You may not have heard of Margot and the Nuclear So & Sos, but based on the quality of the sophomore album(s) released this week by the eight-member Indianapolis folk-rock act, I’m predicting you soon shall. I was lucky enough to catch Margot’s show last night — celebrating the simultaneous release of Animal! (the band’s ideal album, on vinyl only) and Not Animal! (Epic Records’ preferred version, on CD and for digital download) — at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. The two albums only share five songs in common, and Margot’s fall tour set list, thankfully for true fans, is dedicated to Animal!
The small stage, with the iconic Margot art hung against the backdrop, was packed with instruments, including a keyboard, several guitars, drums, a cello, a fiddle, a trumpet, tambourines, even an empty Sparklets bottle. The band came out in true Margot fashion — all wearing animal masks. The octet, joined by two additional musicians, killed it from the start. I couldn’t take my eyes off Richard Edwards, the lead vocalist and guitarist. Edwards is a scruffy, tight t-shirt-wearing, red wine-swigging protagonist with undeniable stage presence. His dark, romantic, wry lyrics managed to rise above the mix of all the splendid noise and fervent guitar riffs.
Which isn’t to take any credit away from the other nine musicians onstage, who all played together in wild unison. PercussionistCasey Tennis moves around the stage like a freedmonkey, clashing drums and thumping on his Sparklets bottle. And EmilyWatkins, who sits behind her wooden keyboard, endearingly reluctant tomove into the spotlight, has a soft voice that accompanies Edwards’vocals beautifully.
“A Children’s Crusade on Acid” may have left the biggest impressionon me. Margot was particularly tight on this track, and of course the lyrics on this song only help: “Satan settle down, keepyour trousers on. You can warm the globe, but leave my wretched soulalone.” To much praise, Margot also played a handful of songs from their debut album, The Dust of Retreat— a record that immediately landed them on my list of Top 5 Bands I Adore and on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List — including “Dress Me Like a Clown,” “Skeleton Key,” and “Quiet as a Mouse” (the video for which is embedded below). When themusic ended I wanted more. I had spent the last 90 minutes in myspecial place. You know that place if you’re a music lover, completeeuphoria.
The band still has five weeks left of touring. If they come to yourtown, do yourself a wonderful favor and go see ’em.