Monday, December 11, 2017

SOMERDALE: Introducing The Band

Introducing The Band

The short description: Somerdale is a Power Pop trio.

The long description: Somerdale is a Rock outfit that combines the edgy grumble of The Smithereens, the delicious hooks of The Records, harmonies that fall somewhere between Shoes, The Legal Matters and The Beach Boys, the sweetness of Cherry Twister, and the 'modern' Indie Pop muscle of Teenage Fanclub. Add in some chord changes inspired by Marc Bolan, Neil Diamond, Sly Stone and the '60s British Invasion and you've got the undeniably wonderful MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN, the band's third album and one of the finest releases of 2017! Initially released in 2016 as SHAKE IT MAGGIE, the album was re-released this year on JEM Records with additional material and a title overhaul. And boy, this is some seriously great Power Pop!

Here's some excerpts from my review here on the Discussions Magazine blog:

"Somerdale’s MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN s 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.‘Waiting For You’ sounds like Splitsville covering Neil Diamond covering Sly & The Family Stone. “Broken English” has a wall of backing vocals that recall Shoes as produced by Phil Spector. But don’t get me wrong – they may pay musical homage to their influences (direct and indirect) yet they sound like… Somerdale!"

While many Power Pop fans are well aware of the majesty of this fab Somerdale album, MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN isn't just for Power Pop purists. It is an album that will appeal to fans of Rock, Indie, Britpop, '60s Pop, etc. In a sense, it belongs to many different genres and will satisfy those of you who are constantly saying variations on the statement "They don't make good music like they used to!" I can assure you that MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN is as good as it gets!

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to meet... SOMERDALE!

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Please introduce yourselves!
CHUCK PENZA – songwriter, vocals, bass guitar and keyboards.
JAMES CAPUTO – songwriter, vocals and guitars.
JJ FENNIMORE – drums and vocals

SPAZ: Can you fill us in on this new little platter of yours?
CHUCK: In September of 2016, we hired Marc Platt to do some internet radio promotion. This led to us connecting with Marty Scott and JEM Records. Marty liked what he heard, so he re-released our 2016 album SHAKE IT MAGGIE with four new songs and renamed the album MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN.

SPAZ: Which song off of the album do you feel best defines the essence of the album and/or what the band is all about, musically?
CHUCK: “Say It Again” has all the Somerdale trademarks. Lots of lyrical and musical hooks, great energy, major vocal harmonies and a universal message in the lyric.

SPAZ: In this age of streaming, the concept of the album as an art form seems to have been lost in the digital shuffle. Did you approach this project as a whole piece of work or do you view it more like a collection of individual songs that you felt work together well?
CHUCK: We like to think in terms of albums. The individual songs do hold up on their own, but it’s a pretty powerful 15-song package when you listen to the album all the way through.

SPAZ:  When you began the songwriting and recording process, did you already have a fully-formed idea of how you wanted the end-product to sound like or did it come together organically?
CHUCK: Usually, the songwriter (Chuck or James) has an idea of the song’s arrangement. Once we start rehearsing the song, the band members and our engineer (Matt Weber) add their musical ideas. So, the end-product is a combination of the songwriter’s original idea and the contributions of the other band members/recording engineer.

SPAZ:  As a songwriter working in a group with equally talented writers and performers, is there a lot of give and take involved with making an album or were you all on the same wavelength with this batch of songs?
CHUCK: It feels like we are all on the same wavelength. There is a core group of artists we all love, so when we bounce ideas off each other, it’s easy to communicate because we have this common point of reference (The Beatles, British Invasion bands, American ‘70s rock bands, etc.).

SPAZ: Given the opportunity, an artist could tinker with an album for years before finally releasing it to the world. Are you happy with the release of the album at the moment or are you still in the ‘I wish I could go back and add this or change that’ stage?
CHUCK: We are very happy with the album MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN, and we think your readers will love this album as well.

SPAZ:  Listening to an album, one can decipher some of the main musical influences that helped shape that artist. However, there can also be some surprising influences as well. Who would you pick as your chief musical influences on this album?
CHUCK: We’re sure you can hear lots of ‘60s and ‘70s influences. We love groups with big guitars and big vocal harmonies (The Beatles, Queen, The Cars, etc…).

SPAZ: Did you have any non-musical influences that inspired you during the making of the album?
CHUCK: Well, all artists tend to be influenced by the world at large, and the current situation offers lots of inspiration.

SPAZ: Was there a particular moment during the writing or recording when you realized that you were definitely making something special?
CHUCK: Our SHAKE IT MAGGIE album ended up on many Best of 2016 lists. After seeing that, we realized that this collection of songs is something special.

SPAZ: What is next for the band?
CHUCK: We recently performed at David Bash’s International Pop Overthrow (Philadelphia). That was a blast!  Hopefully, MAGGIE SAYS IT AGAIN will make some Best of 2017 lists.

SPAZ: What are you currently spinning on your CD and record players?

CHUCK: WXPN 88.5FM in Philadelphia is currently playing their entire library of 1970s songs in alphabetical order. That’s been a ton of fun to listen to!

Thanks to Chuck Penza
Special thanks to Marty Scott


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