Alt-J

LIVE: Alt-J @ The 9:30 Club - 3/4/13

All photos by Joy Asico (joy@chunkyglasses.com / www.asicophoto.com)

After an almost flawless and captivating hour-long set Monday night at the 9:30 Club, British quartet Alt-J remain as compelling and mysterious as they were before they took the stage. With a brief but friendly acknowledgement to the audience, who responded with a roar, the band began on the sparse, elegant stage with the lead song, "Intro" from their debut album An Awesome Wave.  It was followed by "Interlude (Ripe & Ruin)," which they performed, as on the album, almost entirely a capella.

With few exceptions, the setlist followed the album track list --  the high lonesome vocals from “Interlude” transitioned quickly into the sexy bass line and huskier vocals of "Tessellate,” and the adoring audience reacted by shifting from a gentle undulation to a less subtle grind.  Just as the crowd found the rhythm of that track, the band skipped “Breezeblocks,” reserving it for later, and launched into "Something Good." The live setting emphasized the slightly western feeling of the song, with a spare tap of a snare drum leading in a galloping guitar and a waterfall of keyboards.

The transition from "Something Good" to "Dissolve Me" emphasized the range of musical influences of the band. While the first evokes the mysteries of a Western plains night, the second adds a steel drum effect, giving the sound a Caribbean or African accent. The adjustment of tempo roused the audience to a certain degree, as the sea of bodies in the packed house shifted from gentle waves to an all-out celebratory shimmy by the time the final synth dropped in Dissolve. 

When the first "Tra-la-la"s of "Fitzpleasure" rang out the crowd roared its approval, but it was the bass line, sending reverberations through the building and through the crowd, that had an even bigger impact.   The loudest recognition of the evening came for "Matilda," which despite being introduced as "a little quieter" caused a sing-along outbreak that filled the 9:30 Club with waving arms and united voices.


Episode 18: Best Of 2012

If you think about the sheer quantity of music that was released in 2012, the thought of compiling anything into some sort of consensus seems a fool’s errand. Yet, this year, like every year, our prehistoric brain takes over and we are once again force to assign, rearrange, tabulate and label until we are able to put together one of man’s greatest contributions to the universe: The list.

This year, eleven voters ended up contributing over seventy different albums to a pool that ultimately had to be whittled down to just ten. Every single staffer here has one thing in common - THEY FUCKING LOVE MUSIC – and I think this list represents not only the diversity of the ChunkyGlasses team, but why what we do is so much damn fun.

But the time for writing is done this year. Now we hash it out, mano y mano, for your listening pleasure. For the faint of heart, we’ve broken this booze soaked supersized podcast into ten bite size nuggets to consume at will should you choose. Either way, strap in, grab a cold one (or ten) and get ready to find out what happens when a bunch of music nerds with no filters lock themselves in a basement and hit record.

70 albums. 11 contributors. Only the strong survived
The Official ChunkyGlasses Top 10 Albums of 2012!!

Episode 18: Best Of 2012

10

Alt J - An Awesome Wave

"It’s nearly impossible to describe the album, which won this year’s Mercury award in Britain, without referencing that Alt-J has clearly found the soul and innovation Radiohead abandoned over the past five years.  Joe Newman’s reedy voice weaves the best threads of world influence into ridiculously layered electronics, and the entire album runs like a drug-addled trip around the globe.  The band’s name is written Alt-J because that’s the keyboard shortcut on a Mac to make the Delta symbol (?) – if this album weren’t spectacular, the whole thing would smack of a project by a bunch of art school jackholes, but fortunately for them it is spectacular." - Carrie

#10: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

9

Dinosaur Jr. - Bet On Sky

"...I Bet On Sky doesn’t break much new ground, nor would Dino Jr.’s fans want it to. The leadoff single “Watch the Corners” starts with a crunchy one-chord intro before finding its way to the melodic noise that Mascis excels at. At 46, Mascis’ voice has never sounded better, inasmuch as a voice that doesn’t actually sing as much as mumble with style can sound better. He manages to convey some emotion on a slower tune, “Stick A Toe In,” which hearkens back to another Dino Jr. song, “I Don’t Wanna Go There,” with Mascis asking in both songs if he’s doomed to “walk alone.” “Pierce the Morning Rain” may cover the most ground in terms of illustrating all Dino Jr. does well; the opening riff throws a nod to Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” before seguing into the kind of jaunty rock found on songs like “The Wagon,” then right back to the Sabbath power chords. It’s a garden of delights." - Justin

#9: Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky

8

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

"It’s a concept album. It’s a confession. It’s a snapshot of LA life unlike anything we’ve seen in years. Landing somewhere between Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean has made the album of his career and lucky for all of us, he’s just getting started.  channel Orange is topping best of lists everywhere you look and it’s with good reason: It’s simply that good."

#8: Frank Ocean - channel Orange


Best Of 2012: Carrie's Picks

10

Hundred Visions – Permanent Basement

Standout Tracks:  “Where Do I Sign?” / “Last Cab from Tunis” / “Regina, Hold the Line”

This Austin band may have screeched into my Top Ten based on their insanely entertaining live performance last April, but as long as I get the answer right I shouldn’t have to show my work.  They can veer from genre to genre and get it all right, and as they say to Regina while she’s holding the line – “resistance is futile.”  Buy this album for everyone on your Christmas list, and they will all love you and bake shit for you as a thank you.

 

9

Father John Misty - Fear Fun

Standout Tracks: “Nancy From Now On” / “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” / “Every Man Needs a Companion”

Whatshisface Tillman (he spends a lot of time talking about how much he dislikes his first name) may be the loveliest man born in the past 35 years and his voice can get you pregnant through your headphones, so ladies, you’ll want to be careful when listening to this album.