Free Radicals ‘Outside the Comfort Zone’ album review

Ever heard of a band called Free Radicals? Well, if you have, you know how amazing they are and if you haven’t, I’m here to let you know. Houston, Texas locals Free Radicals just released a new album titled Outside the Comfort Zone. Considering I hadn’t heard of them before either, I was quite taken back in the best way possible. This band and album are a breath of fresh air. They are a jazz band whose style is an eclectic mix of jazz, funk, hip-hop, ska, reggae, Latin, World music and more. That might sound like a lot for one band, but it all comes together to create a very unique sound that immediately had me dancing around the kitchen. Free Radicals are 13-time winners for “Best Jazz” in the Houston Press Music Awards and a special treat for anyone who loves a good horn section, funky bass lines and a variety of uncommon instruments.

As you make your way through the 23-track Outside the Comfort Zone album, each song will take you to a new place. 

Outside the Comfort Zone is Free Radicals’ sixth studio album – all of which have been released over the past 20 years! Each album makes its own political statement. “In 1998, Free Radicals’ first CD The Rising Tide Sinks All warned against the next Iraq War four years before it started. A decade later, Pakistan’s leading English newspaper, Dawn, called the album “a premonition waiting to become true.” In 2012, Free Radicals’ fourth CD The Freedom Fence warned against border walls four years before Trump made them a cornerstone of his campaign for president. What makes this band even more unique is that throughout the years, they have been activists with their music although most of their songs don’t even have lyrics. They create peace and justice with the feel of their songs. 20 years later, their newest album foreshadows a white supremacist apartheid society where basic human rights are neglected or purposefully ignored. The album artwork for each record also details clever ways to send these messages. Subject matter aside, the band has brought their instrumental dance music to a variety of different events such as clubs, street protests, house parties, weddings, funerals, breakdance competitions, and more.

Free Radicals pride themselves on specializing in improvised music – a true jam band. As you make your way through the 23-track Outside the Comfort Zone album, each song will take you to a new place. Songs like “Doomsday Clock” will have you skanking to the reggae-influenced beat, “Chicha Revoluciòn” will make you want to go salsa dancing with its Latin rhythm, and “Cabinet for Sale” will take you back in time with the electric guitar and smooth horn section. Although all the songs are instrumental, the album gets political with song titles like “Scrapple from the DAPL”, “Beyond Vietnam” and “Cheeto News Coma”. Killer horn sections accompany every song on the album, yet the song “Screaming” really stands out because the horns literally sound like they’re screaming and wailing. A few songs later “Water Beats Rock” is another one that stood out to me. It’s groovy and funky and really slows things down a bit. Every song on this album truly does have a different feel. After listening to the entire record, I felt like I transcended back in time to the Big Band era with a modern twist, including influences from all around the world. Outside the Comfort Zone is available now on all digital outlets, along with the rest of Free Radicals’ albums. Find out more about Free Radicals at

Purchase or stream Outside the Comfort Zone:

Track listing:

  1. The Legals Have a Lunch
  2. Doomsday Clock
  3. Chicha Revoluciòn
  4. Carry Me To My Grave
  5. Screaming
  6. Dadaab
  7. Freedom of Consumption
  8. Angola 3
  9. Manifest Dust Bunny
  10. Water Beats Rock
  11. Solidaridad de la Sierra
  12. Audacity of Drones
  13. Beyond Vietnam
  14. Space Witch
  15. Scrapple from the DAPL
  16. New Sanctuary Movement
  17. Cabinet For Sale
  18. Stump Stomp
  19. Cheeto News Coma
  20. Survival of the Oblivious
  21. Ambush ICE
  22. A Call For All Demons
  23. American Food Chain

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.

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