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In Living Commentary

The Felice Brothers show at Turner Hall was one of the best gigs of the year, according to Bobby Tanzilo. (PHOTO: Nolan Conway)

2011 picks: Bobby Tanzilo

It's hard to believe another year has come and gone, almost, but it was a year of great music and films, again, and some other fun stuff. Here are a few of my favorite 2011 things.

CDs: It's only an EP, I know, but the six songs on the self-titled Surgeons in Heat record transported me to the back seat of my parents' car when I was a little kid. The windows are open and the summer breeze is mixing with the poppy melodies escaping from the AM radio.

Outside Milwaukee, I really liked The Head and the Heart's reissued debut on Sub Pop, Yo Yo Mundi's "Munfra," Handsome Furs' "Sound Kapital" and The Decemberists' "The King Is Dead," which sounded like a return to form to me. The second Dawes and Lights records are also growing on me more and more.

Concerts: The Felice Brothers at Turner Hall. This was what I wrote just before it happened: I'm excited that The Felices will be at Turner Hall two days before their masterwork (so far) arrives from the band's new label, Fat Possum. As with Fleet Foxes, I was a fan before but not ga ga. I'm head over heels for this one, though, with it's brass punctuation, pumping bass, pounding drums and other sonic goodness. None of that would work, however, if the Felices' fine roots songwriting wasn't intact, too. It is.

Event: Even though I wasn't out on the street with them, I was happy to see Wisconsinites stand up and shout for what they believe in.

Movies: The music fan in me enjoyed the Lee Perry documentary, "The Upsetter," the Milwaukeean in me though Tess Gallun's "Out of Respect" was an important film, the Italo-film-ophile in me loved "Basilicata Coast to Coast" with bassist and songwriter Max Gazze, and the guy who likes to laugh enjoyed "Get Him to the Greek."

As usual, most of my movie watching was viewing screeners of potential films for the Milwaukee Italian Film Festival and advance DVDs of Milwaukee Film Festival presentations. Especially notable among the latter were "The First Beautiful Thing" and "Wish Me Away," a documentary about a country singer wrestling the coming out publicly.

Sports: I'm all baseball, so I enjoyed the Brewers' ride. Sure, I wish it went a little further, but after such a long drought, how can you complain?

Books: I've been a Mets fan since I was about 4 years old, best I can tell, and I've been enjoying the slew of 50th anniversary books. The New York Post's big paperback "The Amazins: Celebrating 50 Years of New York Mets History" traces the most memorable games and players via articles from the archives and some great glossy pics. The Daily News' "The Mets: A 50th Anniversary Celebration" is written by the paper's current beat writers and, as such, offers a different perspective and tons more great pics. Matthew Silverman's "New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History," is written more from a fan's perspective and Silverman follows the team's ups and downs via the men he deems to be the 50 best in Mets history.


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