REVIEWS

SOMERDALE

REVIEWS

 

 

 

ALBUM REVIEW:  “Maggie Says It Again”

By Rob Ross July 28, 2017

 

This glorious album from New Jersey’s Somerdale was originally released as Shake It, Maggie, but once it found its way into the hands and ears of Marty Scott, the driving force behind Jem Records, he knew he had to have it and re-release it.  With the band going back into the studio and adding newly-recorded tracks, it’s being re-released on Jem as Maggie Says It Again, a gathering of now 15 songs – stunning exercises of precision pop perfection.

 

“Take It From The Top” opens the collection with a classic pop-ness – acapella harmonies lead into a classic ’60’s track, with a lot of familiar and well-loved elements; if you cross The Who and The Beatles, you’ve got it here.  “Waiting For You” has a more early ’70’s vibe – crisp and rockin’ guitars; think Badfinger or Cheap Trick – great vocals and a very Big Star bridge (love the device of using minor chords); “Don’t You Know” is the pure power-pop standout, using all the best elements of mid-’70’s power-pop:  catchy, structured with magnificent harmonies (for a moment, I was thinking of Queen!) and keyboards, with an on-the-one guitar solo and  “Excuse Me” immediately made me think of Icewater’s “All I See Is You” – the piano; the melody; the tempo – that exquisite pop-love song idea brought to light (and the other highlight of this album, to me).  “Feel The Magic” is the stomper; a perfect melding of bubblegum and glam rock; “Coolest Kid In The Room” is the raucous “new wave”-ish pop number with its pounding Vox-sounding organ and “Merry Christmas Time” is probably the best rock-oriented Christmas song since Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” (!).

 

You want good pop – that’s one thing.  You want great pop?  Get this album.  It’s an instant classic/winner.  There are no so-so moments; it’s all meat and potatoes – no filler.  Something about New Jersey still manages to produce top notch pop-oriented bands with both the talent and skill to write and deliver amazing songs that you immediately take in.  And Somerdale definitely is in that upper echelon.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

Maggie Says It Again will be released on Friday, August 11th, 2017

 

 Somerdale and Fernando Perdomo

By Powerpopaholic  August 20, 2017

 

 

During our last Power Popaholic Fest, I was honored to have Somerdale play and I got to meet the band and Jem Records Marty Scott.  He credits a review brought his attention to Somerdale, where they are featured on Jem’s roster with a re-issued release of last year’s album. It was my #8 top album pick of 2016 and now long sold out.

 

The re-titled Maggie Says It Again is expanded to 15 tracks with “Say It Again,” “Don’t You Know,” and “Broken English” as the new songs. They fit in perfectly —  with “Say It Again” being the best of the new crop. Overall the album rocks with that 70’s pop-rock influence, thanks in part to Chuck Penza’s lead vocals and those driving riffs. Fans of Badfinger, The Raspberries, The Who and Cheap Trick should not hesitate to grab this one, as it remains super highly recommended. Plus, its got an exclusive Holiday bonus song – “Merry Christmas Time.” No excuses!

 

Somerdale – Maggie Says It Again

By Richard Rossi  August 27, 2017

Since The Smithereens burst onto the scene back in 1980, the state has produced some of the finest power pop in the history of the genre. But like all places, New Jersey has had its ups and downs. The death of The Court Tavern and Maxwells had many of us thinking that things were changing for the worse. With Somerdale Maggie Says it Again, Marty Scott and his JEM label have given us something to smile about.

 

Scott has focused on signing the best the state has to offer including The Gripweeds, and The Anderson Council among others. Somerdale’s Maggie Says It Again is an extended version of a previous release with added tracks and enhanced production.

 

The soaring harmonies and 70’s vibe make the band’s sound immediately familiar although the influences aren’t obvious at first. While you’ll hear others mention Cheap Trick or Badfinger when discussing Somerdale, I hear as much of The Sweet or David Bowie in their sound.

 

The title track is a case in point. The heavy bassline, killer melody and Bowie-like feel make “Shake It Maggie” one my favorites on the LP. It may be one of my favorites of the year. It is by no means the only highlight, however. “Take It From the Top” is as radio friendly as it gets. The following track, “Say It Again” is very nearly as catchy.

 

That being said, “Feel the Magic” has all the charm of the best early to mid 70’s bubblegum tracks. Speaking of which, this one would have given The Sweet a run for their money. Guitars, hand claps and harmonies….damn this is good. And for added measure, there’s even a Christmas song at the end.

 

Powerpop Delights From Somerdale

By Pops That Go Crunch October 9, 2016 

 

Somerdale’s Shake It Maggie is the “sleeper” of the year. You might consider it, upon an initial listen on two, to be serviceable, poppy rock ‘n’ roll inching its way slowly toward AM radio success circa 1978 only to be halted, like so many others in its day, by the steamroller of disco in its commercial heyday.

 

This assessment would only be half right, however. Shake It Maggie is poppy rock ‘n’ roll, by design. But listen it to it a few times. There is nothing at all serviceable about it. Instead, Shake It Maggie delivers ten stellar tracks, and a reprise of the opener, that will easily propel it into my year-end Top 10.

 

Somerdale announces its intentions immediately on said opening track, “Take It From The Top,” which is two minutes of lovingly constructed bubblegum about blowing a chance at radio success because they’re “shakin’ like power pop, so out of style its cool.” “Waiting For You,” the next track, probably was playing on AM radio, somewhere, back in ’78.

 

The band cites Sloan as an influence, and this is readily apparent. Check out, for example, the chorus of “The News,” and you’ll see what I mean:

She’s Leaving California” might be dismissed by some as garden-variety “hard rock.” Listen carefully, however. It’s actually the kind of song Patrick Pentland has penned, and sung, many times to great effect in Sloan:

Whenever I hear “Bigger Than The Universe,” I picture kids busing it to the beach singing along at the top of their lungs in unison. “The Coolest Kid In The Room” is updated, old school Power Pop of the kind The Shazam used to do so brilliantly, filled as it is with exuberance and sharp vocals. It also has cool hand-claps:

The word that comes most to mind to describe Shake It Maggie is “delightful.” And I mean that in the best sense. It brings endless smiles, even on the more serious tracks. Sometimes, can you really ask for anything more?

Somerdale “Brighter Than Before”

By Power Popaholic September 13, 2011

 

Right away you get the feeling Somerdale spent a lot of time with old school power pop and rock records. The trio consists of Chuck Penza (bass), James Caputo (guitar) and JJ Fennimore (drums) and the opening track “That’s Over Now” sounds like it fell off a classic Raspberries album. The band has the ability to channel its influences with stunning accuracy. “Bent On Napalm” has a bluesy riff similar to the Stones “Street Fighting Man” as Caputo belts away.  The bands approach is similar to 70’s influenced retro outfit Vinyl Candy, but with much less glam and a stronger songwriting approach. And it boasts two good singers, as Penza and Caputo share the lead duties.

 

You gotta love the beautiful opening chords and harmonies on “Sugar Valley, CA” as the chorus recalls The Bryds and Sloan. The guitar gets even heavier with the handclaps and cymbal on “We Are All Together.” It brings to mind KISS minus the makeup and with an even catchier chorus. The nicely timed ballad “Like A Rainbow” is Penza’s best moment as it recalls classic Frampton. It has a few misses (“If I Knew The Words” and “Oklahoma”) but includes a good cover of The Left Banke’s hit “Walk Away Renee”  and a very Bay City Rollers-ish “Best I Can.” Overall, there is more than enough here to recommend to melodic rock enthusiasts.

 

SOMERDALE/Maggie Says It Again: Power Pop at its finest!

Stephen Spaz Schee  August 14.2017

 

Remember the good ol’ days when a new album gave you a total thrill on first listen?  We all get older, real life gets in the way and those goosebumps-inducing moments don’t come quite as often as they used to. I remember distinctly when I first heard the 20/20 debut…. And the first Cherry Twister album… And Badfinger’s WISH YOU WERE HERE… The Lambretta’s BEAT BOYS IN THE JET AGE and the self-titled album by The Beat (AKA Paul Collins’ Beat)… Oh, and I can’t forget Dillon Fence’s ROSEMARY… ditto that to Splitsville’s PET SOUL full length… There are many more, but those are the first ones that come to mind.  Classic albums, every one of them!

 

Well, I’m glad to say that Somerdale’s MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN is an album that brought those inner tingles to the surface and made me feel glad to be very much alive and able to feel again! This is an album jam-packed full of so many hooks, you’ll swear that you’ve just landed in the best bait ‘n’ tackle shop on the planet! And those harmonies! Damn. Sounds like they channeled the spirits of Carl and Dennis Wilson and asked them to visit that magical place that falls somewhere between the Beach Boys and The Beatles (circa ABBEY ROAD). This is truly Power Pop at it’s most magnificent! This shimmers and shakes, quivers and quakes and all of that good stuff.  This one is going to give your goosebumps goosebumps!
This isn’t the band’s first foray into the Pop world but it is an album that they were born to make. Chuck Penza, James Caputo and JJ Fennimore have combined their talents and created what many people will call THE Power Pop album of the year.  I’ve heard some great albums this year and I am fairly confident that there won’t be another Power Pop platter released in 2017 that will be better than this one.  It is right up there with Duncan Reid & The Big Heads’ latest. Imagine the sweetness of Cherry Twister, add in the edgier side of Shoes, throw in some Brit-influences from The Records, some ‘70s AM radio influences (‘Waiting For You’ sounds like Splitsville covering Neil Diamond covering Sly & The Family Stone) and you’ve got Somerdale.  “Broken English” has a wall of backing vocals that recall Shoes as produced by Phil Spector. In fact, it’d be fair to say that this trio recalls little bits and pieces of every band mentioned before. But don’t get me wrong – they may pay musical homage to their influences (direct and indirect) yet they sound like… Somerdale!  “Broken English” has a wall of backing vocals that recall Shoes as produced by Phil Spector.
Ya know, I could go on and on but you catch my drift.  And if you aren’t picking up what I’m laying down, then let me make it plain and simple: YOU NEED THIS! Really!
(MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN is an expanded reissue of the band's SHAKE IT MAGGIE including recently recorded material.)

 

Battle of The Bands-Atlantic City

By Helena Cohen  2006 

SOMERDALE: Reminiscent of mid-70's garage rock (those years lingering between The Beatles and The Ramones), this power trio has an uncanny ability to channel equal parts Rubinoos (or any Berserkley band of your choosing) and power-pop prototypes Big Star. The former example shines through in spades with Somerdale's ruckus guitar riffs. The latter influence, however, is evident on their latest CD, in a more stripped-down number titled "Sweet Days"-- a short and somber song, but let's face it; if you're going to take your melancholy cues from anyone, it should be Big Star. --With that said, Somerdale were obviously the only band to perform with any genuine chemistry. It's easy to see that this band plays rock n' roll purely for the sake of playing rock n' roll.


MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN-REVIEW 2017

 ALBUM NOTES

This glorious album from New Jersey’s Somerdale was originally released as Shake It, Maggie, but once it found its way into the hands and ears of Marty Scott, the driving force behind Jem Records, he knew he had to have it and re-release it.  With the band going back into the studio and adding newly-recorded tracks, it’s being re-released on Jem as Maggie Says It Again, a gathering of now 15 songs – stunning exercises of precision pop perfection.

“Take It From The Top” opens the collection with a classic pop-ness – acapella harmonies lead into a classic ’60’s track, with a lot of familiar and well-loved elements; if you cross The Who and The Beatles, you’ve got it here.  “Waiting For You” has a more early ’70’s vibe – crisp and rockin’ guitars; think Badfinger or Cheap Trick – great vocals and a very Big Star bridge (love the device of using minor chords); “Don’t You Know” is the pure power-pop standout, using all the best elements of mid-’70’s power-pop:  catchy, structured with magnificent harmonies (for a moment, I was thinking of Queen!) and keyboards, with an on-the-one guitar solo and  “Excuse Me” immediately made me think of Icewater’s “All I See Is You” – the piano; the melody; the tempo – that exquisite pop-love song idea brought to light (and the other highlight of this album, to me).  “Feel The Magic” is the stomper; a perfect melding of bubblegum and glam rock; “Coolest Kid In The Room” is the raucous “new wave”-ish pop number with its pounding Vox-sounding organ and “Merry Christmas Time” is probably the best rock-oriented Christmas song since Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” (!).

 You want good pop – that’s one thing.  You want great pop?  Get this album.  It’s an instant classic/winner.  There are no so-so moments; it’s all meat and potatoes – no filler.  Something about New Jersey still manages to produce top notch pop-oriented bands with both the talent and skill to write and deliver amazing songs that you immediately take in.  And Somerdale definitely is in that upper echelon.

BRIGHTER THAN BEFORE-REVIEW 2011

ALBUM NOTES

The sound of 1966 in pop/rock music history, that phase between the British Invasion and the Summer of Love when American bands like the Byrds fused native folk and Merseybeat into catchy tunes set to bright rhythms, chiming guitars, and sweet harmonies, has proven remarkably revivable over the succeeding decades, whether in the hands of the Raspberries, the Smithereens, or myriad others. Forty-five years on, it continues to inspire young musicians, and fresh evidence is provided by Somerdale's second album, Brighter than Before. The trio from southern New Jersey (their base is actually in nearby Hammonton), guitarist James Caputo, drummer JJ Fennimore, and bassist Chuck Penza, is completely at home re-creating the Nuggets era, whether that means Fennimore lets fly with some Keith Moon-style drumming in "Bent on Napalm," or the group makes like the Youngbloods of "Get Together" fame in the socially conscious "We Are All Together." These guys are capable of making fine distinctions, suggesting the coming flower power/psychedelic era of 1967 on the twangy "Mulberry Street" and the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" feel of the ballad "Like a Rainbow" ("She's my watercolor queen"), but they are careful to stay within their favorite period. "I Didn't Know" may extend to seven minutes with its guitar soloing, but that playing never gets too far out; it never goes to San Francisco, you might say. By the time that Somerdale lovingly covers that 1966 classic "Walk Away Renee," their taste in music has long since become unmistakable, but even if it marks them as pop archivists, they demonstrate once again that 1966 was one of the great years for rock & roll. 
-Review by William Ruhlmann

FRIDAY NITE IN AMERICA-REVIEW 2006

ALBUM NOTES
Debut full-length by this New Jersey 3-piece formerly known as The Shags! "Old school power pop done with new school spirit and verve. Definitely a band to watch out for!" - David Bash They’ve toughened up their sound and have maintained their sweet vocal harmonies! They take you on their personally guided “musical history tour” of guitar pop (that exhibits a plethora of influences – The Beatles, Elliott Smith, The Rubinoos, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Raspberries, Free, and Artful Dodger immediately come to mind) that begins with “FM Liberation” delivered with “Street Fighting Man”-like power chords, Keith Moon-like drumming, and John Entwhistle-like bass lines! “She Reminds Me” combines “All Right Now” riff crunch with sugar sweet “ooh and aah harmonies! “Oh Nicole” could be an Artful Dodger outtake! “Gravity” is Raspberries-like! You get the idea!
SOMERDALE
By MASS BROADCAST 2006



STYLE: Power-Pop
HOMEBASE: Hammonton, NJ
EST: 2005

SOMERDALE is on a mission to take over the world with insanely catchy, head-bobbing, foot-stomping, fist-pumping, hook-laden, sing-a-long tunes. SOMERDALE cleverly combines the gorgeous harmonies of The Beatles, the frenetic energy of The Who, the psychedelic aura of David Bowie, the slashing guitar rhythms of The Rolling Stones, the throbbing bass lines of KISS, and the unbridled joy of The Raspberries. SOMERDALE has recently released its debut full-length cd Friday Nite in America on the Kool Kat Musik label www.koolkatmusik.com. SOMERDALE impressed judges and audience members alike with a second place finish at Atlantic City’s House of Blues’ Battle of the Bands this April. SOMERDALE was a featured act on the Philadelphia leg of David Bash’s prestigious International Pop Overthrow Festival (November 2005). SOMERDALE has performed at noted Philly venues such as Pontiac Grille, North Star, Millcreek Tavern, Chestnut Room, and Grape Street Philadelphia. SOMERDALE is currently receiving airplay on Atlantic City New Jersey’s 102.7FM, and on Wilmington, Delaware’s 93.7FM SOMERDALE has an e-mail database of over 400 fans.  

BAND MEMBERS: Chuck Penza - lead vox and bass guitar, James Caputo - guitar and vox, JJ Fennimore - drums and vox

RELEASES: Friday Nite in America (2006)

RECORD LABEL: Kool Kat Musik

FUTURE PLANS: World Domination

FEATURED SONG: FM Liberation
From the CD "Friday Nite in America "


More 'Shake It Maggie' Reviews
This sort of 70's Medium Wave Territory is something I spend a lot of time listening to and trust me, I know my stuff. I also get to listen to a lot more badly done stuff than good. "Shake It Maggie" has been the biggest surprise for me for a long time. It's fantastic... when I tell you that this is the best thing I've heard in ages, you can trust that remark. "Shake It Maggie" is, it's a superb listen and right up my street. I read that they've released two albums before this, I'm just sorry I missed them, because this album is fantastic. 
-Don Valentine (I Don't Hear A Single) 

Somerdale's new album opens with ethereal harmonies that gives me chills of excitement. Classic power pop songs that follow are so much fun! 
-Lazlo (BlowUpRadio) 

Nothing like good, old-fashioned, no frills Power Pop to turn that frown upside down! Kudos guys! You’re truly Jersey Strong! Can’t say enough about this one! GREAT!! 
-Ray Gianchetti (Kool Kat Musik) 

SOMERDALE’s 2011 release Brighter Than Before received rave reviews. 

Right away you get the feeling Somerdale spent a lot of time with old school power pop and rock records…. The opening track “That’s Over Now” sounds like it fell off a classic Raspberries album. … You gotta love the beautiful opening chords and harmonies on “Sugar Valley, CA” as the chorus recalls The Byrds and Sloan. The guitar gets even heavier … on “We Are All Together.” It brings to mind KISS minus the makeup and with an even catchier chorus. 
-Powerpopaholic 

An engaging blend of Bubblegum, Garage Rock, a hint of Psychedelia, and Power Pop. Penza's voice is as sweet as ever, and as songwriters, they continue to turn out clever, catchy, hummable melodies. This disc belongs in the home of everyone who cares about power pop. The harmonies and the arrangements still kill! 
-Max Humphries 
MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN
By Aaron Kupferberg 8/11/2016

MARKETING HIGHLIGHTS

In 2016, New Jersey band SOMERDALE released it’s third album, Shake it Maggie.  Lauded by the Power Pop press as one of the best albums of the year, the record found it’s way to JEM Records president Marty Scott, who immediately sought out and signed the band sending them back into the studio to record new tracks to be included in the label’s re-issue of the album.  Now featuring 15 SOMERDALE originals, Maggie Says It Again is insanely catchy, meticulously crafted, and hook-filled.  

Based in the heart of Southern New Jersey, SOMERDALE comprises Chuck Penza, vocals, bass guitar and keyboards; JJ Fennimore, vocals and drums and James Caputo, vocals and guitars.

SOMERDALE cleverly combines the introspective songwriting of Badfinger, the frenetic energy of The Who, the gorgeous harmonies of The Beatles and the quirky playfulness of Fountains of Wayne. The album was recorded at Gradwell House Recording in Haddon Heights, NJ, and Gas-N-Go Studios in Bordentown, NJ.

This sort of 70's Medium Wave Territory is something I spend a lot of time listening to and trust me, I know my stuff. I also get to listen to a lot more badly done stuff than good. "Shake It Maggie" has been the biggest surprise for me for a long time. It's fantastic... when I tell you that this is the best thing I've heard in ages, you can trust that remark. "Shake It Maggie" is. It's a superb listen and right up my street. I read that they've released two albums before this, I'm just sorry I missed them, because this album is fantastic.   -Don Valentine (I Don't Hear A Single) You couldn’t ask for a better self-referential intro than “Take It From The Top” with all the guitars, harmonies and catchiness. It even acknowledges that power pop is “so out of style, it’s cool” and if you love the classic power pop sound (Badfinger, Raspberries, Cheap Trick) you’ll be hard pressed to find a better example on Shake It Maggie… “Feel The Magic” is a little Bay City Rollers mixed with Slade, full of hand claps and smokin’ harmonies. Another one of my favorites here is “The Coolest Kid in the Room,” sounding like a lost song from teen 90’s movie soundtrack, it’s both sweet and wicked… there is not a note of filler here. Gets a nod as one of the top ten albums for 2016.   -Aaron Kupferberg (Powerpopaholic) Suggested tracks for airplay: Say It Again The Coolest Kid in the Room Waiting for You Don’t You Know