CGT End of Year Lists 2011

Best of Lists, Mouse's Musings

Another year spent mostly looking back. I got caught-up on Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and The Wire (one disc into season 4 as of this writing). My favorite movie experience was watching Il Grande Silenzio, an Italian film that is almost 45 years old. I don’t think I went to go see local music but six or so times, while I reveled at veteran artist sets at Coachella.


I barely listened to new music this year, especially in the second half. I spent a lot of time digging into back catalogues of Archers of Loaf, The Cure, New Order, R.E.M., The National, Superchunk, Guided by Voices, and the first round of Wu-Tang solo records.

Top of the Crop

  1. Manhattan Murder Mystery – S/T (review) (buy) – Half of the LA music blogs named this in their top 5 for the year. The other half can rest assured that the rest of us will stop shoving it down their throats soon. Maybe.
  2. The Decemberists – The King is Dead (buy) – Scotch-Irish influenced Americana is an easy hit with me. I don’t understand people who “used to like The Decemberists”. They’ve only released records as good as their other records! This might be their most sincere effort.
  3. The Henry Clay People – This Is A Desert EP (review) (buy) – The first two songs are as good as indie rawk can ever get.
  4. Apex Manor – The Year of Magical Drinking (buy) – The only record on my list I would universally recommend to everyone I know.
  5. Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (buy) – One of the very few “shared experiences” I believe I’ve had this year is driving on the 101 south past downtown LA while listening to this.
  6. Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams (buy) – Grudgingly included.
  7. Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong (buy) – No one seems to include this on their end of year lists. Why? Everyone loved the first album, the only difference being that… this one is interesting and distinctive?

Worth Mentioning (alphabetized by artist):

  • Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (buy) – Any EitS will do.
  • Fay Wrays – Strange Confessor (review) (buy) – Rage on, aggrobros.
  • Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost (buy) – This thing was so fucking sad, I only listened to it once and never want to hear it again.
  • Guided by Voices – Let’s Go Eat the Factory (buy) – There’s only a handful of really good songs, and I don’t know if the world needed a new classic-lineup Guided by Voices album, but I’m including it as a principled stand on what music should be about. Bands should never be concerned with their legacy, how they’ll be remembered, or what people think of them. Bands should make recordings and play shows.
  • The Parson Redheads – Yearling (buy)
  • Rademacher – Babyhawk (Part I of III) (buy) – See thoughts on GBV above.
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (buy) and Gish (buy) reissues – The out-takes on these are so awesome.
  • Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines (buy)
  • Yuck – ST (buy) – I only first heard it a couple weeks ago. Loved it on a first listen.



Criteria: If the song’s lyrics, melody, or guitar line got stuck in my head then it made the list.

Top 5

  1. “I Always Think About Dyin'” – Manhattan Murder Mystery
  2. “I Always Think About Dyin'” – Manhattan Murder Mystery
  3. “I Always Think About Dyin'” – Manhattan Murder Mystery
  4. “Teenage Blood” – Apex Manor
  5. “California Wildfire” – The Henry Clay People

Also Rans:

  • “All Arise!” – The Decemberists
  • “Bedroom Eyes” – Dum Dum Girls
  • “The Honey Love He Sells” – The Henry Clay People
  • “June Hymn” – The Decemberists
  • “Life’s a Happy Song” – The Muppets (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • “The Stand” – Mother Mother
  • “They Are Always Into That” – Rademacher
  • “When We Storm The Gates We Sing This Song” – Fay Wrays

Just wanted to mention…

  • I had “Mr. November” (The National), a song not from this year, stuck in my head for months after Coachella. Its performance haunted me for the rest of 2011.



Just about all of my favorite shows were at Coachella this year. Though their sets were less memorable, the fest also let me strike Wire, Erykah Badu, The New Pornographers, PJ Harvey, Duran Duran, Broken Social Scene, and Suede off my bucket list. (Well, Suede was great.) It was my favorite Coachella out of seven and I missed most of the first day.

  1. The National @ Coachella 04-17-11 (review)
  2. Archers of Loaf @ The Troubadour 06-04-11
  3. The Henry Clay People @ Coachella 04-16-11 (review)
  4. The Strokes @ Coachella 04-17-11 (review)
  5. Arcade Fire @ Coachella 04-16-11 (review)
  6. Manhattan Murder Mystery @ The Satellite 05/14/11 (review)
  7. Mother Mother @ The Satellite 02-15-11
  8. The Henry Clay People @ The Satellite 05/13/11 and 05/14/11
  9. Big Audio Dynamite @ Coachella 04-16-11 (review)
  10. Prince @ The Forum 04-21-11
  11. Gogol Bordello @ Coachella 04-16-11 (review)



It was a disappointing movie year for me; I liked more movies than in 2010, but my favorites didn’t impress me much. I’ve barely seen any “grown up movies” because so few of them seemed interesting. There was no There Will Be Blood or No Country For Old Men this year. I didn’t get to see Tree of Life or Melancholia.

Fortunately for me, both Fast Five and Transformers 3 transcended their awfulness into a kind of entertainment zen. As I get older, I become less interested in films that reveal some essential Truth, and more interested in movies that celebrate Imagination.

  1. Real Steel
  2. Hugo in 3D
  3. Thor
  4. Super 8
  5. The Muppets
  6. Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol in IMAX 70mm
  7. X-Men: First Class
  8. Your Highness
  9. Fast Five
  10. Drive
  11. Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon in 3D