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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band World Reggae




"Sonni Shine & the Underwater Sounds Celebrate Their CD Release Party at the World Cafe Live"

Living in Philadelphia gives one the opportunity to see a plethora of talented local musical acts on a near daily basis, however there is one band that is blowing local-music lovers away. Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds are throwing a release party for their new album “Que Se Queda” at the World Café Live Upstairs on Friday the 24th of February.

“Que Se Queda” dropped this February. The album shows a growing maturity in the band since their self-titled debut in 2010. The layering of instrumentals along with their experimentation with new sounds and polyrhythmic segments really push the album to the next level. When asked about the main differences with this album as compared to the first, Ken Shumski (bassist) replied, “Well right off the bat one difference was we tracked live as opposed to the previous one, which was all multi-track, so it has a completely different feel.” Sean Youngman (drummer) followed up Ken’s comment explaining, “it isn’t done to a click, it’s all very natural. It’s recorded live, all together.”

The show won’t be your typical show upstairs at the World Café. Along with a crazy light show, Cuddle Fish Circus will be performing while they play, which will include fire spinning, acrobatics, and juggling!
Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds are influenced by a wide array of musical genres. Sonni’s entrancingly soulful voice calms the crowd while the Underwater Sounds weave through their reggae-jam progressions. They are not your typical reggae band, that is for sure. Their psychedelic jam influences come into full clarity once they go into their wahed out high-energy jams, which always manage to get the crowd going.

Only a couple years ago Sonni Shine stopped pursuing her solo career and joined up with the Underwater Sounds to create their first self-titled album. They made a music video for their single, “Airplane,” which aired shortly after on WXPN. Ever since, they have been consistently on lineups of festivals around the Philadelphia area, leaving smiles on the crowd’s faces after every show.

So if you don’t have a chance to check out Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds at their release party, be sure to see them soon in the Philadelphia area or on the East Coast festival circuit. They are unquestionably a great band that stands out from the others, and one to keep an eye on as they grow in the upcoming years. - Headspace Magazine (Philadelphia, PA)- Joe Gurreri

"Que Se Queda- Album Review"

There are only a few words to describe “Sonni Shine and The Underwater Sounds”. Smooth, buttery and reggae. Sonni Schwartzbach, Kenny Shumski, Sean Youngman and Billy Campion have created such a yummy sound it’s no wonder their last headlining show at World Café Live in Philadelphia sold out. Sonnies’ voice is hypnotic and lilting, creating the feeling of swelling waves over the warm sounds of her band mates.

Sonni started out as a solo artist playing acoustic sets when she met Sean, a session drummer, while recording. After realizing they could create something great together, Sean recruited his long time friend Kenny to play bass. Billy jumped into the mix when he and Sonni became roommates and she found out he played guitar. The band was complete.

I asked Sonni where her sound came from.

“ My mom always listened to soul and Motown,” Sonni said “Then I started listening to Sublime and Bob Marley when I was 11 or 12.”

As in most cases, the members of Sonni Shine and The Underwater Sounds have different musical influences ranging from Progressive rock to the Grateful Dead. You can hear some of those influences on their new album Que Se Queda, a mixture of reggae and pop with spurts of psychedelic guitar licks here and there. The first track “You Got Me” is a perfect example of all of their different sounds. Throwing us off even more is the title track “Que Se Queda,” in which Sonni goes right into Spanish without a second’s hesitation. Every song has such a great flow and energy and Sonnies’ deep voice draws you in more and more with each note she sings. One of my favorites, “Dream They Say” begins with great soul that escalates with every saxophone solo. Then as that song ends, we drift into ‘Warrior’ and you start to wonder if perhaps all of these songs are your favorites.

This album is a must have for 2012 and if you love it and want to catch Sonni and The Underwater Sounds, they will be at the Hard Rock Café March 20th. I’m sure they will get a lot of heads out for that show so keep your ears open for tickets. . As Sonni told me about this past sold out show, “It was like a dream state. You could really feel the love and support.” So keep the love flowing and check these guys out locally before they move on to being an internationally known super group.
- magazine (Philadelphia, PA)- Suzanne Slade

"Sun Shines in the Underground"

The unexpected is always worth noting, and it’s Sonni Shine that picks up an electric guitar and lays down the reggae/funk rhythm riffs as the undercurrent of Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds, a four-piece out of Philadelphia with a sound much in line with west coast reggae and ska, an upbeat and speedy inclusion of guitar licks, thumping bass, and spattering drums. Not only is her voice sweet and sour, but Sonni’s dual ability is an exciting surprise.

The band’s eight-song self-titled LP was released in 2010, at the peak of summer, an album perfect for windows down. They’ve been touring in various capacities ever since, and now two years deep, they are working towards their follow-up album, this time with guest musicians including keys and sax.

The Underwater Sounds did not come first. Sonni Schwartzbach had been performing solo for a while, with an acoustic sound, and heading into the studio, Sonni met Sean Youngman, who was asked in as a sessions drummer. “I thought she was cool,” Sean explains the connection, shrugging. They picked up Kenny Shumski and Billy Campion along the way. Kenny’s bass is responsible for the band’s bopping quality, the forward moving energy. Billy says, “I got all my education from music,” and scores as the lead guitarist. Between Billy and Sonni, the guitar sounds bridge pop-reggae and rock-funk.

“We do it all ourselves,” Sean says about touring. “It’s good that way.” They’ve taken Billy’s pick-up truck on the road. It has a cab in the back where they store their gear and have also situated a comfy chair. “It’s cold back there,” Billy laughs, “but we actually fight over it.”

“Yeah, I go back there with my iPod,” Sean says, “and just sleep.” up front, the three- person seat is a bit cramped, but the back has blankets and the company of the band dog. “That’s our Rosie dog,” Sonni explains with a wide smile. The young black lab tours with them and keeps them company as they travel the coast. “There’s nothing legal about it,” Sean laughs about the truck and the seat in the back. They used to travel in different cars, though, and they’re excited to have streamlined the operation.

“When I was eighteen they threw me out of the house/Get a job and have some children,” Sonni sings on “I Wont”, adding, “I can’t live like this.” A rebel edge encased in pretty pop hooks and comprehensible lyrics, Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds put on a varied live show, at times tight and at other times explorative, solos, breakdowns, perfect for the festival circuit, which is how they spent their summer. “There are a lot of little festivals in Pennsylvania,” Billy considers. “500, 700 people. It’s a nice size.” Philadelphia’s been good to them, “for now,” Sonni says. They enjoy the musical energy of the city.

Their sound can take them in any direction, from pop radio in the music players of teenaged girls inspired by Sonni’s independence but love of community and commonality, or they could join the jam bands and let their creativity fire into atmospheric positively. At times beautiful, at other times angry, but mostly heavily invested in every emotion, Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds seem happiest when making music for people.

“We got in at eight thirty this morning,” Sean says after a Winooski, Vermont show. His signature sweatband is soaked. “We spent all day in the city. Tonight we got a hotel room.” He grins. “It’s going to be great.” - John Powell, Angelica

"The Key Studio Sessions: Four new songs from Sonni Shine And The Underwater Sounds"

When singer-guitarist Sonni Shine and bassist Kenny Shumski sat down for an interview following their Key Studio Session this summer, they wondered why more reggae bands weren’t open to experimenting with sounds and styles. Perhaps they can lead by example. Their eclectic roots foursome Sonni Shine And The Underwater Sounds made a splash on the Philly scene this past year, blending reggae with snappy funk, exploratory prog, and bright, bold pop on their self-titled debut (which Key Readers voted the number-one debut album of 2010). We see that cross-section reflected in the band’s Key Studio Session: “What You Waiting For” has a vibrant bounce from drummer Sean Youngman, “Warrior” wanders across time-signatures with Billy Campion’s fierce Santana-esque lead guitar, and the radiant “Black And Blue” could be a crossover hit. All these songs will appear on the new album the Underwater Sounds plan to release toward the end of this year. Download them below to tide you over in the meantime; listen to Shine and Shumski’s interview tomorrow night on XPN2 during the Key Studio Sessions Hour at 7 p.m.; and check out the band’s website to keep up on its slate of live appearances (including a show this Friday, Aug. 26, at West Chester club The Note). - John Vettese

"Watch Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds' New Video for "Airplane""

From the band’s self-titled 2010 release. You can catch Sonni Shine And The Underwater Sounds tonight at Silk City (performing with Kings And Comrades and Tha Itis at 9 p.m.); a full list of PA/NJ area shows is below. Thanks to the band’s management for sending this video our way.

4/14 – Langosta Lounge – Asbury Park, NJ
4/19 – The Saint – Asbury Park, NJ
4/21 – Eleanor Rigby’s – Jermyn, PA
4/27 – Silk City – Philly, PA
4/28 – Langosta Lounge – Asbury Park, NJ
4/29 – Some Kind of Jam 6 – Schuylkill Haven, PA
- WXPN's the Key

"Philly's Original Music Scene: Sonni Shine & The Underwater Sounds"

Sonni Shine is a singer/songwriter with her own presence in Philadelphia, making contributions to the local scene throughout her college years, though the band has been together since only the summer of 2009. Sonni Shine & the Underwater Sounds describe their own music as reggae fusion. Reggae fusion is a broad term that covers any band or artist who has elements of reggae in their music, and the band makes claims of having elements of ska, funk and rock. While all of these influences can be heard in each song, Sonni Shine & the Underwater Sounds has all of the characteristics of textbook reggae music. The rhythm guitar follows a traditional reggae skank pattern ,the bass lines are catching, the drums crisp, with a pop that makes your head nod, and several tracks include a well-placed horn section. These are all definitive components to reggae music.

The band's uniqueness comes from the individuality each musician has due to the styles that have influenced each of them. While the drums follow a typical reggae pattern, there is a lot of syncopation, which has a groove/funk feel to it that enhances the "get up and move" feel that the genre already produces. Similarly, the bass has more movement than may be expected but mixes well with its rhythmic counterpart. The lead guitar has entrancing riffs in every song that brings the heavy and soft feel of the band together. The vocals of Sonni Shine are perhaps most unique and striking in this genre, as she doesn't sound like any other female reggae artists. Her expressive voice is accented by her slow vibrato in tracks like "Glory" and "Planet," but she shows the deftness of her vocals as well throughout the 8-track mini-album . Additionally, there seems to be a folksy quality to some of the songs as well with emphasis on acoustic finger picking and Sonni's vocals, which may have quite a bit to do with her independent work.

This new album feels far more complete than their earlier release, which can still be found on iTunes, but it isn't perfect. While the recording is stellar and the balance between the instruments is fairly even, the bass is drowned out and hard to hear in some of the songs on the album. Sonni Shine & the Underwater Sounds, however, is a well-balanced band with an extremely well-developed sound. The lyrics are just as diverse as the rest of the music, ranging from stories to delicate self-reflection. A good blend of unique, catchy and relative, Sonni Shine & the Underwater Sounds have a formula for guaranteed repetition.

The band is opening for famed Sublime cover band, Badfish, on December 2nd at Eleanor Rigby's in Jermyn, Pa!

Don't forget to check them out on Myspace and Facebook. - The Philadelphia Examiner

"WXPN's' Helen Leicht Pick of the Day"

Philadelphia natives Sonni Shine & The Underwater Sounds combine funk, rock, and reggae. The band’s next show is Wednesday, October 20, at the Blockley Pourhouse; the show is part of a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research and will also feature The Movement, Joosed, and 10-20. - The Key on 88.5fm WXPN

"Sonni Shine iTunes review"

“I caught this artist by chance at an open mic, Winedale Tavern, Dallas, TX, just last night. What a fortunate meeting; out of the dozen or so artists there, she was the one that caught my ear and kept my attention. She sings with both a child-like innocence and the humble wisdom of a seasoned poet. Her songs touch on love, loneliness, and the inevitable crises of the world (My heart goes out to the businessmen in suits on 7th avenue/ ‘cause we all know that the world is just gonna come crashing down on you). For the alternative-reggae listener, as well as for anyone with a broad appreciation for all types of great music, this is a must have.” --iTunes Review July 2009 - iTunes


"Free" (2006)
"Underwater Sounds." (2008)
"Sonni Shine & The Underwater Sounds" (2010)
"Que Se Queda" (2012)



Whether you catch them at a festival, in a crowded basement, at the TLA, on a rigged stage in a rustic barn, at a hiphop show or on a reggae bill, The Underwater Sounds will captivate listeners and create a unique listening experience.

Formed in 2010, this 4-piece has been described as a sort of reggae-funk-jam fusion, alternating between periods of technical precision and psychedelic improv. The Sounds strive to bring new ideas and unconventional approaches to reggae music; they do this while incorporating a strong female vocal and mindful informed lyrics.

In 2010, their self-titled record was voted #1 debut album by's The Key, and in 2011 the Underwater Sounds were nominated for 2 Asbury Park music awards, Best Groove Band and Top Female Vocalist.

Now, the band delivers it's sophomore full length album, Que Se Queda (That Which Remains), due for release in early 2012. Engineered and produced by Daoud Shaw (Van Morrison, Saturday Night Live, the Jerry Garcia Band) in Philadelphia, PA, the album is an ambitious effort--a sweeping variety of grooves laid over unusual rhythyms, topped with captivating melodies.

The band has remained totally DIY in their efforts so far, booking several northeast tours for themselves and receiving opportunities to perform alongside the likes of such greats as The Slackers, Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Orgone, The English Beat, The Budos Band, The Heavy Pets, Consider the Source, Splintered Sunlight, the Fear Nuttin Band, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Portugal the Man.  They have played at such well-known venues as the World Cafe Live, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the TLA, the Stone Pony, the Sherman Theater, Some Kind of Jam 6, and Stir Fry Music Revival 3.

"A blend of unique, catchy, and relative," their sound "can take them times beautiful, at other times angry, but mostly heavily invested in every emotion," the Underwater Sounds are eager to stay on the road and keep creating conscious music.