NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts featuring alt-J
NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts recently featured alt-J performing three songs from their debut album An Awesome Wave.
I love watching singers and bands playing in small spaces, a chance to get musically intimate with them. Watch and enjoy.
- Something Good
There's mystery in the music of Alt-J: The band's songs are wrapped in enigmatic textures, with swift shifts in arrangements inside every song and an oddness to the drums. Mere glimpses of lyrics are discernible, even after listening over and over — and if you can decipher the words, the meanings don't necessarily follow immediately. Still, those words reside at the core of Alt-J, and they're cinematic and stunning and sometimes brutal.
Seeing Alt-J live in concert — or here at the Tiny Desk — reveals a few of those mysteries, making a band that can be difficult on first listen a bit easier to digest. For one, seeing Joe Newman sing makes his words less oblique; for another, that curious rhythm at the foundation of the songs reveals not a hint of cymbals. And, though the drums are stripped down more than ever at the Tiny Desk, they still provide the essence of an original sound. Thom Green plays mostly with a mounted tambourine and cowbell for the sorts of things a hi-hat would accomplish — that tick tick sound, with the snap of the sound coming from a small-bodied 10" snare called a popcorn snare. The sparseness that happens in the absence of crashing cymbals leaves a lot of space in the music. Bob Boilen via NPR