and a sitar featured in
the song “Taro.” Joe Newman’s lyrics are fascinating, abstract, beautiful and
poetic; they deal with tragedy, love, fear, and death.
“An Awesome Wave” is so well rounded and produced, it’s
difficult to believe it’s the band’s debut. Intro opens the album, with a
simple piano soon building up with drums and a wailing guitar riff until it
epically peaks when Joe Newman serenely draws your attention with rhythmic
vocals over deep layered tracks. The song sets the tone for the remainder of
the epic album. After a brief interlude, Tessellate continues the album with
dissonant pianos, catchy beats and captivating lyrics. Ms will lull you
gently into your dreams followed by the bass heavy song with primal drum beats
titled Fitzpleasure. Bloodflood will drown you in a sea of meditative
harmonies, transient drum beats, and enchanting guitars, then wash you up on
nirvana’s shores. Each of the songs on “An Awesome Wave” are unique and
extremely well crafted. The debut album will be available in the United States
on September 18th.
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