A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Last Waltz Tribute, Cabooze. Twentysomethings outnumbered the gray-haired hippies in this annual treat at the packed bar. Seeing college kids singing their lungs out to "The Weight" and "Forever Young" made me feel that all was good with today's youth.
"Juno" soundtrack. The movie has been getting rave reviews, but to me it's the soundtrack that makes the movie. Simple ditties prove that sometimes less is more.
Bruce Springsteen on YouTube. A simple search of "Springsteen St. Paul" brings up two of the best live fan videos on the Web: "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" from the November show at Xcel Energy Center. I can't wait for his return in March.
DAVE NEVISON, CHAMPLIN
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Radiohead, "In Rainbows." OK, I'm old-school. The download wasn't good enough for me. It's not just the superior fidelity of the CD (I love the rapturous beauty of the slower tunes), but I like to hold the package in my hand, look at the artwork and try to follow the lyrics. My copy is so fresh from the printer that the ink even smelled at first. I still haven't decided if I'm going to put the soft-sided package into a plastic jewel box and affix the stickers that came with it. But I've decided this is an exceptional CD.
Left Lane Cruiser, "Bring Yo' Ass to the Table." This guitar/drums duo from Fort Wayne, Ind., sounds like a whacked-out, backwoods ZZ Top. The lo-fi, hard punk-blues sound is raw, gritty and often ferocious, thanks to singer Joe Evans' aggressive slide guitar and Brenn Beck's minimalist percussion. How could you not like a band that rhymes "Johnson" and "Wisconsin"? A favorite on Radio K (770 AM/106.5 FM/100.7 FM) from its previous Fat Possum CD, Left Lane Cruiser will play the Deep Blues Festival in Lake Elmo in July.
House of Mercy Band, "Never Want You Back." The new seven-song CD "Left Behind" suggests vintage Jayhawks with its country-rock wistfulness, but this stark, outstanding track, featuring Angie Talle on achingly sweet vocals, is like Gillian Welch doing Patsy Cline.
JON BREAM, STAR TRIBUNE