Somerset - Pandora (Cover Artwork)


Somerset: PandoraPandora (2005)
Punknews Records (PNR)

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

You could probably write circles around the word "bias" concerning this. This is a review for Somerset's debut full-length, Pandora. Released on Punknews Records. Reviewed for Punknews.org. By someone who's enjoyed and followed the band for nearly 2 years. That being said, Pandora is a more than .
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You could probably write circles around the word "bias" concerning this. This is a review for Somerset's debut full-length, Pandora. Released on Punknews Records. Reviewed for Punknews.org. By someone who's enjoyed and followed the band for nearly 2 years.

That being said, Pandora is a more than solid debut from the Minneapolis quartet and for the label themselves, brimming with hooks galore, socially and personally conscious / religiously (vaguely) satirical lyrics and a diverse offering of indie/rock/punk/emo hybrids throughout.

It should be fairly essential knowledge around these parts that Somerset have two EPs under their belt besides Pandora, those being 2003's nearly flawless This Thought Process and last year's proper release of three demos the band originally cut in September 2003 with producer Chrid Fudurich (Rx Bandits, Nada Surf, Ozma), who handles the duties for Pandora here effortlessly as well.

One of my personally biggest issues with any release is the presence of re-recorded songs, but Pandora somehow manages to keep its flow intact despite the re-tooling of "The Tragedy Of Christopher Needs" (originally on the self-titled EP) and "Colors Of Insomnia" (TTP), as well as some touch-ups on the original recording of "Open Books" (S/T), which opens the disc and eventually leaks into "Clockwork," highlighting with its cynical chorus ("honey this is the end / take my hand as we send / all these people straight to hell"). The rest of the record finds itself jumping from style to style purposefully. "Dandelion Wine" finds lead singer/guitarist Forrest Olsen crooning over softly plucked acoustics and water washing up on the beach shore for a minute and change until things go into the double-time moments of its follower, "Rhyme Over Reason." "All You Are" experiments with some heavy guitar upstrokes in its verses via dub/reggae, while the subtle explosion of the chorus in "More Than Answers" ("reborn in the memory of your life / our love didn't die with you that night") makes it a standout. "I'd Rather Die Standing" serenades with Christmas bells in the bridge, and closer "House Of Knives" brings the album full circle with its fading lines of "fighting symptoms into circles endlessly / but open wounds won't heal themselves with sharpened knives / we lose our lives", repeated from "Open Books."

Complementing it all is an aesthetically pleasing, Autumn-colored layout courtesy of Chad Bergman, breathing new life into the recurring grunge theme that's boomed within the past few years and even relying on more glossy paper than liner notes are usually afforded.

Pandora is a damn fine effort of a record, unique despite being influenced by many who will forever go on to remain as underrated despite their respective statuses hailed as legendary by one a many critic. Hopefully Somerset isn't doomed to share the same fate.

More Than Answers
Peppermint Gunpowder


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
GlassPipeMurder (November 24, 2006)

interesting, no mention of Tripwire Desire, the only really good song on the album.

Anonymous (September 3, 2005)

These guys are the most hard working guys you will ever meet. Obviously none of you have seen them live or really listened to their music...yes the songs are catchy but what song isnt catchy now a days.they put on a damn good show and are always energentic...matt's always bouncing around the damn stage and claudio beats the hell out of his drums. I take my hat off to these guys and want to say thank you. i feel we need more bands like somerset..who are hard worker and enjoy what they do..no matter how many bad critics you have you will always have your loyal and true fans....you guys are the sweetest and most down to earth guys and you guys rock the fucking house down i give you a ten

Anonymous (August 18, 2005)

"One reviewer's scores have nothing to do with another's, but if you're referring to my reviews exclusively, let me know who exactly this sounds like, because I can't think of one single band to best compare them to and that's sort of a feat in itself."

Go to purevolume.com, and close your eyes and click on the screen. you will discover a crappy new band that sounds like this band. i have to say it wont sound as polished as this though.

ThomPunkAheaddotcom (August 15, 2005)

I haven't heard all of this album yet, but their two previous releases were mind blowing and have set such high expectations as they were so good.

This band deserves sucess and it looks that way which is really good to see, they've toured incredibly hard and they're either all gifted at being able to write songs incredibly or work incredibly hard at that as well, my guess is the second one.

Anonymous (August 14, 2005)

score is for these dudes writing solid catchy songs.

score is for Heisel putting out records and being the best person to eat wings with in all of Ohio

score is for somerset being stand up guys and fucking hilarious.

Anonymous (August 13, 2005)

I guess i was the only one lucky/bored enough to click on the PV link Jones put up. You can't really understand what the fuck hes talking about until you hear the song. Damn good musicians.

Anonymous (August 11, 2005)

I think people often confuse the idea of what is good with what fits their personal tastes. This cd may not fit with what I normally listen to and enjoy, but I can appreciate that it features well crafted, quality songs, and I often find myself humming along and tapping my foot. It may not seem entirely original, but nothing ever truly is anymore. You can't reinvent the wheel, only improve on it. Somerset takes a base of good ol' rock, and fuses it with various subgenres and influences, resulting in an overall impressive debut album that I think will appeal to a wide audience if given a chance.

Anonymous (August 10, 2005)

the drummer is kinda typical chubby american kid... but the guy sitting next to him is just so emo ! can't stand that. i mean apart from those legs crossed, and the dark nails, the haircut... sorry dude but you're a pose(u)r. (however you spell that)

Anchors (August 10, 2005)

Jones The Pwns.

stevejonestherealbones (August 10, 2005)

shitballs. my sentence is cut off

- jones

stevejonestherealbones (August 10, 2005)

"sounds exactly like all the stuff you guys give 1 or 2 stars.... i dont get it, yall talk shit ona ll these other bands that sound the exact same , but i guess it gets a good score bc its on this sites record label.... gay"


http://punknews.org/reviews.php?op=alb umreview&id=1769

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

- i dont think that ep was on punknews records and its by a band that sounds

inagreendase (August 10, 2005)

sounds exactly like all the stuff you guys give 1 or 2 stars.... i dont get it, yall talk shit ona ll these other bands that sound the exact same

One reviewer's scores have nothing to do with another's, but if you're referring to my reviews exclusively, let me know who exactly this sounds like, because I can't think of one single band to best compare them to and that's sort of a feat in itself.

Anonymous (August 10, 2005)

this is cool how you can post here and the band members will reply directly to you

Anchors (August 10, 2005)

Out of all the gripes to have, you pick the design on the labels website? Come on. You know damn well there's nothing wrong with it. Simple, effective, and stylish. I like it.

Anonymous (August 10, 2005)

the navigation on the PNR page looks very poorly done. it has no relevance to the rest of the site and is just blah... bad design work makes me cry

Anonymous (August 10, 2005)

That cover looks like it belongs on a FSF release.


elvisdechico (August 10, 2005)

i have to roll up my jeans because i'm SHORT... i'm 5'7" and 190 pounds, meaning that leg length on pants my size (34-36) tend to be long, as most 190lb men tend to be taller... sure, i could just let the bottoms touch the floor and get all gnarly, but i'm too broke to be buying pants all the time, so i do my best to preserve the ones i have...

my hair doesn't resemble anything i've ever seen on another fellow human, nor anything to be admired, as its mostly just stupid looking... (take a closer look, next time)... although, not as stupid looking as if i did nothing to my hair... think old school padded football helmets, but furry and black...

my glasses are ska glasses... hep! hep!

and i can't help that i'm a chubby south american... sorry about that

Anonymous (August 10, 2005)

sounds exactly like all the stuff you guys give 1 or 2 stars.... i dont get it, yall talk shit ona ll these other bands that sound the exact same , but i guess it gets a good score bc its on this sites record label.... gay

Anonymous (August 10, 2005)

Shit band. Shittier label. Cool dudes.

Jesse (August 9, 2005)

Claudio happens to be one of the biggest nerds I know.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

This band is terrible.

shadydeals (August 9, 2005)

I was in a band with claudio for 5 years before somerset. He has worn the same black T/black rimmed glasses/jeans since I've known him.

score is for claudio's drumming skills.

Marlon (August 9, 2005)

Dude Claudio is far from a scene kid. He is possibly the most picky person about what music he will listen that I have ever known. Trust me. He ain't into scene music. He ain't a scene kid.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

I live in Minneapolis and have seen this band a bunch and they are really tight live. They have a good sound. Their drummer Claudio is phenomenal, but i can't get by the fact that he just looks like an asshole. Think of everything trendy, black shirts, tight dark jeans(folded up) new converse all stars, black rimmed glasses, and the perfectly gelled messy hair, on a chubby south american. I hate scene kids.

Big_Guy (August 9, 2005)

I'm not really into the singer's voice but the songs are very well put together and enjoyable

stevejonestherealbones (August 9, 2005)

you guys gonna let us know how it sells if we ask?

- jones

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

the singers voice ruins it for me. the music & songs are amazing. i'm not really into the generic whining pop voice over the top.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)



CrookedSuperhero (August 9, 2005)

Front page on interpunk, ladz.

adam (August 9, 2005)

See the PunknewsRecords page, we have links to online retailers on there.


Actually, here they are:

Order from Interpunk
Order from Smartpunk
Order From Amazon
Order from Tower Records
Order from Barnes And Noble
Order from Best Buy
Order from Circuit City
Order from Sam Goody
Order from Media Play
Order from CD Universe

If you're not a fan of online shopping, call your local independent record store/Best Buy/etc.


skaboom (August 9, 2005)

So uh, can you actually buy this anywhere? I went to their band webpage and they announced that it was officially released, but they didn't even have a link to where you could get it online. You guys might sell more copies of it if people know where to buy it.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

if these guys are as boring as Somerset, Pennsylvania they better invest in some cocaine.

paul ,

Jesse (August 9, 2005)

I'm not going to lie. I am biased. I wouldn't normally listen to a band that plays similar style music. But what most people fail to see about Somerset is that their music comes from much deeper wells than what you'd expect. Calling it pop-punk or emo is just a cop-out. That's like saying Gang of Four was a disco band. The thing with these songs is that they're really, really intricate. Take a listen to the two second breakdowns in 'Rhyme Over Reason." Tell me that those bass lines and that drum fill aren't genius.

Or take a listen to "Tragedy of Christopher Needs," "Open Books," or "House of Knives." It's way more post-hardcore than poppy or catchy. I hear tons of No Knife in those songs. This band gets pigeonholed way too much because they're 4 young, cute boys who do have pretty vocal harmonies and some catchy choruses.

So take a listen, but don't slump it into a genre. Actually take the time to listen and hear all the parts to those songs instead of writing off everything with a sing-a-long chorus as bad music.

Does that help a lot of you? Sure, I originally got into this band because I was friends with the old guitar player, but I listen to this band right now because I'm a fan. I speak with 100% pure honesty that I really do like this album.

karasu (August 9, 2005)

I like the art,

hells yeah.

adam (August 9, 2005)

BSD... I think claims of unoriginality are always on a reviewer's tongue as an easy attack, so it probably shows up all the time in negative reviews. I think the problem is that if a band is unoriginal and good, the unoriginality is overlooked. If the band is unoriginal and bad, then the it's all the more striking. I donno, we're just weird that way I guess. Maybe it's just a reviewer thing.


Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

True... I am not that on the ball. It was supposed to sound like something to the effect of "congrats on starting a new label and getting a release out".


Dante3000 (August 9, 2005)

"I think it's always great for new labels to release stuff."
Uhm...Jigga what? That's like "I enjoy new things that do things". To be a label you have to release "stuff", otherwise you're just a....I don't know, non-label.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

Hey Adam,

I think it's always great for new labels to release stuff. As I said, yeah, I think this is boring, but I think the reason my comment reads as sort of offensive is because I'm a bit taken back by the ammount of reviews on this site (not by Brian, usually) that focus on how "played out" and "unoriginal" the style of a band is playing, and I really don't think this exactly makes a case for anything really original...

I like lots of unoriginal music. This style in general is not something I really am that into.

Good job, though. The package is a class act.


sickboi (August 9, 2005)

Nothing is original enough for BSD. The kid has heard everything. I could play a trumpet with my ass, while humming and stomping my foot and he'd be like: "that's so played out and unoriginal".

jamespastepunk (August 9, 2005)

Not bad at all.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

Actually I just picked up Carpark North's album "All Things To All People" and the song "Human" is in the proces of removing my socks....

But I guess I'm way to indie for this place anyways...

adam (August 9, 2005)

See Brian? That wasn't so hard. Now here's your puppy back, safe and sound, just like we promised.


To everyone else thanks for the support and for keeping us on our toes. This is obviously a tricky thing for us to juggle and we're trying our best. As for BSD and others' criticisms, it's impossible for every release we do to be all things to all people, but I can safely say we've got no intention of locking in on a certain style with PNR, and if Somerset's not your cup of tea we're at least glad you gave it a shot.

(and as Brian talked about hybrid styles in his review I don't think the claim was ever made that the band was the most original ever. "Boring" is a subjective term so that's really up to you. Again, I do thank you for at least trying it out. Stay tuned.)


Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

Yeah, really. I don't know about this. I'm not going to say anything insulting Punknews, and this band is probably made up of "the nicest guys you could ever meet", but their music is blandy mcbland bland to me. It just goes to show how random it is what reviewers choose to jock.

I don't know. If there are bands that "need to stop", I think this is one such case. Even though I'm against that line of thinking. The world already has enough bands that sound like this...

How can someone honestly bash bands for being boring and unoriginal, then tout this as something people should actually listen to? I'm sure this is cool for fans of the whole post-skate punk indie rock thing, but to say that this is anything near original or anymore than simply "good for what it is" is an insult to all bands who are in fact doing something new.


Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

so jesse writes off any other generic release, but now that he's friends with the band he suddenly praises them, even if it is bland and generic.

AlmostPunkEnough (August 9, 2005)

solid stuff... congrats on your first release.

stevejonestherealbones (August 9, 2005)


here's your next band


basically, they broke up but will reunite for a certain sum of money and will write any song you guys want as long as it can be played on an acoustic 6 string guita with 4 broken strings ( cause they rock so hard) and whatever other instruments can be played by banging shit together and playing air guitar.

hit me up to draw up the contract

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

Love the site, hate the band. It's not a terrible first release (especially from a commercial standpoint), but I mean this really doesn't stand out from any other mall punk band.

CrookedSuperhero (August 9, 2005)

Meh, but congrats on your first release boyz.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

I bought this at hot topic and rocked out with my cock out. i had to tuck it back in cause MJ had this look in his eyes... yikes

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

This did nothing for me AT ALL. However, I will ALWAYS be a loyal supporter of this amazing and always relevant site.


Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

what stores can we find this in?

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

Punknews records would be doing the world a great service by signing EXPLOSIVE BEAR.

Explosive Bear on Myspace

Basically the hottest band this side of anywhere.


the_other_scott (August 9, 2005)

this definetly doesn't suck

but i'm still not sure if its good

p.s. scott, you shouldn't have made that comment about looking to sign new bands because your shit's about to be filled (with even more) shitty demos than when you only reviewed them

Anchors (August 9, 2005)

Scott, I just may have a band for you guys to check out;


My friend Chris plays guitar, and he sent me another song of there's as well so if you like this send me an IM and I'll send it your way. They've literally been a band for a month and a half or so, but you'd definitely never be able to tell. If you like it (same goes for Adam and Aubin,) hit me up on AIM and I'll get you in contact with somebody from the band.

Also, I need to buy this this week.

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

the cover of this bring life back to he scene

Dante3000 (August 9, 2005)

I had high fears of bias on this band...However I must say it is a fairly even handed review. Perhaps so even handed for fear of backlash if the review tilted too far one way or the other. That is, however, niether here nor there or there or even there. But what is here and there is The Cliftons.
I would highly advise PNR to sign this fine young group of men. I actually am not in this band (nor do I actually know anyone in it) but they kick ass (and even upstaged The Dwarves and DK [you know, the one with the singer from Dr. No]). Everyone should check them out:
They may not be as talented as Somerset, but at least their songs are short.

Jesse (August 9, 2005)

I had this before all of you. Being good friends with the band since their conception, I have to say this is the big payoff. I've spent years listening to demos in basements, watching show after show, swooning while Forrest sings lusciously to me ?? I have to say that this is their strongest effort yet. While some songs ("Clockwork," "Peppermint Gunpowder") don't really touch me in ways that I want to be touched, I can't help singing along with "More Than Answers" or reveling the ultra-catchy hook of "I'd Rather Die Standing." "House of Knives" rips shit up. For serious.

I'm so proud of these guys for getting out there and doing their thing, despite tons of critics and being labeled as a Christian band by one webzine. I've had the masters for this disc for quite some time and I can honestly say that I've listened to it a lot. I was going to review it, since I'm the number 1 Somerset expert (hey, Scott even enlisted my services to write their bio), but my bias shows much too much.

I'd say that my one critique of these reviews is that most people don't catch that every song is a political song basically targeting Bush or negative behaviors in the common suburbanite (aka Christopher Needs, Mrs. Anderson).

Anyway, I highly suggest going out and getting this album. Lord knows I'm going to buy my own copy, and I already own the masters! Ha!

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

I try oh so hard to like this album. It's good but doesnt meet the hype. This site has introduced me to countless bands, but I have never been able to get into this. What do I need to listen for to make this better. The Suicide Machines album kicks major ass, but this just seems to be run of the mill pop punk done by countless other bands.

maverick (August 9, 2005)


We're always on the lookout for new bands to sign. If you have recommendations, just let us know.


Inspection12e (August 9, 2005)

I had this before Brian!

Anonymous (August 9, 2005)

score is the house of knives song
not so hot on the rest though

stevejonestherealbones (August 9, 2005)

"Dandelion Wine"

what author/book/whatever is that from? bradburry?

anyway, good review, but i think it should have been passed on to someone else on staff...but seems like a fair score from the three songs i've heard...maybe a 6 but i need to listen to the whole thing

is PNR records in the process of signing other bands, or are you guys just going with the flow and seeing how well this release does and all that jazz.

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

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