Flobots Blowback Begins

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With "Handlebars," the first single from Fight With Tools, continuing to surge up the modern rock charts, Flobots are just starting to register on the radars of critics and bloggers nationally. Earlier this morning, as part of a frequent feature it runs called "Corporate Rock Still Sells" in which Al Shipley examines Billboard's rock charts, Idolator devoted the first non-local coverage we've seen. It's a fairly exhaustive screed analyzing the outfit's inexplicable and seemingly rapid rise titled, "The Flobots Make Modern Rock Radio Safe For Rappin' Whitey Again." Take a gander...

"Being that they're on the Modern Rock chart and nowhere to be seen on the hip-hop/R&B charts, the Flobots are pretty obviously not peers of, say, Rick Ross. They're not a crew of MCs, but rather a hip-hop band in The Roots mold—two rappers backed by live musicians—and they're from Denver. And "Handlebars" sounds, well... about like you'd probably expect a white (mostly white?) hip-hop band from Denver to sound like. The verses feature a stiff but slightly impressive double-time flow, and the song builds to an intense crescendo, as the lyric's seemingly innocent theme becomes gradually more sinister and, in a vague, wishy washy way, politically conscious. It's not hard to see why the 'twist' of the song has hooked radio listeners so quickly, even if it sounds like a really toothless cover of an unreleased Rage Against The Machine song to these ears. "Handlebars" first appeared on an independent EP in 2005, and was re-released on the band's major-label debut Fight With Tools over six months ago, which makes the song's very recent, very rapid ascendance even more surprising."

While "Handlebars" indeed first appeared on 2005's Platypus (as "Handle Bars") and the version being played on radio is from Fight With Tools, the latter disc isn't actually being re-released by Universal until May 20. So to that end, and considering that the band inked its deal only a little more than a month ago, rapid is probably a gross understatement in this case.

Semantics aside, it's interesting to read a non-provincial take of one of our chief exports -- even if it forms the basis for an in-depth analysis of the relationship between modern rock radio and rap. It's even more enlightening to peruse the subsequent reader comments that follow.

"I think Flobots is like if the guitarist from Cake had a lovechild with that douchebag from Sublime (he's dead lol) and the kid grew up in an orphanage in Denver and listened to a whole lot of Linkin Park but didn't like the screaming bits."

-- Dave Herrera

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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