A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

The Hold Steady, Fargo Theatre. Franz Nicolay was allowed to use the theater's organ for a spiritual version of "Two Crosses." For a group of nerds in their mid-30s, they sure know how to rock.

Detroit Lakes music scene. For a town of 8,000 people in outstate Minnesota, landing the Flaming Lips, Rascal Flatts, George Clinton, Kenny Chesney, Sugarland and Taylor Swift within a three-week span is pretty extraordinary. The Soo Pass Ranch is an excellent outdoor venue, set between the lakes and woods.

MTV's "FNMTV." The show features eclectic performances, from Lil Wayne and She & Him to LL Cool J and the Ting Tings. Even though the production and host Pete Wentz are a little over the top, it's still a fantastic attempt to bring back music video clips.


Jonas Brothers, Rolling Stone. Jason Gay's well-written cover story digs a little deeper into the Jonas phenomenon, discussing their religious background, purity rings, Nick's diabetes and their offstage lives. OMG, great stuff!

Jamey Johnson, "That Lonesome Song." An award-winning country songwriter, Johnson is a bad boy in the outlaw tradition, who, at his best, writes like Kris Kristofferson and delivers his songs like Waylon Jennings. "Lonesome" is a diamond in the rough.

Hootie & the Blowfish, Minnesota Zoo. Even with a more twangy bent, these 1990s heroes are a tight, spirited live band with swell vocal harmonies and a still-captivating lead singer -- even if Darius Rucker's new cowboy image seems forced. Highlights were the covers of R.E.M., Led Zeppelin and Oasis -- a sign of a top-notch live band.