When considering what constitutes a modern band of the 21st century, look no further than Alt-J. The alternative indie rock band have been a massive hit despite their unique music style, and with their previous two albums of An Awesome Wave and This is all Yours having been significant successes, we can only be excited by the release of Relaxer on June 2nd.
We’ve had a decade of Alt-J, but where did it begin?
With Alt-J only having been in existence for a decade, the band really have progressed at an astounding rate, with their upcoming tour featuring venues such as the O2 Arena and Glastonbury. So, how did this progression come about, and ultimately, where did the quirky quartet start out?
It all began at Leeds University, kind of cliché when you consider the amount of good bands which have formed at Universities in the northern half of the UK. However, nothing was clichéd about the music that the band went on to create as Gwil Sainsbury, Joe Newman, Thom Green and Gus Unger-Hamilton all brought new and individual ideas to the table.
Newman revealed that a large reason behind him choosing to study fine art was to find like-minded friends who would start a band with him. As a result, having met Sainsbury, the two started to recorded some songs in their halls rooms based on songs that Newman had written, previously inspired by his guiter-playing Dad. Their unique sound comes from the noise restrictions that came with their halls-based lifestyle, where they were unable to use bass instruments.
An Awesome Wave
With the quartet forming over the remainder of their time at University, the bond they forged was strong enough to keep them together through the move to Cambridge where they were signed by Infectious Music, four years after meeting in 2007. In their first EP, the band released songs that have since gone on to become fan favourites in Matilda, Tessellate, Breezeblocks and Hand-Made.
With some success, new song Bloodflood and Tessellate were released as singles in late 2011, with An Awesome Wave finally being released as full album in the summer of 2012.
The album went in at an impressive No.13 as the band’s debut, later being released in the US, going on to win the Barclaycard Mercury Prize. However, they weren’t done with this one in the UK just yet. Throughout 2012 the band promoted the album, playing as the supporting act to Wild Beasts, and also played a whole range of famed British music festivals including Latitude, Bestival, Reading and Leeds and T in the Park.
Due to a multitude of good receptions and a growing following, Alt-J went on to be nominated for three BRIT Awards including British Breakthrough Act, British Group of the Year, and British Album of the Year.
An Awesome Wave also received a significant amount of traction in Australia, where three songs from the album made it into Australia’s 2012 Triple J Hottest 100, with Breezeblocks featuring second, a chart conducted by a listener poll by a national radio show.
This is all Yours
With their first success mounting as time went on, Alt-J really began to attract a lot of attention from fans of all different genres due to their strange sound and intriguing lyrics. However, it wasn’t all good news for budding followers of the band, as they revealed in January 2014 that Sainsbury had taken the decision to leave the group. This was not in bad taste, just a personal decision, and the remaining three revealed that the music would continue, as would their friendships with Sainsbury.
As a result, two years after their first album, Alt-J announced their second dip into the market with the release of This is all Yours on 22nd September 2014. With An Awesome Wave having gradually brought the band more and more traction over the two year period, this album went straight in at number 1 in the UK Official chart.
This album proved to just as popular as their first. It features the likes of Left Hand Free and Every Other Freckle, and was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammys and for Impala’s European Independent Album of the Year Award. With even more success the band went on tour again, headlining their first ever festival at Boston Calling.
Since their release of This is all Yours back in 2014, the band were on a three-year spell of having not released a new work. However, this changed on June 2nd with the release of their third album, something which excitement has hugely grown for over the past few weeks with the trio having released teasers in their new songs 3WW, In Cold Blood (shown below), and most recently with Adeline.
Alt J Relaxer Tour Concerts: 16th June – London 02 Arena, UK