Quasimoto – Yessir Whatever (2013)
Without fanfare or pre-release hype, Madlib aka Quasimoto dropped a brand new album of material on us. His first proper Quasimoto release since 2005’s The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, Madlib collects 12 outstanding tracks that have been recorded over the last 12 years. His beats and mc skills are front and center including the pitch shifted flow that has become a staple of the Quasimoto sound. Where the two previous Quasi efforts were sprinkled with longer track lists filled with incomplete ideas and snippits, Yessir Whatever cuts out the fat a delivers 12 strong hip hop tracks. It is great hip hop without the annoyance of mind numbing repetition or chorus’s filled with deliberate ear worms instead of intelligent rhymes and words. Only 2 of the tracks reach past the 3 minute mark which keeps you from “sameness” fatigue (I am looking at you Aesop Rock) and the mixture of Madlib’s real voice with his pitch shifted voice helps keep things fresh.
Broad Factor easily rivals Microphone Mathematics as Quasi’s greatest song and it is the album opener! Youngblood and Astronaut are great nod’s to funk and the great hip hop of the 90’s. While the beats are as strong as ever it is Madlib’s MC skills that are noticeably stronger and Yessir finds him delivering with a confidence that he only showed spots of on previous efforts. Modern hip hop has programmed us to expect exhausting track lists that only command 1/2 of our attention, but with Yessir Whatever Madlib dropped the filler and gave us 12 of his strongest tracks to date. Score – 9.5/10
Glenn Jones – My Garden State (2013)
My Garden State opens with the sound of wind chimes oscillating in the breeze and you are transported to the front porch of Glenn’s New Jersey home where he cared for his mother. It is the perfect setup for the banjo plucked Across The Tappan Zee which sounds like a guitar player using his style to play the banjo and that is what makes it more intimate. Expecting the softly plucked notes from Glenn’s guitar, a banjo detour helps fracture the predictability that can be attributed to any John Fahey disciple. My Garden State shows its hands early because it is at its core a Glenn Jones acoustic album yet as a big fan of the genre, even my skeptical ears haven’t grown tired of his work. It is an all instrumental album that takes you inside a world that you imagine when you see a Charles Wysocki painting. What separates Glenn Jones from the rest is his ability to place a odd turn to a nice melody, as in Bergen County Farewell which places high notes with some great chord changes. Yes, all of the acoustic plucking is there and is enjoyable, but there is that extra “feeling” that prevents boredom. Each track has a nice story built in with the name but I quickly imagined The Vernal Pool as a rough sketch b-side instrumental from Led Zeppelin IV instead of this, but hey that is never a bad thing.
His excellent previous album The Wanting felt at home in wide open spaces as the acoustic strings rang out as if in a cavernous space and My Garden State takes you to that lonely road or porch swing. The only downside of the album is its short length. Take away the opening and closing Chimes and Chimes II and you are left with 8 instrumental tracks that fly by in an instant, but it is a very enjoyable instant. Glenn’s Garden State is as a fond farewell to the home another great album from one of modern days best acoustic guitarist. Score – 8.0/10