More than anything, what I felt walking out of Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s latest epic, was a strong sense of disappointment; almost assuredly the most I’ve felt for any film this year. And I’m as surprised as anyone that I felt this way about it. From the awe-inspiring trailers to the near-perfect critical acclaim, I thought I was guaranteed to love this. I was sure that Dunkirk would be what made me fall in love with Nolan’s work again, following Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises, both of which I think are OK at best (and, to be honest, I don’t think Interstellar is much good at all). But instead, and rather unfortunately, Dunkirk continues the sad trend of middling work from one of the greatest directors alive. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever love a work of Nolan’s again, like I do his superb early films Memento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight.
Dunkirk is set in a time of war, getting its namesake from a major battle that occurred early during World War II. It was heavily marketed as a straight war movie, but it’s really unlike any past examples — and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Actually, Dunkirk’s genre may be more akin to horror than that of which we typically think of as a war movie. We have characters who are at all times in danger, with no hope of defeating an unrelenting villain surrounding them. Their only hope being to possibly escape and survive the tragic event.
I love Fridays, and not just because it marks the end of the work week or because with it comes the promise of a relaxing and/or thrilling weekend. Fridays also signify the release of new music, and could you believe we’ve already had 26 Fridays so far this year, each with its own exciting batch of new albums to dig into. Below you will find two separate Top 5 lists from Jake and I (Michael), containing what we believe are the best of the best in music releases this year (so far). As an added bonus, we’ve each featured three honorable mentions below alongside the lists, and have also created a 30-song playlist over on the Jet Fuel Jukebox, highlighting our favorite tracks from the year as well. And as always, feel free to check out our two previous Best Of lists from 2016 and 2015.
Jake: 2017 has been one of the most exhilarating years in music. While there may be garbage plaguing radios across the country, many music fans, such as myself, have been able to discover a lot of gems over these past 6 months. We’ve seen many artists make a return from long hiatuses to deliver what many would consider their best bodies of work, while other artists new to the scene have been able to generate interest in their talents. Making this list was so hard; I could’ve honestly changed my order so that any of my choices landed at #1, but Michael gave me a deadline that I had to follow. BUT, I think I got it…maybe.
Michael: Similar to my mid-year list last time ‘round, much of my Top 5 this year is made up of artists I’d either had no knowledge even existed coming into 2017, or artists I knew about but hadn’t ever really given a real shot listening to. Discovering new artists you love is one of the greatest feelings you can experience as a fan of music. There are plenty of albums I was looking forward to this year from plenty of artists I’ve enjoyed for years that have already come and gone, and there’s more to come later this year from old standbys of mine. But the most exciting prospect is discovering even more artists I’ll love in the future. My hope with this post is that from my list I can introduce you to some new artists you’ll enjoy as I already have this year.
We’ve passed the halfway point in the year, so Jake and I have decided to chronicle the best music of the past six months. Here, you will find our favorite 30 songs (15 picks to each man), and later today we will be unveiling our favorite albums of the year between two Top 5 lists in one post.
Enjoy some great music today with us here at the Jet Fuel Jukebox!
The summer’s most fun and excitingly fresh film has officially arrived with Edgar Wright’s wholly exceptional Baby Driver. Led by a catchy and calculated soundtrack, the film presents exhilarating car-chase scenes with an ensemble of precisely handled characters behind-the-wheel, gaining traction from its impressively meticulous opener through to its explosive climax. Baby Driver is perhaps Wright’s greatest achievement yet — and with a track record as stellar as his, that’s saying a lot.
Following his remarkable comedic genre mashups with films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, in Baby Driver, Wright strips back the pulpy silliness his work is famous for. Instead, here he exhibits a sense of realism and seriousness he’s not yet shown off, but still finds enough space in the script to place well-timed and often hilarious jokes as well, striking a near-perfect balance of dramatic moments and comedic ones.
“I want Brockhampton to be something that lasts beyond me. Yeah, that’s the goal.” – Kevin Abstract, founding member of BROCKHAMPTON.
The story of L.A.-based hip-hop outfit BROCKHAMPTON is a bit of an unconventional one, especially in the world of hip hop. The group formed after Kevin Abstract (real name Ian Simpson) made a post on a Kanye West fan forum looking for artists to collaborate and make music, following him being disowned by his family after coming out as gay (a main topic of his last project under the Kevin Abstract moniker, called American Boyfriend). He and the others that responded then relocated to a house in L.A., where each member resides and creates music together. Kevin just turned 20 a couple weeks ago, and the other members of the group are around the same age. Yes, that really is the story behind this group; material that I don’t think even some of the most skilled storyteller could come up with easily.
BROCKHAMPTON has been gaining traction steadily ever since their formation, with a healthy dose of singles and a scatterbrained, albeit super enjoyable mixtape with 2015’s All American Trash, which showed a great deal of promise and great tracks to match. Don’t begin to think that this level of heart and ambition doesn’t shine through on their new album, SATURATION (BROCKHAMPTON’s first proper LP), because that feeling permeates and consumes this project wholly.
It’s been a year in which a week can feel like a year within itself, given the crazy-ass state of our world right now. But we’ve made it to June, and so we are at the midpoint of the year. You know what that means…LISTS! And you’re probably saying to yourself, “But Dan, it’s not the end of the year yet?” Yeah, I know, but why not talk about some of the best album releases so far.
In a year that’s been rife with amazing records, these are my top 15 albums released from January to May. My hope is that a lot of these choices flew under your radar, and that I can do my job properly by presenting you with new music. But if not, then hey, weren’t these records great? I also like the prospect of doing a list like this, simply because it will be interesting to see how drastically this list will change by December. It’s sure to be affected both by upcoming releases and the chance to dive deeper into some albums I previously missed.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, here are a few honorable mentions for y’all:
One of my absolute favorite indie films of the past five years is Ana Lily Amirpour’s stylish vampire-noir, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. It tells a subdued, atmospheric tale of romance and horror while approaching genre conventions with a feminist take, all the while treating its viewers with striking visuals and an unforgettable soundtrack. It’s a film I love, and a debut that presented Amirpour as a visionary in the indie filmmaking scene; the film garnering an almost exclusively positive reaction from the larger film community including critics and fans alike.
Although Girl is her debut film, Amirpour’s expert work on the film gives the impression that she’s a veteran filmmaker; the film is just that impressively well-realized and notable. Which is why it’s surprising that her new film, The Bad Batch, comes off as amateurish by comparison. Amirpour serves as both the film’s writer and director (as she did on her first feature), and while her incredible aural and visual sensibilities translate over from Girl, it’s her writing that stumbles, lacking meaningful character development or a storyline worth investing in.