What was in my Christmas stocking?

As well as being a time for family, Christmas is a time for new music, and as normal I got through a fair amount of new records and I thought I’d share three (well four if you’re being pedantic) of my favourite ones from over the festive period.

Pain Of Salvation – Road Salt One & Two

Born from the fire of nu metal, the Swedish four piece have finally emerged as a proper progressive act with their seventh and eighth studio effort; a double concept record called Road Salt. The incredibly ambitious album sees the band taking all manner of musical styles in their stride, making use of a wide variety of instrumentation, producing an album that is simultaneously both eclectic and focused. The album follows a rough concept about choosing the right road to go down and whilst it’s not essential to follow, the odd repeated theme and lyric help to bind the diverse record together.

For fans of: Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Opeth

North Atlantic Oscillation – Fog Electric

Fog Electric is a modern rejuvenation of classic progressive bands such as King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. Adding electronica elements such as dance-orientated drum beats and a heavy reliance on bass lines, to traditional progressive sounds, is an almost impossible project to get right, but somehow the Scottish threesome have achieved a perfect combination. The album could, and arguably should, have sounded like a nasty collection of remixes, but instead the result is a fresh revision of what the progressive rock genre can offer, with uplifting, hazy tracks like Soft Coda and contemporary electronic sections, such as those found within Empire Waste.

For fans of: Radiohead, Steven Wilson, The Pineapple Thief

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Bordering somewhere between pop and art rock, Alt-J manage to combine the intellectualism and pomposity of the progressive genre with the accessibility and charisma of pop. Whilst at times their grand ambitions can detract from the outcome, most tracks on An Awesome Wave are a successful marriage of the two distinct genres. Breezeblocks and Tessellate are perfect examples of this union, providing addictive melodies alongside experimental musicality and a desire for the bizarre, especially where the vocals are concerned.

For fans of: The xx, Radiohead

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