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Alt-J

An Awesome Wave (Atlantic)

Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, Fri., March 15, 2013

SXSW 2013 Records

Alt-J

An Awesome Wave (Atlantic)

If listening to the hypnotic bounce of "Breezeblocks" in an information vacuum, you could be excused for assuming Alt-J was the trip-hop moniker of some South London alternative rapper named Jerome. In fact, Alt-J remains a bespectacled quartet of former Leeds University art students who spent their spare time crafting beautiful melodies between classes. In a serious nod to nerd-dom, the band name derives from the Mac keyboard shortcut for the Greek letter delta, symbolizing change. If that seems a tad overwrought, so too will the litany of literary and cinematic references and the bizzare nasal garble of singer Joe Newman that occasionally borders on unintelligible. No matter, it all works somehow. From the bittersweet swirl of "Matilda" to the artsy dubstep of "Fitzpleasure," Alt-J crafts an ethereal ocean of sound that's remarkably cohesive – at once strange and familiar. Surf's up, and it's An Awesome Wave. (11:10pm, Belmont)

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