It’s forty five minutes before Alt-J headline The Bowery on the first night of Tramlines festival. It would be understandable for Joe Newman, lead singer of a band just beginning to realise their full potential, to be a bit nervous.

Yet the scene is quite the contrary, Joe Newman looks pensive as he gives honest answers yet he is totally relaxed: surrounded by previous tour mates Cave Painting who played a set of an ethereal, mountainous quality to an audience astounded by the melancholically riddled atmospheric swells produced by a set including their new single: ‘’So Calm’’.

Brighton based Cave Painting are themselves preparing to release their debut album on the 24th of September, which will be followed up by a 10-12 date headline tour where they seek to build up their own base of fans who have bought the album, available on vinyl or to download, and then shown dedication to come and see the live performance – the key aspect that Cave Painting want to build their reputation on.

When on a Mac computer, Alt-J produces a triangle-esque symbol yet it actually represents the Greek letter delta (∆), meaning ‘difference between’. Having been asked what was the difference between his band and others, Joe Newman pointed out that they are a very self-critical band whose main influences are each other, with each member wanting to impress their peers with fresh ideas – a technique which ensures no two songs sound the same and ideas never become trite.

Alt-J, have previously worked under the name of Daljit Dhaliwal and more recently as Films, creating a sound which has been difficult to compare because the musical territory they are covering at the moment is unexplored resulting in an uncategorisable genre which has been best described as folkstep. Initially not releasing any promotional pictures showing their faces, in a move not dissimilar to Wu Lyf’s campaign, guitarist Gwil Sainsbury remarked that, ‘It wasn’t that we didn’t want to show our faces, more that we didn’t want to do posed band shots, because it’s just not us.’

Recently they released their debut album: ‘An Awesome Wave’ which features a satellite image of the Gange delta (geddit?) as the self-chosen album artwork. The album received massive critical acclaim yet they are undeterred by commercialism, believing it should be embraced, not scorned upon, because Alt J will stick to their own way of writing songs regardless of how many people are interested in the next album.

Looking beyond the album’s release, the band want to improve an already polished live performance and find more fans – something commercialism can bring. They are aware of their almost ‘cult’ symbolism yet they’re not affected by it. They don’t want to get ahead of themselves instead taking success in their stride: progression is inevitable but won’t be forced. Their last album was produced with Charlie Andrew in Brixton and with the triumph of the first album, they look forward to collaborating in the future.

They began their set with ‘’Intro’’ followed by ‘’Tessellate’’: spinning an intricate cobweb of sonic mastery which was continued with ‘’Something Good’’ – the song rumoured to be their next single. The complex delicacy was epitomised by ‘’Bloodflood’’ and left the audience in awe before ‘that’ drop in ‘’Fitzpleasure’’ smashed through the cobweb like a steam train, instantly converting any audience member left who was still sceptical and forcing everyone to take notice of them.

The next question on everyone’s lips now, is ‘what will be the next destination of the steam train that is Alt-J?’ There are only four men who know the answer to that question and my guess is we won’t find out until it’s being done.

The only thing we do know is it will be 100% their decision, it will be unique and it will be very, very good.


first post by new Cougar scribe Sam, welcome on board.



Alt-J (∆)

Cave Painting