This Weeks Music Video with Björk, U2, Green Day, Alt-J, Pussy Riot, Paramore and Empire of the Sun

This Weeks Music Video with Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Jay-Z, Alt J, Avenged Sevenfold, Royal Blood and Vance Joy

Alt-J – Relaxer Review 


The “Indie Rock”, “Folktronica” trio from Leeds have been a source of great frustration for many fans of exciting and dynamic music. As we reach their third album Relaxer we have seen them release exciting and intriguing singles as they have done twice before, yet it is often when you get the rest of the album where you find it lacking in the quality that you have been teased with. The group opting for only an eight track album may suggest that they’ve ditched the album filler. If they have, then they have the abilty to be one of those countries premier acts. 

‘3WW’ was the first release from the album. It opens with folk-like acoustic chords which echo into a sparse space with only the subtle electronic highlight. The opening vocals are reminiscent of old English folk songs in combination with the click beats. The song suddenly bursts into a chorus of vocals and sweeps off into a delicate piano ballad. From here it takes on the shape of a more typical Alt-J track with distortions and more prominent acoustic chords. Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell adds to the vocals to accentuate and diversify the song further. It is a shifting track that is dynamic and works in the changes of tone and style well. Completely contrasting the chilled and haunting tones of 3WW, alt-J have dropped the second single from Relaxed, In Cold Blood. With binary code, smooth licks of jazz and a brilliant key change, the wonderfully sinuous single is something quite unlike alt-J have ever done before, but also exactly what we’d hope and expect to hear from the Mercury Prize winners. They’ve somehow managed to braid pop, coarse folk and indie rock into one, with a frankly astounding finish. Layers of synth, trombone and expert percussion make up the track, with inflating vocals making the simplistic close all the more effective. The trio explained the track was written back in their “Leeds days” and was unearthed and completed last year, giving it its biting pop edge on a £1.05 Casiotone keyboard from eBay. Worth it, I’d say.  

‘Deadcrush’ is a typically abrasive song in the style in many an Alt-J hit. The rumbling distortion of synths features samples of heavy breathing filtering through it. Joe Newman’s lax and winding vocals cut through the instrumentation as the song progresses, as do choppy riffs and flickering beats. The chorus is marked with James Brown samples and falsettos that ring through the track in something like an alternative Bee Gees style. ‘Adeline’ is a beautiful piece of arrangement and vocal harmony to form a graceful, yet modern ballad. Perhaps surprisingly, the third track is a cover of The Animals cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’. It is a cool and calm affair and whilst graceful, it feels a little unnecessary, that they could have featured this as a B-side and with only eight songs on the album anyway; it hints at a lack of ideas. Tracks such as ‘Hit Me Like A Snare’ aim for rough edged Blues Rock and whilst full of energy, it lacks the thin veil of consistency that any good song needs. In retrospect half of the album is great, but that’s just four songs. It is without album filler, but it has been replaced by nothing else. Given the talent they’ve shown, it is yet another frustrating album that doesn’t deliver what it had promised, but only flashes of it. 

Alt-J – Relaxer = 7/10

Owen Riddle & Ellie Chivers

This Weeks Music Video with Kendrick Lamar, Blondie, Paramore, Alt-J, Sylvan Esso and Royal Blood

Single Review – Alt-J – In Cold Blood

Completely contrasting the chilled and haunting tones of 3WW, alt-J have dropped the second single previewing the trio’s third LP Relaxed, In Cold Blood. With binary code, smooth licks of jazz and a brilliant key change, the wonderfully sinuous single is something quite unlike alt-J have ever done before, but also exactly what we’d hope and expect to hear from the Mercury Prize winners. They’ve somehow managed to braid pop, coarse folk and indie rock into one, with a frankly astounding finish. Layers of synth, trombone and expert percussion make up the track, with inflating vocals making the simplistic close all the more effective. The trio explained the track was written back in their “Leeds days” and was unearthed and completed last year, giving it its biting pop edge on a £1.05 Casiotone keyboard from eBay. Worth it, I’d say.  

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Alt-J – 3WW

The Leeds formed Indie and Art Rock group Alt-J are back with their third studio album and their lead single from it. Relaxer is set for a June 9th release and ‘3WW is one track from the list of just eight songs that make up the album. It opens with folk-like acoustic chords which echo into a sparse space with only the additional electronic addition. The opening vocals are reminiscent of old English folk songs in combination with the click beats. The song suddenly bursts into a chorus of vocals and sweeps off into a delicate piano ballad. From here it takes on the shape of a more typical Alt-J track with distortions and more prominent acoustic chords. Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell adds to the vocals to accentuate and diversify the song further. It is a shifting track that is dynamic and works in the changes of tone and style well. An interesting prospect for June but will they deliver? 

Owen Riddle

This Week’s Music Video with Blur, U2, Pete Doherty, alt-J, Toro Y Moi, Pussy Riot and Madeon

Alt J – This Is All Yours Review

Alt-J

Alt-J return with their follow up to 2012’s An Awesome Wave with a new album entitled This Is All Yours.  Their debut had a mixed bag of reviews but at the end of the day they earned a Mercury Prize and a fair bit of commercial success from it so it’s pretty damn fair to say that it was a solid debut. Like An Awesome Wave, this album is another example of introverted difference and intrigue with a keener sense of space enhancing sounds, thought fluctuating lyrics and variations of what they’ve already created. A refinement perhaps. A task of perfecting what was created in An Awesome Wave which is a rather safe bet for the dreaded second album. A natural and more gradual progression but have they managed to keep their sound fresh and new?

The first track from it ‘Hunger Of The Pine’. It’s a track that gladly throws up some unexpected methods and is ultimately a rejection of the same old structures and riffs. This is music for 2014. Not 2004. It opens with drops of whirring synths which join as one into a subdued rotation as the soft edged vocals cautiously meet it. A more solid drone ever so gradually creeps up on the song and lifts it before the percussion and beat kicks in. Here you’re oddly met by Miley Cyrus albeit a sample of her singing ‘I’m a Female Rebel’ which almost act’s as a circulating rhythm section itself. From here the song continues to lift with an assortment of percussion and vocal combinations along with that Miley sample. It actually works incredibly well. The song breaths and moves fluidly and the sample just hammers home the array of elements that combine so well. There is no definite function or structure, yet it does not require it. A dynamic and more importantly a modern piece of music.  ‘Every Other Freckle’ continues on this path and in may ways combines elements of their first two singles together in this one. The drawn out and long slung riffs combined with the intricate electronica and vocal harmonies. It occasionally fades into lone vocal segments and has a sustained buzz throughout, via the dub-like electronica. It fluctuates in every department. Some times the guitars are delicate and drawn out, at times distorted or even clean and wiry. The vocal unisons and structure also alter and move to the style of instrumentals being deployed. An odd song for sure, but another track that intrigues and keeps your undivided attention in an intimate and immersive way. ‘Left Hand Free’ is a song featuring a jangling and loose riff filtered out through a slightly faded and distorted production and recording to evoke a classic feel to it. The laid back and easy guitar charged track is complemented by flashing synths as they cascade across the guitar’s drone. Make what you want of the lyrics. They’re hardly holding much meaning within them but not every track is. Not as strong or as bold at ‘Hunger of the Pine’, but a track showcasing their dynamism and studio ability.

‘Arrival In Nara’ is a sparse and muted guitar and piano track which is something more akin to a film soundtrack upon the main characters “big decision” or “reflection” and the feather-like vocal harmony and sting combination hammers or more nudges home this message of warm and intimate folk-like tracks that are very different from their singles in every way as it’s slips into the track ‘Nara’ in what is a nice piece of flowing continuity which sees the raised vocals push the song into some steady riffs and chimes that are tied in to piano chords and then fall away abruptly for monk sounding vocals in isolation. The other instrumentals come back into the track for a light churns and reverbs of the guitars alongside the glimmering synths and drones behind it. ‘Choice Kingdom’ operates in a similar fashion with the lapping acoustic chords and the bold vocal harmonies asserting their authority over a song with acres of space to do so. ‘Warm Foothills’ is another to carry on with this theme and by this point of the album, it becomes a bit of a weary task to take on but the line by line vocal rounds are a point worth talking of. ‘Bloodflood II’ offers to give you the same but the heavy percussion and distorted synths in conjunction with the brass parts, mean the song alters it’s feel and tone to something more immediate and worthy of your undivided attention and ‘Leaving Nara’ gives a similar glimpse of that with a greater atmospheric punch.  In general the intrigue and dynamism of their singles are largely lost in a lot of sleepy, acoustic niceties, which despite being delivered well and being okay in their isolation, but when the album was sold on tracks like ‘Hunger of the Pine’ and ‘Every Other Freckle’; you feel a little sold short.

Alt-J – This Is All Yours = 7/10

Single Review – Alt J – Every Other Freckle

Alt-J

Alt J are back with a third single off their upcoming second studio album in This Is All Yours which is out on September 22nd. It already looks to be a rather promising album with a large amount of variety and introverted difference about it to make it sound fresh and adventurous. Their latest single ‘Every Other Freckle’ continues on this path and in may ways combines elements of their first two singles together in this one. The drawn out and long slung riffs combined with the intricate electronica and vocal harmonies. It occasionally fades into lone vocal segments and has a sustained buzz throughout, via the dub-like electronica. It fluctuates in every department. Some times the guitars are delicate and drawn out, at times distorted or even clean and wiry. The vocal unisons and structure also alter and move to the style of instrumentals being deployed. An odd song for sure, but another track that intrigues and keeps your undivided attention in an intimate and immersive way.

This Week’s Music Video with Alt-j, La Roux, Ty Segall and Conor Oberst

Alt-j -Every Other Freckle

 

La Roux – Kiss and Not Tell

 

Ty Segall – Manipulator

 

Conor Oberst – Common Knowledge