In 2007 in Leeds, England.
Sounds like: A poppy, sonically schizophrenic take on what it's like to search for authentic folk in a world burgeoning with wobbly dubstep and cryptic trap music.
For fans of: Grizzly Bear, the Magnetic North, Radiohead, Foals, obscure keyboard shortcuts, multilayered radar imagery and homages to Maurice Sendak.
Latest release: An Awesome Wave, the band's 2012 Mercury Prize-winning debut.
Why you care: England's Alt-J never had glowing aspirations to be the next big thing. The University of Leeds grads, who named their band after the Mac hotkey shortcut for variable change, were content just getting their album into the hands of a few people. Despite the modest goal, what they released was a nuclear bomb of a record that blew up in the blogosphere, making Alt-J one of the most lauded British acts in recent memory. An Awesome Wave is an album entrenched in genre-bending shades of electronica and rootsy experimentation that is difficult to label. While properly deciphering singer Joe Newman's drony vocals amid the synths and spacey nuances is almost impossible, the album takes on a surprisingly intimate tone when you do, resonating with the subtle burden a sinner brings to a confessional. The culmination of five years of creative flair and slow-growth tenacity, An Awesome Wave showcases what the overwhelmingly hyped quartet does best: create refreshing, polished tunes that sound more machine than man—which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
SEE IT: Alt-J plays the Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., on Monday, April 8. 8:30 pm. Sold out. All ages.