My Top Stuff of 2011

Oh no!! It’s that time again. I have a history of waiting until a month after the end of the year (mostly so I can fit in as many movies as possible, and to speak from a tiny position of perspective – at the cost of some relevance, I know, but I’m really only writing this for myself anyway), and then coming up with the most hilariously long lists that nobody could possibly ever want to read. YOU’RE WELCOME!

I got a new part-time job this year in addition to my Band Mom radio promo (actually, two new part-time jobs), and you’ll see that reflected pretty heavily when we get down to my Top Shows lists. Actually, looking back at my last couple years many of my top stuff of 2009 and 2010 took place at my future places of employment anyway, so it’s not really weird that this kept up once they started paying me to be there. I decided, though I’m keeping the rule that Band Mom Bands are ineligible for the Top Albums list because I couldn’t possibly rank them against each other, that I can’t rule out shows where I worked the door or stage managed for my Top Shows lists, because then there would be almost no shows to consider. You’re still reading??

As always, I never claim stuff on this list is the ‘best’ of the year. Art is impossible to grade on an objective scale, and it’s insulting and ugly to posture as though one could do so. These are just my favorites:


top 15 albums (or eps) of 2010:

  1. the mountain goats – all eternals deck

  2. mister heavenly – out of love
  3. childish gambino – camp
  4. pikachunes – pikachunes
  5. princess chelsea – lil golden book
  6. dolfish – your love is bummin’ me out
  7. david bazan – strange negotiations
  8. man man – life fantastic
  9. m83 – hurry up, we’re dreaming
  10. john vanderslice – white wilderness
  11. st vincent – strange mercy
  12. generationals – actor-caster
  13. destroyer – kauptt
  14. mansions – dig up the dead
  15. bon iver – bon iver

honorable mentions / albums that might have made the list had i spent more time with them (could easily become future favorites):

nick diamonds – i am an attic; cut copy – zonoscope; chain & the gang – music’s not for everyone; tyler, the creator – goblin; toro y moi – underneath the pine; danielson-best of goucester county; lake – you are alone/higher than merry; deerhoof – deerhoof vs evil; ravens & chimes – holiday life; 13 & god – own your ghost; carol bui – red ship; we became actors – something major; jason anderson – summer style; lil wayne-tha carter iv; atlas sound – parallax; usf – the spray; bill callahan – apocalypse; jay z/kanye – watch the throne; eleanor friedberger – last summer; gang gang dance – eye contact; panda bear – tomboy; moonface – organ music not vibraphone like i’d hoped; wild flag – wild flag; nurses – dracula; blackout beach – fuck death; chad vangaalen – diaper island; handsome furs – sound kapital; the new release of brian wilson’s smile.

as mentioned and as always, band mom artists are ineligible for this list because i wouldn’t even begin to know how to rank them; this year that includes a few artists who technically released their albums this year even though i didn’t promote them, YET, but i still at least as of this writing consider them band mom artists and potential future band mom projects: this means you, bright brown, girls in trouble, the loom, and matt bauer. and you, zoe boekbinder, shenandoah davis, tennis pro, terrordactyls, tereu tereu, dc pierson, and joseph keckler. you all released FANTASTIC albums that are tied for number one in my heart, and i love you the most.

top 25 shows (concerts):

  1. lcd soundsystem’s final show @ madison square garden (manhattan ny, april)

  2. mister heavenly w/fort lean, mr dream @ mercury lounge (manhattan ny, november)
  3. WHY? w/serengeti @ florence gould hall, wordless music show (manhattan ny, december)
  4. kid cudi, childish gambino, aloe blacc @ terminal 5 (manhattan ny, june)
  5. john vanderslice, damien jurado @ mercury lounge (manhattan ny, may)
  6. mountain goats w/megafaun @ bowery ballroom (manhattan ny, march)
  7. old 97s @ bell house (brooklyn ny, 2 nights, july)
  8. girls in trouble, calvin johnson, chain & the gang ft fred thomas @ dead herring (brooklyn ny, february)
  9. yo la tengo @ bell house (brooklyn ny, may)
  10. chuck ragan w/ sean o’neill, SHARKS @ bell house (brooklyn ny, may)
  11. crooked fingers @ bell house (brooklyn ny, may)
  12. matt bauer record release show, the loom, melaena cadiz @ union pool (brooklyn ny, june)
  13. robyn hitchcock, john wesley harding also ft ted leo, scott mccaughey (minus 5), sean nelson (harvey danger), peter buck, various decemberists @ bell house (brooklyn ny, november)
  14. wild flag, lee renaldo @ bell house (brooklyn ny, october)
  15. valley lodge w/hrny wrms, walt mink @ bell house (brooklyn ny, july)
  16. peter wolf w/roy sludge @ bell house (brooklyn ny, october)
  17. the thermals w/big troubles, eula @ bell house (brooklyn ny, july)
  18. calvin johnson, damned dogs, generifus @ helsing junction followed by grass widow w/broken water, dogjaw (olympia wa, same day in august)
  19. black moth super rainbow w/marshmallow ghosts, lichens, serengeti @ bell house (brooklyn ny, september)
  20. roadside graves, dinosaur feathers, dolfish, melaena cadiz @ union hall (brooklyn ny, december)
  21. shellac w/helen money @ bell house (brooklyn ny, 2 nights, october)
  22. typefighter w/chris mills, brett harris @ kings (raleigh nc, june)
  23. robbers on high street, poison control center, kleenex girl wonder, north english @ union hall (brooklyn ny, july)
  24. bob mould @ bell house (brooklyn ny, november)
  25.’s, black lips @ bell house, norton records anniversary show (brooklyn ny, november)

working at venues is awesome – it was tough to cut this down to just 25. also i should mention my two first-ever Band Mom Presents shows, which I’m not allowing to count but which were real highlights of my year: 9/17 with mighty moon, lips, pikachunes, and princess chelsea; and 10/22 my very first CMJ showcase with soft punch, mighty moon, bright brown, prairie empire, melaena cadiz, and girls in trouble.

top 50 movies:

  1. the muppets

  2. beginners
  3. we need to talk about kevin
  4. submarine
  5. drive
  6. melancholia
  7. higher ground
  8. hesher
  9. super
  10. take shelter
  11. the tree of life
  12. another earth
  13. like crazy
  14. beyond this place
  15. the catechism cataclysm
  16. bridesmaids
  17. pariah
  18. restless
  19. martha marcy may marlene
  20. the artist
  21. incendies
  22. of gods and men
  23. terri
  24. cave of forgotten dreams
  25. another happy day
  26. attack the block
  27. a good old-fashioned orgy
  28. super 8
  29. uncle boonmee who can recall his past lives
  30. my week with marilyn
  31. j. edgar
  32. the lie
  33. source code
  34. the future
  35. heartbeats
  36. crazy, stupid, love
  37. green hornet
  38. midnight in paris
  39. shame
  40. the skin i live in
  41. our idiot brother
  42. 50/50
  43. the descendants
  44. page one: inside the new york times
  45. hugo
  46. sherlock holmes: a game of shadows
  47. cedar rapids
  48. the girl with the dragon tattoo
  49. exporting raymond
  50. tell them anything you want: a portrait of maurice sendak

honorable mentions (roughly in order; this whole list was initially a numbered top 90 until I realized how ridiculous that is):

the trip; even the rain; moneyball; tinker tailor soldier spy; jane eyre; red state; magic trip; everything must go; conan o’brien can’t stop; ides of march; margin call; the adventures of tintin; take me home tonight; hanna; win win; into the abyss; the debt; pina (3d); detective dee and the mystery of the phantom flame; immortals; paul; horrible bosses; war horse; the adjustment bureau; margaret; potiche; beautiful boy; fubar: balls to the wall; last night; peep world; warrior; the tempest; shut up little man! an audio misadventure; extremely loud and incredibly close; 30 minutes or less; lemmy; the rum diary; rise of the planet of the apes; contagion; in time; pearl jam twenty; arthur; scream 4; the best and brightest.

top NEW actors of the year (as in i’d never heard their names before/never saw them in anything and now they seem like a big deal to me, were each in several things i loved): jessica chastain & benedict cumberbatch

standout actors of the year (who were not new to me, but were in a bunch of stuff i loved and seemed to have a really big year): michael fassbender, emma stone, ezra miller (is he the next paul dano?), tom hardy, john hawkes, and, of course, the gosling.

some notes on movies: in 2011 i saw 279 different movies. 60 of them were in theaters (i paid to see the muppets twice, and doubled up on a ton of others on dvd), and to date i’ve seen 114 movies that came out in 2011 (this includes a few that i watched after the year ended, so they’ll be among the total i report having watched in 2012, but they’re also part of the group of 2011 movies i’m counting as eligible for this best-of list).

as for movies with questionable release dates, i guess the rule i made up is basically that if i saw it in like a festival or limited-engagement special event (like how I saw Spike Jonze’s Maurice Sendak movie in a one-time screening at the Ace Hotel, or Beyond This Place with a live soundtrack by Sufjan and Ray Raposa at BAM) in 2011, even if it didn’t get even limited national release otherwise, it counts for my list, but if i did not see it in a festival before 2011 and its first limited release (any usa release that’s not a specific festival, even if it showed in fests pre-2011) was this year, then it counts. in other words it’s pretty subjective to my perspective, but it had to have its (limited or wide) release begin in 2011 OR be seen by me in a festival or special event (i saw movies at SXSW, tribeca, BAM cinema fest, NYFF and a few assorted micro fests) in 2011.

also of note, i saw 8 movies in 2011 in 3d (immortals, hugo, rio, green hornet, cave of forgotten dreams, adventures of tintin, pina, the dawn treader which came out in 2010 but which i saw in a theater in january). i continue to think it’s a stupid cash grab that almost never adds to the film, but cave of forgotten dreams was by FAR the best use of it i’ve ever seen (hugo takes second place this year; pina also makes a very strong case).

here’s what 1.15 trips to the movie theater a week (plus a few extraneous otherwise tix) looks like, btw:

here’s to beating it in 2012.

although i obviously saw a ton of movies this year, you’ll always miss a few; these are the ones that i suspect might have had a chance at making the above lists had i been able to catch them: a separation, carnage, young adult, the iron lady, miss bala, a better life, anonymous, retreat, circumstance, dirty girl, the devil’s double, tabloid, 13 assassins, certified copy, point blank, the black power mixtape 1967-1975, film socialisme, trust, we bought a zoo, beautiful darling, salvation boulevard, treatment, coriolanus, tyrannosaur, footnote. plus a few of the foreign & doc & those foreign animated oscar nominees which despite all that you see here (this is not a list light on foreigns or docs!) i had somehow never previously heard of. pretty much everything else, if it came out in 2011 and it’s not listed here, it’s on purpose. SO THERE.

saw filmmakers/actors/film-related musicians in person promoting:

-tell them anything you want (spike jonze, catherine keener, lance bangs)

-royal tenenbaums (10th anniversary screening!! w/noah baumbach co-leading a q&a with wes anderson, bill murray, gwyneth paltrow, and anjelica huston)

-beyond this place (q&a with director kaleo la belle, live soundtrack by sufjan stevens & raymond raposa)

-metropolis (alloy orchestra performed live score)

-the catechism cataclysm (i’m not pretending this actually counts but as i was walking in, star steve little was walking out having just completed a q&a for the prior showtime. oh I also did almost exactly this same thing passing by josh radnor doing a q&a for happythankyoumoreplease. damn it)

also as an aside, last year I made up a ‘best sound design‘ category because I felt so strongly about black swan’s and was mad that it was slighted in oscar nominations, and this year I feel the same way about the sound in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.

my 25 favorite comedy shows I saw (in chronological order):

-diddygethard @ ucb 1/14

-the rejection show @ bell house 2/14

-the chris gethard show’s ‘night of zero laughs’ @ ucb 2/19

-‘john and scott’ (lutz & adsit doing improv) @ ucb 2/23

-mr funny pants book release show for michael showalter with eugene mirman, kumail nanjiani, reggie watts, and the a cappella group ‘nonsequitur’ @ bell house 2/27

-marc maron live wtf tapings featuring, among others: sarah vowell, chuck klosterman, fred armisen, bill hader, jonathan katz, jon benjamin, will arnett, tom scharpling, wyatt cenac, horatio sanz, amy sedaris, gabe liedman, elna baker, julie klausner, scott adsit, julian mccullough, seth meyers, morgan spurlock, nick dipaolo, artie lange, ira glass @ bell house: 3/10, 6/1, 7/25, 9/19

-whiplash featuring brent sullivan, robert kelly, nick kroll, eugene mirman, colin quinn and leo allen @ ucb 5/9

-party machine featuring jason sudeikis, jon glaser, nikki glaser, sara schaefer, nick turner, lisa delarios and adira amaram @ union hall 6/25

-mr coconuts, hosted by gabe delahaye, with ted leo and jon friedman, with heather lawless and nick diamonds, and with gabe liedman, max silvestri and jenny slate @ union hall 7/19, 10/18, and 12/20

-literary death match with dave hill, michael showalter and daniel nayeri judging jenny slate, barbara browning, hilary hamann, and mira ptacin @ le poisson rouge 5/25

-‘cool as nice’ with jon friedman and adam wade @ union hall 7/26

-pretty good friends with they might be giants, neil degrasse tyson, patton oswalt, jonathan coulton, eugene mirman @ williamsburg waterfront 7/29

-del close marathon: ny mets monoscene, match game ’76, doug loves movies, the benson interruption, director’s commentary live, raiders in 15 minutes, derrick @ ucb & FIT 8/12-14

-startalk live, hosted by neil degrasse tyson, featuring guests kristen schaal, scott adsit, eugene mirman, john hodgman, alan alda, and astronaut mike massimo @ bell house during eugene mirman comedy fest 9/15 and again 12/18

archer panel with aisha tyler, jessica walter, john benjamin, chris parnell, amber nash, lucky yates, and I think adam reed during eugene mirman comedy festival (which also included an awkward party bus, a petting zoo, and a disastrous drinking game masquerading as the talent show) @ bell house 9/17

-louis ck @ the bell house 9/30

-asssscat with monologist chris kelley and chris gethard, anthony ataman, fran gillespie, neil casey, john gemberling, shannon o’neil, sue galloway, zach woods, jason mantzoukas 10/2

-whiplash with eddie brill, hannibal buress, langhorne slim and reggie watts @ ucb 10/10

-cheap date, hosted by tyler fischer and sharron paul, with sherri shepherd, godfrey, joe mande, and hari kondabolu @ union hall 10/11

-paul f tompkins @ bell house 10/22 and 23

-john hodgman ‘that is all’ book release show with paul rudd, wyatt cenac, jonathan coulton, david rees @ bell house 11/1

-the jukebox with kurt braunohler, julie klausner, ted leo and joe randazzo dueting the pogues, mike doughty rapping ll cool j @ union hall 11/29

-party machine holiday show, hosted by arden myrin and lisa delarios, with seth herzog, michael showalter, eleanor friedberger, bobby tisdale, colin quinn, adira amram and more @ bell house 12/8

-aziz ansari @ bell house 12/10

-wfmu’s seven second delay live with suzanne vega, sandra bernhard covering lou reed’s ‘walk on the wild side’, tao lin @ ucb 12/14

favorite new tv shows:

happy endings

bob’s burgers

jon benjamin has a van

up all night




american horror story (i know. shut up. i loved it. TATE!)

favorite non- new tv shows:

parks & recreation


sherlock (bbc)


adventure time with finn and jake

downton abbey (bbc)

mad men

bored to death

30 rock


childrens hospital


the league

it’s always sunny in philadelphia

(looking forward to breaking bad, luther, justified, and maybe episodes, men of a certain age, and enlightened eventually joining this list…need more hours in the day)

and lastly, some stray cool stuff i did in 2010 that didn’t fit into any of the above categories:

-daniel kitson’s one-man theatrical production ‘the interminable suicide of gregory church’ @ st ann’s warehouse

-michael shannon’s mostly one-man play ‘mistakes were made’ @ barrow street theatre

-cillian murphy’s one-man theatrical production ‘misterman’ @ st ann’s warehouse

-worked on (obviously without much success thus far) how to nonchalantly mention that i’ve met michael stipe, steve buscemi, britt daniel (spoon), andrew bird, norah jones, david johansen (new york dolls), mick jones (the wrestler ‘mankind’), tom kenny (spongebob/heifer/the ice king!), peter salett (musician/actor who co-wrote the forgetting sarah marshall dracula musical), jonathan demme, and about a million other people plus most of those mentioned above working the door of my favorite performance venues in brooklyn

-attended the first taping of ‘pointless’ (name since changed i think?), a pilot for a new game show for IFC hosted by kurt braunohler and with contestants kristen schaal, kumail nanjiani and ethan t. berlin.

-also I did jury duty. or rather i was called in but dismissed without even speaking to anybody. like a real patriot.

-balanced out a grandfather’s funeral in pittsburgh in march with two friend island weddings: congrats ryan & georgia (pawleys island sc in june) and tyrel & sophia (vashon island wa in august)!

the seriously relatively unimportant thing everyone wanted to talk to me about when i went home for christmas:



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One Comment on “My Top Stuff of 2011”

  1. Senta
    February 6, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    You saved the best for last! So glad you’re out in NYC enjoying your life. Keep letting us know what’s up!

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