Joe Monti of White Bear Lake:

1 John Prine, Northrop. He was big and bent and gray and old. But he still has soft hands which together with his seasoned voice brought a fresh poignancy to his old story-songs.

2 Larry Campbell. Where has this guy been all my life? In the shadows, backing up the likes of Bob Dylan and Levon Helm with his stellar guitar playing. His new album with partner Teresa Williams dropped last week.

3 Bob Seger. If his show-stealing performance at December's Kennedy Center Honors tribute to the Eagles was any indication, we're in for a rocking time on Nov. 15 at the X.


Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:

1 X, First Avenue. Arty, riveting and guitar-licious, punk isn't supposed to sound this great 40 years on. The original quartet from Los Angeles roared, zoomed and conquered.

2 King, Machine Shop. The R&B trio featuring the Minneapolis-bred Strother twins triumphed with their innate musicality in an acoustically challenging room.

3 "Patti Cake$." Sort of New Jersey's answer to Eminem's "8 Mile," this film shows how far hip-hop has come — or hasn't — in 15 years.