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Album Review

Power punk records can be an acquired taste — too hardcore and they tend to alienate the mainstream. Too, mainstream and hardcore credibility go by the wayside. Somerset balance this perilous tightrope quite nicely during the "emo" introduction that is "Open Books," which would fall somewhere between Jimmy Eat World, the Exies, and My Chemical Romance. Singer and main songwriter Forrest Olsen doesn't quite hit the high whiney, teen-angst notes often, which is a blessing. And this momentum continues on the winding, challenging quasi-hard rock song "Clockwork," which hits the ground running in the way Westerberg and the Replacements circa Tim did. It's difficult to increase the intensity without losing something. However, the band nails "More Than Answers" perfectly, thanks to some fine backing harmonies and a killer, infectious chorus. The band's punk style comes to the forefront on the drum-propelled "The Tragedy of Christopher Needs," which is part old-school punk with some retro or new wave touches in selected places. After a breather that is rather bland, entitled "Dandelion Wine," Somerset return to their strengths on the lean, no-nonsense and quite blistering power punk of "Rhyme Over Reason," with a nod perhaps to Franz Ferdinand just at its tail end. The group misses the mark on the lighter, reggae-meets-pop "All You Are," which stretches the band and comes off forced, while "Colors of Insomnia" resembles a B-side from the Foo Fighters — punchy but with not enough grit, edge, or bite. Nonetheless, Somerset packs a wallop with the finely tuned yet down-tempo "Tripwire Desire." The art rock panache of "House of Knives" is a very strong closer on a very good record.


Formed: September, 2002 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Slightly twisting the pop-punk formula, Somerset churns out a power punk combination of rock, grit, and aggression that never loses sight of basic pop sensibilities. Forming in Minneapolis, MN, in September 2002, the group comprises Forrest Olsen (vocals/ guitar), Claudio Rivera (drums), Matt Broadbent (bass), and Michael Warren (guitar). They recorded their first demos within a week of forming, and four months later, finished and self-released the five-song EP This Thought Process. An EP under their...
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