Southern Louisiana in the early 1960s was a hotbed of musical creativity among youngsters who'd been raised listening to French-language country music and Fats Domino. They combined those — and other — influences to make what's now called "swamp pop." Joe Barry was a pioneer in this area who should have been much bigger.
Even before Alt-J's An Awesome Wave took home this year's Mercury Prize (which honors a panel's choice for the best record to emerge from the U.K. each year), there had been considerable buzz about the band on this side of the Atlantic. By the time the album finally came out here in September — it had been released abroad several months earlier — An Awesome Wave's arrival received the kind of attention few debuts ever see.