alt-J: Their Career So Far

alt-J: Their Career So Far

Planning an itinerary at music festivals can often be a conundrum, and having toured extensively throughout the USA since the release of their 2017 album Relaxer, alt-J are returning to European shores this summer to make your planning ever-so-slightly more challenging. 

Bringing their renowned performances to festivals such as Bilbao BBK Live, MS Dockville, and Zurich Openair, we thought we'd make your decision somewhat easier by giving you a introspection into their career thus far, as well as pinpointing the tracks that are quite simply unmissable live. 

From humble beginnings playing small local venues in their hometown Leeds, through to the critical explosion garnered for debut album An Awesome Wave, to the masses of adoring fans accrued across the pond, there is a simple reason why alt-J have been on a steady incline.

Check out the following tracks and hear for yourself:

1. Portrait.

Back when the band were still in their infancy (under the different moniker of Daljit Dhaliwal), founding members Joe Newman, Gus Under-Hamilton, Gwil Sainsbury, and Thom Sonny Green supposedly cultivated their distinctive mellow sound through the constraints of having to write and rehearse in the confines of halls of residence at University of Leeds back in 2007. 

'Portrait' is a fine example of their budding craft, and we're hoping that they decide to bring this track out of the vaults for upcoming summer appearances.


2. Tesselate.


Initially released as a double A-side single with 'Bloodflood', 'Tesselate' can arguably pinpoint the moment where the whirlwind of hype around alt-J began. 

The blend of haunting yet soulful vocals, and muted trip-hop rhythms became the cornerstone of their sound which was sublimely demonstrated on 2012 debut album An Awesome Wave to which this song also appeared.  


3. Breezeblocks.


After winning the career-changing Mercury Prize Award for An Awesome Wave, the mass critical acclaim and legions of fans grew as well as their burgeoning success Stateside. 'Breezeblocks' is considered their breakthrough track into the mainstream consciousness due to the overlapping choral vocals and it's captivating groove. 

An alt-J setlist wouldn't be an alt-J setlist if this track wasn't performed to feverish festival-goers, so fully expect this to raise the proverbial roof.  

4. Left Hand Free.


The strains of perpetual touring are widely known and by the time alt-J had become a huge success, original bassist Gwil Sainsbury decided to amicably leave the band. When a unique chemistry is meddled with this often has an adverse effect on the trajectory of a creative force, but alt-J went from strength-to-strength with their second album This Is All Yours which ranked at Number 1 in the UK Music Charts.

'Left Hand Free' symbolises their willingness to progress as a band, and incorporates elements of Americana being dubbed by themselves as the "the least alt-J song ever".

Regardless, it's still an absolute banger and will no doubt be a mainstay in their summer festival setlist. 


5. Deadcrush.


2017 saw the release of third album Relaxer, which garnered yet another Mercury Prize Awards nomination and saw a return to form in regards to the band focusing on what they're best at - insatiably sultry rhythms, with Joe Newman's ghostly vocals winding in and around the crunchy bass. 

'Deadcrush' emphatically displays that they are mastered their unique brand of soulful and trip hop influenced indie, and are up there with the royalty of essential festival acts to see. With a bassline that pounds through the heart, this track is a feast for the senses and the resulting elation experienced will be simply unmissable at any of their festival appearances.


Along with Bilbao BBK Live, MS Dockville, and Zurich Openair, you can also catch alt-J at LatitudeDour Festival, Good Vibes Festival, Les Nuits Secretes, and Home Festival in the coming months. 


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