Flobots Music, 2007
By Bryant Francis
You know the Flobots. You’ve likely heard the plucking viola and rapping lyrics of “Handlebars” streaming out of some speaker. What you haven’t had the pleasure to listen to, however, is the rest of the band’s first wide-release album, Fight With Tools.
Fight With Tools, is a rambunctious rallying cry for those tired of the political scenario that has engaged Washington for these last eight years, a source of brilliantly written hip-hop lyrics that manage to speak volumes without directly charging down any divisive political paths, and a combination of various musical backgrounds that break conventional barriers of rock music to form a new sound.
The album begins with the song “There’s A War Going On For Your Mind.”?The song is the album’s slowest paced and acts as an introduction for?the next song and consists of Brer Rabbit delivering proclamations such?as “Industry insiders slang test tube babies to corporate crackheads,”?in the tone a newscaster would use to deliver the evening news,?accompanied by Oritz as he plays a martial drumbeat and Roberts on the?viola. This “broadcast” is interrupted by Jonny 5, declaring “We are?the insurgents,” who then proceeds to open up for the next song,?”Mayday.”?
Throughout the album, the band utilizes their technical prowess for?great effect. Roberts uses her skills as a classically trained violist?to create a harmonious sound that serves as a primary tune for?listeners to easily grab on to, and also acts as vocalist to back up?the MCs and even open the song “Never Had It.” Ferrone’s trumpet serves?brilliantly in “Handlebars,” by providing an appropriately mournful?tone to the song at just the right moments. Guerro’s guitar rarely?takes the foreground for itself; instead it works in concert with the?viola to bolster the band’s unique sound.?
The album does have a few hiccups however, the prime one being the?lyrics toward the end of “Same Thing.” The band’s lyrical strengths are?based on ideas that everyone can relate to and which will ignite their?listeners with the desire to positively influence their communities and?their government. When they finally get down and start shouting?specific ideas, (legalizing weed, human needs versus corporate greed),?it’s a little alienating for those who don’t share the political?position. While the band has every right to believe what they like, and?certainly to talk about it, these views haven’t exactly been as well?ingrained into their songwriting as some of their other ideas, and it?comes off a bit forced. Thankfully, the rest of the songwriting and?music is so brilliant that this sole flaw is hardly noticeable.
All in all, Fight With Tools, manages to use music to deliver a?brilliantly written message that resonates with listeners everywhere:?that it is time to stop letting ourselves be controlled by external?forces, and reach within to gain the tools to fight for our freedom.?Any music fan who believes that this country could use a brighter?future should definitely listen to this CD, and even if you aren’t?looking for a soundtrack to a revolution, “Fight With Tools” still?provides some high-energy music which is organized to be inspiring and?enjoyable to listen to.