1 Ground Control to Santa Claus! While awaiting the Jan. 8 release of "Blackstar," his second new album in three years, David Bowie fans have a great excuse to geek out over his most fruitful era thanks to what should be this holiday season's most-asked-for boxed set, "Five Years 1969-1973." The massive collection — 12 CDs or 13 vinyl LPs — gathers together six studio albums in one tidy set, including the landmark "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars" and its even better predecessors "Hunky Dory" and "The Man Who Sold the World." Fun extras include the two-disc outtakes/alt-takes collection "Re:Call 1," a 2003 remix of "Ziggy" and the long-bootlegged "Santa Monica '72" live recording.
5 Chef Mike DeCamp is synonymous with the late, great La Belle Vie, and his volcanic talent immediately labeled the new Monello in Hotel Ivy as a restaurant to watch. DeCamp is offering a half-dozen crudo presentations that fully exploit the pristine freshness of the seafood, while introducing a parade of compare/contrast flavors and textures. His second major skill set? Pasta. DeCamp's version of bucatini all'amatriciana is the one to beat locally, with an onion-blasted tomato sauce clinging to long, fluted and perfectly toothy pasta ropes. We could eat it every day and never tire of it. 1115 2nd Av. S., Mpls., monellompls.com
4 Twin Cities all-star trio Mixed Blood Majority's second album, "Insane World," wildly offsets the seething, bleary-eyed view of race relations and socioeconomics (all too timely subjects locally) of co-leaders Crescent Moon and Joe Horton with some of the rowdiest, liveliest, most dance-floor-ready beats of producer Lazerbeak's career. It's as fun a record as it is scary, as visceral as it is provocative. To be released Friday.
2 "Rocky 7," or as it is officially titled, "Creed," is not the brutal boxing melodrama that its trailer promises. This excellent sequel introduces new characters to the series while paying homage to the enduring appeal of its predecessors. The plot is basic: On his way to the championship, journeyman boxer Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) must learn how to protect his fragile soul. Who could be a better mentor than Rocky Balboa? At 69, Sylvester Stallone returns to his archetypal role in a touching, deeply felt performance.
3 The third Cormoran Strike novel, "Career of Evil," begins with the delivery of a severed female leg with chipped nail polish. And it only gets darker and more graphic from there. The thriller by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pen name Robert Galbraith, traces not one but four possible sources for the leg, each a man from Strike's past with a hunger for revenge. "Career of Evil" intersperses the detective work with chapters from the killer's perspective, and the result is a somewhat sprawling journey for readers.