It’s always fun when bands have cool names. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make good music, but if they don’t, at least they have something going for them. Luckily, Alt-J coined a neat moniker and managed to produce an award-winning first album, “An Awesome Wave”. What’s that you say? You told your friends about this sick new band was called Triangle? Sorry kids, Alt-J is the Mac keyboard shortcut for the Greek letter delta.
In their eerie third track, Tessalate, they sing, “triangles are my favourite shape/three points where two lines meet”. Tessalation is also an artistic term for highly symmetrical patterns made only by repeating the same shape, usually triangles, squares or hexagons. Another track, Breezeblocks, takes themes from Where The Wild Things Are, singing “Please don’t go/I love you so/Please don’t go/I’ll eat you whole”.
Breezeblocks also won Best Alternative Video at the UK Video Music Awards for its slow motion, reverse display of a lovers quarrel (or so you think…). This is the kind of depth you’ll find in their songs, in both the titles and lyrics; all four members (Gwil Sainsbury on vocals/bass, Joe Newman on guitar/vocals, Gus Unger-Hamilton on keyboard and Thom Green on drums) all studied English and Fine Art at Leeds University, where they met in 2007. Alt-J’s music blends heavy sounds like Radiohead and The National with creative layering, a capella chanting, and a Passion Pit-esque melodic pop-synth rhythm. They’ve come a long way from their university days, when they produced their music on Garageband, and in 2012 they won the prestigious Barclaycard Mercury Award, for Britain’s best new album. Alt-J keeps good company, with past winners of this award being Portishead, Franz Ferdinand and Badly Drawn Boy.
Check out their debut album An Awesome Wave – all the tracks are equally amazing. Alt-J is that band that you hear and then, subsequently find yourself unsatisfied by everything else for a while. Alt-J plays in at The Sound Academy in Toronto on March 27.
Angelica Siegel, Co-Creative Director
Image Source: Quit Mumbling