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Radarhill – "Any Given Day"

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by Andrew Patton on June 21, 2016

“Midwestern Eclectic/Post-Jazz” quintet Radarhill is releasing their new double album Any Given Day this week. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the boys recorded a disc’s worth of original instrumental tunes entitled Something’s along with Any Given Day, a six movement suite by Columbus composer/trombonist (and frequent Radarhill collaborator) Nick Weckman featuring vocalist Maria Williams, with Joey Gurwin at Oranjudio. The band and Weckman are celebrating the album’s release with a party and performance at Dick’s Den on Thursday, June 23rd, at 10pm. Cover is $5. The album, with art by Keegan McGee, will be for sale, along with “new RH flashdrives (with all kinds of goodies), t-shirts, copies of our first record The Yeilds, new stickers and more!” If you can’t make the show, worry not – Radarhill has three additional local appearances in June. They play Comfest’s I Wish You Jazz Stage this Saturday at 4:10pm, are part of a super-strong bill with Wisconsin’s Lovely Socialite and Cincinnati’s Us, Today at Spacebar on Wednesday, June 29th at 9pm, and finish the month sharing a show with Safety Squad at Carabar on Thursday, June 30th at 10pm. As for the album, the band follows in the footsteps of their excellent debut with an ambitious barn-burner that further demonstrates their ability to appeal to a wide swath of jazz and new music fans. Keep reading for my review and video samples.

Something’s is a new twist on the Radarhill formula of making inventive, highly technical compositions accessible to the average interested audience. After the arresting orchestral intro “Go Thank Yourself,” live favorite “Hava Chaya” is a slinky rollercoaster ride that cruises to an end after shifting to a sultry hip-hop-tinged groove. “Petitions” is driven by the insistent keys of Caleb Miller and drums of Troy Kunkler before uncorking some heavy duty earworms in the form of horn-powered melodies. “I Hope Were Clear” slows down the tempo and settles into a lush backdrop for Nick Simko’s evocative trumpet. “Trading Scarabs for Oil” ventures into more jagged territory, building on an a cappella horn section that leads to sharp solo work from saxophonist Jordan Reed and explosive electronics. Atmospheric “CYOA” slowly rises, and falls, and rises again with beautiful horn parts and Miller’s glassy keyboard work. The title track finale is a fittingly dramatic 10-minute composition with multiple twists and turns, including a moving section where Eli Chambers’ pulsing bass leads the rhythm section in shining support of Simko’s gymnastics before a lustrous full-band conclusion.

The six songs of the Any Given Day suite show the band in something of a new context, supporting the vocals of Williams and Weckman along with some sampled dialogue as the composition follows the course of an average day of one’s life. Drama builds in opener “Inspiration – The keeping on” as the band stirs behind spoken parts by the vocalists. Instrumental “Hope – The burning” mixes forceful instrumentation with swaggering choruses and occasional lasers to gripping effect. Weckman pairs Williams’ soaring vocals with a stalwart band performance, including stately piano from Miller, for an eventful journey on “Space – The waiting.” The humorously jarring “Ruin – F**k this job” gives comfort to those stuck in unpleasant employment – while not exactly a singalong, Weckman’s world-weary verses and Williams’ theatrical handling of the title sentiment are certainly a rousing call to arms with a fiery ending. After the swirling “Rebuild,” the suite ends with “Dream – The end,” a collage of sampled dialogue soundtracked by a wandering and wistful instrumental.

This double album was certainly an ambitious undertaking that proved very successful in the end. The band is in top form throughout, and the added elements of Weckman’s writing and Williams’ vocals add new colors to these modern jazz explorers’ palette. Any Given Day is highly recommended for fans of most styles of modern jazz and anyone looking for something new that challenges but doesn’t intimidate the listener. Here are a few videos to give you a taste of the album and another recent project:

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