Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Mark Lindberg of Minneapolis:
1 Bob Dylan, "Rough and Rowdy Days" and Neil Young, "Homegrown." New releases containing original tunes by these statesmen were enough to make a fan forget about racism and a pandemic for a few minutes. Whether these stack up against their best material is debatable, but their deference to "the muse" remains uncompromising, and that's inspiring.
2 Phish, "Sigma Oasis." What a pleasant surprise when this veteran jam band quietly dropped a new studio album about two months ago. It didn't take long for "A Life Beyond the Dream," with its refrain — "don't give up hope, keep dreaming, keep on dreaming" — to become a personal mantra during these challenging times.
3 Ondara, "Folk n' Roll Vol. 1: Tales of Isolation." This album has really grown on me. Although the production is spare, the lyrics and melodies achingly bring to life scenes and stories of desperation created by the pandemic. Bob Dylan, Ondara's musical hero, would be proud.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 H.E.R., "I Can't Breathe." Against a chill soulful groove, the Grammy-winning singer/guitarist sings about corruption and injustice, oozing deep pain with pointed lyrics and hurt-felt moaning. With her band, she performed a live version of this tune on the iHeartRadio Living Room Series. A quiet song that speaks volumes.
2 Beyoncé, "Black Parade." In her alluring, new epic Afropop-tinged single, Queen Bey sings about her roots, heritage, culture, hometown, motherland and blackness. It's herstory. Follow her lead.
3 Shakura S'Aida, "Takin' It to the Streets" video. The veteran Canadian blues singer has reimagined the Doobie Brothers' 1976 hit as a slow, soulful protest song that puts the emphasis on the words instead of the Doobies' up-tempo groove.