Recently my favorite band these days, alt-J, came to our offices to play a Tiny Desk Concert. They brought printed scores for a string section to play along with the band. (If you've not seen it, treat yourself.)
After the Tiny Desk, we had just about a half hour to talk. So singer and guitarist Joe Newman, keyboardist and singer Gus Unger-Hamilton and drummer Thom Green walked down the halls of NPR into studio 44 to play DJ. We talked about the music they love and I played a bit of what was then their soon-to-be released album Relaxer.
That entire record is now available to stream online — listen here and read along to a track-by-track description of the stories behind the songs of Relaxer.
So on this edition of All Songs Considered, alt-J play DJ.
Courtesy of artist
Metronomy, The English Riviera.
Courtesy of artist
- Song: Corinne
- from The English Riviera
"We were very into the Metronomy the album The English Riviera that came out in 2011. So we were doing a lot of van and car gigs then and that was what we played a lot on the road. You know these days on the bus and stuff it's probably more and more about headphones and laptops and, you know, watching or listening to our own things." -- who?
- Song: Reckoner
- from In Rainbows
"We all agree that we like Radiohead a lot but it's rare that we actually sit and listen to music together at the moment and things like this which I really have time really. Reckoner in particular moves me in a particular way." -- Thom Green
- Song: Blue Lights
- from Blue Lights
"Jorja Smith, she's very young she's very new. She's from Walsall in the U.K. in the Midlands and it's the middle of the country, places like Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Leicester sort of quite an industrial part of the country. They make cars they're built the Rust Belt of the UK. At the end of [this] song there's a pretty cool Dizzy Rascal sample that comes in, which I enjoy. I'm a fan of Dizzy's." -- Gus Unger-Hamilton
"I heard this on the radio. I kind of get a kick out of the old fashioned way of discovering something not by searching for it or by word-of-mouth, but by chance." -- Joe Newman
- Song: Interview B
- from Interview 2016
"Yeah the Interview B, which is all my favorite pieces of one of my favorite of theirs because it's all instrumental and I do find that the vocal of Death Grips, It's the only thing that grates a little bit. But the production and the instrumentals, they're amazing they're really fascinating. There's a lot going on, but there's a melody change in this track which I really, really love." -- Thom Green
- Song: Deadcrush
- from Relaxer
"It came from a jam back in 2014 when we were all working on the second album. And I happened to record it and I think these guys and myself forgot about it really. And then I discovered it again, I rediscovered it on my phone. And I found myself listening to it again and again and there was kind of a guitar part, a drum beat and Gus' piano chords with strings. And I was like, 'Guys I've been listening to this non-stop. I think there's something in this.' I think we kind of agreed that it was worth pursuing. And we worked on it." -- Joe Newman