Alternative hip-hop band Flobots’ highly anticipated fourth album, NOENEMIES, will be released May 5, 2017.
NOENEMIES is, without question, Flobots’ most ambitious and sophisticated statement to date - both lyrically and musically. Funded entirely by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $80,000, the music on NOENEMIES is undeniably Flobots music, but it’s also assuredly music made by artists who have matured and expanded their horizons.
Influenced by stories shared by Flobots’ friend and longtime mentor and Southern Freedom Movement historian and professor - the late Dr. Vincent Harding, and inspired by the band’s recent grassroots community work hosting workshops, classes and keynote speeches about using collective song to build social movements, NOENEMIES is a body of songs that speak to the urgency of the current moment.
Each of the tracks on NOENEMIES serves as a powerful, poignant new anthem, many packed with surprises both subtle and grand. Taken as a whole, the album is enormous in breadth, enveloping and electrically charged, befitting of the finely crafted, carefully chosen words. NOENEMIES virtually begs the listener to delve and to contemplate, to share and revel.
For the recording of NOENEMIES, Flobots’ core trio - emcee’s Brer Rabbit (Stephen Brackett) and Jonny 5 (Jamie Laurie) and drummer Kenny Ortiz - enlisted the help of trusted musical friends to bring their vision of the album into reality. Musician/Producer Gabriel Otto worked intimately with the band to craft a distinct sonic landscape, recruiting a string section, horn players, and a gospel quintet to layer recurring motifs over the band’s signature grooves. They teamed up with founding Flobot Mackenzie Gault (viola) and longtime musical collaborator Serafin Sanchez (saxophone, keys) to co-write a number of songs. The band incorporated voices, melodies, and words from throughout their collaborations - both on and off stage - into the songs on NOENEMIES.
From the beginning, Flobots’ sound defied categorization.
Weaving conscious hip-hop lyrics and classical viola solos over live instrumentation, their anthems captured attention from all directions. When Flobots first catapulted onto the global scene in 2008 with their platinum single ‘Handlebars’ from their first album release Fight With Tools, it was the fastest charting song debut by a new artist in 10 years.
Released during the frenzy of that year’s election, the band’s call to envision “another America” resonated with a generation experiencing a sense of profound political and social awakening. In a span of months, Flobots went from playing at local clubs to selling out tours internationally, performing on late-night television, signing a major label record deal, and receiving constant rotation on alternative radio.
Now, a decade later and with three critically acclaimed albums under their belt, Flobots are still dedicated to creating and performing anthems for a better world. And in 2017, amidst a nation taking to the streets, for Flobots that means delivering a unique brand of protest songs. Enter NOENEMIES - bringing the songs back to the people.
Founded in 2009 by drummer Jake Huffman and bassist Jason Ott, McLovins launched with a note for note cover of Phish’s Y.E.M that went viral, rocketing the band into overnight notoriety two weeks into its inception. The band capitalized on their newfound and patchouli tinged fame by performing at festivals all over New England, and impressing audiences with their boundless technique; their wunderkind guitarist Jeff Howard still in middle school, but playing like a seasoned professional many times his age.
At the same time that Jason and Jake were becoming locally renowned musicians, Jake and keyboardist Atticus Kelly were attending a performing arts high school in Hartford, Connecticut. Few vestiges of their jazz training remain in their current output, but the musicianship gained at this stage endures. They were in an award winning ensemble that played together four times a week for as many years, both taking home trophies from the Berklee high school jazz competition in 2010.
Following high school, guitarist Justin Berger enrolled at the Hartt School in Hartford, where he met Jason Ott and Atticus Kelly in freshman year music theory class, and a music production course. By this time, founding members Ott and Huffman were looking to reconstitute McLovins in a new form. Atticus, with his longtime musical chemistry with Jake, and Justin, a guitarist with considerable technique and also a delicate sensibility, were obvious choices for musical replacements. In November 2011, the group played together in its newest form for the first time, writing a song called “Birthday” that became a set list staple for many years. It was immediately apparent that something special was happening. In their first few years as a new ensemble, the band would perform all over the northeast, including a short stint as the ESPN Sportsnation house band, playing entrance music for athletes and celebrities. Yet except for a few short tours during school break as undergrads, the band had not hit the road for more than a few weeks.
After graduating from the University of Hartford in 2015, the band decided the next move was to hit the road full time. Around the same time, Emmy nominated television producer cum rock-band manager Michael Novick was looking to grow the music side of his company, and decided that McLovins met all his interests for steering a young group through the perilous terrain that is show business. Novick enlisted his close friend, Grammy award winning producer Bill Sherman (Hamilton, In the Heights, Sesame Street) to work on developing and enhancing the groups sound, with Bill focusing on musical direction and keeping Atticus in check. Since Novick started managing the band, McLovins have shared the stage with artists like George Porter Jr of the Meters, the Gin Blossoms, Robert Randolph, and rock luminaries Perpetual Groove.
In the summer of 2015 the band recorded the self-titled “McLovins” (known by fans as “The Red Album”) in New York City’s East Village. The album represents a culmination of the band’s collective musical journey, produced by Sherman, who set the bar for all further creative output with a field tested sensibility and emphasis on clarity in songwriting; focusing on accessibility without sacrificing the undeniable musicianship of the group.
Sherman’s influence continues to be seen in a series of singles being released by the band culminating in the “People Say” EP set for release in January 2018. Songs like “Great Escape”, “Anxious”, and “One More” tell the story of a young band seeking to find its voice in and an erratic and uncertain world, guided by lessons from the road and knowledge passed down from musical forbearers.