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Indie band on the rise

Column by Abbey Maynard

Abbey Maynard-w2000-h2000If you’ve never listened to Alt-J before, it’s about damn time you started.

Though these British Geek Rockers have been together for nearly six years, it took until late 2012 for the United States to get a taste of their first LP, “An Awesome Wave.”

After six years in production, “An Awesome Wave” took the festival circuit by storm – playing SXSW, two weekends of Coachella, The Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and Bumbershoot – all in the last five months.

Their success in the circuit has earned Alt-J quite the popularity in the indie realm but has yet to leak into other genres.

However, this should not be interpreted as Alt-J not wanting to permeate other genres. Their track “Fitzpleasure” appeared on a Windows phone commercial in early 2013 (you know, the one with the guy dancing in the street, another guy pouring a gallon of milk over his head, a group of people at a rave and the Vespa covered in glow-sticks).

It may just be a matter of time before Alt-J tracks are littering commercial advertising, in every car commercial – not unlike Vampire Weekend’s 2010 hit, “Holiday.”

Even though Alt-J has had festival and (limited) commercial success, there’s still a question remaining.

Why should you, as a listener, check out Alt-J?

Well, first of all, they’re adorably geeky British men. And they’re humble.

When asked about their newfound recognition in the music community in a 2013 interview, they responded with, “In a way, it’s kind of sad. It’s almost like the validation makes (us) feel like we’re a proper band now. Not just like four guys who were at university trying to be a band.”

For more cool points, the name of their group is actually written ?. If you use the function alt-j on a mac computer, it’ll actually change to triangle.  Go ahead! Try it!

Yeah, they’re neat guys, but what about their music?

Their sound is positively genre bending, if you can even call it that. I’m not sure what genres I’d say it’s bending because the sound is hard to locate in terms of other artists.

I find myself trying to place Alt-J on playlists and they’ve ended up in very curious places.

I’ve sandwiched Alt-J between The Antlers, Jay-Z, The Radio Dept., James Blake, Deerhunter and Yeasayer, to name a few.

There is also no shortage of endearing and accessible lyrics. That is not to say that the lyrics are flawless. At times the content feels a bit cliché – tracks overwhelmingly about love and drugs.

Oddly, there is still something hypnotizing about the music.

And that might be exactly what it is – the music. Alt-J has a sound indescribable and incomparable – like nothing ever heard or created before.

They’re delightful syncopated and unexpectedly mellow.

Besides that, the best way to describe them is that they are, simply and honestly, Alt-J.

Maynard is a sophomore English and study of culture and society double major and can be reached at abigail.maynard@drake.edu

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