Basement Dwelling: The Top 30 Albums of 2017 – Honorable Mentions

We’ve finally arrived at the end of the year; a year in which every lone week felt like it’s own self-contained 365 days. If there was any ray of light in a year filled with nuclear tension, lies, and the loss of respect for many in the entertainment community, it was the great art that 2017 has brought us — particularly in music. This Thanksgiving weekend, before we get to the legitimate two course meal of my 30 album year-end list (albums 30-16 go up next Friday, and 15-1 the week after), I’m serving this hors d’oeuvre, and talking about some of my favorite albums of the year… that unfortunately didn’t make my year-end list for 2017.

Doing this accomplishes a couple things:
1. It gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite records of the year a little earlier.
2. It makes my year-end list shorter than it has to be.
3. It generates hype for what will actually make the final 30.
4. You can get mad at me early for not having your favorite albums in my definitive list.

Hope you all have a good weekend spending time and appreciating the ones you love, and, of course, spinning these albums.

Honorable Mentions:

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Student Feature: Roundtable Reviews of “Searching for Sugar Man”

Found below are four reviews of the the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, written by Lewis University students Cynthia Saucedo, Andrea Ecarma, Star Quiroz, Jerry Langosch.

*Spoilers ahead*

Cynthia Saucedo:

http://bit.ly/2gekr8X

Searching for Sugar Man: A Modern Fairy Tale

Searching for Sugar Man (2012), directed by the late Malik Bendjelloul, tells a story that would be considered a modern fairy tale. Rodriguez is introduced as a mystery, untraceable man, and a prophet. The film’s mystery is built-up by using low-key lighting, shadows, and foggy images. Furthermore, when sound is utilized, it creates an eerie feeling and generates excitement, while the lack of sound highlights the importance of a scene. Playing Rodriguez’s actual soundtrack makes the audience recognize the true beauty in his music and leads them to wonder why he never made it in the music industry.

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Mindfulness Mentor: Where are You Standing?

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Understanding and practicing mindfulness can be tricky, but luckily there are many experts who offer their guidance and advice on how to be successful at being mindful. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is one of these experts, but he also plays the role as a researcher, scientist, writer, and meditation teacher. Kabat-Zinn is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded its world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979, as well as the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society in 1995.

Kabat-Zinn is the author of two best-selling books, one of these being, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. In his book, Kabat-Zinn guides the reader on a simple path for cultivating mindfulness. The book is broken up into smaller fragments, with brief synopses followed by a “Try” section. These “try” sections give how-to instructions on practicing mindfulness in a non-complex way.

Many of these try sections are worth examining and sharing in order for others to attain a more positive life. In the first part of the book, Kabat-Zinn suggests that, “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing—a knowing that comes directly from the cultivation mindfulness—we may only go in circles, for all our efforts and expectations,” (pgs. 15-16).

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Jet Fuel Jukebox for 11/21/17

Some of my favorite weeks on the Jet Fuel Jukebox are when there’s crossover between the 10 choices that Jake and I make for the playlist. This week, it’s an album entitled Blue Lips, which is the third full-length release from Swedish pop star, Tove Lo. Each of us has gone ahead and inserted into our halves of the playlist a favorite from the new album, which saw its long-awaited release this past Friday.

Alongside this, I have another major highlight with the Jukebox’s closer this week, “Smoking Section,” from St. Vincent’s latest album release, MASSEDUCTION. This past weekend, I had the immense pleasure of seeing her live performance at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. I’ve loved Annie Clark for years, previously claiming that she sits in my current top three artists, and my first time seeing her live did not disappoint. Hell, the show was better than I ever could have imagined. If you get the chance, see St. Vincent live; there’s no way you couldn’t enjoy yourself.

As for the rest of the playlist this week, we have 17 fellow tracks courtesy of artists like Tame Impala, P!nk, Sampha, and Princess Nokia.

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor

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All A-bored!: A Review of “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017)

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The newest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit novel, Murder on the Orient Express, wishes it was a film from an older, simpler time, when a central mystery as lacking as the one it presents would have likely been enough to satisfy its viewers. But in 2017, with there being a large catalog of murder-mystery films that offer grander puzzles of suspense with far superior payoffs, this lavishly produced remake loses steam long before it arrives at its underwhelming destination. The film isn’t without any merit, as its graceful cinematography highlights gorgeous period-appropriate set and costume design, and the ensemble cast of both old and new A-listers (including Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Penélope Cruz, and Willem Dafoe) do formidable work, even with the lackluster material they’ve been handed. Ultimately, though, director Kenneth Branagh’s attempt at remaking this nearly century-old story is absent of any fresh additions or twists, leaving its savvier viewers with an unsatisfying mystery to solve.

Branagh also serves as the story’s mustached lead and famed hero detective, Hercule Poirot. In the winter of 1934, Poirot boards the Orient Express from Istanbul on his way home to help solve yet another case, hoping that the short train ride itself will provide some sort of relaxation. But, of course, it’s never that simple. Poirot becomes sidetracked when a particularly shady passenger aboard the train, Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp), asks to buy his protection after receiving an increasingly alarming amount of threatening letters. Poirot refuses, and the following morning, awakens to find that Ratchett has been brutally murdered in his sleep only a few cabins down, with 12 erratic stab wounds and minimal evidence hampering his insight on who done it. Along with this, an avalanche has resulted in the train’s derailing, stranding its anxious passengers while they wait upon a rescue crew.

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Between Rock and an Indie Place: “Quiet Ferocity” by The Jungle Giants

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I’m writing this entry in the dead of November, and the bitter cold is really starting to set in. I find myself reminiscing over an album that came out last summer from hands down one of my all-time favorite indie rock bands. Quiet Ferocity by The Jungle Giants is 41 minutes straight of upbeat techno music that will make me want to get up and dance on even the dreariest of autumn days. I have much love and respect for this four-piece band from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

They proclaim in their Spotify bio that Quiet Ferocity “combines the signature melodic arrangements of their first album with the percussion-laden production of their second and catapults them into a sonic stratosphere that is entirely their own sound.” After spending a solid amount of time over the past week with this album, I honestly couldn’t agree more with this statement. With this latest release, I believe that The Jungle Giants have really hit their stride as a band and have found themselves in their music.

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Words an’ Pictures: How the West Was Won – A Review of “Peppy in the Wild West”

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Greetings comic fanatics! For this week, I wanted to bring you a review of a new English translation of Peppy in the Wild West, a 1934 story from the infamous pen of Hergé.

For those unfamiliar, Georges Remi, better known as Hergé, was an extremely influential Belgian cartoonist best known for his long running series, The Adventures of Tintin. While The Adventures of Tintin was a childhood favorite of mine, I have not had the opportunity to read much of Hergé’s other work, so I was very excited to learn of this new translation (the first in English since 1969).

Peppy in the Wild West is a standard adventure story that seems intended primarily for children. The plot follows an anthropomorphic bear, Peppy, who packs up his hat-selling business and leaves his home with his wife Virginny and steed Bluebell, seeking the greener economic pastures of America. Upon arriving in the States, they face an angry tribe of Native Americans, a ruthless bulldog outlaw, and the harsh frontier elements with exciting and often hilarious results. While Peppy in the Wild West does benefit from Hergé’s considerable skill, the plot is ultimately not very interesting, and this certainly should not be counted among his best works. I would still highly recommend this story to die-hard Hergé fans, though, for several reasons.

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