CD Of The Month

WXPN Radio

The premier guide for new and significant artists in rock, blues, and folk - including NPR-syndicated World Cafe ®

XPoNential Radio

24/7 Musical discovery. A unique mix of emerging and heritage blues, rock, world, folk, and alt-country artists.

World Cafe Archives

Join David Dye as he navigates the World Cafe through live performances and interviews with celebrated and emerging artists.

Folk Radio

Folk music radio streaming on the web; Americana, Roots Music, recordings, and stories from folk's best.
Listen Live

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave - Atlantic / Canvasback

It’s not easy to craft the perfect pop song. The try and fail to find that familiar melody, that joyous hook, that great rock riff or that insightful lyrical passage is more common than the actual desired result. That’s why we tip our caps to artists like The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and Hendrix. And while many attempt to follow the path already trodden, some bands opt for a less convenient approach.


On An Awesome Wave, the debut album from the British band Alt-J, there aren’t a whole lot of familiar touch-points or cliché attempts at manufacturing a hit.Instead, prepare for a collection that sounds like it’s been made in another universe. It’s an original palette of songs that breathes creative expression and musical adventure yet is still inviting for an audience willing to journey.

The four-piece band has been crafting their sound since forming in 2007. And by now you may have heard that An Awesome Wave recently won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in the UK. An honor, yes, but even without the recognition these songs deserve your attention. In the way that Radiohead made you think differently about what you were listening to, Alt-J aspires and achieves a similar reaction. These tunes aren’t crafted with any sort of typical song structure. They bend, they twist, they accelerate, they pause, they unfold without expectation. And despite how schizophrenic this may seem at times, it’s captivating. They engage with a distinct intensity and a subtle beauty that underlines songs like “Tessellate” or “Breezeblocks”. And it all unfolds so effortlessly that you oversee how unformatted it may actually be and just enjoy it.

The only traditional thing about An Awesome Wave is that it really plays as an album, and not a disjointed collection of off-centered songs. It’s a sprawling collection that is tied together with musical interludes, and each song from start to finish is carefully plotted. An Awesome Wave works because it offers somewhat of a challenge; both to itself and its audience. The reward is there, it just requires a set of open ears and an open mind.

Alt-J on World Cafe

Alt-J takes its name from the mathematical symbol for change, and to celebrate the release of its debut was featured on the World Cafe with David Dye on October 23. You can listen to the full performance and interview at WorldCafe.NPR.org.

Another Way To Support WXPN

Buy Awesome Wave from Amazon.com. Your purchase that starts here, supports WXPN Public Radio.

Your Amazon Purchases Support WXPN

DRGN King, Family Vacation, Big Tusk, Ghost Gum and more scheduled to play show on Record Store Day at Vinyl Redemption...

If you were already having a hard time planning out how you were going to celebrate Record Store Day on April 19, things just got a...Read More

Redbull’s Sound Select pairs Philly artists Embarker and Chris Forsyth with Oneohtrix Point Never

Redbull’s Sound Select monthly feature, showcases local artists across the country is bringing some additional recognition to...Read More

The Key Studio Sessions: Elegant Animals

Philly’s Elegant Animals are five musicians with an adventurous spirit that transcends genres. You could call them an electronic...Read More

66th annual Pastorius Park Concert lineup announced with Hezekiah Jones, The Lawsuits, Mutlu and...

The 2014 Pastorius Park Concert series has been announed, starting Wednesday, June 18th with Hezekiah Jones. The weekly Wednesday...Read More

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Loop at Kung Fu Necktie, The Revivalists at World Cafe Live, The Behn Gillece Quartet at Underground...

Before there was Pure Phase, before there was Screamadelica, there was Loop. The short-lived UK four-piece blended nervy electronic...Read More