alt-jI first heard of Alt-J while driving to a meeting.  I decided to stop listening to the garbage that is often played ad nauseum on the local radio station and tuned my radio to NPR hoping for some news.  What came blaring out of the speakers was anything but Kojo Namdi.  It was discordant, and alien, and strange.  But I found myself not wanting to change the station.  My interest was peaked immediately but mostly because there was this crazy ass music playing on and NPR segment.  I needed to know the reason so I continued to listen.  Later I even went back and downloaded a podcast of that particular segment and got to hear the entire song from beginning to end.  The song was called “Fitzpleasure”.  And I found myself rewinding the podcast simply to listen to the song over and over again.  It had unintelligible lyrics and totally odd vocals.  But the musical arrangements were amazing.  I wanted more.  I went to iTunes and Amazon only to discover the album had not yet been released in the US.  I was restricted to the thirty second promo of the song on Amazon UK.
         I had forgotten about Alt-J until I heard them again Pandora.  Which is surprising considering that Pandora tends to play like music at random.  This music was unlike anything else I’d heard.  I immediately went to Amazon to see if their album was available for purchase, which they were, and I promptly downloaded the whole album.  Generally, not much can be gleaned about a song by listening to a 30 second clip of it, and Alt-J was not only no different, it was worse.  Often the songs take time to make sense (not lyrically since they never make sense in that respect), but musically.  There tends to be a lot going on which right around the 30 second mark begins to come together and coalesce into something cohesive.  But that is the fun of their music.

       I can’t claim to love all off their music but I can say that most of the album is memorable and fairly original.  As a writer and not a musician I can only default to descriptions of their music, other than to say it is, at times soulful.  Some tracks vaguely reminded me of “They Might Be Giants”, mainly because I felt like they were subtly mocking the listener.  Other times I wondered if they were two wayward Gregorian monks that had been expelled from a glee club for shenanigans.  For me this isn’t the sort of music where I would simply listen to the album from beginning to end.  I prefer them in small doses, and almost never while writing.  Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed their album “An Awesome Wave” because of its originality and seemingly tongue in cheek tone.  Forget about trying to comprehend all of the lyrics.  “Fitzpleasure” was transcribed  on the web and confirmed my suspicion that the song is nonsensical.  However, the music is rich.  The vocals are odd, but strong and convey emotion.  I would recommend this album, but I will caution many that it is not for everyone.

About the author
J. Austin Yoshino
Author: J. Austin Yoshino
That's what I do; I read and I know things.
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