Headphones: Mac Makes Love Work

In another relatively slow news weak, we bring you the latest in this week’s Headphones column.


The Red Hot Chili Peppers are officially back on the road, as they have announced a new 2017 North American tour in support of their latest album, ‘The Getaway’.  The tour kicks off in San Antonio, Texas, before moving north to explore the rest of the country and Canada.  The group’s touring life had remained relatively dormant the last few years, with only a festival stop here and there as well as a popular performance at the Super Bowl.  Opening for them, are up and coming underground favorites Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue.  Tickets go on sale September 21st at 10am. 

Looking at the charts, country music is back in the swing of things behind their sales juggernaut Jason Aldean, who earned the #1 album with his latest release They Don’t Know.  It’s the first country album since November of last year to reach the top spot in the charts, when Chris Stapleton took his ‘Traveller’ all the way to #1.  This isn’t anything new for Aldean however, as this is the third time in a row his records have climbed the latter to #1.  ‘They Don’t Know’ charted with 138,000 official album sales, with 131,000 physical albums sold, an impressive number in todays streaming world.  Behind it at #2 is the familiar ‘Views’ album by Drake, which still managed 59,000 units altogether. 

Lastly, Bon Jovi received a special commemoration this week, as he was named ‘Legend of Live’ at the annual Billboard Touring Conference.  The event will be held November 9th in Beverly Hills.  This award is one of the more prestigious in the music community.  It is dedicated to artists who are committed to “recognizing professionalism and steadfast commitment to the arts and craft of live performance.”

Album of the Week: The Divine Feminine: Can Mac Miller show his soft side?  That is really the question as you make your way through this more mature album from the Pittsburg rapper.  The album opens over subtle piano bar music, where Mac tries to serenade and spit bars all at the same time. We haven’t seen jazz as prevalent in a rap album since the release of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, and that’s a hard act to follow.  Does it work always? No.  But it does have its spectacular moments.  Mac even uses Kendrick on the finale of the album, a funky track titled ‘God is Fair, Sexy Nasty.’  Kendrick is in familiar territory as he seems to always kill his features, but the duo makes for an impressive tandem.  Another track that stands out is Cinderella, which features Ty Dolla Sign.  The song turns into a funky jazz/rap ballad, where Mac seems to grow up right in front of us.  Is he Tony Bennett singing over the piano? Definitely not, but it makes for a refreshing new sound in todays world of rappers that all try to sound like each other.  Kudos to Mac for trying something new.

Music Videos

Hip/Hop: No Limit – Usher: Usher’s Back! This is the second time he’s made it into our weekly video playlist, this time recruiting Yung Thug to spice up his latest single

R&B: LUV – Torey Lanez: Torey Lanez is this columns dark horse currently.  Fresh his first studio album release, he is quickly becoming a favorite among the rap community, despite not being a full fledged rapper.  His sound is more similar to The Weeknd, as evidenced in ‘LUV.’  Check him out before he blows up.

EDM: I Got The Keys – Calvin Harris: Back with his mix of saucy beats and bombastic melodies, Harris is ready to get you into the groove on the dance floor.

Pop: Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes: A heartthrob and songwriter all in one. Mendes returns on our weekly video playlist with this catchy and heart felt ballad.

Noteworthy: Use Your Illusion I & II turn 25: In this week’s Noteworthy, we honor the 25th anniversary of the Use Your Illusion release.  At the peak of their creativity Guns N Roses was a once in a generation band.  On stage they possessed the skill and savvy that leaves us with a ‘what if’ taste in our mouths.  Fresh off their historic ‘Appetite For Destruction’ release, the band could have easily just put out something just to sell, but they didn’t.  What we got instead was a double release of ‘Use Your Illusion I & II.’  In the midst of much band tension, the band released one of the most creative and inventive albums in rock music history, and the sales showed.  The second of the two debuted at #1 on Billboard in 1991, with the first volume following at #2.  The albums produced fan favorite songs like ‘Civil War’, ‘Estranged’, ‘November Rain’ and the covers of ‘Knockin On Heavens Door’ and ‘Live And Let Die.’  Crazy to think it’s been 25 years since the release of one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

This Week’s Playlist: This week we are introducing a new facet to our weekly column, with a new playlist for each Headphones column.  Much of it will cover songs talked about in the weekly column, as well as personal favorites we’re hearing that we’d think you’d like.  So check them out!

1.     Cinderella (feat. Ty Dolla Sign) – Mac Miller: My personal favorite off the ‘Divine Feminine’ album.  The song rides behind Ty’s catchy hook, and Mac thrives rapping behind the song’s simple backing.

2.     Way Back – Travis Scott: Another favorite off the recently featured ‘Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’.  While Scott may not be able to rap as good as some of his peers, he shows his lyricism is among the elite.

3.     Fantasy – Alina & Galimatias: This duo works as a trippier and more intimate sound equivalent of Jhene Aiko.  The music itself rivals Glass Animals with its bubbly and introspective sound.

4.     Whiskey – Marian Hill: You will simply squirm as you follow Marian Hill’s voice over a simple drums and seductive vocals.  A modern take on blues and alternative music.

5.     Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes: Modern blues rock n roll at it’s peak.  The Alabama group has moved into private air as one of the only groups to thrive in the genre in this decade.  The vocals are unrivaled and with relatively low competition in the genre, they stand out.