Relaxer by Alt-J
Alt-J is a surprisingly resilient band. Every album they release, I’m surprised to see that they’re still around. Their first album felt like a flash in the pan, even though I loved it enough to put it at #2 in 2012. Their sophomore album, This is All Yours, came out in 2014 to my complete and utter amazement. I ranked it #17 that year.
And now their third album, Relaxer, came out earlier this year and it’s really good. I don’t think I’ve felt so conflicted about a band’s ongoing talent as I have for Alt-J. How do they sound so unique yet so accessible? How do they continue to produce music in such a narrow area of the musical spectrum, and how do they make it sound so damn good?
Relaxer is surprising beyond its mere existence. For one, “3WW,” shown in the video above, as well as the song “Deadcrush” (video here) features vocals from Ellie Rowsell, lead singer of Wolf Alice (whose album My Love is Cool was #3 in 2015). Also, this album features a loose cover of the traditional folk tune “House of the Rising Sun,” which the band took liberties with by adding an entirely different second verse. Not only that, but the band has 20 (yes, twenty) classical guitarists playing all at once on that album. Why? Because the band never does anything lightly.
Their music videos are no different. Beyond “3WW” above and Deadcrush linked earlier in this article, be sure to check out “In Cold Blood” and “Pleader” as well. The production value Alt-J puts into everything they do is fantastic. From writing/recording to video filming to live performances, the band spares no expense, and it’s a beauty to listen and watch. And that’s why they’re #6 in 2017.
The Top 5 is coming up! Brace yourselves.
7. Hot Thoughts by Spoon
8. Colors by Beck
9. Mental Illness by Aimee Mann
10. The Wild by The Rural Alberta Advantage
11. american dream by LCD Soundsystem
12. Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes
13. Famous Last Words by The True Loves
14. Cry Cry Cry by Wolf Parade
15. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
16. Shake the Shudder by !!!
17. La La Land (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by La La Land
18. The Underside of Power by Algiers
19. What Now by Sylvan Esso
20. 50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields
21. Plunge by Fever Ray
22. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
23. Capacity by Big Thief
24. The Tourist by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
25. CCFX EP by CCFX
26. Woodstock by Portugal. The Man
27. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent
28. On the Spot by Hot 8 Brass Band
29. A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
30. Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, & James McAlister
31. A Moment Apart by Odesza