Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Dave Nevison of Champlin:
1 Todd Snider tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker. The passing of the Texas troubadour in late October brought tributes from across musical genres, but the best is the two-hour livestream from Snider. Great stories and insight, truly a eulogy from a friend.
2 Bruce Springsteen, “Ghosts.” This song from the new “Letter to You” album reflects on the Boss’ old bands and bandmates now gone. The video contains home movies of his high school bands, and the chorus “I’m alive!” is spot-on and worth celebrating.
3 Stevie Van Zandt’s Twitter feed. No aging rocker wears his political heart on his sleeve better than Little Steven. His feed since election night has been priceless.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Allie McIntosh, “Someday When I Go.” This 14-year-old Eden Prairie singer/songwriter/violinist/pianist has skills beyond her years. With a flair for catchy hooks, lyrical detail and adolescent emotion, McIntosh delivers this goodbye song in a mature voice that sounds equal parts Adele and Camila Cabello. She took a songwriting course at NYU, posted a pro-looking video and enlisted a Minneapolis talent manager who works with Poliça and Sophia Eris. McIntosh doesn’t have a publicist, but her proud aunt sent me an e-mail with a link to this remarkably encouraging project and her “Purgatory Rd” EP.
2 Arlo Parks, “Hurt.” Accompanied by a snare drum over a spare synth track, the buzzy 20-year-old Brit delivers a mesmerizing minimalist anthem for the numbing isolation of 2020. It won’t hurt so much, she assures.
3 Sun Ra Arkestra, “Swirling.” On their first studio album in 20 years, the late Ra’s ensemble, under the direction of 96-year-old saxophonist Marshall Allen, keeps the flame burning. Even though their Afrofuturism doesn’t sound freakishly futuristic anymore, these vintage Ra compositions are still intergalactically cosmic.