Friday, March 1, 2013

Favorite Music Friday: Alt-j

I am late on the bandwagon. When I heard the name alt-j, I thought of Japanese J-Pop not indie rock and never gave them a thought. Last month, my friend and I started a collaborative playlist on Spotify since we both are obsessed with finding new music. She shared alt-j with me, and ever since I have been jamming out to them.

Alt-J is an English band formed in 2007, when all four members met at Leeds University. I can just imagine them in their dorm room playing around with Garage Band. Their unique sound is actually due to the fact that they had to keep the sound down in the dorms, so bass guitar and drums are kept at a minimum.
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What's up with the name? Well apparently it is for the Mac OS keyboard shortcut to delta, ∆. The band members chose it because they felt they were going through a change, and delta is the symbol for change in the scholarly world. Bloggers and music reviewers have compared Alt-J to Radiohead mixed with Simon & Garfunkel. The melodies are mumbled out and soft, and a bit whiny. Can I decipher any of the lyrics? Barely, but it somehow works for them. I still find myself humming their tunes. The music is a bit spacey and chill, but each song packs on layer after layer until it erupts. Every song has a distinctive melody or a catchy rhythm.

This week's featured song is 'Dissolve Me.' It highlights their electronica, indie pop rhythms matched with soft, muttled lyrics. Halfway through the music fades away and the band begins to harmonize at an almost inaudible level. At this point, I felt myself almost itching for the release to happen, not in a bad way, but when you listen you know that the song is on the verge of exploding. And it does, still somewhat softly, but all that tension fades. These guys are masters at crafting out song structure.

The band won the 2012 Mecury Prize, which is a huge honor for best album from the UK and Ireland. The prize is so highly respected that it does set up a lot of pressure and expectations. Let's hope it doesn't get to their head and they keep on delivering.

Hope you find a new favorite. Happy Friday!

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