Paul Fletcher of Cities 97 radio:
1 Pearl Jam voted into the Rock Hall Of Fame. This is incredibly cool but also makes me feel old. We geeks in the Pearl Jam community have always thought the band was one of the true greats. This validates that a bit.
2 Blue October. This is a band and album that have gone underappreciated this year, particularly in the Twin Cities. “Home” is a wonderful piece of work, especially the title track. If you have kids, there’s no way it doesn’t grab ya. And their live show? They leave every drop of sweat on the stage.
3 Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, First Avenue. I missed them every time they played here. This time I was not going to miss. They did not disappoint. It was everything a live show should be. Energy. Passion. All amazing musicians.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Nancy Harms, Crooners. The ex-teacher from Clara City, Minn., has developed into an entrancing jazz vocalist, seducing on sassy Duke Ellington numbers and lonely originals by her pianist, Jeremy Siskind. Highlights: Siskind’s “One Art,” Antonio Carlos Jobim’s elegant “Photograph” and Ellington’s “I Like the Sunrise.”
2 Nachito Herrera and Universals, Dakota. The great Twin Cities Cuban-American pianist gave plenty of solo space to sax man Mike Phillips and violinist Karen Briggs, who, like Herrera, mixes genres in the same musical phrase. Highlight: an instrumental medley of tunes by Prince, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, all of whom employed Phillips.
3 Peter Wolf, Dakota. Buoyed by ace guitarist Duke Levine, Wolf focused on recent midtempo solo tunes, but the hyper, unstoppable showman let it rip on such J. Geils Band faves as “Give It to Me” and “Musta Got Lost.”