Outside The Comfort Zone

Free Radicals

Independent release, 2017


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


It might be easier to discuss the few genres of music in which Houston's Free Radicals doesn’t dabble. Country music is certainly not in their arsenal. Nor is heavy metal or any of its sub-genres. Opera also isn't on the list. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But really, anything else is fair game on this album, where the band often brings in 50+ musicians to create each installment. Probably most often referred to as a jazz outfit, on their sixth album Outside The Comfort Zone, Free Radicals brings in Harry Sheppard and Damon Choice on vibraphone plus a dozen or so other players to flesh out these 23 instrumental party tunes.

Opening tune “The Legals Have A Lunch” tells you everything you need to know about Free Radicals. Though the song leads with sparse keys, it immediately blasts off into percussion heaven with plenty of horns, making it seem like three different tunes are being played simultaneously yet seamlessly. “Doomsday Clock” follows with more emphasis on guitars but still brings plenty of ideas to the table, and “Carry Me To My Grave” moves with a rapid dance floor feel that's full of life. “Screaming” stays more true to its title with an uproarious, mesmerizing display of surreal percussion and waves of effects.

Elsewhere, Free Radicals delivers fun, thriving reggae (“Survival Of The Oblivious”), unique versions of salsa (“Chicha Revolucion”), and some funk with “Angola.” Middle tracks like “Solidaridad de la Sierra” illustrate their penchant for bass lines, and “Audacity Of Drones” mashes jazz with electronica, yielding great results.

When the band refers to themselves as “a horn driven instrumental dance band with a commitment to peace and justice,” they aren't kidding. Add in a tremendous amount of fun and no shortage of rhythm and melody and you have 23 songs that are nothing short of contagious.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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