Cass McCombs: Woke folk for the patient few

Singer-songwriter Cass McCombs wants you to think hard about the world we're living in. Women, war, mental illness, your Friday night -- "Netflix and die," he hisses on his latest batch of gorgeous postmodern head-scratchers and early candidate for album of the year, "Mangy Love" -- so many issues deserve far more attention than they get.

Mac Miller can’t quite find his lane on “The Divine Feminine”

Mac Miller experiences a bit of imposter syndrome on “The Divine Feminine,” his latest release about all things love. Sure, he’s proven his creative stamina in the rap game on previous projects that put him ahead of the rap fray, but we hear too much Chance The Rapper (“Soulmate,”), Kendrick Lamar, who crops up on “Stay” and the final performance of “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty.” Ty Dolla $ign brings home the point of finding strength in softness and the importance of balancing yin and yang on “Cinderella.” Mac Miller gets away with more than two cheesy metaphors here, but the production saves him, as it does on several other spots on the album. Sure, these songs are good with their layered production and Mac Miller’s textured voice, but the entire project lacks in originality.

McCaslin and “Blackstar” bandmates uphold Bowie’s fearless creativity

Musician Donny McCaslin has been awarded Grammy nominations for his improvisational and intensely emotional saxophone solos.

 “You’re not trying to impress, you’re trying to express,” McCaslin said in our recent interview with him about his approach to playing.

 It seems fitting a musician with that kind of sensibility was chosen as the bandleader for David Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar,” since our impression of Bowie the star often threatened to outshine what he tried to express as a musician.