October 1, 2009

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Audible Mainframe, Transients
self-released, Aug. 25

Boston is in danger of losing Audible Mainframe to LA after the hip-hop/rock/soul chimera bagged one of the ten finalist spots in the Airwalk/Spin Magazine Unsigned Hero Contest and hatted out for the West Coast, but even if the worst does happen and the band becomes some sort of easily defeated “Boston’s Wu-Tang!” the city at least has this album to look back on. A focus on niche marketing is nowhere present, even if they are ghetto kids with a clear fetish for sounding ’80s-thug – no, it’s not backpack; if there’s any pigeonhole to posit, all the stuff evokes that beloved walk through Fenway-Kenmore on game day, sunny, bright, safe, filled with color, goodness, tradition and surprises. “Money & Flash” sets up a Prince vibe under which emcee Exposition trots out his chalky-throated notion of a born-again-backpacking Chuck D, but from there the crew fire in lots of directions. If Big Papi had a theme song and its chorus was sung by kids, and it had a pretty frickin’ whizzer Daft Punk break in it, it would probably sound exactly like “Subi Alto” (“climb high” in Expo’s native Creole tongue). It’s none too clear whether “Traffic” (feat. a button-cute Jade Ross) is on about being a ghetto kid or getting chicks, but the game-show horn section lends it plenty of hot-pavement steez; Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” gets hijacked by Journey in “Ice Cold” (yes, these tunes are that weird). AEric W. Saeger