Fight With Tools Review

artist: Flobots date: 01/27/2009 category: compact discs
Flobots: Fight With Tools
Release Date: 2008
Genres: Rap, Rock
Number Of Tracks: 12
Flobots take the socio-political rhetoric that is familiar in recordings from Jay-Z, DMX, and Ice Cube via Westside Connection, and color it with the melodic sounds of the viola, guitar and an occasional pop from the trombone played by Joe Ferrone.
 Sound: 7.5
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 8.3
 Overall rating:
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reviews (4) 17 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.7
Fight With Tools Reviewed by: axlanian, on november 20, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: An incredible fusion of funk, alternative and, most prominently, hip-hop. This CD is one of the most well-executed genre-blenders of the new millennium. Johnny 5's rap vocals are delivered on par with, if not better than, the likes of Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers, or even the almighty Zack de la Rocha. While the vocals, matched with their lyrics, are the heart of the album, the viola and trumpet are definitely the soul. You find yourself mystified by the beauty of viola solos like the one on the title track, piercing through the sound of the rest of the band. The album is fairly diverse in styles, as well. Tracks like "Combat" are short and funky with ultra-fast vocals, while tracks like "Fight With Tools" and "Rise" make you feel inspired to do... something. You're not sure how, but you want to change the world. Also, this album is definitely more than the sum of it's parts, with the introduction "There is a War Going on for Your Mind" flawlessly and anthemically leading into "Mayday!!!", a brilliant stream of perfect funk/hip-hop. The introductory track is also interspersed with "Fight With Tools" and the violin melody from the chorus of the latter is the driving force behind "We are Winning", more of a statement than a song, lyrically, with half of the words spoken by an elderly woman. Overall, this album will sonically energize you and then sooth you by the time it's all over. // 9

Lyrics: The vocals on this album are spectacular. There are two rappers, and occasionally they do just sing. But the award for the best singing voice on the album goes to the viola player, who graces our ears with her lovely pipes in the song "Never Had It". This album's lyrics are all about inspiring change. They want America to be a better place, with citizens helping their neighbors through "random acts of kindness" and peaceful resolution of war. I've copied the lyrics for two perfect examples of how the album feels: From "Stand Up": "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 " From "Rise": "Don't let apathy police the populace We will march across Those stereotypes that were marked for us The answers obvious We switch the consonants Change the sword to words and lift continents Rise." // 10

Overall Impression: So if you're trying to decide whether to buy this album or not, I'll help you out. If you enjoy hip-hop vocals and are the kind of person that frequents this website, buy it. Right effing now. Highlights include "Mayday!!!", "Stand Up", "Fight With Tools", and "Rise". This whole thing is brilliant, while being political the entire time, it's not like RATM politics that try to force their view on you. To attempt to quote Johnny 5 (lead vocals) from, "If you feel different from us, that's great. Because we think that difference causes discussion, and discussion makes us better." // 10

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overall: 5.7
Fight With Tools Reviewed by: sweetpeasuzie, on may 20, 2008
0 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sound: Flobots take the socio-political rhetoric that is familiar in recordings from Jay-Z, DMX, and Ice Cube via Westside Connection, and color it with the melodic sounds of the viola, guitar and an occasional pop from the trombone played by Joe Ferrone. Where the band's predecessors recorded rap stylized vocals along bulging rhythmic grooves and techno-club parachutes, the Flobots style is hardcore rap with more natural sounding verses soaked in orchestral and melodic rock textures that may remind you of Floetry, Lady Sovereign, and California's AD The Voice. The track Stand Up silhouettes vocalists/MC's Brer Rabbit and Johnny 5's rough timbres in sweetly threaded viola chords performed by Mackenzie Roberts. The melodic rock vibrations of the title track made by guitarist Andy Rok Guerrero, bassist Jesse Walker, and drummer Kenny Ortiz make the tune likeable as the dynamics of the vocals flex it's muscles across the chord progressions. The songs are modestly pop with moments of hypnotic urban-soul and soft bluesy rock like in Never Had It. It is a tune that could make people sing this band's praises, while the grating tones and aggravated vocals of Mayday rile up the angst and chafing grumbles. Combat has a funky double-dutch jump rope beating in it's rhythmic moves, while the tightness of the viola strings on The Rhythms Method (Move) squeeze like a vise around the vocals as the rhythms move to a jungle beat. Flobots rap and hip-hop aggregates can be mellifluously melodramatic in it's storytelling like in Anne Broden, and other times the union of rap and hip-hop produces a frieze of jungle beats and energized romps. Flobots debut full-length album Fight With Tools, in a way, is a treatise that means to ignite a mass consciousness which shows people the damage of using weapons against each other, and the final track Rise means to influence people to rise above the corruption and stop that hate. // 5

Lyrics: Rap music is all about using the spoken word to affect people emotionally, and the Flobots phrase their words to make an impact on public impressions. The lyrics for Rise deliver, So much pain, we don't know how to be abut angry / Feel infected like we've got gangrene / Please don't let anybody try to change me / Me, just me in the middle of a sea full of faces We're different people but we're not scared / We ain't never scared to pave a new path / Make a new street / Build a new bridge If you believe in redemption, I'm calling to you from another dimension. The lyrics are a lot of inspirational rhetoric with a preachy tone. Ice Cube and Jay-Z talk about the same evils in society, but both of them are also guilty of the same corruption. Vocalist Brer Rabbit and Jonny 5 spew fire from their breaths but I cannot say that it is enough to believe that they live by what they are delivering in their words. // 7

Overall Impression: Flobots sound like they are greatly influenced by past rap and hip-hop artists and they are trying to carve out a new niche by using orchestral and melodic rock fences, but I cannot say that they show credibility in their effort. The vocals are over the top in being melodramatic and the music has a peripheral role in the songs. The music can be there or not, it is so muted that it does not play a significant role in the songs. All of the energy is focused on the vocals which are performed to shake up the listener, but it feels like an attempt to gain public adulation more than to unleash strong opinions against society's ills. Since Tupac Shakur, playing hardcore rap and hip-hop music has become en vogue and the Flobots latest release Fight With Tools feels like it was made to be fashionable. The album has the same bite marks as the early stages of Ice Cube and Jay-Z, even though the Flobots effort is to make something new. // 5

- Susan Frances aka sweetpeasuzie (c) 2008

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overall: 9.3
Fight With Tools Reviewed by: Austiman, on june 14, 2008
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: The sound of a guitar, trumpet, Johnny 5 pretty much talking/rapping, and a boatload of other suff.. Suprisingly it mixes into quite an amazing sound. It has a lot of flow and lots of clever uses of the instruments they have. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a great trumpet solo? Only bad thing is that it seems like the singers talk through most of it and don't really sing. It reminds me of CAKE. But don't get me wrong, it sounds pretty good a lot of the times. Although it just doesn't satisfy your need for a good strong voice. It seems like they try to stay safe and not use the vocals to their true potential. I rambled a bit. In a nutshell: It sounds bitchin' but the talking can get a little boring. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics have got to be one of the main reasons I bought this CD. I'd only heard "Handlebars" so I didn't know what to expect. The lyrics are all awesome, actually! They all have a powerful message and they've got great metaphors. A big plus for this album. // 10

Overall Impression: Like I said before this sounds so much like Cake. Johnny 5 sounds exactly like John McCrea. That isn't a bad thing at all! The lyrics are completely different from Cake and Flobots has a lot less instruments. Either way, it's a great album. If I lost it I'd probably buy it again. I've gotten a new addition to my favorite list of albums! // 10

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overall: 8.3
Fight With Tools Reviewed by: UH-HiloMOKES, on january 27, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: When they first started getting airplay on the radio, you wondered if this was a second coming of Linkin Park or another version of Gym Class Heroes. With a live band set providing the instrumentals for the dual MCs, they were a farcry from what you hear on the radio waves regarding the genre of hip-hop/rap. The background instruments, though they do their job for the most part, do not stand out in either of their songs (unless you count the few guitar solos, the horns in handlebars and the viola in many songs.) But, that's the route the band chose to go. Let the lyrics/MCs get their message across as the instrumentals serve as the backup foundation. Though the guitar work won't blow you away like other rapcore bands (Linkin Park and Gym Class Heroes for excample) and the viola might not match up to the likes of Sean Mackin of Yellowcard, the overall sound is good. // 8

Lyrics: If you understood the lyrics for their breakthrough single "Handlebars" you can tell that the band is working on the politically charged/point out the wrongs in the world route in their song writing. The lyrics all around in the album, though it's all wrapped around the obvious topic pointed out before, it ranks as being some of the best lyrically written rap songs than many of todays mainstream rappers. Sometimes, though after listening to this album since summertime, some songs may sound the same lyrically given they revolve around the faults in the world in the shape of words. But, I let it slide at times since the lyrics are very good in most of their songs, that it's forgivable if they make good songs that revolve around the same topic. // 9

Overall Impression: All in all, Flobots is going to unfortunately be labeled in the one-hit wonder type of genre due to the lack of push for songs onto the radio waves. The people of today, generally the youth, don't WANT to listen to politically charged lyrics and songs that point out the faults in the world today. Though "Handlebars" was released, it didn't get the respect that it deserved. In the rock side, they were a politically charged up version of Linkin Park minus the turntables and screaming. So those that listen to this genre a lot accepted them as something new with potential in songs. From the rap siide, however, even though I blatantly stated that they are better than most mainstream rappers/hip-hop artists that are on the airwaves presently (not mentioning any names of bad rappers. *cough*Soulja Boy*cough**cough*Shawty Lo*cough**cough*Dem Franchise Boyz*cough* and sadly, I can't cough anymore) But Flobots, along with other rapcore bands, will never be accepted into todays rap scene from the teens (the basis of saying what's hot or not and hip-hop is the front runner for the popular genre) for the non-inclusion of the usual sex, drugs, murder and gangs looped with a single catch phrase sang over and over again. So, aside from being one of the best rap OR rock album I've heard and getting praise from music critics, this CD will NOT reach Gold status due to the general topic of their music, because face it, how much of the population would find the topic they perform enjoyable if they haven't come to terms with reality? Get it through your heads. It's not about bitches, money and supersoaking ho's ALL the time. // 8

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