This month, our editors and staff have shared our favorite songs, albums, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and kitchen gear of 2011. Today, 10 of our contributors share their favorite albums and other things: from rhizomes in the refrigerator to singing, drinking, and hunting groups.
James Tadd Adcox, The Best of Everything 2011
10. Putting ginger in the refrigerator if you’re not going to use it right away. Otherwise, it starts to mold, like, real quick.
9. The Moby Dick shirt that the writer Robert Kloss is rocking for his interview on HTMLGIANT. At first I thought maybe he made it himself, with a sharpie (which would’ve moved it higher up the list), but at second glance, it appears to be printed. His book How The Days of Love & Diphtheria is really good, too.
8. David Lynch’s recipe for quinoa, included as a short film on the DVD extras for Inland Empire. Did the Inland Empire DVD come out in
2011? I can’t be bothered to check. But I got the DVD in 2011, and that’s what counts, as far as this list is concerned. Speaking of which:
7. All the books that didn’t come out in 2011, but that I just got around to reading this year. Particularly Celine’s Journey to the End of the
Night. That shit killed me.
6. Drive was pretty good, wasn’t it? I mean, I liked it. [Good soundtrack, too. -eds]
5. This somewhat NSFW video that Meghan Lamb made out of a story that I submitted to the online journal Red Lightbulbs. It inspired possibly my favorite youtube comment ever: “what in actual fuck is this shit???????? can this even be on youtube??”
2. Binder Clips
1. The basic optimism implied by this man, who would have us believe that A, there is a future, and B, people in said future dress basically like Dr. Who.
Django Haskins, Best Albums of 2011
10. Tom Waits, Bad As Me.
9. Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What
8. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues,
7. Sarah Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes (Actually, this is a book.)
6. REM, Collapse Into Now
5. Megafaun, Megafaun
4. Nick Lowe, The Old Magic
3. Jonathan Wilson, Gentle Spirit
2. Floating Action, Desert Etiquette
1. Dex Romweber, Is That You in the Blue?
Paul Houseman, Best Small Press Regional Non-Fiction Books
7. The Haunted Quilts of Wisconsin. By Gretchen James ($19.95, Mundo Gordo Press). Gretchen James goes undercover to report on some of the most famous (and infamous!) haunted bedspreads and sheets in the Dairy State.
6. Nebraska: Where Is It? By Robert Shingeldorf ($12.95, Corn Cob Press). Bob Shingeldorf gives readers the history and highlights of both of points of interest in Nebraska, confirms its existence, and shows how to find this alleged State on a map.
5. Midriff: Essays on Female College Undergraduate Dress in the Early 21st Century. Ed. Prof. H.H. Humbert ($25, University of Arizona Press). From bare midriffs to Empire waisted mini-dresses, this collection of essays includes the best papers presented at the 2007 “Conference on Conformity: Like, That’s a Great Top!”
4. Fairies in the Prairies! By Bunny Olmstead ($11.95, Fairy House Publishing). An informative guide to the 17 fairy rings of McKittrick County, Iowa. With 2 color photos!
3. Demon Combine: The Possessed Tractors of Northern Michigan. By Elmer Gantry ($17.99, Kalscheur Farm Implement Press).
From Hayward to Rhinelander, author Elmer Gantry explores possessed farm machinery–from the “Devil Deere” combine in Prentice to the “New Holland Death Discer” of Boulder Junction.
2. Go Mighty Milkers! By Coach Naughton ($12, Mount Pleasant High School Press). Chronicles the rise and fall of the 1987 Mighty Milkers junior varsity football team. Includes a 10 page trivia section: see if you know which sophomore halfback scored 3 points against Farmington or how old cheerleader Mandy Simmins was when she was impregnated by star quarterback Dale Hutchins!
1. Green Bay Yellow Pages. By Anonymous. ($0, TDS Metrocom). A gripping, if at times repetitive, look at the names and numbers that shape the 920 area code.
Jim Knable, Top 10 Singing, Drinking, and Hunting Groups
10. Dead Poet’s Society—Redefining Barbaric Yawp and Sweaty Toothed-Mad-Man for a generations. Redefining Robin Williams as sensitive as well as funny, until he became just silly. Didn’t you do something like the DPS in college or high school, too? Or was that just me?
9. M.A.S.H/Catch-22/V (Pynchon, not aliens)—Men drink (The Swamp) during wartime (Major Major Major) and using prosthetic breasts as beer taps (not to mention V. using a stick shift). They also sing songs.
8. The Big Chill—I still want to hang with all those guys. I can’t help it. Nostalgia is intoxicating. And William Hurt does drugs and shares.
7. The Algonquin /Paris in the 20’s/Greenwich Village in the 50’s— Writers, artists, Bohemians. Yes, real people, but now transformed into Barnes and Noble fictional decoration. Not to be confused with Brooklyn in the 2000’s.
6. The Walking Dead and all apocalypse survivors— They hunt zombies. The zombies hunt them. Sometimes the zombies are just unfriendly people, sometimes they’re undead. At some point they all get drunk and remember the old days before the zombies.
5. The Hobbit—Those crazy drunken dwarves. I haven’t read it since I was twelve. It doesn’t matter. I just saw the trailer for the movie.
4. Blood Meridian—Weird Western men hunt scalps and get murdered by the Judge and his Idiot. See number 2 for inspiration.
3. Animal House—Toga. Donald Sutherland and Karen Allen not reprising their roles from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hulce. Belushi. “Shout!” Folk-singer guy. “College”
2. Moby-Dick—Hunting the whale, eating the chowder, reinventing the novel. “Its wood could only be American.” These guys like to throw harpoons together.
1. The Odyssey: The suitors who won’t stop eating and drinking and then die awful deaths, and Odysseus’ men, who also die awful deaths (after being turned into animals and other stuff).
Franklin Laviola, Top 5 Albums of 2011
5. The Beach Boys, The Smile Sessions: A monument to the American pop music sound and the best album NOT released in 1967.
4. P.J. Harvey, Let England Shake: The British singer-songwriter’s fierce battle cry is perhaps the finest album of her career.
3. Tom Waits, Bad As Me: Is Waits ever less than great? Further proof that each new release from him is a major event.
2. Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): From melodic synthpop classics “Under Your Spell” and “A Real Hero” to Cliff Martinez’s atmospheric Brian Eno/Tangerine Dream-inspired original score, filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn compiled a retro-themed blast of a playlist to accompany and heighten his action noir fairy tale
1. R.E.M, Collapse Into Now: The best overall album of 2011 and a perfect farewell for America’s greatest rock ‘n roll band
Gina Myers, Top 10 Albums of 2011
The truth is, I don’t listen to a lot of new music—which is weird to admit on a site devoted to music. I like classic soul and Motown, rockabilly, blues, bluegrass, and country. There are current musicians and bands that I like whose new albums I look forward to, but it is rare that I discover someone new—mostly because I’m not looking. So when I was asked to put together a list of my top 10 albums of the year, I knew it would be a challenge because I wasn’t sure that I had even heard 10 albums released in 2011. My list includes some old favorites who had new releases as well as some new discoveries. It also includes one EP, which doesn’t belong on a list of albums, but definitely belongs among the best things I’ve heard this year.
10. Mayer Hawthorne, How Do You Do?
9. Mastodon, The Hunter
8. Royce da 5’9, Success is Certain
7. Social Distortion, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
6. Alabama Shakes, Alabama Shakes (EP)
5. Drive By Truckers, Go-Go Boots
4. Tom Waits, Bad as Me
3. Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain’t Over
2. Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin’
1. Beach Boys, Smile
Alex Nackman, Top 10 Albums of 2011
10. Florence And The Machine, Ceremonials
9. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong
8. Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost!
7. Eddie Vedder, Ukulele Songs
6. Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On: Super Deluxe Edition
5. Wilco, The Whole Love
4. Radiohead, King of Limbs
3. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
2. Noel Gallagher, High Flying Birds
1. M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Roscoe Nicholson, Top 10 Albums of 2011
10. St Vincent, Strange Mercy
Jeff Wilser, Top 10 Not-Books, Not-Music, Not-Movies of 2011
8. Murakami’s 1Q84. A book so good that it can even make a not-book list. The rare 800-page literary doorstop that’s somehow a page-turner.
7. The new hit reality TV Show: “Who Wants to Be a Republican Nominee!” complete with talent contests, judges, and even a cameo from Donald Trump. Best reality show ever.
6. Qwikster. As Slate’s John Dickerson said: “Qwikster, that makes sense, it’s for all those Hipsters who use Quicken.”
5. The fact that grownups used the phrase “Super-Committee” with a straight face. Of course they failed. They had to fail. They were named by a five-year-old. They might as well have been called the “Wee Wee Group.”
4. Siri. A first for Apple: launching a feature that’s been under-hyped. From-the-Hip-Prediction: 10 years from now we’ll look back at this as a watershed breakthrough in AI. Or…we’ll look back at this like we do the Newton.
3. Occupy Wall Street. Because it’s fun to see New Yorkers rally—passionately—behind an abstract concept we only kinda sorta understand.
2. 9. 9. 9. Comedy gold. I’ll miss him.
1. The implosion of the Miami Heat. We all love a good villain, and Lebron James is our best villain since Dick Cheney.
David Wilson,Top 10 Albums of 2011
10. Tom Waits, Bad as Me
9. Yuck, Yuck
8. Cass McCombs, Wit’s End
7. Low, C’mon
6. Nick Lowe, The Old Magic
5. Jason Isbell, Here We Rest
4. Death Grips, Ex-Military
3. Joe Henry, Revelry
2. PJ Harvey, Let England Shake
1. Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest