A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
The Orwells, "Remember When." Music overflowing with pop-punk angst. Can't wait for these kids to graduate from high school so they can finally tour.
Matthew E. White, Varsity Theater. Soul and Southern rock with a '70s vibe. This was a perfect example of why you should come to shows early enough to catch the opening band. (The Mountain Goats headlined.)
ZZ Ward, "Til the Casket Drops." She's a young singer with a huge voice like Beth Ditto and Alicia Keys. Her debut album shows off her powerful range with song genres that stretch from bluesy rock to hip-hop.
CHRIS DUMPERT, Minneapolis
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Bruce Springsteen's second night, Xcel Energy Center. After opening with "I'm a Rocker," the Boss truly rocked out. This show was less about promoting the message of the new "Wrecking Ball" material (which had seemed part of his mission Sunday) and more about having fun and playing some obscure nuggets ("Stolen Car," a full band "Devils and Dust") and old favorites ("E Street Shuffle," "Jungleland," "Murder Incorporated" with Stevie Van Zandt's roof-rattling guitar) to thrill the hard-core fans. Even though one-third of the 27 songs were repeated from the first night, this show felt so different it was as if the two nights were one big 52-song concert with a 21-hour intermission.
Phillip Phillips, First Avenue. Playing at the "Cities 97 Sampler" release party (he's not on the disc), the 2012 "American Idol" winner sounded like a Dave Matthews wanna-be until he shifted into his hit "Home," which made him sound like a one-man Mumford & Sons. He could be better than your average "Idol."
Electric Guest, "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." Falsetto-inclined Asa Taccone led his young L.A. quartet through "This Head I Hold," an alluring dream-pop-soul stroll that made him sound like a boyish Mayer Hawthorne.
JON BREAM, STAR TRIBUNE