Snow Patrol set to start of 2012 with a bang 

Is it really the end of 2011 already?

Yup. Because labels are starting to announce all their upcoming January/February/March releases, believe it or not.

And without a doubt, 2012 will be kicking of with a Celtic bang Jan. 10, courtesy of a little recording called “Fallen Empires.” The new sixth effort from Ireland’s Grammy-nominated anthem factory Snow Patrol.

And you can already sample the proceedings at, via a surreal video for “Called Out In The Dark” (featuring Queens Of The Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen) and an even newer song, “This Isn’t Everything You Are.” And they’ve also scheduled an appearance Jan. 9 on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”

Oddly enough, “Empires” came together mostly in California, first at Joshua Tree’s Rancho De La Luna Studios, then through a Santa Monica beachfront house called Eagles Watch, then finally at the band’s longtime producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee’s Topanga Canyon home.

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe collaborated, as did LA songstress Lissie, and one track even employed the LA Inner City Mass Gospel Choir Of Compton.

“We wanted to make a massively ambitious record, a record unlike any other we’ve done before,” says frontman Gary Lightbody. Which — as anyone familiar with their increasingly experimental catalog can attest — is saying one helluva lot.

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