In the Nineties, guitarist and singer Scott Pilgrim had a band in Melbourne called Soda, who released the Pan EP. Fast forward 23 years and he walked into Warwick Donald’s control room and saw a multi-track tape deck which could play the original tape of that recording. A week later and he and Warwick were listening to songs which has not been heard in more than two decades. This inspired Scott to play the songs again, so he called on Dan Hearn (drummer) and a young bass student of his, Reilly Frost and asked if they’d like to be part of a Soda concert. In August 2020 they played all the songs from Soda’s final Melbourne gig, and it went so well they decided to keep the band going. Soon afterwards they were joined by Hayden Overton (synth, guitar) and they have now headed into Warwick’s studio to record the follow-up EP. The decision was taken to do it as a live set, straight to tape with no overdubs, just a single 8-hour session and a 30-minute time limit.
The result is a five-song set, lasting fifteen minutes, with four originals and a cover of Beck’s Ramona. That the cover does not particularly stand out among the rest of the material gives a really good idea of the style of alternative rock/pop being undertaken by these Wellingtonians. They have a clear and clean sound in the guitar, which combines well with the vocals. These comes across best in Sarsaparilla, which commences with just Scott accompanying himself before the rest of the band comes in. The bass is warm and fluid, the drums providing a strong backbeat while never overpowering and the synth sound is very early Eighties. This combination of sounds and styles shows just how much Scott has been influenced by the scene from 25+ years ago but given that was when the band were originally performing perhaps that is not much of a surprise.
There are great hooks throughout, and the EP is one which really grows on the listener the more it is played. They are looking to record a live album later in the year, and I for one hope they will manage to make it up to Auckland at some point as this is catchy and fun material which somehow sounds dated yet fresh, alternative yet mainstream. I certainly look forward to hearing more from these guys in the future.
8/10 Kev Rowland