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Alt-J
alt-J
Alt-J Fall Tour 2015 live in Charlotte
alt-J: Fall Tour 2015 live in Charlotte. Left to right: Gus Unger-Hamilton, Joe Newman, Cameron Knight, Thom Sonny Green.
Background information
Origin Leeds, England, United Kingdom
Genres
2007-present
Labels
Website altjband.com
Members
Gwil Sainsbury

Alt-J (stylised as alt-J, or ?) is an English indie rock band formed in 2007 in Leeds, by Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Thom Sonny Green (drums), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) and Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass).

The band's debut album An Awesome Wave was released in May 2012 in Europe, and in September 2012 in the United States, and won the 2012 British Mercury Prize.[5] Gwil Sainsbury amicably departed the band in early 2014. Their second album, This Is All Yours, was released on 22 September 2014 and went straight to UK number one.[6] As a replacement for Sainsbury, Cameron Knight became a supporting member for alt-J's live shows, playing guitar, bass and sampler. In 2017, the band released their third studio album, Relaxer, and are currently playing as a trio.[7]

Name

The band's symbol is the capital letter delta, ?, which is traditionally used in scientific study to indicate change or difference. The symbol can be typed on an Apple Mac with the key sequence .

The cover art of the band's debut album An Awesome Wave shows an overhead view of the largest river delta in the world, the Ganges. alt-J were previously known as "Daljit Dhaliwal" and then "Films",[8][9] but were later forced to change to "alt-J" because an American band called "The Films" already existed.[10]

History

2007-10: Formation and Early Years

alt-J (?) were formed when Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) and Thom Sonny Green (drums) met at Leeds University in 2007.[11] Unger-Hamilton (younger brother of Ferdy, head of A&R for Polydor Records) studied English, the other three Fine Art. According to Newman "I basically went to art school to start a band."[12]

In their second year of studies, Newman showed Sainsbury a handful of his own songs and, inspired by his guitar-playing dad, the pair began recording on GarageBand in their hall rooms with Sainsbury acting as producer.[13] The band's unusual sound stems from the fact that due to living in student halls, where noise had to be kept to a minimum, they were unable to use bass guitars or bass drums[].[12]

2011-12: An Awesome Wave and Touring

Close-up of Joe Newman at The Empty Bottle, Chicago, in October 2012

After graduating, the band moved to Cambridge where they spent a number of months working on their music before signing a deal with Infectious Music in December 2011.[13][14] Their self-titled 4-track demo EP, ?, was recorded with producer Charlie Andrew in London and featured the tracks "Breezeblocks", "Hand-Made", "Matilda", and "Tessellate".[15] A 7" single containing "Bloodflood" and "Tessellate" was released by Loud and Quiet in October 2011.[16] Their first 2012 release for Infectious Music was the triangle-shaped 10" "Matilda"/"Fitzpleasure".[17] It was followed by "Breezeblocks" which preceded their first album.[18]An Awesome Wave was also produced by Charlie Andrew and compiled at Iguana Studios, Brixton, where the band recorded tracks during the studio's spare time.[19] Their debut album was released on 28 May 2012 in the UK, Europe, and Australia, and on 18 September 2012 in North America via Canvasback Music.[20] The album received largely favourable reviews and was described as a "captivating blend of insatiable grooves and profound poignancy".[21]

alt-J supported Wild Beasts in April 2012 and played a minor headlining tour around the United Kingdom and Ireland in October of that year.[22] The band have featured regularly on summer festivals, including Latitude, Bestival, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, Green Man, Pukkelpop, and Lowlands.[21] They also did concert tour in the United States in December 2012 and performed at the Laneway Festival tour in Australia.[23][24] In November 2012 the band were announced as the winners of the Mercury Prize for their album.[25] Besides the prize-money, the band saw an increase in their profile resulting in An Awesome Wave reaching 13 in the UK album chart.[6] The band would later describe the event as "life-changing, there was a sense of [being] imposters, that the band had somehow got this far without not being a real band, we're just guys from Leeds who muddled through it and magicked a Mercury award".[26]

2013-2016: Departure of Sainsbury and This Is All Yours

Gwil Sainsbury left alt-J as of 13 January 2014. It was announced on Twitter that he had decided to leave, but the band would continue, stating that they were to still be best friends with Gwil.[27] In early June 2014, alt-J announced a 2014 tour to take place in North America over October and November.[28] The 23-day tour started in Vancouver, B.C. on 14 October and ended in Washington, D.C. on 19 November.[29] On 9 June 2014, they announced their second album This Is All Yours, that was released on 22 September 2014. This Is All Yours went straight to Number 1 on the UK's Official Albums Chart.[30] alt-J headlined the September 2015 edition of Boston Calling Music Festival.[31]

2017-present: Relaxer

alt-J performing at the Positivus Festival 2017 during the Relaxer Tour

On 3 March 2017 alt-J began teasing their third studio album on their social media accounts with an audio clip captioned "00110011 01110111 01110111" (the ASCII code for "3ww").[32]Stereogum reported later that day that the band's third album would be titled Relaxer and was scheduled for release on 2 June 2017.[33] On 6 March 2017 alt-J released "3WW," which features lead singer Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice, as a digital single and announced dates for the Relaxer Tour in support of the album. Three weeks later, on 29 March, they released "In Cold Blood," the second single from Relaxer.[34] In anticipation of their third album, the band released an online video game, soundtracked by their single "3WW,"[35] as well as announcing in May 2017 that they would be playing a five-date UK tour at seaside venues, starting on 4 September 2017. [36]

On 24 May 2017 alt-J released "Adeline," the third single from Relaxer.[37] The album was released shortly afterwards, on 2 June 2017, to generally favourable reviews.[] "Deadcrush," the fourth single from the album, was released on 12 July and was featured as a soundtrack in the popular FIFA 18 game.[38][39] Fifth single "Pleader" arrived on 15 September 2017. Several tracks from Relaxer have since been remixed by a diverse array of artists.

Relaxer was nominated for the 2017 Mercury Prize. The band previously won the prize in 2012 for their debut album An Awesome Wave.

In popular culture

Alt-J performed "Buffalo" along with Mountain Man for the 2011 film Silver Linings Playbook.[40]

In February 2013 the band announced they would be composing the soundtrack for Toby Jones' new film Leave to Remain.[41]

Their song, "Left Hand Free", appears during the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War.

The band's song "Fitzpleasure" was featured in the main trailer for the video game Battleborn.

"Fitzpleasure" was also featured in the background of the 2015 film "Sisters" while Amy Poehler and Ike Barinholtz have a private talk in the attic as the party downstairs rages on.

Their song "Every Other Freckle" was featured on the Netflix show Lovesick, in the season 1 episode "Cressida".

In 2015, their song "Something Good" was featured in the second episode of Life Is Strange.[42]

Lyrics Analysis

Alt-J has been commended for their post-modern lyricism in their songs that highlight historic events and pop-culture subjects.[43]

The song "Taro" is written in reference to Gerda Taro and her role as a war photographer during the Spanish Civil War as well as her relationship to Robert Capa.The song describes the graphic details of Capa's death ("A violent wrench grips mass / Rips light, tears limbs like rags") and imagines Taro's complementary emotions. "Matilda" is a reference to Natalie Portman's character in Luc Besson's 1994 film Le;on: The Professional. The song's refrain, "This is from Matilda," references the climax of the movie where the protagonist Le;on avenges the death of Matilda's family by handing a grenade pin to the man responsible for her family's death, resulting in the death of the responsible party moments later.[44] Another track relevant to popular culture is "Fitzpleasure," which is the retelling of Hubert Selby Jr.'s short story "Tralala," published in Last Exit to Brooklyn. The story follows a prostitute named Tralala who dies after being gang-raped and raped with a broom, as in the lyrics "dead in the middle / of a c-o-double-m-o-n" and "in your snatch fits pleasure / broom shaped pleasure."

Awards and nominations

In 2012, alt-J's debut album won the British Mercury Prize.[45] alt-J were also nominated for three Brit Awards (British Breakthrough Act, British Album of the Year and British Group of the Year).[46]An Awesome Wave was announced as BBC Radio 6 Music Album of the Year 2012. Three of the tracks from this album gained entry into the Australian 2012 Triple J Hottest 100, with "Something Good" at number 81, "Tessellate" at number 64, and "Breezeblocks" coming third overall.[47] In 2013, An Awesome Wave won Album of the year at the Ivor Novello Awards. This Is All Yours received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album at the 57th Grammy Awards, and for IMPALA's European Independent Album of the Year Award.[48]

Personnel

Timeline

Discography

Studio albums

References

  1. ^ Empire, Kitty (28 September 2014). "Alt-J review - what's all the fussiness about?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015. 
  2. ^ Monger, James Christopher (2012). "Alt-J". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2012. 
  3. ^ "Indie pop group Alt-J take Britain's Mercury Prize". Entertainment Weekly. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 2015. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (20 June 2012). "Alt-J - review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015. 
  5. ^ Wolfson, Sam (30 August 2012). "Alt-J: a cut above". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Listing for Alt-J at the Official Charts Company (UK), (retrieved 29 May 2015).
  7. ^ "alt-J - RIAA platinum & gold awards". riaa.com. RIAA. Retrieved 2017. 
  8. ^ "Alt-J's name explanation". Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 2012. 
  9. ^ "Alt-J Announce 'An Awesome Wave' Headline UK Tour Dates & Tickets". Retrieved 2012. 
  10. ^ Perez, Ashley. "23 Things You Really Should Know About alt-J". Retrieved 2014. 
  11. ^ Barson, Rachel (2 November 2012). "Alt-J win Mercury prize". leeds.ac.uk. Leeds University. 
  12. ^ a b Weiner, Jonah (27 November 2014). "How Alt-J Sold a Million Records and Made Miley a Fan". rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone. 
  13. ^ a b Downing, Megan (16 September 2012). "An Interview With Gwil From Alt-J ?". theedgesusu.co.uk. The Edge. 
  14. ^ Luo, Sophie (27 June 2013). "Interview - Alt-J". tcs.cam.ac.uk. The Cambridge Student. 
  15. ^ Lindbloom, Ben (28 January 2012). "[Album Review] - Alt-J - Demo". deadhorsemarch.com. Retrieved . 
  16. ^ Listing for the Bloodflood/Tessallate 7" single on Discogs.com, (accessed 29 May 2015).
  17. ^ Listing for the Matilda/Fitzpleasure 10" release on Discogs.com, (accessed 29 May 2015).
  18. ^ Listing for the Breezeblocks 7" release on Discogs.com, (accessed 29 May 2015).
  19. ^ "Alt-J: 'We didn't want to blow loads of cash working with Rick Rubin in LA'". nme.com. Time Inc. (UK). 25 June 2014. Retrieved . 
  20. ^ Listing of the An Awesome Wave album on Discogs.com, (accessed 30 May 2015).
  21. ^ a b Lester, Paul (24 May 2012). "New band of the day: Alt-J, The Guardian, Paul Lester". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012. 
  22. ^ "Alt-J announce autumn tour of the UK, NME.com, 26 June 2012". Nme.com. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 2012. 
  23. ^ Staff, Writer (3 December 2012). "Alt-J announce 2013 tour dates". consequenceofsound.net. Townsquare Music. 
  24. ^ Triple J. "2013 Laneway line up announced". ABC. Retrieved 2012. 
  25. ^ Griffiths, Sarah Jane (2 November 2012). "Mercury Prize: Alt-J album An Awesome Wave wins award". BBC News. Retrieved . 
  26. ^ Bray, Elisa (26 September 2014). "Alt-J interview: Collaborations with stars like Miley Cyrus signal a whole new direction for the boys from Leeds". independent.co.uk. Independent News & Media. 
  27. ^ "? (alt-J) on Twitter: "With regret, Gwil is leaving alt-J. This is purely a personal decision and as our best friend we support him completely."". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  28. ^ "Alt-J announce new album & tour (dates & presale)". Brooklynvegan.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  29. ^ "- alt-J - This Is All Yours". Altjband.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  30. ^ Kreisler, Lauren. "Alt-J score first Number 1 album with This Is All Yours". www.officialcharts.com. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014. 
  31. ^ Buckle, Jenna. "Boston Calling Announces September 2015 Lineup". Sound of Boston. 
  32. ^ "? (alt-J) on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2017. 
  33. ^ "Preview New alt-J Song "3ww" In LP3 Teaser". Stereogum. Retrieved 2017. 
  34. ^ Reed, Ryan. "Hear Alt-J's Horn-Blasted New Song 'In Cold Blood'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017. 
  35. ^ "Alt-J share new web video game - NME". NME. 2017-04-11. Retrieved . 
  36. ^ "alt-J - New Seaside Shows". GetToTheFront. 
  37. ^ Moore, Sam (24 May 2017). "Listen to Alt-J's new song 'Adeline'". NME. Retrieved 2017. 
  38. ^ "alt-J on Instagram: "We are *very* proud to present the video for our new single Deadcrush, a collaboration between choreographer Darcy Wallace and..."". Instagram. Retrieved 2018. 
  39. ^ "FIFA 18 - Soundtrack". EA SPORTS. Retrieved 2018. 
  40. ^ "Alt-J Take Their Sound To The Silver Linings Playbook Soundtrack". Baeble Music. Retrieved . 
  41. ^ "Alt-J to score Toby Jones film". 3 News NZ. 21 February 2013. 
  42. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (2015-03-07). "These Are the Songs in Life is Strange". GameSpot. Retrieved . 
  43. ^ Barclay, Katie (September 2017). "Love and Violence in the Music of Late Modernity". Popular Music and Society - via Taylor & Francis Online. 
  44. ^ Besson, Luc (1994-11-18), Le;on: The Professional, Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, retrieved  
  45. ^ Topping, Alexandra (2 November 2012). "Mercury prize celebrates 20 years with award for alt-J's debut album". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2013. 
  46. ^ "alt-J Nominated For 3 Brit Awards". Retrieved 2013. 
  47. ^ "#3:alt-J - Breezeblocks Hottest 100 - 2012". abc.net.au. Retrieved 2013. 
  48. ^ "23 albums up for European Independent Album of the Year Award". IMPALA. 29 January 2015. 

External links



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