Alright readers, let’s get back to some progressive rock. After listening and writing about indie rock music for the past week, I started to miss my favorite music genre. Searching the music label Kscope (Steven Wilson, Anathema, Katatonia), I started to look for other bands they have signed. In comes this next band, an unrecognized but ambitious band I immediately fell in love with. After only one listen, I couldn’t help but replay music from North Atlantic Oscillation.
Hailing from Scotland, North Atlantic Oscillation (now referred as NAO) is Sam Healy on vocals/guitar/keyboard, Ben Martin on drums, and Chris Howard on bass guitar/synth/vocals. This trio falls under the genre of progressive rock, but not to the extent of great bands like Genesis or Yes. Instead, they fall under a post-progressive rock, which mainly consists of a more contemporary sound not found in previous generations, with heavy influences of electronica and indie rock. Just as bands like Muse and Radiohead have pushed the boundaries of this genre, North Atlantic Oscillation continues the push further on their album “The Third Day.”
“The Third Day” expands upon an already diverse genre with original compositions and sounds. Progressive rock music is known for the creativity and originality behind their songs, and NAO continues to expand the genre. The album is filled with ambiance from multiple keyboards, synths, drum machines, and other sound effects. Similar to the album “The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi,” the keyboards help to add texture to already dream-like songs, while the more conservative instruments take a back seat. This technique is most evident in the songs “Penrose” and “Do Something Useful,” where sound effects contribute to the majority of the song structure. If it weren’t for the odd time signatures, one could almost classify this band as a shoegaze, dream-pop band.
The two songs I instantly consider my favorites off this album were “August” and “Wires,” which are by far the two most indie songs on the album. In both songs, the drums play a heavy role, with their significant drum fills and crashing cymbals thanks to Martin. Layered into the songs are Healy’s dream-like vocals, which in fact are layered on top of each other in several songs. In the same manner as the band Marathon, and a voice similar to the bands Coldplay, Radiohead, and possibly comparable to a higher octaved Nine Inch Nails, Healy contributes vocals in a way that will lull his listeners into peace and security. Both songs are excellent, and I recommend my readers listen to these two songs if not the entire album.
My favorite thing about this album is actually the instrumentation provided by all three band members. The melodies of each song all flow into one another, yet all have a vastly different vibe. Songs like “Pines of Eden” and “Wires” rely on clean or acoustic guitar rhythms, while “Elsewhere” and “Do Something Useful” are geared towards the synth-heavy sound. Each song borders psychedelic, yet down-to-earth song structures that appeal to the listener. I love the simple, yet constructive sound in “The Third Day.”
I recommend this album to fans of the genres listed earlier. Ranging from sounds comparable to the bands Radiohead, Beach Boys, and Marathon, and similar to bands in their record label like Anathema and Steven Wilson, this pop-prog band is easily suitable to many audiences. If you like this album, please check out their first album “Grappling Hooks,” an album critically praised by many British magazines and music websites. Please support North Atlantic Oscillation and their album “The Third Day” by visiting their website, or by following them on Twitter for the latest news.