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!
“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:
It’s bothersome to hear people talk about Gorillaz. Sure, Gorillaz are a widely loved and celebrated act, and they have been for nearly 20 years now. But one of their greatest strengths is also one of their biggest setbacks.
It’s idiotic to me that the animated world of Gorillaz, co-created by legendary underground comic artist Jamie Hewlett, and which serves as the stylistic umbrella for a global and multigenerational collaborative music project, proves to be such a turnoff for people.
I often hear, “I’m not in the mood to listen to a new Gorillaz record.” Or, “I haven’t listened to Gorillaz in years,” said with an uppity, I-have-no-time-for-this-kids-crap kind of pretension. I hear it all the time. But the worst is when I simply hear someone say, “I hate them.”
These all translate to, “I don’t want to listen to something that my anime-watching, comic-reading coworker listens to.” It’s bullshit and it totally exists — don’t deny it. It’s a very lazy argument, and I’d say that even without my personal bias. Gorillaz is a project that represents artistic unity and bridging gaps to deliver a message that we as a people desperately need, especially in our current turbulent dystopia. This is the point of Humanz’ entire existence.
We’ve got just a little over an hour before it’s no longer Tuesday, so let’s get this Jukebox out into the world!
This week’s Jukebox is similar to last week’s, but the roles are reversed. Jake’s half is the throwback, with 10 tracks that all came out in 2007, while my picks revolve around a number of brand new tracks from some of my favorite artists.
If you listen this week, you’ll find new songs from Phoenix, Gorillaz, and Foster The People, as well as Top-40 hits from a decade ago, featuring Rihanna, Akon, and T-Pain.
I also want to give a shout out to the new HAIM track, that’s only on Youtube as of now. Listen to their new track, “Right Now.”
The day you’ve waited for eagerly has finally come! It’s Tuesday, and with that comes a brand new entry in our Jet Fuel Jukebox series.
I didn’t find a single new song this past week to share, unfortunately, but I did have the pleasure of seeing Donnie Darko in theaters for its 15th anniversary this past weekend! Being set in the 80’s and featuring an incredible, decade-appropriate soundtrack, the film has inspired me to reach into the time period for my picks this week.
Jake didn’t seem to run into the same problem as me, as he’s included several brand new singles, including the 80’s-inspired Paramore hit “Hard Times,” and the new song from Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd. Rounding out the playlist are tracks from Tears For Fears, Sonic Youth, and Katy Perry.