Beautiful Freaks S11E07: February Round-Up

It’s another monthly music round-up! We’ve got plenty of music and still a lot of good stuff we weren’t able to play. In the latter category are an ace new single by The Regrettes as well as a couple of singles by Cloud – do check out the B-sides!

There are a few albums featured here that we’ve also reviewed on this website:

  • Montero – Performer: “And I won’t deny that Performer certainly has its moments. Sound-wise, this is the real deal: the 60s have never sounded as full and crisp, as it were. The overall palette is as colourful as the cover, with hints of brass here and there. But real airplanes are noisy in a way Montero is not, and so the music hovers between cloudy and fake.”
  • Chemtrails – Calf of the Sacred Cow: “Chemtrails exist in that space between the past and nowhere; they’re driving on a road with a beginning but no end (and they’re driving fast!). They sing songs from the future, but they’ve also traveled back in time to implant them in our memories.”
  • The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment: “Youth is like a loose tooth, peeling mental collages of hometown gatherings, like film stills, bottle tops, jangling in your pocket, intimate signatures scrawled in American high school yearbooks.”
  • Rainbow Reservoir – Channel Hanna: “And like The Pastels, Rainbow Reservoir have everything to become a well-cherished cult band too few people will ever have heard of. They’re on Odd Box Records, after all! For now, the heirs to Talulah Gosh remain one of Oxford’s better kept secrets, but with Channel Hanna that’s hopefully set to change!”
  • Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus: “Transangelic Exodus feels cursed, writhing, infected with the torment of one’s identity constituting a threat to one’s own existence.”

Then there’s a few albums that we haven’t had time to review, but that I’d briefly like to mention here:

Ought – Room Inside the World (Merge)
Of course, you really want to read Lee’s review of this for Drowned in Sound. She’d clearly been in possession of this album for a longer time then I have, since I am still working to get used to it. ‘Disgraced in America’ is old-school Ought in the way it blurs the boundary between politics and personal feelings, a boundary that is perhaps artifical in the first place (the political is the personal), but which nevertheless plagues music. Other songs on the album show a new side: the sensual, New Order-esque ‘These 3 Things’, and the inventive ‘Desire’ are two other tracks I am starting to like. But as it is with Ought, these things take time, and apart from these three songs I am yet to be surprised, overwhelmed and disappointed.

Thea & The Wild – Ikaros (Propeller Recordings)
Thea & The Wild are from Oslo and their tracks have a pretty cool 80s vibe. Like their debut, the band’s second album Ikaros contains plenty of exciting tracks, of which my favourites are the tragic ‘When a Kiss Becomes a Habit’ (featured in this radio podcast) and early single ‘Paved the Way’. There’s some missers too – ‘Dark Horse’ isn’t the best album opener – but that shouldn’t ruin the fun. Thea & The Wild easily reach the same heights as similar synth pop bands such as Haim. If only Norway were as trendy as LA!

U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited (4AD)
Like Ought, U.S. Girls are politically engaged and difficult to grasp immediately. They also do this thing where a few of the singles are catchy straightaway (‘Mad As Hell’ chief amongst them), while the album as a whole is a whole lot tougher. In any case, In a Poem Unlimited is undoubtedly an interesting work.

Totally Mild – Her (Chapter Music)
The cover of Her featured songwriter Elizabeth Mitchell in a jacuzzi, looking away from the mirror in front of her. Accordingly, the songs on Her are lush, introspective and well-crafted. ‘Lucky Stars’ is one of the most beautiful songs of the year so far, whereas ‘Today Tonight’ and ‘From One Another’ are pop songs as perfect as they can be. Yet, as a whole Totally Mild’s second album can be sulky at times, indulgent like that warm bedroom bath on the cover image. Some songs fall flat like soap bubbles from a lack of a sense of urgency or a bit of wit. But that may sound harsher then it’s meant: as the weaker songs on Her are pleasant to listen to. 

And of course, we played many new singles which will be followed up by full-length albums in the coming months. Here’s the full playlist:

1. Eels – Beautiful Freak

2. Skott – Stay Off My Mind
3. U.S. Girls – M.A.H.
4. Montero – Vibrations

5. The Orielles – Sunflower Seeds
6. Girlpool – Picturesong
7. Common Holly – Thinkin’ Bout You

8. Thea & The Wild – When a Kiss Becomes a Habit
9. Speedy Ortiz – Lucky 88

10. Remember Sports – Up From Below
11. Frankie Cosmos – Being Alive
12. Rainbow Reservoir – Brenda

13. Ezra Furman – God Lifts Up the Lowly
14. Frøkedal – Believe
15. Trace Mountains – Cary’s Dreams

16. Hop Along – Abel
17. Totally Mild – From One Another
18. Nilüfer Yanya – Thanks 4 Nothing

19. Belly – Shiny One

-- Beautiful Freaks, March 2, 2018