Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s: Buzzard

RIYL: Aqualung, Nada Surf, Rogue Wave

It’s interesting to note or see when a band loses its record deal or exits from a major label on its own, and what happens afterward. Many times the band breaks up and goes their separate ways, but these days that’s just the beginning for some artists; with Chicago-based band Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s being one such act. Their previous albums – The Dust of Retreat (Artemis, 2005) and Animal (as well as Not Animal – Epic, 2008) – were similarly lush and brooding with lots of orchestration. But now back to being fully indie, singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Edwards took six months off before gathering the rest of the band to record again, and the result is the beautifully haunting Buzzard. These songs can maybe best be described as raunchy Halloween-inspired stoner rock, with melodies. The strings are gone and the crunching Fender guitar sound is prominent. There are moments, of course, when Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s reaches back a couple of years and delivers some similar material, particularly on “Tiny Vampire Robot” and the beautifully acoustic “I Do.” But the raunch is in full bloom on “Let’s Paint Our Teeth Green” and “New York City Hotel Blues,” as well as the album’s best track, “Freak Flight Speed.” Oh, and there is also “Your Lower Back,” a somewhat playful nod to a young stripper. Not only does Buzzard have the type of music you might hear in the hip indie record store, it’s maybe Margot’s best album yet – and perhaps the one they’ve wanted to make all along. (Mariel/Redeye 2010)

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s MySpace page


The Hours: See the Light

They would surely bristle at the idea that their songs are of the throwback variety, but the simple fact is that there aren’t many, if any, bands writing the kind of music that propels See the Light, the magnificent new album by UK duo (or is it septet?) the Hours. Singer Antony Genn’s phrasing recalls Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt (though Genn is a much better singer), and the songs are flat-out skyscrapers, gorgeous piano-driven epics that put the ‘wide’ in widescreen. “Come On” uses seven words to create one of the catchiest choruses you’ll hear this year, while the seven-minute title track is a brilliant, two-chord slow burner, like a mid-tempo version of Pulp’s “Common People” (which is fitting, since Genn is a Pulp alumnus). There is a lyrical gaffe here and there – “The Girl Who Had the World at Her Feet” opens with the line “The cash cow is heading for the slaughterhouse,” ugh – but such bits come with the territory, and their damage is minimal. Don’t be surprised if these guys become a very big deal in a very short amount of time. (IsGoodLtd 2009)

The Hours MySpace page
Click to buy See the Light