Saturday, May 29, 2021

Countdown to 30: My Favorite Album From 2017


In 2017, I was very wrapped up in work yet again. For this year, I only have one runner-up.

The very young pop-punk rockers The Regrettes released their debut album, Feel Your Feelings Fool! in 2017 when the lead singer/songwriter Lydia Night was just 16. Despite their young ages, the band was able to channel both punk rock and '60s sounds with some riot grrl elements dashed in.  Night has also stated that she fell in love for the first time while writing and recording the album, giving it the emotional power of first love on top of the power it already had. 

Mike Elizondo produced this album and their follow-up. Having seen them live, I feel like Elizondo did a great job of stepping back to let the band shine. 

Topics range from crushes to empowering songs about acceptance of women as they are, including the bits men might be uncomfortable with. "A Living Human Girl" and "Seashore" both relate to female empowerment, individuality, and acceptance of oneself. "Hey Now" is definitely a song for a crush. Some songs are fast and loud like "Hot" and "Juicebox Baby," while "Pale Skin" is a little slower. 

The Regrettes were just getting started on this album, yet it's still one of the best releases of the year. 

Squeeze released The Knowledge in 2017 and it might be one of my favorite albums they've done. On their 2015 album, Cradle to the Grave, the main purpose was to write a soundtrack album. On The Knowledge, they had the opportunity to explore more topics and musical styles. They write about politics, record collectors and nostalgia. 

"Innocence in Paradise" was the album's lead single and the spiritual title track for the album. The arrangement brings to mind Westerns and desolation. The second single was "Patchouli," a song that reminisces about a simpler time. 

"A&E" and "Rough Ride" conquer social topics, with "A&E" calling for a change to the English healthcare system and "Rough Ride" discussing wealth disparity. "The Ones" is also an exploration of the current state-of-affairs, focusing on fake news and wealth disparity once again. "Final Score" is the sad tale of a man coming to terms with the sexual abuse he experienced as a child at the hands of his coach. 

Much lighter topics can be found in "Every Story" and "Albatross," the latter of which is a fun track about an aging record collector.

With my friend Felicia outside of the former 
Nickelodeon Studios in Florida, 2017.
I've been a fan of Squeeze since high school when my mom would play a cassette of Squeeze tracks in the car. Since then, I've seen them a couple of times and even have tickets to see them open for Hall and Oates this Summer. I have also had the good fortune to interview Chris Difford for Rebeat (online music magazine). When The Knowledge came out, I was sent a review copy. 

I love The Knowledge for a number of reasons. I think the melodies are interesting, I love the serious turn the lyrics took. Yolanda Charles provides fresh but fitting basslines. The album also hit me at just the right time in my life. I was listening to it the same time as I was reading John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, which felt like a very personal book that resonated with my life, and I felt that the mood of The Knowledge was very similar. "Patchouli" will always seem like the perfect soundtrack to that book. It's also just one of my favorite songs on the album, along with "Albatross," "Innocence in Paradise" and "Every Story."

It's been four years since Squeeze released an album. I'm sure there will be another one but if not, this would be a good note to go out on.

Let's see that leaderboard!

Join me tomorrow for my favorite album from 2018.

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