Based out of the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia area, Scoville Unit is headed up by bandleader Gandhar Savur and rounded out by guitarist Kevin Shelbourne, bassist Drew Isleib, and drummer Rob Hunsicker. The single “Sidewalk” is taken from their self titled debut release released through the Ernest Jenning Record Co. and comes along with a compelling promotional clip to round out the release. It’s an excellent introduction on the whole to Scoville Unit’s unusual talents and musical pedigree and lays impressive groundwork for the four piece to build on with later singles and further releases. Savur’s songwriting benefits from being surrounded by a five star collection of sympathetic players and they help him realize a full throated vision for Scoville Unit’s music we are used to hearing from veteran outfits rather than emerging bands.
Savur’s singing will be the focal point for many listeners. His phrasing delivers the lyrics with a sense of urgency while nevertheless balancing the various elements that make them so esceptional – the substance, flashes of humor, and observational details woven into his writing all have a seat at the table in his singing. There are some backing vocals added for good measure around the chorus and the band provide convincing support for his fine voice. It is one of the foremost elements giving “Sidewalk” its unquestionable pop rock shine, but far from the only one.
Guitarist Kevin Shelbourne helps accentuate those aforementioned pop rock strengths while still bringing his own brand of muscle and vigor to the track. The highlight of this comes with his short guitar solo in the second part of the song – it’s a moment that will give some a charge of surprise as Scoville Unit seems like a band who would likely eschew such instrumental spotlights no matter how brief. It isn’t self indulgent, however, and empowers the song with a late blast of energy.
The lyrics are a cut above the standard fare. Savur isn’t writing just to give himself something to sing; instead, “Sidewalk” has a clear agenda from the first. The video reinforces the strengths of the songwriting and dovetails without a hiccup into the visual imagery. The promotional video does rely on some time-honored tropes of the form, namely the band “performing” for an audience of one in some unnamed locale, but these choices aren’t embarrassing and serve to help acquaint newcomers to the band in a way the song, heard in a vacuum, could never accomplish on its own.
Scoville Unit’s “Sidewalk” is easy to like and get into. The four members of the band strike a natural tone befitting a lineup thoroughly acquainted with each other’s tendencies as performers and musicians and they clearly view themselves as a unit – everything here is tuned with an ear turned towards balance rather than highlighting any one particular aspect of the track at the expense of others. It’s a five star opening single from the band’s self-titled release and will undoubtedly generate a great deal of buzz for Scoville Unit.
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