Once again, I have actually waited for the year to end to publish my favorites of the year. Please note: these are my favorites, not the best, as my taste usually does not line up with the general consensus. Without further ado, my TOP FOURS!
FAVORITE MOVIE: Looper - I make no bones about being a fan of writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), and while some eagerly anticipated the new Twilight movie or The Hobbit, my radar was honed in on Looper from the day I heard the concept two or so years ago. It’s not often that movies live up to lofty expectations, but Looper fulfilled them and then some. The fully realized world was completely engrossing, the story took chances and the characters felt familiar but fresh - in other words classic Rian Johnson, taking a familiar genre and twisting it. After Primer, Looper is probably the best heady sci-fi film of the 2000s.
The Dark Knight Rises
FAVORITE MUSIC (ALBUM): Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth - Look, I understand that Van Halen are a dinosaur, classic rock act. And I know that they represent all that bad about rock (indulgence, bombast, ego, etc.), but the fact remains that David Lee Roth stands as the best rock frontman of the last thirty years, on par with Mick Jagger and James Brown. Never mind the fact that this is a bunch of 60-year old guys playing music that should be written and recorded (and some cases, was) by 20-year olds – the album brims with energy, intelligence, and an attitude that most modern artists can’t comprehend – fun.
Dinosaur Jr.: I Bet On Sky
Bob Mould: Silver Age
Bloc Party: Four
FAVORITE MUSIC (SONG): Alabama Shakes – Hold On (from Boys & Girls) - If you listen to this track and aren’t instantly reminded of the great soul and R&B of the 1960s, get your ears checked. When people say something sounds “timeless,” this is what they’re talking about. The first time I heard Hold On, I thought it was a cover of an Otis Redding song. It’s that good.
The Darkness – Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us (from Hot Cakes)
Japandroids – The House That Heave Built (from Celebration Rock)
Ken Stringfellow – Drop Your Pride (from Danzig In The Moonlight)
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Boardwalk Empire / Season Three - If there was one complaint with seasons one and two of Boardwalk Empire, is that it “took it’s time,” to put generously. With the shocking end to season two, it appeared that was going to change. Not only did it up the action, but the pacing picked up dramatically, with a great deal of both thanks to Bobby Canavalle’s character Gyp Rosetti. Instead of simply watching each week, I was actively anticipating each episode, because for the first time the carefully crafted story pulsed with energy and not just elegant set pieces and costuming.
Veep / Season One
Mad Men / Season Five
Justified / Season Three
FAVORITE BOOK: Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll by Joe Oestreich - I haven’t recommended a book as much as I’ve recommended Hitless Wodner to people. Bob Mould and Mark Yarm wrote really good books, but they’re not for everybody. The difference with Hitless Wonder is that is wholly and completely relatable to everyone, regardless of their interest in music, because it’s about the very human experience of aging and what happens when reality slowly creeps into your dreams and aspirations.
See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody by Bob Mould
Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yarm
Insurgent: Veronica Roth