First Look: Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns

I’m a firm believer in Indie bands that make it big. But I’m also not blind to the fact that once in the spotlight, Indie bands often reject the diversity and uniqueness of their own “indie-ness” for whatever worked for them to get them to the top.

I think it’s possible that Snow Patrol is approaching that point. They have found what works, and now they’re starting to hit the “copy” button.

Is A Hundred Million Suns good? Yes. No doubt about it. At times, it’s catchy and energetic. It has a great sound, and the usual Snow Patrol base lines and guitar riffs.

Is it new, unique, original? Not so much. If you like Eyes Open’s catchy radio-tunes like Chasing Cars and Hands Open, you’ll like this one. But the more I hear, the more I think: once you’ve heard one Snow Patrol song, you’ve probably heard them all. It’s the thing I hate most about U2. Every song sounds the same.

In fact, the first tracks sound like they were intended for Eyes Open, but kept on the shelf so the band could get some more mileage out of their sound. “If there’s a rocket, tie me to it” and “Crack the Shutters” are some of the worst offenders here. I swear I’ve heard “Engines” guitar riffs on another Snow Patrol song and “Set Down Your Glass” is the token slow and meaningful song, akin to Eyes Open’s “You Could be Happy.”

I will say this, though. Some songs are a complete departure from the Snow Patrol sound. “Lifeboats” and “The Golden Floor” have a distinct Iron & Wine flavor to them, though I doubt they will get much recognition from listeners or critics, and they’ll probably be written off as boring. “Lightning Strikes” is a moving piece with rich, whirling piano, horns, voice melodies and guitar riffs that make the song both deep and diverse. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve heard from Snow Patrol in a long time, and it’s stashed at the end of the CD.

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The next Indie band to make it big on the radio is…

Barcelona.

Every once in a while, you catch a glimpse of an Indie band that has made it through the experimentation and exploration of their tastes and has finally settled on a style that fits them (or has finally decided to do what everyone else is doing…which one is it? You decide.).

Barcelona’s new offering “Absolutes” is on a Decemberist’s-Picaresque breakthrough. I’ve been following them a little, off and on, but this latest album marries Indie-ness (intelligent lyrics, nice use of flowing piano and guitar, experimental beats and rhythms) with a set of contagious harmonies that are sure to have radio stations drooling. With a Keane meets Snow Patrol formula, they’ve got some truly singable songs. Colors, bound to be the first radio single, is fantastic, as is First Floor People.

So, be listening for Barcelona on a radio station near you soon…remember, you read it here first.

Oh, and here’s a free download of one of their songs.

The band also has a “secret download” site if you give them your email.