1 It's an old Gordon Lightfoot song that the guys learned from a Nico record, but the Replacements make "I'm Not Saying" unmistakably their own. One of five new recordings featured on the Minneapolis legends' "Songs for Slim" benefit EP — available for download Tuesday following a special-edition release in January — the track kicks off with a perfect bit of guitar slop and never loses its loose energy, even as Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson tighten down the song's rich melodic punch. It sounds like it could have been an outtake from 1985's "Tim" album. www.SongsForSlim.com
2 Who knew serious Twin Cities actor Sun Mee Chomet also possesses sterling comedic chops? In "Elemeno Pea" at Mixed Blood Theatre, she plays an overeducated, underemployed social worker who is toiling at Olive Garden and goes to visit her sister, who works at an idyllic seaside compound on Martha's Vineyard. Going after her role with gusto and spot-on timing, Chomet is a lynchpin in this charmingly combustible comedy. www.mixedblood.com
3 Sonali Deraniyagala's devastating memoir, "Wave," opens with the author and her family being swept away in the 2004 tsunami. Only she survived. Her parents, husband and two young sons all died. From that vivid and horrific opening, Deraniyagala's book spirals into bald anguish. Why read something so excruciating, so raw? The power and honesty of the author's words; the loving picture she paints of those two lively boys; the relief of her slow, slow healing. The sorrow and the pain and the beauty in this book never end.
4 Founded by German-born Chris Strachwitz in 1960 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Arhoolie Records is the ultimate roots label. Over the course of more than 600 albums, Arhoolie introduced music lovers to blues, folk, bluegrass, zydeco, Tejano, jazz and gospel. In 2011, the label celebrated its 50th anniversary with a three-day festival, which is chronicled in "They All Played for Us," a book with four exquisite-sounding CDs of music (nearly five hours) and more than 200 photos. From the spirited slide guitar of Ry Cooder and folk protest of Country Joe McDonald to the jaunty Cajun of the Savoy Family Band and the earthy blues of Taj Mahal, this is a terrific document of American music.
5 Walker Art Center's "Painter Painter" showcases the works of 15 mostly thirty-something artists. A disarming do-it-yourself sensibility lends the show a certain innocence. Most of the art looks improvised and unfinished. All the tropes of abstraction are on view. Minneapolis' own Jay Heikes pushes painting into sculpture by hanging a bunch of curious whatnots (grooved dowel, lavender fabric, etc.) on a wall as if they were tools. The best pieces inject fresh ideas into a long dormant field. www.walkerart.org