Watch This: Alt-J, “Hunger of the Pine”

Watch This: Alt-J, “Hunger of the Pine”

Leigh MichaelTuesday,22 July 2014

The Snap:

Alt-J just released the official video for “Hunger of the Pine,” a celestial number whose visual accompaniment belongs in – or mocks? – The Hunger Games. Decide for yourself and watch at the bottom of the post.

This is All Yours doesn’t make its debut until September 22nd, but you can pre-order the album on iTunes or Amazon.

The Download:

My partner recently mentioned that he hoped that Alt-J didn’t turn into the Black Keys – in other words, an awesome band who continues to be awesome, but gets so much airtime/tv show time/commercial time that you’re just a little bit sick of them. I vehemently rejected the prediction. And then I listened to 1:27 of “Hunger of the Pine.” Maybe it’s because Miley Cyrus really gets on my nerves. But that 15-second remix of her [shitty] “4×4″ off Bangerz sort of dampens what was a beautiful song. It turns the track from something that felt like a gem into one that will probably get played a lot on the “Today’s Hit Music”-or-some-derivative-of-the-title radio station that makes waves in every city.

The video is strangely mesmerizing, but I found the track to fall flat, especially after the tour de force that was An Awesome Wave. Remember how awesome “Breezeblocks” was? Or “Fitzpleasure?” Where can we get that kind of sound again, not a ‘meh’ track riddled with Miley? I do have a disclaimer… I really loved “Hunger of the Pine,” with the exception of the Miley interjection. Has the band sold out to “big band” labels? Should I be planning their funeral march?

Not quite yet. U.S. labels were actually apparently pretty pissed off about “Hunger of the Pine’s” lack of ‘single potential.’ The label, according to The Guardian, “didn’t view the song as a “big single”, apparently ignoring the fact that An Awesome Wave did pretty well without one. Hackles (mildly) raised, Alt-J resolved to write “the least Alt-J song ever”, taking a “joke riff” Joe had been playing in rehearsals and fleshing it out with the most perfunctory chords and rhythm imaginable. Whereas the band typically spend weeks agonising over every note, Left Hand Free was written “in about 20 minutes”. Needless to say, the US label loved it.

Especially with the background story of the inception of “Left Hand Free,” the track is nothing if not redeeming. It’s uncharacteristic, unexpected, and proves that this band can rock… Even when they’re giving “the man” the proverbial middle finger. Consider yourself redeemed, Alt-J.

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Hat Tips:

Alt-JNMEThe Guardian, Image Credit: Flickr (converted to B&W)

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