A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Bill Childs, host of sparetherock.com:
1 Vial, "Loudmouth." This record is 31 minutes of punk and pop and new wave and, yes, keytar and it's perfect. If their mighty first-ever headlining set at the 7th Street Entry on Halloween Eve was a sign of what's to come, there are a lot of massive nights ahead for this Minneapolis band. They're at First Avenue on Dec. 10.
2Divinity Roxx, "Ready Set Go." Beyoncé's bassist has released her first album aimed at families, focused on positivity. It's a blast and a great example of the increased diversity of family music in the past few years.
3The Suburbs and Suicide Commandos, New Year's Eve at the Palace Theatre. My first-ever club show was the Suburbs' "farewell show" back in 1987. I'm glad that farewell didn't stick. I'm not a big New Year's Eve party guy, but a chance to see them with the equally legendary Commandos is too good to pass up.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, "Raise the Roof." Fourteen years after their unlikely and splendid Grammy-winning "Raising Sand," these star singers finally reunite. While this follow-up is more low-key, they shine when they sing lead together (Calexico's "Quattro," Lucinda Williams' "Can't Let Go") and when Plant almost cuts loose alone (the bluesy original "High and Lonesome," "Somebody Was Watching Over Me").
2 Taylor Swift's "All Too Well" on "Saturday Night Live." Nine years after releasing the first treatment of this song, she offered the full 10-minute rendition, as featured on the new "Red (Taylor's Version)." Performed in front of a short film of the tune, this riveting marathon was even angrier than the original, a scorching kiss-off that rivals Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind" for an intensely grinding revilement.
3 Osborne Brothers' "All Night" at the Armory. For their encore, the country duo and their band dressed up in outfits covered with day-glow paint (under black lights) and partied with 15-foot-tall skeleton puppets. Halloween or not, it was a trick and a treat.
To contribute: firstname.lastname@example.org.