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Alt-J

An Awesome Wave

Alt-J
"Are alt-J the new Radiohead?" asked Prefix mag earlier this month, in an article quoting a representative for gambling company Ladbrokes. A week later, the Cambridge, UK quartet's debut was nominated for the Mercury Prize, an award once regarded as a genuinely valuable gauge of artistry on the fringes of the UK music industry. It feels harsh to point out quite how misguided the Ladbrokes rep's hypothesis was. After all, despite sounding more like Radiohead's wistful indie-pop nephews than the genuine article, alt-J are a group offering moderate experimentalism that'll serve as an effective gateway for younger fans. But you have to wonder why we're getting behind these calculating exponents of Mumford & Songs-esque, quasi-authentic folksy indie instead of the infinitely more vital specimens in plentiful supply across the British Isles. There's Everything Everything, Islet and Gazelle Twin. Hell, there's even Wild Beasts, a band that operate on similar frequencies to alt-J and yet somehow avoid every cloying, of-the-moment inflection and modicum of contrived kookiness under which An Awesome Wave is veiled – these being the stylistic crutches that support its pathological, anodyne limpness. Ultimately, it'd be disingenuous to advise the discerning music fan that there isn't better a few "related videos" away. (Canvasback)
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