The Runnikine: Danger Close
Words by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)
The Runnikine are a local three piece band made up of Eric Luba, Will Trask, and Jon McCartan, which started up in November of 2014. What began as a side project for the members while touring with other bands has now become a more realized outfit with the release of this EP, Danger Close. This collection of three tracks was recorded at Scanhope Sound in Littleton, CO over the course of several months this year.
The first of three songs is a mid-tempo dance groove with plenty of keyboard ear candy. Synth licks overlay another electric piano track that pans and sweeps from left to right speaker, creating a dimensional motion to compliment the reflective nature of the lyrics. Eric Luba handles both the vocal and keyboard duties on the album. Interspersed on “Vice” are tasteful vocal harmonies and the stuttering sound of a subtle funky guitar (also Luba) to keep things fresh through the verses. The lyrics evoke the importance of remaining true to ourselves in an often superficially natured society. Right out of the gate, the pocket of the groove is tight and the dynamics of the trio offer a wholly satiating sound.
“After Tonight” is the following cut and features a heavier, more straight-ahead funk riff compared to “Vice.” The stereo separation between instruments is clear and spacious; nothing gets lost in this well balanced mix except for, dare I say it? The cowbell! Trask’s percussive cowbell hits are painfully hidden beneath the rest of the instruments. Unless this an instance of tongue-in-cheek humor, I think we all know what we need more of on this track. Digressions aside, the composition of the song is strong; concise sections, flawless transitions, and a tasteful drum breakdown towards the end. Texture is also a point of notice - crisp synth tones and a throbbing pulse of a bass from McCartan.
“They Walk Among Us” is the standout cut of the EP, and appropriately chosen as a The Runnikine’s first single. Aliens. Whether you believe in them or not, this one beams you up. “They’re already here,” is stated in the lyrics. Your neighbor could be a more intelligent form of life than you think! We get a more stripped down presentation of the band’s sound here. Three sustained chords from a naked jazz piano make up the groove of the verse and chorus, backed by a driving, punchy snare from Trask, a signature sound indeed. McCartan’s low end underneath lays ample space for the song to vibe effortlessly. Lush arrangements of synth and vocal effects swirl between segments. The band vamps heavily on a blues/funk riff to ease the paranoia incited by the lyrics. One hears echoes of Medeski, Martin, and Wood in this section.
The first official studio offering from The Runnikine is impressively cohesive, compact, and of course, funky as all get out. If I was to be critical of the album, the only main issue would be that it is too short. But alas, it is an EP, a harbinger of more good things to come. I welcome the thought of having a full length from the band, because this is only the tip of the iceberg, or the first couple rows of tiny square mirrors on the disco ball; for there is much more light to be reflected.