Somerset / Facing New York / Islero - live in Minneapolis (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Somerset / Facing New York / Islero

live in Minneapolis (2005)

live show

The show started with Islero, an impressive three-piece that I hadn't had a chance to see live yet. Last time that Scott came up to Minneapolis to see Somerset and bring some pre-contract stuff, the guys introduced me to Al, who is the bass player / singer for Islero. Al gave Scott an EP to review. We listened to it in the car. It sounded all right. Sort of like Q And Not U / Gang Of Four. Live, however, was an entirely different experience. High energy, all over the place, fast, loud, danceable at times -- Islero was a force to be reckoned with. The dual attack of Al and the guitar player Andy on the vocals while Dale beat the shit out of his drums was a little too much for my mediocre-expecting brain. There were some heavy riffs, some mid-tempo drum smashing, some up-tempo guitar licks -- all in all, it was a good time. Definitely worth seeing if you have a chance.

The next band was Facing New York, which I like to describe as "The Mars Volta lite." They were good enough. Definitely be a band that I would proscribe to anyone who finds themselves listening to Mars Volta albums but skipping through the twelve-minute guitar solos. I'd seen them once before with Somerset, and they were just as tight as they were back then. Two guitars, bass, keyboards, drums. Really professional sounding, which always deserves my respect. Upbeat, spacey rock music with echoey guitar tones and crazy drumming all spot on with time signature play. Not really my schtick, but could be yours.

Then it was Somerset, playing their CD release show. Hot damn what a ticket. They opened with "Hara-kiri," the instrumental piano ballad added last minute to their debut EP as filler with a lovely young lady playing the keyboard for them, and then things were off to a regular start at a Somerset show. I've been to literally dozens of Somerset shows, so hearing classics like "Open Books," "The Tragedy Of Christopher Needs," and "Clockwork" were all standard fare. They also played through "I Lied…There Is No Good News," "Colors Of Insomnia," and "Switchback" from This Thought Process. Surprises were cuts from the new album like "I'd Rather Die Standing" and "More Than Answers" -- two fabulous tracks that I've been a big fan of. They'd been played live before, but hearing the album versions from their stellar Punknews Records release, Pandora, was really a treat. What blew my socks off was the "Dandelion Wine" / "Rhyme Over Reason" transition. The soft guitar and vocals-led "Dandelion Wine" ripped straight into the fast and hard "Rhyme Over Reason," which, I've always thought, was the best part of Pandora.

By far, the jewel of the set was when they played "House Of Knives." Time and time again, this song is praised as their best work, and it shows. This song is a doozy. Not only is it a great song, but there's an outro which encompasses a line from every song on Pandora in repetition. This a part of the album that knocks socks off. And, the best part is, with a little help from Facing New York, they played the entire outro -- spot on. Hot damn.

The show was a success. Lots of people came out, including friends and relatives besides psycho fans who baked the Somerset boys a cake with their picture painted on it. I couldn't have had a better time. And to cap it off -- I had a chance to buy my own copy of Pandora even though I already had the masters for a few months. That's how good I think the album is. And no, I do not work for Punknews Records.