Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s began in the desolate mid-west suburbia. The Nuclear So and So’s include Richard Edwards (vocals, songwriting, and guitar), Andy Fry (guitars), Chris Fry (drums), Jesse Lee (cello), Emily Watkins (keys, backing vocals), and Tyler Watkins (bass). The band came together in a small house owned Andy Fry. Here, the members became good friends and solidified their sound. During a cold winter they recorded their debut album, ‘The dust of retreat.’ Based on my research the band’s name is based on the character in Wes Anderson’s comedy The Royal Tenenbaums named Margot Tenenbaum.
A sea chanty of sorts:
chanty: A song sung by sailors to the rhythm of their movements while working.
Press play and close your eyes. The beautiful sound mastering of this track will sooth your mind and sway your body back and forth. As time slowly progresses more instruments join into this medley of sound. Edwards’ vocals adds the right tone to set the mood, the variety of instruments, and background chorus creates a beautiful harmony of sound. The song itself is very sad and reveals itself to you in the lyrics before fading back out into a whispering chanty.
Skeleton Key: Gorgeous transitioning occurs between track one and track two – it seems as if the flow of the band’s playing continues without hindrance and simply changes pace slightly. Fry and Watkins magically perform an uplifting and positive beat. This song elegantly changes sound periodically by introducing different band members, such as Lee and his application of the cello.
Vampires in blue dress: Straight into this track we hear Edwards’ gentle voice supported by pleasant accents from E. Watkins and Lee. Throughout the song, Lee shines by setting the mood and rhythm for this track. E. Watkins also introduces a sort of “organ” sound into the song that matches well. Towards the end of the song, the band is accompanied by a trumpet making it’s presence clear.
Quiet as a mouse: Lee kicks in again, making you feel as a mouse, sneaking around while T. Watkins and the Frys create an uptown Seattle kind of feel. To me it seems like a mouse quietly chillin’ around the place tryin’ to find something to do. The track continues telling it’s story, varying between upbeats and downbeats before closing in a multi-directional and appealing cacophony of instruments.
Jen is bringin’ the drugs: This track is a definite change of tempo. Slower rhythm and gentle acoustic guitars greet the audience. Edwards’ vocals are also more melancholy. Accent and emphasis is made with the drums at decisive moments.
Dress me like a clown: This track continues the beautiful singularity of this band. Gentle electronica and cello play roll sensuously and are complimented with soft percussion. Previous tracks have shown how gracefully the band offers variation within a single track; this song is a shining example of this ability.
On a freezing Chicago street: Cello gently rolling, drums evoking a steady and upbeat pace, and Edwards’ vocals make this song feel positive. Moments later, this song is strengthened even further as the drums, cello, and keys join together in a harmonious euphony.
Paper kitten nightmare: Unfortunately, this is a song that takes some time to like. Don’t get me wrong, the instruments and the sound is there. However, the repetition of “meow” in the song seems a little much. But, it seems like one of those songs that grow on you over time. Gentle background vocals care of Emily are gorgeous and cohere to Edwards’ vocals. Bassist T. Watkins introduces his skill set with accord.
Barfight revolution, power violence: A defiant change from the first portion of the album. It sets in with scratchy electronic guitar play and lucid percussion. Edwards’ vocals shine with variance from a soft expression to a passionate anger. The instruments also assist Edwards in his variation and change accordingly.
A light on a hill: Silken guitar play with gentle rifts and pleasant key play introduce a mild theme. Edwards’ vocals evoke a pained state of emotion. Lee also presents himself harmoniously into the melody that captures you and sways you back and forth.
Talking in code: Solo guitar precedes this song momentarily and a single solid drum strike foretells the coming gathering of instruments after another brief guitar solo. Edwards seizes your attention with scratchy heavy emotion with his apprehensive vocals. Like Barfight revolution, power violence, Edwards’ vocals vary from a soft expression to a passionate anger.
Bookworm: Another pleasing change of pace. Upbeat percussion, keys, and guitar play stimulate the ears gently. Once again, the band masterfully demonstrates their ability to vary themselves in a single song.
Overall, Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s have captured my attention. The variety of instruments and originality between each track is heavily noted. I love listening to old school string instruments. Jesse Lee on the cello is fuckin’ amazing. Of course I highlight him, right? Common now. I recommend adding their album to your collection or download them immediately for your listening pleasure.