On your computer keyboard, down by the Control key, there’s an Alt key. In fact, there are two of them, one each side of the space bar. In most applications the two Alt keys have identical functions; they modify the effect of typing some other key. On an Apple Mac holding down the Alt key and typing ‘J’ produces a character that looks like a triangle, like this ∆. (This may look entirely different on a Windows PC but, believe me, it’s a triangle on my Mac.)
‘Alt’ is short for ‘alternative’ and Alt-J is the name of my band of the year for 2014. It’s an entirely appropriate name for a band whose music falls squarely in the ‘alternative’ genre. They blend together guitars, keyboards and voices in interesting ways; music for the head as well as the heart. Last FM tags them as indie, electronic, alternative and indie pop; Spotify describes their music as “layered, folk-inflected dub-pop and soaring alternative rock”. The former is accurate, but not particularly helpful; the latter is even less helpful, but at least it says loud and clear that these guys are different.
They’re good, too. They sit comfortably alongside Guillemots and Elbow at the top of my list of bands currently performing and recording. I highly recommend all three bands for their inventiveness and musicianship. Alt-J win my band-of-the-year tag for 2014; I’ll be awarding Guillemots and Elbow retrospective band-of-the-year status in future posts. Until then, sit back and enjoy the alternative triangle band.