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Bowden on Alt-J


Lydia Bowden

Lydia Bowden, Eyewear's Music Critic, focuses in on Alt-J

Indie? Electro-geek pop? I don’t know, I just made that up. Alt-J don’t want a genre, nor do they want to be labelled or compared to any other band out there- they are completely unique.

I don’t know where to begin if I’m honest. I was looking through my Facebook only a month ago and I came across a link my fellow music obsessive friend had posted on my wall. It was a song called ‘Breezeblocks’ and I thought: oh here we go, another group of guys stamping their feet and whining into the microphone- how very wrong I was. Before I mention what I heard, I need to point out the visual. This is of course the video I’m talking about; A fight between a man and woman rewound so the ending is ultimately the beginning. It’s action packed, it’s fast and it’s like a short drama unfolding in front of you, but then you hear the music- the smooth vocals of front man Joe Newman playing over the top of it, turning the whole package into an unlikely paradox.

Having met as students at Leeds University, the band of four built a small fan base, creating a Sound Cloud account giving away free music downloads and playing small gigs. But people started to notice their individual sound, and now with their debut album An Awesome Wave that got to number one ‘alternative’ album in its first week, they’ve managed to turn heads in the US.

Every song on this album is entirely different from each other. The most talked about ‘Breezeblocks’ entwines soft guitar notes with a load of keys coming from all over the place- there’s even the sound of a bicycle bell in there (which I urge you not to take notice of when walking along a path, it’ll scare you half to death). Then there’s ‘Fitzpleasure’ which has the most unusual harmonies mixed with sudden changes in the music- there’s about three different genre’s in the song and a bass so deep you feel like you’ve eaten it for lunch. It has a jump from one sound to another like a kid who’s had too many E numbers, a deep synth here, a soft whisper there and a sweet guitar riff. ‘Interlude’ is just voice’s saying god knows what, it’s just so peaceful, almost like a speech at church. Finally ‘Matilda’, which is a personal favourite of mine- it has a serene feel to it that comes from the linear tunes of a couple of guitars.

Big things are coming for Alt-J. Go and give them a listen and if you like, join me in watching their career shoot sky high through the music industry’s roof.  

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