ARTIST: Snow Patrol
RATING: 2 out of 5

I could tell from the unintelligible buzzing that kicks off opening track “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It” that I was going to end up feeling completely let down.

It’s really my own fault that my hopes were up – Snow Patrol’s last album, Eyes Open, is still on regular rotate at my place (for long time readers, I gave it a 4.5 out of 5 back in July 2006), and was deemed a massive success behind popular single “Chasing Cars”.

Unfortunately A Hundred Million Suns is not half the album its predecessor was.

Far too much reliance is placed on large over-blown soundscapes, lyrical clichés, and bland guitar and drum parts that really don’t seem to go anywhere. First single “Take Back the City” is the perfect example, with its simple 4-chord guitar line and ridiculously basic arrangement.

Gone are the emotional, minimalist moments of tracks like “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” from Eyes Open, replaced by would-be dance influences on tracks like “The Golden Floor”, courtesy of producer ‘Jacknife’ Lee.

Sadly the formula doesn’t work, making A Hundred Million Suns one album you might want to miss out this summer.

ARTIST: Eddy Grant
RATING: 4 out of 5

For a number of years starting in the late 1970s, it seemed that wherever you turned artists were trying as hard as they could to popularize the new reggae sound, following the lead of artists like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.

The explosion was especially intense in the UK, as punk artists like The Police and The Clash incorporated reggae influences into their music, and a number of artists rode the Brit-reggae wave well-into the 1980s and beyond, including UB40, and Eddy Grant – the subject of this review.

Eddy Grant began his career as the lead guitarist and songwriter for The Equals, best known for writing the well known reggae-dance crossover hit “Baby Come Back”, popularized by Pato Banton in the mid-nineties, but after setting up his own label he began releasing music of his own, scoring his first major hit with “Living on the Frontline”, a fantastic dub-fused cry to his brothers in Africa.

Eddy Grant is undoubtedly one of British reggae’s most important contributor’s, and Road to Reparation captures his career perfectly, starting with his time in The Equals, through seminal tracks like “Gimme Hope Jo‘anna” and “Electric Avenue”, to his downward spiral in the late 1980s. Recommended.

ARTIST: David Cook
RATING: 3 out of 5

It might seem odd that for my final review this month I’ve chosen to go with an album from the latest winner of American Idol, the world’s greatest talent show.

The thing is, in the wake of the success of recent Idol alumni such as rocker Chris Daughtry and last years’ winner Jordin Sparks, the bar has been raised to a level that the music being produced by these artists is as good as anything on the current pop market.

Enter David Cook, winner of the seventh series of American Idol, and owner of one of the most impressive voices around.

The blunt truth is that this album – Cook’s second, as he independently released an album titled Analog Heart prior to entering Idol – doesn’t really bring anything new to the table; for the most part, its generic middle-of-the-road rock and ballad-based pop.

That said, Cook’s voice is immaculate throughout, his sound direct but obtuse enough to draw the listener in, while several key tracks exude his own personal style, including highlight first single “Light On”, co-written with ex-Audioslave front-man Chris Cornell. No, it’s not the album of the year – but it is listener-friendly, well-produced and thoroughly enjoyable, despite its cliché sound.