Mikal Cronin at the Bowery Ballroom - I love sold out shows at the Bowery! The energy is just the best. Seeing Mikal Cronin play his first headlining sold out show at The Bowery was one to remember, for sure!
Superchunk in NYC - Two epic sold out rock shows soon after the release of one of my favorite albums ever, a Fallon taping with the full crew including Laura AND Jason, catching up with friends old & new . . . best part of my job.
Rainbow Rowell - Please read Attachments, Fan Girl and then Eleanor and Park in that order. Buy these for everyone you like this holiday season. And follow @rainbowrowell on twitter. I hated to finish each of these books, and I want to join Rainbow's Disney live-action movie club.
Sisterland (Curtis Sittenfeld), Life after Life (Kate Atkinson), Tenth of December (George Saunders) - The three best books I read this year that weren't written by Rainbow Rowell. Put them on your holiday wish list.
Neko Case at the DPAC - Fancy venue, Neko, Kelly Hogan, Eric Bachmann, jokes about grits and hot sauce. A lovely evening!
Dinosaur Trail at the Museum of Like & Science in Durham - A freaking blast for all ages: lemurs, bears, a farm, butterfly house, mist exhibit in the summer. I think I have at least as much fun when we visit as my son does, maybe more. The Dinosaur Trail is our favorite part. Giant dinosaur figures nestled in the North Carolina woods just waiting to be discovered and "roared" at by excited little people. A little shout out to Dinosaur Train, too. It somehow never gets annoying.
Runbuds - Bull City Running Co. + a little friendly peer pressure turned me into a runner. The new session of Runbuds begins in January, and I cannot recommend it or programs like it enough. Running can be fun and it will make you feel better about yourself sooner than you think is possible.
Enough Said - Funny, sweet & sad in equal doses. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is my hero, and Nicole Holofcener will save the romantic comedy.
And more new (Non-Merge) music: Neko Case (Deluxe LP), Generationals, Preservation Jazz Hall Band, Camera Obscura, Yo La Tengo, & Kurt Vile
And my Staff "Pick":
The Rock*A*Teens' Sweet Bird of Youth - I first wanted to work at Merge in no small part because of The Rock*A*Teens. I saw them play often at the soon-to-be-torched club The Bayou when I was in college at LSU. I assumed they were a much more nationally popular band than they actually were due to the fervor they inspired in my friends and I. "Car and Driver" was the first song on every mixtape I made in the early '00's, and I could probably tell you a story inspired by every song on this 17-song album.