By: Erin Dyer
Houston-born instrumental Jazz band, Free Radicals, has released their newest CD: “The Freedom Fence.” Since the band’s founding in 1996 by drummer and producer, Nick Cooper, the Free Rads’ discography includes The Rising Tide Sinks All (1998), Our Lady of Eternal Sunny Delights (2000), Aerial Bombardment (2004), and most recently, The Freedom Fence (2012).
Maybe I’m biased because I have enjoyed listening to this awesome local band for years (I’m clearly already a Free Rads fan), but The Freedom Fence kicks ass. Each track, of 23 total, melts into each other like new lovers on ecstasy. The album as a whole provides a scintillating and multicultural experience that not only will titillate your ears, but also will run an electric dancing groove shock through your entire body.
Over the past 16 years, Free Rads have been volunteering their time and musical performances for protests, marches, and fundraisers for anti-authoritarian and radical groups such as Food Not Bombs, peace festivals, and charity events.
With its members being committed activists in human rights and immigrant issues, every Free Rads album takes a certain political theme. The particular subject for this album is concerning borders, apartheid, gentrification, division, and segregation, including messages in Spanish, Russian, Nigerian Pidgin, Zulu, English, as well as the international language of instrumental music.
This horn-heavy band is not limited to Jazz music, as they are commonly categorized; there’s definitely some latino, ska, reggae, salsa, and afrobeat sprinkled in the mix. There were times I even found myself waiting to hear Fela Kuti’s powerful Nigerian voice bursting through the speakers. This album is a musical melting pot that you will want to play on repeat.
There are two kinds of people in the world: the people that love Free Rads, and the people that have yet to discover their music. The Freedom Fence is now available on iTunes and CD Baby, in addition to the other Free Rads albums. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy. After all 14 Houston Press Awards have been given to Free Rads since 1998, including: 9 “Best Jazz” awards, 2 awards for “Best Drummer.” Also awarded to Free Rads: “Best CD by Local Musicians,” “Best Funk,” and “Best Unsigned Band.”
Props to the talented Free Rads– The Freedom Fence has already replaced my beloved Why?: Alopecia album in my car stereo system…and I can assure you that it will remain there for months and months on end, until someone forces me to change it up.