Steal This Track: Listen to Flobots’ “The Circle in the Square” in its entiretyBy Josh Johnson | August 21st, 2012 | 2 comments
Yes, we know. It’s almost mid-week and you’ve yet to steal a single track. Before you write a complaint letter, hear this: We are giving you an exclusive listen to the Flobots’ yet-to-be-released album – in its entirety! That’s 15 tracks worth the wait.
On “The Circle in the Square,” the third full-length from Denver’s alternative hip-hop darlings with a national audience, the Flobots show songwriting maturity and turn a gaze towards international freedom movements, all the while maintaining radio-worthy fun.
For many artists who write about international politics, inspiration is drawn from impressions projected on screens. The Flobots have a bit more to draw from. In 2011, Jonny 5 (Jamie Laurie) and Brer Rabbit (Stephen Brackett) were touring the Middle East, not as musicians but as global citizens broadening their perspectives. Just hundreds of miles from massive civil resistance to Hasni Mubarak’s regime, the two MCs could see and feel the ripple of the Arab Spring. That experience led to the title track, a fist-pumping anthem celebrating the power of the people against State violence.
Likely, “The Circle in the Square” will be pulled from the track list as the feature track, the encore at the show, but “Run (Run Run Run)” deserves as much if not more attention. With hits on Mackenzie Gault’s viola that sound like the upstroke strumming of a reggae song and a choir of women providing the “Run, run, run, run” chorus, the song stays with you. And unlike “Call Me Maybe,” it has enough substance to make that a good thing. You can feel the momentum of a popular uprising, and the message is clear: Revolution is no longer a silly idea used to sell Jeeps; it’s a reality.
The very same day the Flobots entered the studio to begin recording this album, the Occupy Wall Street movement emerged. After the Middle East experience, and combined with the Occupy fall, you can understand why this album is not calling for something to happen, but celebrating what is happening. Flobots cover a wide range of topics on this album, but this sentiment is peppered throughout.
Even the music here expresses a certain freedom. For the first time, Flobots had no outsiders telling them what music to write, how it should sound, what should be included, etc. They funded, wrote, recorded and produced the entire project. The result is an expansion of the experimentation they are known for. But rather than fill the album with every appealing sound, creating a cluster, we find well-crafted and well–structured songs. Truly, a pleasurable, rewarding album with weighty themes that inspire even the casual observer of the movements of our time.
But enough yammering about it, hear it for yourself: Flobots will be at Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins on Aug. 23, Hi-Dive in Denver on Aug. 24, and The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs on Aug. 25. The official album release date is Aug. 28.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Steal This Track for consideration.