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Phoenix Staff Picks of 2021

  • Post category:Culture


White Noise by Don DeLillo (1985)
Satirical, funny, and all too real glance at American consumerism, ignorance, and the relation between self-obsession and self-deception. - Aslan

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)
Super comforting read after a rough year. - Clint

M Archives: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs (2018)
Gumbs scouts her consciousness to harbor a world reeling from environmental collapse. Everyone should read this. - Sadie

Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
If you were ever curious about what book pioneered the cyberpunk genre with horrifying cybernetic body modifications and incestuous tech dynasties, give Neuromancer a read! - Josh

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (1948)
While this book is incredibly sad, I thought that it was such an interesting look at how modernism and postmodernism were implemented in the literary world of Japan. - Case

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus (1942)
Essays on Absurdist existentialism and thoughts on what it means to live meaningfully without committing oneself to a set of theology, philosophy, or doctrine. - Aslan

Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler (1998)
It’s a hard read but so worth it and eerily relevant to modern times even though she wrote it in the 90s. - Clint

Haruki Murakami
I made it a point to read a lot of Murakami this year for no reason in particular, but I am very glad I did! Every book that I have read by him has been so worth reading and all for different reasons! - Case



Danez Smith, "Don't Call Us Dead: Poems" (2017)
Cannot be summarized, must be read. - Aslan

Marie Howe, “Magdalene: Poems” (2020)
Once again treats us with Howe’s blend of conventional and unconventional styles and forms on a wide birth of topics, from isolation to lies to womanhood. - Aslan



SINNER GET READY by Lingua Ignota (2021)
Powerful, angry, Appalachian, and deliciously blasphemous. - Aslan

Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast (2021)
The soundtrack for every season. I won’t shut up about this! - Sadie

I think what made this album amazing to me is that every song on it is good on its own, but the album as a whole conceptually is also perfect. I also had the added benefit of watching her play this whole album live, and she did not disappoint! - Case

Black Country, New Road
This is my favorite artist for this year because they have consistently put out some of the best and most creative music of 2021! They blend Slint-like post-punk, jazz, klezmer, and Arcade Fire style indie rock into these entrancingly beautiful songs! - Case

A Very Lonely Solstice by Fleet Foxes (2021)
Hauntingly lonely yet meltingly warm acoustics performed live. - Aslan

“Crystal” by Stevie Nicks
The perfect car ride theme song. “Crystal” has been played numerous times on my Apple Music. I also recommend watching the movie Practical Magic (1998) where “Crystal” is featured. - Abby-Noelle

Microphones in 2020 by The Microphones (2020)
Phil Elverum does it again. - Aslan

Harry Styles by Harry Styles (2017)
This album is raw and emotional. “Two Ghosts”, “Sweet Creature”, and “Sign of the Times” are among my favorites. - Abby-Noelle

Romantic Images by Molly Burch (2021)
This appropriately titled record is confident and crushworthy.  - Sadie



The French Dispatch (2021) dir. Wes Anderson
Beautiful love letter to print media like no other. - Aslan

Yomjimbo (1961) dir. Akira Kurosawa
A delightfully masculine movie about a devil-may-care ronin (Toshirô Mifune) and his quest to rid an impoverished town of its two warring gangs. - Josh

The Eyes of My Mother (2016) dir. Nicholas Pesce
Strong stomach and patience required. - Aslan

Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021) dir. Ahmir-Khalib Thompson
Five minutes in, Stevie Wonder shows up. - Sadie

Killing Them Softly (2021) dir. Andrew Dominik
Strange but enthralling mediation on politics and the small human’s place in the world of markets. - Aslan

The Green Knight (2021) dir. David Lowery
I thought this movie was such a wonderful take on the chivalric romance! The way it’s shot like a horror movie as well as the obfuscatory ending added to the delight of seeing it! - Case

Sound of Metal (2019) dir. Darius Marder
Unbelievable performance by Riz Ahmed on repressed trauma and cyclical addiction, as well as a fresh approach to (aka: lack thereof) sound design. - Aslan

Spencer (2021) dir. Pablo Larraín
Kristen Stewart gives her all in this justifiably hyped thriller. Now I need a psychological biopic on one of the royal corgis. - Sadie



Sex Education (2019)
Premiering in 2019, this Netflix TV show is near and dear to my heart. Sex Education inclusively portrays the complexity of sexuality, women’s rights, and relationships. Also, Ezra Furman does an amazing job creating a soundtrack for this show. - Abby-Noelle