My favorites of 2011

Here are my favorite albums, television shows and films of 2011. Enjoy.

5 albums:

1. Camp – Childish Gambino
A great first “official” album from Donald Glover that might not be as good as his EP, but offers a unique look into hip-hop: no  samples, no overhyped collaborations, just Donald and his friends doing what they do best.
For fans of: doing shots of whiskey, Asian girls, self-conscious revelations
Top tracks: “Heartbeat,” “Backpackers,” “Kids (Keep Up)

2. Happy Hour at Sprigg’s: Volume One – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s
Richard Edwards is a master when it comes to crafting songs and it’s a real treat to hear him do a set solo and acoustic to appreciate songs from the “new Margot” era.
For fans of: wool-knit caps, intricate stories, raw honesty
Top tracks: “A Journalist Falls In Love With Death Row Inmate #16,” “There’s a Freakshow Downtown,” “Freakflight Speed”

3. Never Trust a Happy Song – GROUPLOVE
This group of friends just wants to have fun and that’s exactly what they do on this poppy album. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they have serious skills
For fans of: laying on the beach, grabbing a bite to eat with friends, staying energetic
Top tracks: “Lovely Cup,” “Slow,” “Betty’s a Bombshell”

4. Everything is Saved – David Wax Museum
Mexicana-folk which contains slow, melodic songs as well as flashy upbeat songs. David Wax and Suz Slezak are unique indivuduals who have provided a unique sound.
For fans of: traditional folk, quirkiness, history class
Top tracks: “Unfruitful,” “Yes, Maria, Yes,” “Lavender Street”

5. Running from a Gamble – Company of Thieves
Amazing vocals, epic guitars and rocking percussion. They’re the most non-traditional traditional rockers around. The album is good, but the group is leaps and bounds better live.
For fans of: hand claps,  cinematic adventures, falling in love for all the right reasons
Top tracks: “Never Come Back,” “Gorgeous/Grotesque,” “Syrup”

5 shows:

1. Community – NBC
What is there to say about this show? It’s clever and the pop culture references are on another level. While the characters are sometimes caricatures, it works for the show and Abed perhaps the greatest character in this millennium. The only thing that can stop this show is the looming TBA return for the third season. NBC better recognize that the viewership is skewed because Nielsen ratings are a conspiracy.
Favorite episodes: “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” (2.14), “Regional Holiday Music” (3.10)

2. How I Met Your Mother – CBS
It’s Friends, but smarter and more complicated. I love the mystery even though a lot of fans are growing weary of how long it has been dragged on. Even if discovering who the mother truly is has taken a backseat, the characters are still some of the realest on television.
Favorite episodes:  “The Perfect Cocktail” (6.22), “Ducky Tie” (7.03)

3. Dexter – Showtime
Whether the recently-wrapped sixth season was the best in the series or not is not even a real question (it’s not). It may have been slow, but I don’t mind slow. It built towards the biggest plot development since Rita’s death. There’s two seasons left and the finale was basically a pilot for the remaining 24 episodes.
Favorite episode: “Just Let Go” (6.06), “This Is the Way the World Ends” (6.12)

4. Wilfred – FX
It’s not amazing, but it’s interesting. I appreciate the freshness of the comedy and find the dark undertones to be surprisingly pleasant. The first season has a lot of bumps along the way, but it’s another show that will become a cult hit.
Favorite episodes: “Acceptance” (1.04), “Anger” (1.08)

5. The Killing – AMC
Sure, the show relied on a ton of red herrings and the first season finale frustrated me, but I can not wait for the second season to premiere. If you haven’t checked this out yet, I’d give it a shot.
Favorite episodes: “Pilot” (1.01), “Vengeance” (1.07)

5 films:

1. Midnight in Paris – Sony Picture Classics
I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t seen a lot of films this year. It’s sad, I know, but even if I saw all of the Oscar-favorites, I still believe Woody Allen’s comedy would be my top choice. It captured my desire to be in a different time period and explores delicate emotions that I connect with so well.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two – Warner Bros.
Okay, let’s be real: Harry Potter was my life. Without JK Rowling’s epic saga, I’m pretty sure I’d be a different person than I am now. It opened my eyes to a new genre. I hated the idea of the boy wizard up until a certain age and while I may have been late to the party, I never looked back.

3. Super 8 – Paramount/Bad Robot
Nostalgia. That’s why this film works so well for me. It’s time period is prior to my lifetime, but the emotions evoked are timeless. I feel we all want to go back to our childhood. We all want to relive that moment that changed our lives forever. This film is more than whether or not the monster was scary or not. So stop whining about how cheesy it looked.

4. Martha Marcy May Marlene – Fox Searchlights
I always like these dark, non-linear films. I initially thought, “Eh, I would have liked to see this story told in a traditional way” but then realized it wouldn’t have worked. If you have seen this film, let’s talk about…well, the entire film. I have a feeling I read it a lot differently than most.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Columbia/MGM
Maybe this made the list because I just saw it yesterday. I love the mystery of the first novel/film. I wish the rest of the trilogy was more like this, but understand the story is more about Lisbeth than anything. I just rather it not be. Rooney Mara’s transformation was terrific. I viewed her as the cute girl next door, but not anymore. She blew me away.

I promise I’ll blog more in 2012. Until then!

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