released Sept 21st, 2010
from the album - Claws Off
The dreamy, bittersweet music of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's is primarily the work of singer/songwriter Richard Edwards, who formed the indie rock collective in his native Indianapolis. Named after the Margot Tenenbaum character in Wes Anderson's sophisticated comedy The Royal Tenenbaums, the band took root in 2004, when Edwards decided to flesh out his scenic chamber pop sound with help from guitarist Andy Fry, cellist Jesse Lee, pianist Emily Watkins, trumpeter Hubert Glover, drummer Chris Fry, percussionist Casey Tennis, and bassist Tyler Watkins.
The band's debut album, The Dust of Retreat, was issued on the local indie label Standard Recording in 2005. The picturesque, dozen-song set earned the band a loyal following, and Margot & the Nuclear So and So's signed with Artemis Records later that year. A remixed and remastered version of The Dust of Retreat was released in March 2006, but a series of label acquisitions (Artemis bought V2, Virgin Records effectively absorbed the band, and Capitol merged with Virgin) convinced the group to partner with another company instead. They relocated to the Epic roster in October 2007 while working on their sophomore release. After tracking approximately 25 songs, however, the band clashed with Epic over which songs to include in the final release. As a result, two versions of the album were released: Animal!, a vinyl and digital release of the band's preferred version, and Not Animal, a traditional CD release featuring those songs favored by the label.
After touring in support of the Animal! albums, Edwards relocated to Chicago and began pruning the band's lineup, eventually dissolving it altogether and rebuilding it from the ground up. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's thus became a six-piece band featuring Brian Deck on drums, Ronnie Kwasman and Erik Kang on guitar, Cameron McGill on keyboards, and Tyler Watkins on bass. Watkins and Kang had both played in an earlier version of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, while the other three were Chicago-based musicians who joined the lineup in 2009. After building a makeshift recording studio in an abandoned movie theater, the six explored a lean, rock-influenced sound on Buzzard, which became the band's third album after its release in September 2010.
Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, once a sprawling octet featuring horn players, violinists, and two different percussionists, have made a habit of redefining themselves with each album. After releasing The Dust of Retreat in 2005 (and reissuing it to a wider audience in 2006), the group ditched its chamber pop approach and recorded Animal!, a textured sophomore album that couched the band’s pretty melodies in sparse, Elliott Smith-worthy balladry and indie rock experimentation. More changes are afoot on Buzzard, Margot’s first record as a slimmed-down sextet. By now, it’s become more than clear that Richard Edwards is the ringleader. He’s the vocalist, the songwriter, the person with enough authority to dissolve the entire band and rebuilt it from scratch, using two previous bandmates and three new ones to create a lineup devoid of strings and horn players. Under Edwards’ direction, the Nuclear So and So’s become a lean, raw rock band on Buzzard, which doubles as the band’s first genuine rock album.
This is still a Margot record, though, meaning there’s enough eccentricity and surrealism to keep things unexpected. Edwards is a volatile personality, capable of crooning an ode to self-pity one minute and lashing out at a lover the next. “If you wanna go, get lost/If you wanna stay, shut up,” he sings during “Claws Off.” Several songs later, he half-heartedly tries to patch things up, explaining, “I’m never gonna break your heart/Not unless I have to.” Electric guitars anchor nearly every song, and a clarinet solo on “Tiny Vampire Robot” is one of the only hints at The Dust of Retreat’s orchestral sound. It’s easy to miss the early days, when Edwards combated his melancholia with the sweeping swells of a seven-piece chamber pop band, but this is a different band altogether -- not better, not worse, just entirely different.
1 Birds Edwards 3:53
2 Let's Paint Our Teeth Green Edwards 3:11
3 New York City Hotel Blues Edwards 3:47
4 Claws Off Edwards 3:28
5 Will You Love Me Forever? Edwards 3:57
6 Tiny Vampire Robot Edwards 4:05
7 Your Lower Back Edwards 5:10
8 Freak Flight Speed Edwards 5:12
9 My Baby (Cares for the Animals) Edwards 3:37
10 Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic Edwards 3:46
11 Earth to Aliens: What Do You Want? Edwards 3:58
12 I Do Edwards 5:15