Scoville Unit New Video “Reasons”

Can the story of alternative music be told in one fuzzed-out downstroke? Could a single ringing chord from a distorted six-string contain within it the elements that make left-of-the-dial melodic punk rock so hard to resist? If it can, it likely came from the guitars of Scoville Unit. The New Jersey quartet makes songs that feel like they’ve been burning up the college radio airwaves since the late ’80s heyday of the style — smart, energetic, crisply-written songs with tight vocal harmonies, irresistible hooks, and not a single note wasted. Their music is a reminder: as modest as the alternative movement was, it was, nonetheless, a revolution in economy.

It also feels current — or maybe the need for music as frank and direct as this never goes away. “Reasons,” the first track from See What Can Be, is as solid as a deal-sealing handshake. Bassist/vocalist Drew Isleib and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Gandhar Savur deliver a melody that feels so undeniable that you might not even notice how well-built it actually is. Lead guitarist Kevin Shelbourne spikes the song with riffs and graces it with a succinct but soaring solo, and drummer Rob Hunsicker keeps the whole thing moving with a tasty garage beat that firmly aligns Scoville Unit with the long tradition of roughhouse power-pop.

In its cohesion and collective purpose, “Reasons” sounds like the opposite of a pandemic project. A song like this could only have come from a band that has shared a room and a tour van for the last four years, no? Well, like everything else that’s happened recently, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Gandhar Savur made a strategic retreat to rural Costa Rica, and even considered relocating there for good. But he never stopped writing songs and never lost his connection to Scoville Unit, and now he’s back in the Garden State and ready to share See What Can Be with fans of sharp punk rock everywhere.

The tightness — emotional and physical — of Scoville Unit is the subject of Tarana Parekh’s gently humorous video for “Reasons.” Parekh’s camera captures the band at home in a typical suburban Jersey spread, mowing the lawn, making dinner, and hanging out on the couch. In almost every shot, they share their domestic experience with young woman. Yes, the Scoville Unit of the “Reasons” clip has a wife, and by the looks of things, she’s hitched to all four of them at once.

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