Tag Archives: Best of 2011

Best Music of 2011

As a blogger, one of the best things I love about the year’s end is that I can write a definitive “Best of [insert year here]” list. So, in the next couple of days, I’ll be writing and posting my 2011 definitive list in different categories. I’ve already done my list for comicsgamesfilms and books. Today, my list is for the best albums of the year.

Making a list for best music is always a hard thing to do for me. Unlike comics, games, films and books, I listen to almost a hundred albums per year. I can’t help it. I love music more than anything else. So, it’s always difficult for me to pick out one album and rank it above others. That’s why, to make it more easier for me, I picked 10 items for this list (instead of 5) and divided it into two categories: Indie/Alternative and Metal/Hard Rock. I’ve also included songs for you guys to stream.

But enough talk. My favorite music of 2011:

Indie/Alternative

#5. Civilian
by Wye Oak

There were two albums in 2011 that made me a bit weepy and feel a little crumpled. One of those albums is Civilian. It’s a great collection of beautifully tormented pop rock songs. Although, honestly, this almost didn’t make it on my top 5. But, after repeatedly listening to it for the whole month of December, it grew on me even more.

“Civilian” by Wye Oak

#4. Yuck
by Yuck

If Yuck came out a year ago, I wouldn’t have even bothered giving their self-titled debut another listen. But, in a time when I’m being bit by 90’s nostalgia, Yuck came out at the right time with the right sound –similar to 90’s bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement. Every song in this album is so catchy, it’s just a pleasure to listen to.

“Shook Down” by Yuck

#3. Days
by Real Estate

Nothing relaxes me more than listening to Real Estate’s sophomore album, Days. Every time I listen to its jingly-jangly guitar pop songs –which conjures laid back images like laying in a hammock tied to coconut trees or just reading a book out on your porch in a quiet afternoon– my stress just melts away. That’s why it’s #3 on my list.

“Municipality” by Real Estate

#2. David Comes to Life
by Fucked Up

I had a hard time categorizing Fucked Up’s music. It’s too ferocious to be in alternative. Yet it’s not too ferocious to be in hardcore. That’s how complex and interesting their music is. And in their sophomore album, David Comes to Life, their music is more alive with a punk opera narrative about love, loss and mourning.

“Queen of Hearts” by Fucked Up

#1. Bon Iver
by Bon Iver

When I heard Bon Iver 3 years ago, he was still a small singer/songwriter. Now, his name is everywhere after he got nominated in the academies. So, this might seem I’m jumping at the Bon Iver bandwagon by ranking this as my #1. But, Grammy’s or not, I love this album. It made me weep like a baby.

“Calgary” by Bon Iver

Metal/Hard Rock

#5. Murder the Mountains
by Red Fang

I never knew of Red Fang before. But I had the chance to see them live when they opened for Mastodon here in Chicago last November. I was impressed by their brand of hard rock. So, the first thing I did when I got home is purchase Murder the Mountains. This album is just plain. No bells and whistles, just good, hard and heavy music.

“Wires” by Red Fang

#4. One
by TessaracT

I like djent bands. Although I’m not really a rabid fan of the genre. But after listening to One, I was drooling like an idiot. Then again, TessaracT is more than just a djent band. Yes, they’re chuggsters, and the guitar work in this album is ridiculously great. But they also have some pop sensibility and added atmosphere to their songs.

“Lament” by TessaracT

#3. The Hunter
by Mastodon

A lot of fans that I know of bemoans Mastodon’s departure from their brand of prog-metal in The Hunter. Me, I welcomed the changes. Yes, the 13 minute epic songs and lengthy instrumental solos are gone. Instead, we got 3 minute songs, concise and free from weird concepts, that are as hard and heavy as any other Mastodon songs.

“Stargasm” by Mastodon

#2. An Ache for the Distance
by The Atlas Moth

I was blown away when I heard An Ache for the Distance. This band draws their sound from a wide range of styles –doom, stoner, psychedelic, you name it. The best part is: they also managed to stir those styles pretty well that you won’t be able to differentiate which is which. You’ll just hear them altogether at the same time.

“Holes in the Desert” by The Atlas Moth

#1. Hisengen Blues
by Graveyard

Hisengen Blues was the first album I reviewed in 2011 that received a score of A (see here). That was last May. But I haven’t heard anything else that has pounded my head as hard as this album since then. It screams of classic rock, with its sludgy riffs, soulful vocals and a lo-fi recording that makes the band seem so close.

“The Siren” by Graveyard

So, with my best music of 2011 already picked and posted, these concludes my best of 2011 lists. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did when I picked them.

Happy New Year to you all!

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Best Books of 2011

As a blogger, one of the best things I love about the year’s end is that I can write a definitive “Best of [insert year here]” list. So, in the next couple of days, I’ll be writing and posting my 2011 definitive list in different categories. I’ve already done my list for comicsgames and films. Today, my list is for the best books of the year.

I’ve read 13 books this year. That’s actually an improvement over last year’s number (only read 8 books in 2010). Although some of the books I’ve read weren’t 2011 releases, and most were just trashy sci-fi and fantasy. I also missed some big releases like A Dance with Dragons (because I’ve yet to read A Feast For Crows), and also failed a promise to myself to read IQ84. Still, I’m happy with the books that I’ve read this year.

Anyways, my 5 favorite books that I’ve read this year:

#5. Pulphead: Essays
By John Jeremiah Sullivan

A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, I didn’t know who John Jeremiah Sullivan prior to Pulphead: Essays. But after reading 14 of his essays in this book –with topics ranging from Axl Rose, hanging out with the cast of The Real World, and his life as an apprentice to Andrew Nelson Lytle, I became an instant fan. I just wish I could nearly write essays like this guy.

#4. Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is the most enjoyable book I’ve read in recent years. Like the movie Super 8, it reminded me of my childhood during the 80’s. This book is not for everyone though. But if you’re a geek like me, who enjoyed movies like Blade Runner, listened to bands like Rush, owned an Atari 2600, and played pen & paper role-playing games, then you’ll love this book.

#3. All Men of Genius
by Lev AC Rosen

All Men of Genius isn’t original. For one, it’s the steampunk version of Harry Potter. It also borrowed ideas of cross dressing and mistaken identities from Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest. But it’s well-written and genius, nonetheless. It’s a very entertaining book filled with humor and commentaries about roles in society. I really enjoyed reading every page of it.

#2. Embassytown
by China Mieville

This book, I have to read twice. It gave me a nosebleed the first time I read it. It’s a hard sci-fi book with concepts that I didn’t quite understood. But the book became a beauty after I re-read it. Embassytown is unlike other sci-fi books. It’s not a space opera with lots of alien sex. But, instead, it focuses on the science of language and communication, of how important it is.

#1. Lost in Shangri-La
by Mitchell Zuckoff

Set in WWII Pacific Theater, Lost in Shangri-La is the story of the search and impossible rescue of 3 plane crash survivors in an uncharted valley, believed to be inhabited by 7 foot cannibals, in Dutch New Guinea. This is the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. The narrative here is so good that, sometimes, I forget that it’s not a work of fiction.

So, these are my best books of 2011. I hope you guys like my list. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my last list, which is the “Best Albums of 2011”.

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Best Films of 2011

As a blogger, one of the best things I love about the year’s end is that I can write a definitive “Best of [insert year here]” list. So, in the next couple of days, I’ll be writing and posting my 2011 definitive list in different categories. I’ve already done my list for comics and games. Today, my list is for the best films of the year.

I was only able to watch a couple of new films in theaters this year. But, with the help of Netflix, I was able to catch up on some of the best movies of 2011. Still, compared to other movie buffs, I only have a short list to choose from.

But, anyways, here are five of my favorite films of 2011.

#5. Drive

I don’t like Ryan Gosling. Mostly out of envy. But his performance in Drive is so captivating that I can’t deny the film a spot on this list. Gosling plays as a quiet and mysterious driver in this artistic 80’s style action flick. He has no name, he just drives: whether as a stunt driver or a getaway driver. He falls in love and, in an effort to protect those he loves, becomes the target of crime bosses. This movie has it all: great characters, romance, action, and skull bashing violence and gore.

#4. Super 8

Its trailer generated a lot of hype. But I didn’t bite. Thinking that the movie will fail, I skipped Super 8 in theaters. A few months later, I saw the movie on Blu-Ray and fell in love with it. The movie is just so nostalgic. It reminded me of all the summers when I was still a kid, hanging out with friends and doing all kinds of activities –role-playing, adventuring in the woods, watching movies like E.T. and The Goonies. For what I thought, at first, as an alien encounter movie is actually a flick that made me yearn for my childhood years.

#3. Bellflower

You probably said it once, or heard it before, that love is not the end of the world. Bellflower tells you otherwise. This movie suggests that being broken-hearted is the end of the world as its main character Woodrow, a Mad Max fanboy who is preparing for the apocalypse, drives around in “The Medusa”, a muscle car that is souped up to withstand the post-apocalyptic world, and burns his cheating girlfriend’s things with a flamethrower. It’s unlikely to get nominated in the academies. But this is the best and most original indie film I’ve seen this year.

#2. 13 Assassins

I’m a samurai aficionado. Some of my favorite things in the world (books, movies and comics) are samurai related. But, lately, there has been a dry spell in samurai period pieces. So, when I saw this movie on Netflix, I jumped at it right away. 13 Assassins didn’t disappoint. This flick is epic. Divided into two parts, the first half of the film was a political drama that fleshed out the characters. The second half is a 40-minute bloodbath where 13 samurai turns a whole town into a death trap and kills 200 bad guys. Yes, the violence is over the top. But that’s what made this movie so fun.

#1. Hugo

Hugo took me by surprise. I went out to see this movie because I mistook it for a steampunk. Although while its setting has a lot of steampunk elements (trains and clockworks), its story is actually about the invention of movies and of the film-pioneer Georges Meilies, who produced and directed Trip to the Moon (one of the first sci-fi films that is now considered by many as steampunk). Scorsese could’ve made this film as a historical 1930’s period piece. But, instead, he saddled it with clockwork automatas and made this film about the history of film even more magical than it already is.

So, these are my best films for 2011. I hope you guys like my list. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the best books I’ve read this year.

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Best Games of 2011

As a blogger, one of the best things I love about the year’s end is that I can write a definitive “Best of [insert year here]” list. So, in the next couple of days, I’ll be writing and posting my 2011 definitive list in different categories. I’ve already done my list for comics. Today, my list is for the best games of the year.

Like with comics, I also didn’t play a lot of games this year. It’s because I’ve limited myself to buying 4 games only (3 of which are on this list). As expected, I did buy more games than that. I bought 9 games in total (although 4 of them were bought on dirt cheap, sale prices). So, that’s plenty enough games to make a list.

Anyways, here are my picks for the best games of 2011:

#5. RIFT: Planes of Telara

As a gamer who prefers single-player games over multiplayer ones, this is the first time I’ve included an MMORPG on my “best of” list. But RIFT: Planes of Telara rightfully deserves a spot. Because, during the first half of 2011, I’ve wasted a lot of time playing this game –including alpha and beta tests. Out of all the MMO’s I’ve played, RIFT is also the most enjoyable. The variety of the things you can do here –crafting and artifact collecting– and the dynamics of rift invasions prevented the game from becoming a bore.

#4. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Witcher is a great game. It’s one of my favorite PC games of all time. But its sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, is even better. Besides its sluggish combat, I really can’t find any fault in this game. The graphics is beautiful. Its storyline is intricate and intriguing. The voice-overs are masterfully done. Even the dialogue is grand in its vulgarity. But its the choices that you make, and the bitter consequences that they yield, that separates this game from the rest.

#3. Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham Asylum took me by surprise back in 2009. I usually avoid comics-to-game adaptation because they simply suck. But I was at awe with Arkham Asylum. Its free-flowing combat, mini-map challenges, art direction, graphics and voice acting were all stupendous. Now, two years later, Rocksteady Studios returns with its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, which still has everything that made “Asylum” good. But this time you’re not in the Asylum, you’re out in the streets, which is 10 times bigger and open for you to explore.

#2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

My life went downhill when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim hit the store shelves. I barely left my room. I was sleep deprived. I even forgot to attend the Chicago Toys and Games Fair. Yes, this game is that good. You’ll easily lose track of time, immersing yourself in this game, in its huge open-world that seems so real and organic it’ll make you feel you’re traipsing in Scandinavia. Like Fallout 3 and other Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim also offers you an unrestrained freedom. You can just do whatever you want in here.

#1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution may not be as huge and open as Skyrim, or even Arkham City. But it still grants its players some freedom when dealing with various objectives. Like its predecessor, Deus Ex, DX: HR’s game design allows you to complete a quest using multiple methods: through stealth, tech advantage or brute force. But what I really love about this game is its cyberpunk setting, its transhumanist themes, and its cautionary tale about the perils of a post-human world.

So, these are my best games for 2011. I hope you guys like my list. On Thursday, I’ll be posting the best films I’ve seen this year.

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