Albums of the week

20.02.12 Words by: Charlie Jones

Main Attrakionz – ’808s And Dark Grapes II’ [Type]

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While the digital version was released in August last year, Type’s pressing and release of Main Attrakionz’s ‘808s & Dark Grapes II’ mixtape – as the label did with Clams Casino’s ‘Instrumentals’ – is a pertinent reminder that this is an album that deserves wide recognition. The Oakland duo, along with Lil B, A$AP Rocky and Clams (who, it must be noted, has produced beats for all three), have come to represent the rise of the hip hop underground as a real and increasingly visible alternative to the bloated beats of the mainstream. In contrast, the sound of Main Attrakionz often strays into fluttery, delicate and prettily warped territory, hence the cloud rap tag. It’s the light touch of producers Marlee B (Chosen, Incredible) and Friendzone (Perfect Skies) that most deftly illustrates that the chasm between Main Attrakionz’s 808s and those of Kanye (whose stellar 2010 album the duo reference) is one of stance. While Kanye’s chin is jutted skyward, Main Attrackionz lean calmly. They’re smoked out but sure of themselves; their faith is rooted in their own vision and it seeps out of them, with surprising emotional resonance – Perfect Skies in particular cutting deep. Main Attrakionz know there’s no need for frontin’: this is an album that’s as rich in emotional maturity and creative energy as it is in sonic texture. Believe the hype. [RS]
Listen to Main Attrakionz – ’808s And Dark Grapes’ on Bandcamp, or buy the vinyl from Boomkat

Black Rain – ‘Now I’m Just A Number’ [Blackest Ever Black]
Black Rain were a band in 90s New York made up of two no wave veterans: Stuart Argabright and Shinichi Shimokawa. They made bleaker-than-bleak industrial techno, not a million miles away from people like Raime and Sandwell District now. Astonishingly, they were commissioned to write music for 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic, an absolute turkey of a film, but one that was as cyberpunk as it comes. Now, Blackest Ever Black have compiled their rejected Johnny Mnemonic soundtrack with their work for a William Gibson Neuromancer audiobook. As you’d expect from Blackest Ever, it’s stonkingly good – full of glowering synths, evocative arrangements and brilliantly rumbly drums. It’s pure pulp, grindhouse over arthouse, with an emphasis on huge, usually heavily troubled, emotion over high art (three songs have the words “Lo Tek” in their titles) and no less wonderful for it. [CRJ]
Buy Black Rain – Now I’m Just A Number [Blackest Ever Black]

Perfume Genius – ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ [Turnstile]
Two years on from the release of his strikingly personal debut album ‘Learning’, Seattle singer/songwriter/producer Mike Hadreas returns with a follow up that finds him absolutely putting his titular back into it. Where ‘Learning’ was whispered, ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ soars skywards: not just louder but clearer and stronger. The increase in fidelity echoes Hadreas’s confidence – while the source of much of his pain was cloaked on ‘Learning’, here he is unafraid to name it: All Waters calling out homophobia and Hood the recognisable paranoia that often trips hand-in-hand with love. Timeless and all-embracing, ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ is the promise of ‘Learning’ made good. [RS]
Listen to Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It [Turnstile]

Hood – ‘Cold House’ [Domino]
The third reissue album worth paying attention to this week is the heavyweight vinyl version of Hood’s ‘Cold House’, which first came out in 2001. It’s an absolute classic folktronic album, full of sketched, glitchy guitar music somewhere between The LAs, Why? and Vondelpark, though for whatever reason, they’ve fallen slightly off the radar recently. It’s lovely stuff – immersive yet light, witty yet sincere, smart yet unpretentious – and, whether you’re new to the band or just fancy a reminder, more than worth a listen. [CRJ]
Listen to Hood ‘Cold House’

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