Saturday, June 12, 2010

#43 Here come the Flobots

The Flobots are the band you would hear across pirate radio waves after the last great world war that has yet to come. They flawlessly blend alt rock with political hip hop and poetic rebellion, mixing this unique sound with some wonderful viola playing. This genre defying group of trail blazers was formed in 2000, by hip hop singer Jamie Laurie a.k.a 'Jonny 5'. The group had it's beginnings when Jamie met up with hip hop producer Farhad Ebrahimi and they began collaborating on some new ideas. These sessions culminated in the album 'Onomatopoeia' in 2001. Although 'Onomatopoeia' was technically released by 'Jonny 5 and Yak' it is still commonly referred to as the first Flobots album.

After the release of 'Onomatopoeia', the Flobots went on an extended hiatus. It was 2005 that Jonny 5 decided to form a new band with another lead MC, Brer Rabbit. Instead, he (along with Brer Rabbit) decided to keep the Flobots name, adding five new members Mackenzie Roberts on viola, Jesse Walker on bass, Andy Guerrero (from funk band Bop Skizzum) on guitar, Joe Ferrone (also from Bop Skizzum) on trumpet, and Kenny Ortiz on drums. In October 2005, the revamped Flobots released their second album, Flobots Present...Platypus, which went on to sell over 3000 copies over the next two years.

In the fall of 2007, after an intensely productive year of writing and producing, they released the dynamite album 'Fight With Tools' which is one of the most exciting albums I have heard in the last five years. Mackenzie Roberts' viola playing on this album totally clicks with the hip hop/alt rock vibe. The viola gives it a totally old sound that lends the album a nostalgic feeling while also sounding totally new and different. Shortly after the release of the album, the single "Handlebars" started to make waves and began to gather massive popularity on alternative rock radio stations throughout North America and in April 2008 it peaked at #3 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Their latest album just came out this year and it is entitled 'Survival Story'. It carries on the rebellious imagery and political statements that we hear on 'Fight With tools' as well as introduces some new themes and the use of the trumpet on a few tracks which really hits the spot in my opinion. The viola and trumpet really give these songs that extra flavour that lift them beyond the regular hip hop and alt rock and really help make them something special.
The music and lyrics really come together on songs like 'Stand up' and 'Rise'. 'Stand up' starts with a wicked viola intro and the powerful lyrics:

"Stand up
We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you"

Hope you enjoy this awesome band, they are pretty bad ass in my opinion.
Here are some choice tracks!

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