Flotbots: socially conscious awesomeness
Denver-based Flobots was started in 2005 as a side project for emcees Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit. The socially conscious indie hip-hop group also incorporates classically trained violist Mackenzie Roberts, guitarist Andy Guerrero, bassist Jesse Walker, jazz-trained trumpet player Joe Ferrone and drummer Kenny Ortiz.
They released their first full-length album, “Fight With Tools,” in October 2007.
The standout song on this album is “Handlebars,” a story about power and corruption. It starts with simple guitar picking and the lyrics “I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars, no handlebars.” The verses go into all the other things the emcee can do: “I can take apart a remote control and almost put it back together.” With every verse the achievements become greater and more impressive. “Me and my friends saw a platypus, me and my friends made a comic book,” all the way to “I can make anybody go to prison just because I don’t like ’em and I can do anything with no permission I have it all under my command ... I can guide a missile by satellite, by satellite, by satellite.” Behind the lyrics the music gradually escalates to climax at “I can end the planet in a holocaust, in a holocaust,” repeating “in a holocaust” several times before going back to “I can ride my bike with no handlebars.”
Haunting, eerie, innocent to corruption, this song is politically charged but not preachy. It’s scary and infuriating in an interesting package. It’s a story. It’s an allegory and it doesn’t point fingers directly. It’s one of those songs you want to memorize.
The instrumentation of the whole album is unique and every song sounds different. Sometimes featuring intricate guitar solos, heavy drumming or relaxing violin, each song brings something different to the table. Some are straight-up rapping, other have vocal melodies and harmonies. “Combat” is a groovy dance song, repetitive, driven, made for head bopping and fun. “No beat that can keep me lonely” is sung throughout the song while rapping goes over the funky bass lines.
The album is fun and socially conscious, dealing with war, racism, religion. It makes you want to dance and protest, boogie down and step up. It’s powerful and groovy.
Listen to the whole album at www.purevolume.com/flobots.
(Opinions expressed in columns are not necessarily those of The Eureka Reporter or its staff.)
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