Ten Favorite Songs of 2011

The project continues with my favorite songs of 2011.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I originally covered 2011 with a Year in Review post.

Bite of My Soul – The Fleshtones


Cruel – St. Vincent



Eleven –  Thao & Mirah



Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes



No Banker Left Behind –  Ry Cooder



Romance – Wild Flag



Santa Fe – Beirut 



Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine 


Up Up Up – The Givers


We Are Young – fun. feat. Janelle Monáe



And three songs from 2011 worth an honorable mention:

Bizness –  tUnE-yArDs



Midnight City–  M83


Turn It On – Waines 



2011 Year in Review: Favorite Songs

I made this list back in December, all ready to get it out by New Year’s Day, but alas it has taken me to February to actually compose this blog post.  So let’s get crackin’.

For previous years check out my lists for 2010 and 2009.  Long time readers (all one of you) may remember I started a project of listing my favorite ten songs from every year of my life.  I’m not going to link those here because I hope one day to redo the posts I made and actually finish the project.

TOP 10

The first eight songs in this list came easily.  The final two kind of rose out of a large list of honorable mentions (some of which you can see below).  Other than that, the songs are in no particular order.

  • “Helplessness Blues” by The Fleet Foxes – a beautiful song that appears to be the perfect anthem for The Great Recession.
  • “No Banker Left Behind” by Ry Cooder – many of the songs on this list earned their spot partly due to the enthusiasm of my four-year-old son.  People probably think I taught him this anti-capitalist anthem, but I first heard it from him after he had heard it on the radio.
  • “Bite of My Soul” by The Fleshtones – I have no idea what this song is about but I love the punk/rockabilly vibe.  It’s good to see bands in their fourth decade still churning out good stuff.
  • “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine – so, this song lifts a lyric straight from Sydney Carter but it has a nice anthemic, cathartic quality.  Not surprisingly this is another of my son’s favorites and he often needs to shake out his excess energy.
  • “Up Up Up” by The Givers – yet another one of Peters picks, this is a nice, cheerful pop song.
  • “Cruel” by St. Vincent – the casual music paired with the dark lyrics makes this song all the creepier.
  • “Santa Fe” by Beirut – a song named after a city by a band named after a city.  Or it could be a song of faith.  Either way it’s pretty and thoughtful.
  • “Romance” by Wild Flag – a punk supergroup rocks out melodically in an ode to music.
  • “Eleven” by Thao & Mirah – I’m familiar with (fellow W&M alum) Thao, but Mirah is new to me.  Their voices sound good together especially set against the percussion of Merrill Garbus who is also responsible for…
  • “Bizness” by tUnE-yArDs – I admit that I really like the rhythms of this song and others on the album w h o k i l l  but I haven’t made up my mind about tUnE-yArDs.  There’s something pretentious about this band, like a junk band that plays at First Night that is convinced it will save the world.


  • “Someone Like You” by Adele – the album 21 includes “Rolling in the Deep”  which since the song was released in 2010 made it on last year’s list.  The whole album is great but this slow and sad one stands out.
  • “Rox in the Box” by The Decemberists – just like Adele, The Decemberists figured out that they should release a song in the year before they release an album they will make it on my list two years in a row (in this case “Down by the Water”).  “Rox in the Box” stands out from another excellent album because I like the way they incorporated “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.”
  • “Midnight City” by M83 – a song that revives and renews great things of the 80s: danceable electronic pop and the sax solo!
  • “Happy Girl” by Roe Family Singers – just a lovely old-time music song (possibly an original) by a band from Minnesota.
  • “Danger” by Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside – hipster rockabilly from the Northwest with Ford’s unique vocals carrying the song.
  • “Can’t You Tell” by Vetiver – kind of a crazy mix of ballpark organ, psychedelia, and lounge electronica.
  • “Turn It On” by Waines – a friend introduced this to me as an Italian band channeling ZZ Top.  Is this the musical equivalent of the spaghetti western?

What were your favorite songs of 2011?  And since we’re well into the new year, what are you listening to in 2012?

2011 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

The most memorable event this year by far is the birth of my baby girl and second child Kay on November 19th.  Everything else pales in comparison.  Here’s a photo of Kay with my son Peter.  The rest of the list follows in chronological order.

  • Snow -We had an interesting winter with several heavy snowstorms in a short period of time.  I even got to go up on the roof of our house to shovel some off.  The snow was fun, especially seeing it through the eyes of a three year old, but it got very tiresome when it wouldn’t melt away.
  • Salem – a fun day trip North of Boston by train featuring the Peabody Essex Museum and candy!
  • Boston Breakers Game / Red Sox Game – I took Peter to a Breakers’ soccer game and was surprised that he was actively engaged in the game.  So by his request I took him to Fenway for his first Sox game as well.  Looking forward to more sporting events in 2012.
  • JP Children’s Soccer – Peter started playing children’s soccer in the Spring.  It looked like so much fun that I pushed my personal comfort boundaries and signed up to coach in the Fall.   I was surprisingly successful coaching 3-4 year olds to at the very least get some experience with the ball at their feet.  Of course, the players’ favorite game was Chase the Coach.
  • Drawing Class – I took a drawing class at the Eliot School in JP, hoping to learn perspective and found I could draw a pretty good tea pot.
  • Wake Up the Earth – One of JP’s great annual events.  Peter & I dropped by to watch the parade after soccer practice and ended up participating in the procession by bike.
  • Bike Rides – Peter & I participated in three organized biking events: JP Spring Roll, Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon, & Hub On Wheels. All were fun, but the BNB event was the most memorable for taking us through parts of Boston I’d never seen and for the vibrant post-ride festival.
  • New York in June – Peter & I spent 72 hours together in the city that never sleeps visiting the Central Park Zoo, the Staten Island Ferry, Citi Field for a Mets game, the Intrepid Museum, the High Line, and lots of playgrounds.
  • Visit to Harvard Depository – kind of geeky, but I enjoyed a special tour of Harvard Library’s offsite book and records storage warehouse and wanted to take home a Raymond order picker of my very own.
  • Wicwas Lake Lodge – Our magnanimous friend Craig invited us to spend a long weekend at a lake house in New Hampshire with another family.  There was much running and giggling and splashing in the lake.  The kids had fun too.
  • Visit from a friend – Our friend Sara and her family passed throw town and spent the night on a sultry evening.  Peter and her daughter broke the ice with stomp rockets and then jumped on the bed together.  It was a good sign that Peter was ready for a sibling.
  • Two Parties in One Day – In the morning we went to a third birthday party featuring a performance by Wayne Potash.  In the afternoon, our downstairs neighbors hosted a bbq in our backyard.  Nice to have a party so close and not have to set up.
  • Davis Square Tours – This walking tour had to contend first with Hurricane Irene and then with the street bands of HONK! Fest, but it turned to be one of the best tours I’ve ever lead in an exciting neighborhood.  This Boston By Foot will return on July 29, 2012.
  • Trapp Family Lodge – The hills were alive with the sounds of Peter as Susan’s parents treated us to a long weekend at this rustic mountain retreat in Vermont.
  • Old Sturbridge Village – Peter kept asking about life in the “olden days” so I did what any history geek would do: I took him to a living history museum.  And he loved it.
  • Occupy Movement – This is an odd choice as I never spent a night in a camp but was inspired by the people who did and tried to share the best articles, stories, and opinions on my Delicious, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds.  More thoughts on Occupy here
  • High School Reunion – In 1991 I graduated from a small Catholic high school in Connecticut, the last class to graduate before the school closed.  20 years later we got back together with spouses and children for a play date, a dinner, and a tour of the old school (now an elementary school).  It turned out better than I imagined, and I had positive thoughts going in.
  • Promotion to Processing Archivist – In November, I started a new position at my library adding archival processing responsibilities to some of my earlier duties and moving from assistant to professional.  Oddly, this is the type of job I thought I’d like when I started library school, but I took an interesting, circuitous route to get there.
  • Holiday Week – The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is always eventful and we took advantage of visiting the Museum of Science, Boston Common, The Children’s Museum, The New England Aquarium, The Christmas Revels, The Larz Anderson Auto Museum and Park, and Edaville USA.


2011 Year in Review: Panorama of the Mountains Blog Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year not books published in 2011.  For previous years see 2010200920082007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

In no particular order:

Every Book I Read in 2011

Books published in 2011 in bold. (A) is for audiobook.