"Swimming Across the Sound"

Out Now

Reviews List:
Dagger Zine, Fall, 2004
Bettawreckonize, October, 2004
Big Takeover, Issue No. 55 (December, 2004)
Copacetic Zine, October, 2004
Erasing Clouds, June 2004
Evil Sponge, July, 2004
Fairfield County Weekly, June 24, 2004 & December 11, 2003
Mundane Sounds, June 24, 2004
indiepages.com, July, 2004
Shortwave Media, July, 2004
Splendid, October 1, 2004
Tasty Fanzine (UK), June 2004
Think Small (Netherlands), June, 2004

Dagger Zine, Fall, 2004
“Some ex-punks (I know at least one of these guys, drummer William, was in CT’s 76% Uncertain), who realize harmony and melody is the way to go and come up with the goods on their debut full-length. “The Fall” jangles and jingles with the best of em’ and I, definitely wanna hear more.”
- Tim Hinely

Big Takeover, Issue No. 55 (December, 2004)
“This Connecticut trio play catchy and likeable guitar pop, with vocal and songwriting duties split in half by Mike Sembos and John Jacobsen. The band sound like a chunkier, garagey version of The Descendants, and Sembos’s earnest, innocent vocals even resemble that band’s Milo Aukerman. Meanwhile, Jacobsen provides a sharp contrast, with a deep baritone that brings to mind Nick Cave. He seems more comfortable crooning on the few slower-tempoed numbers, such as “Time to Go” and a short, bouncy cover of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I Want).” Though the songwriting could be stronger, and the four-track production is a bit too bottom-end muddy, the band’s contagious exuberance on songs like “Gravity Girl, “ “Not Really Sure,” and “La Playa Song (Swimming Across the Sound)” make for an entertaining listen.”
- Mark Suppanz

October, 2004
Reminiscent sometimes of Sublime (“The Fall”) and other times of Crash Test Dummies (vocally), superfallingstars create and maintain an energy in this album seldom seen from bands with retrospective themes. This indie pop trio blends a former hardcore drummer (Knapp) with two distinctly opposing yet complimentary voices to create a sound uniquely . . .Connecticut (?). The album invokes memories of childhood, high school, and love lost with lush buoyant tempos and ringing harmonies.

“Better Off” is its weakest point, coming off cliché and elementary (sounding at parts as if Kermit the Frog is singing). However, the majority of the album is fresh, catchy and ALIVE. There are no tedious lulls in the album. No song lingers too long or comes off incomplete. The sound is catchy, yet all the time genuine.
-Mike Keller

Fairfield County Weekly
“Balls on Fire”
by Brita Brundage - June 24, 2004
Underground Wednesdays are back at the Green Room, louder than is potentially wise for our virgin eardrums. When owner Kathy Alexander opened the back patio, several patrons scooted outdoors in a hurry to escape the din, but after they discovered the right mixture of alcohol, and ran out of conversation topics that didn't involve politics, they found the music had its own boisterous charm. Superfallingstars was first up, trying out a new bassist, but not obviously so, with lead singer Mike Sembos (our very own Weekly listings editor) and drummer William Knapp (formerly of 76% Uncertain) maintaining that elusive blend of pop, rock and snotty disdain. Looking, as usual, as though they were just about crazy enough to try anything, Elvis McMan blew through a set of their favorites from "Stuck on You" to "Kool Radio," lead singer Erin Miller snarling prettily and thrashing her bleach blonde locks. Even in boozier renditions, Elvis McMan resounds with a pleasant slap and made me realize how much more is required for a live music experience than mere practice sessions. Ending the night on a particularly jumpy note was Atlanta "Nerdcore" band Treephort , a four-piece with a heavy dose of theatrics. Lead singer Kyle was shaking like a human vibrator as he growled into his mic, while the lanky lead guitarist (the website, www.treephort.com> fails to mention names) spent the night leaping off a nearby couch and shoving his guitar in Sembos' face since he happened to be sitting nearby. I'd heard about their raunchy antics (like drinking milk 'til they puked) but apparently missed the set's highlight. After I retired onto the patio, apparently, the same lead guitarist dropped his drawers and set his balls on fire. One woman, despite the hammering sounds, managed to sleep unawares on a comfy seat, oblivious to it all.

The Green Room is located at 3442 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport. Underground Wednesday with various punk, hardcore and alternative bands happens every Wed. night, 9 p.m. Call 384-2233 or visit www.thegreenroomlounge.com for more information.

Copacetic Zine
October, 2004
Judging a book by its cover: From the swirly blue rose, the photograph of the shoreline, and the wispy, elegant font you might expect these guys to sound sorta dreamy or ethereal. And then there's the band name, superfallingstars. For me, it immediately called to mind Trembling Blue Stars. but nope, they sound nothing like that, and instead these guys play ultra-punchy ramshackle pop a'la Tullycraft...who woulda' thunkit?
Who else they remind me of: weirdly enough...Green Day, especially on the semi-acoustic-y "Better Off" which called to mind "Time Of Your Life" a little.
Morrissey quotient: the 10-song album concludes with a cover of The Smiths "Please Please Please Let Me Get What Want" performed all speedy with bouncy, crashing drums from William Knapp.

superfallingstars is three guys outta Connecticut, with guitarist John Jacobsen and bassist Mike Sembos trading off lead vocals, or complementing the other on back-up. One guy has a very youthful, sorta petulant delivery, whereas the other guy has a very deep, dramatic voice a'la Peter Murphy (one listen to "Even Though" will leave you convinced). It's all nice and fun! (janice.10.04)

October 1, 2004
Full of youthful abandon but devoid of creative or memorably songwriting, Swimming Across the Sound makes for a listening experience much like a high-school senior year talent show. It's not just the band's poor (but easily excusable) four-track production; they sound underdeveloped. They've cobbled together ska, punk and a lot of pop into an intermittently enjoyable but immature album.John Jacobsen's bass work is consistently impressive, but he noodles his way around hooks rather than into them. The strummed guitar-work rarely finds a striking melody, and the band's vocals and lyrics are a of a fairly prurient brand, fittingly centered around high school loves and weakly believable innocence. "Not Really Sure" is a high point: the bass work is intricate and energetic, and guitarist Mike Sembos actually delivers a rare bit of semi-virtuosity. Sadly, weak, empty tracks like "La Playa Song (Swimming Across the Sound)" and opener "Gravity Girl" are more indicative of Superfallingstars' problems -- forgettable songwriting and underdeveloped ideas.

Better production and a more mature, grounded songwriting approach could do wonders here.... but don't hold your breath.
-- Amir Karim Nezar

Mundane Sounds
June 24, 2004


Pop! Connecticut's superfallingstars have decided that the world needs another crunchy jangly indie-pop record, and I can't help but agree with their decision. This trio (now a duo with the recent departure of bassist JJ) are making pop that's inspired equally by garage rock of the sixties, British indiepop of the 1980s and 1990s pop-punk. You might not think that such a combination would work, but, surprisingly, the combination works for superfallingstars, and it's helped to create a nice little debut record, Swimming Across the Sound.

They waste no time in getting to the point, allowing their simple genius to take control of your listening experience. Lead singer Mike sings with love and the pains of love in his heart and a punk-rock snarly smirk on his face, all the while making you feel for him when he sings about the loves that break his heart, the girl that he wants to see and the man he wants to be. Songs like "Gravity Girl" (which sounds like the missing link between the Razorcuts and Mr. T Experience), "It's Over" and "Better Off" (which, in a weird way, reminds me of a punk rock Simon & Garfunkel) are clearly the tearjerkers of the season. The only downside to the record is JJ's singing--his voice is really deep (reminds me of Crash Test Dummies, actually) and it doesn't seem to fit the overall crunchy pop style, though he does a great version of the Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want." (He's written some of the best songs on the album, though.)

This is a fun little debut, one that doesn't bullshit around about getting down to business. superfallingstars are fun, sassy and sweet--just what you need for a summer party! Here's to the future, guys!

--Joseph Kyle

Evil Sponge
July, 2004

Sometimes it pays to be patient. It's certainly a good job that I didn't review Swimming Across the Sound after two or three plays. Otherwise, I would have awarded it a couple of sponges and then told Superfallingstars to go away and write a few tunes, because those on offer just weren't sinking in. But being the hard-working and conscientious Minion that I am, I locked myself in the Sponge Cave with a CD player and my sponge pen and paper and didn't let myself out until I knew these songs inside out.

And the verdict…well, it's a lot better than I initially thought. The tunes that I didn't think memorable had wormed their way into my head, and the backing vocal arrangements that I didn't think worked, suddenly did!

The band in question, Superfallingstars, hail from Connecticut. However, they actually remind me most of late 70's UK band Squeeze, and not just because they knock out little vignettes with hooklines. One of their singers, Mike Sembos, sounds not unlike Squeeze's lead vocalist, Glenn Tilbrook. And again, like Squeeze, they also have another singer, JJ Jacobsen, whose voice is pitched in the lower regions, though admittedly his vocal style is more Bowie than Chris Difford. Swimming Across the Sound, their first full length release, was recorded on a four track in what the band modestly claim to be "a remarkable feat of DIY engineering". They've got a point, because although you can hear a condensed element, especially where instruments merge into wall of sound, it works. And the album certainly doesn't sound cheap and nasty.

The album opens with Gravity Girl, the only number clocking in over three minutes. For those old enough to remember the NME's C86 showcase cassette way back when, there's a similar lively, thrashy feel, but the best tracks are yet to come. Going Nowhere and Even Though, two of the tracks with Jacobsen's Bowie-like vocals, are both highlights. The former has a great chorus whilst the latter, a song about loving someone despite their, ahem, faults, is my favourite track on the album. And the line, "I love you though you're depressing" certainly brought a smile to my face. Actually, come to think of it, I'd like to hear Morrissey sing it!

But in case I'm showing unnecessary bias to Jacobsen, it's only right I should mention the catchy It's Over, sung by Sembos. This is one of the tracks that reminds me of Squeeze. I could definitely imagine Difford rhyming situation with stagnation, and singing "You're the greatest thing" before contradicting himself by adding, "It's over". It's Over also boasts a particularly strong group performance with lovely chords and bass runs, and snappy drums courtesy of William Knapp.

I'm still less keen on a couple of tracks, though. The Fall (not, alas, a tribute to Mark E Smith and gang), another Squeeze-like track, has a touching "Another summer somehow slipped away" chorus, but the added jazzy guitars aren't really my cup of tea. Likewise, Better Off, despite its nice 60's folky feel and tambourine, is ultimately not memorable enough and it just sounds too, well, "protest song" for my liking. Guaranteed to appeal to Billy Bragg fans though!

Swimming Across the Sound ends strongly, however. Time To Go has a beautiful, gently strummed intro and some Ziggy Stardust crooning, before suddenly building up to a "time to go" refrain. It also features some of those backing vocal arrangements that I didn't like on early plays, but which actually work really well. We then get a knockabout version of The Smiths' classic Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. But whereas Morrissey seemed to be pleading to a more powerful force for a better life, Superfallingstars sound more like kids asking their moms for their favourite ice lolly. And whilst it's an enjoyable run-thru, I can't help thinking an extended version of Time To Go would have been a better place to leave things.

Still, Swimming Across the Sound is a promising debut all the same, although it will likely need a little time to sink in.

Superfallingstars - "Swimming Across The Sound" cd (Skipping Stones)
July, 2004

After hearing a lot about this band from central Connecticut, I'm glad to
hear that they're actually worth talking about. This album (their first) is
full of super-catchy and revved-up pop songs, most of which are under three
minutes. The band sounds like they were initially influenced by pop-punk
groups (which isn't too hard from the truth, as drummer William spent a lot
of his youth in hardcore bands), but have gotten into indiepop since then,
without forgetting their roots; so if you imagine early Small Factory
playing Descendents covers, you'd get pretty close to their sound. Mike's
voice also fits the part well, sounding punky and bratty along with the
songs; but unfortunately, JJ's voice is much deeper, and some of his songs
(especially "Time To Go") even seem to drag the record's pace down a bit too
much. He only sings a few of the songs, though, and his voice actually fits
the punky cover of the Smiths' "Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I
Want)". This is definitely a great album for the summer! - Chris Mac

New Haven Advocate
June 17, 2004

superfallingstars record review

These cats are an upbeat, sweetly catchy pop band that has a wee bit o’ punk spunk influence in ‘em. Think Ted Leo or late MTX. “La Playa” is bouncy, snappy pop, steller-osity - top notch…SFS covers “Please, please, please (Let me get what I want)” by The Smiths. They speed it up so it’s not as hysterically mopey, and it ain’t too bad.
Ten solid tracks…driving in that happy-time smile/warm weather feeling, lots of hooks, almost bubble-gummy. Decent li’l record.
- Craig Gilbert

Erasing Clouds
June 2004

superfallingstars - Swimming across the Sound (Skipping Stones Records)"I'm blasting the oldies on my Honda radio/and singing along to all the songs I do not know," goes a line on one of the songs on the Connecticut-based band Superfallingstars' debut CD Swimming Across the Sound. The band's songs themselves have both that 'I wanna sing along to this even if it's the first time I've heard it so I don't know the words' quality and melodies that from time to time are more reminiscent of the 1960s than what's in vogue today. To be more specific, the six songs sung by the band's guitarist/vocalist, Mike, especially feel like a garage pop band running ramshackle through songs that are somewhere between British Invasion tunefulness and starry-eyed American indie-pop. The four songs sung by the group's bassist, JJ, including a fine album-closing cover of The Smiths' "Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I Want)" fall into different territory - musically they're similar, but he has this deep, more serious, Julian Cope or Jarvis Cocker-type voice which gives the songs a darker edge that sometimes makes for an interesting side-trip and sometimes just feels awkward. Overall, though, Superfallingstars' m.o. is to run through catchy-as-hell pop-rock songs about the intricacies and complications of love and leave you wanting more.
- Dave Heaton

June 2004
superfallingstars - Swimming across the Sound (Skipping Stones Records)In spite of my initial thinking that I had been presented with a CD by a low grade English folk act, I have been pleasantly surprised by this little gem.. . superfallingstars are certainly neither folk, nor English; they are however very good.
This, I am reliably informed, is their debut album and in the tradition of many great bands before them, it was recorded at home on a four-track. This recording stands as testament to the advantages of DIY recording song writing, the ramshackle indie pop market is saturated with bands who all sound the same, all over produced, over styled, and under-talented… its enough to make you loose faith altogether really. It makes a refreshing change to hear a band with such great songs and great sounds rely on just that and not be marketed toward MTV2.
In short, if you can find it get a copy, its bloody great. Oh yeah, as reference points, think Dinosaur Jr., Weezer, Green Day… but not quite how you might expect.
- Drew Millward

Shortwave Media
June, 2004


Here is a falling star that you should wish upon. Connecticut's superfallingstars’ is a group of veteran musicians (Mike Sembos on Vocals and Guitar, John (JJ) Jacobson on Vocals and Bass, and William Knapp on Drums) seemingly rejuvenated by their new band and playing a style of jangle pop that hadn't turned up on their CVs until now. The band channels raw energy that one usually finds only in musicians starting out on their careers and hungry for success. This energy is not a contrivance however. From listening to the band's debut CD, Swimming Across The Sound, you get the sense that the songs were in them the whole time but waiting to be found. Thematically, the music demonstrates the maturity of the songwriters. The songs deal with a diverse range of issues such as lost love, regret, hanging out with friends, and the freedom of youth. The band also pays tribute to an obvious lyrical influence by concluding the album with a fine cover of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please (Let Me Get What I Want)."

While Swimming Across The Sound is their debut recording, the band has been hard at work touring around New England. In the past year, superfallingstars has supported such noteworthy acts as Pansy Division, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Mr. T. Experience and Mates of State. Check them out when they come to a town near you.

- Jon Green

Think Small
April, 2004


Good luck, this is in Dutch!

Stars and Claymation
Fairfield County Weekly, December 11, 2003


superfallingstars has in its brief, learn-by-playing-live history, cemented a sound that would make other bands gnash their teeth with jealousy. And not only because Mike Sembos, the Weekly’s listings editor, happens to play both bass and guitar and sing in the band. Sembos sharpened his musical claws in everything from jazz to punk groups well before using his platform with the paper to promote all sorts of other unknowns. J.J. is the other guitarist and bassist and singer (they switch off) and William Knapp from quintessential punk band 76% Uncertain plays the drums. It’s a shame I missed the first half of the show where J.J. held down guitars . . . I did catch Sembos on guitar and vocals, and he sang with what can only be described as cockiness, the music punchy and tight, the songs short and exhilarating. The group’s style made me think British, though there were no accents to be found, just a dedication to compactness and structure and even a British cover or two, like The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please” and The Beatles’ “Please, Please Me.” They’re pushing for politeness, apparently. Their own material like swingy number “The Fall” showed just how melodically sharp superfallingstars can be.

by Brita Brundage

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