Alt-J: An 'Awesome Wave' Of Eccentric Rock The Mercury Prize-winning British band is behind All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's favorite album of 2012, An Awesome Wave. Watch the group perform its biggest hit live at opbmusic's studios.

Favorite Sessions

Alt-J: An 'Awesome Wave' Of Eccentric Rockopbmusic.org

Even before Alt-J's An Awesome Wave took home this year's Mercury Prize (which honors a panel's choice for the best record to emerge from the U.K. each year), there had been considerable buzz about the band on this side of the Atlantic. By the time the album finally came out here in September — it had been released abroad several months earlier — An Awesome Wave's arrival received the kind of attention few debuts ever see. It found the Cambridge quartet fully formed, with an original sound that was catchy but strange, accessible but experimental; whether those qualities are mutually exclusive or not is open for discussion. Just how accessible has alt-J been found to be? Winning the Mercury Prize is one thing, but becoming mainstream department-store soundtrack fare during the busy U.S. Christmas shopping season is another one altogether.

It's easy to imagine alt-J playing larger U.S. venues, and indeed those dates are coming this spring. We managed to catch the band in the comparatively small confines of Portland's Star Theater, recorded near the end of a U.S. tour that had been booked pre-Mercury Prize. Bassist Gwil Sainsbury and drummer Thom Green were battling the flu, but they soldiered through along with Gus Unger-Hamilton on keyboards and Joe Newman on lead vocals and guitar. Here, alt-J performs the standout song "Fitzpleasure" from An Awesome Wave.

Watch the entire performance at opbmusic.org.

Credits

  • Audio: Steven Kray
  • Video: Jarratt Taylor
  • Photos: Inger Klekacz
[+] read more[-] less

More From Rock

A still from Birthing Hips' music video for "Internet." YouTube hide caption

toggle caption YouTube

Birthing Hips' 'Internet' Is Beautifully Deranged

The Boston band makes brainy, noisy punk that reflects sonic adventure and technical mastery. "Internet," from its album Urge To Merge, shows off the group's flair for the uncanny.

A still from Bad History Month's video for "A Warm Recollection." YouTube hide caption

toggle caption YouTube

Review

All Songs TV

Bad History Month's 'Warm Recollection' Of Love And Death

Songwriter Sean Bean says "A Warm Recollection," from the band's new album Dead And Loving It, is about "the high stakes of living life in the face of certain death."

David Thomas, Scott Krauss, Eric Drew Feldman, Jim Jones, and Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu, photographed in May 1991. Frank Ockenfels hide caption

toggle caption Frank Ockenfels

Pere Ubu On Mountain Stage

As their return to Mountain Stage approaches, revisit this 1991 performance by the trend-setting "Avant Garage" rockers.

Pere Ubu On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562812104/562830995" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Dan Wilson On Mountain Stage

The songwriter and producer performs some of his famous collaborations, including Adele's "Someone Like You" and The Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready To Make Nice."

Dan Wilson On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562554003/562786908" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top