Now that the buzz from their debut has settled, Colorado alt-hop collective Flobots are back with their second album, Survival Story. This time around, they've got acclaimed Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato behind the boards. His presence is felt right away–“Cracks In The Surface” sounds like it could have been a throwaway from Check Your Head. The song also houses one of the best vocal performances from Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit, the group's MCs. On “The Effect,” they take the funky rap-rock sound of early Zebrahead and class it up with Mackenzie Roberts' superb viola skills. Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath makes a solid guest appearance on “White Flag Warrior,” bonding with Flobots over politics, making for a passionate collaboration. While there are many bright spots, there's also a fair share of bland tunes–“Whips And Chains” and “Panacea For The Poison” are just plain boring. Those looking for another “Handlebars” may be disappointed–Survival Story is more mature effort, showing that Flobots' best material may be yet to come.
Universal Republic http://www.flobots.org