Margot & The Nuclear So And So's
Margot & The Nuclear So And So's
When the time came to record the follow-up to their debut album The Dust of Retreat at the end of 2007, the eight members of Indianapolis' art-pop collective Margot and the Nuclear So and So's traveled to Chicago to camp out in the studio of their new producer Brian Deck. There, during one of the coldest winters the Windy City had experienced in decades, the group worked in shifts, with band members recording their parts in shifts around the clock. This went on for three straight months.
"People didn't really leave the studio," recalls Margot's frontman and songwriter Richard Edwards. "It was freezing." "But we had little mats on the floor, so you could sleep anywhere," guitarist Andy Fry adds brightly. "If you got drunk enough, eventually you'd pass out somewhere."
For the band, the result of their labors is Animal! a genre-defying blend of lilting melodies, grinding guitars, sweeping strings, and frenetic percussive elements, topped off by Edwards' expressive, yet often apprehensive croon. The songs, initially written by Edwards, swell into noisy mini pop-operas once filtered through Margot's collectively skewed sensibility. "With eight people, there's a lot of possibility for noise-making," Fry observes.
Spent, but elated after their three months in Chicago with Deck, Margot gave Animal! to its label, Epic Records, which had fallen in love with the bohemian indie group and signed them in October 2007 a few years after their previous label, Artemis Records, shut down. Epic expressed disappointment that Animal! was missing several key songs that the band had been performing over the years, including the fan favorite "Broadripple is Burning." Firm in their vision, Edwards and Fry were unwilling to alter the track-listing. Drama ensued, but a compromise was reached. Epic would release two albums: Animal!, featuring the band's original song sequence, would come out on vinyl (with a digital download card inside), while Not Animal, a compilation of the label's favorites plus five tracks from Animal!, would be made available digitally and on CD.
"It seemed like an okay solution," Edwards says. "I don't have a problem with the other songs, I just don't think they hang together as a album. I consider Not Animal more like a compilation of songs." Adds Fry: "Animal! feels like the director's cut. The cool thing about it is that Epic did leave us alone and let us make the record we wanted to make. It's untouched as far as what we wanted to do."
Taken together, the 12 tracks on Animal! unfold under a cloud of anxiety, which Edwards struggled with while writing the songs last year. "I had trouble leaving my house," he says. "I was experiencing very severe panic attacks, so I wrote while I was buried at home doing much of anything."
Because Edwards and Fry, along with three other band members Fry's brother, drummer Chris Fry, percussionist Casey Tennis, and keyboardist Emily Watkins all live together in the same house in Indianapolis, it was inevitable that Edwards' nervous state would affect Margot's music. "The album's broader theme is definitely fear," says Fry. "The mood sometimes feels like a heavy blanket of doom."
And so songs arose like "Hello Vagina" (about the Heaven's Gate cult whose Nike-clad followers committed suicide in 1997), "As Tall As Cliffs" (about a ghost in a haunted hotel trying to hang a sheriff), and "Mariel's Brazen Overture, ("about farm children who set up a community in a mineshaft," Edwards says). Others, like "A Children's Crusade on Acid," "Broadripple is Burning," and "My Baby Shoots Her Mouth Off," Edwards explains away as "just a string of words put together. I'm never writing about anything. If I'm writing about somebody shooting their mouth off, I just fill in words with little bits of experience." Then there's "I'm A Lightning Rod," which Fry feels sums up the anxious mood of the past few years.
Those years may not have always been easy, but they did include Margot and the Nuclear So and So's creating one of the most beguiling indie debuts in recent memory. Lyrically based on Edwards' musings on what life must have been like in 1960s Greenwich Village, The Dust of Retreat is a lush, folky affair that led one critic, writing in Harp, to declare it "everything you like about music: vibrant, cathartic, expressive, commiserative, eloquent, elegant, awesome." After the album was released (by the Standard Recording Company in 2005), then remixed and re-released (by Artemis Records in 2006), the band hit the road traveling the country in a beat-up black school bus that had bunks, but no air-conditioning. ("I'm not sure it was even street-legal," Fry says.) After logging more than 100,000 miles, it was time to go home and make a new record.
"I just wanted the new songs to sound a bit more raw," Edwards says. "I wanted them to be noisier to have more sounds and more electric guitar. They don't sound like what we did when we first got together."
Edwards and Fry formed Margot in 2004, originally telling journalists that they had met in a pet store, but which they now admit is untrue. Now 24, Edwards had been writing songs since the age of 13. Eventually he began to play acoustic shows, but, due to strict Indiana liquor laws, had to wait outside the club until it was his turn to go on. Fry caught a few of those early shows. "I hadn't heard anyone with a voice like his who could write songs like that," he says of Edwards. The two became fast friends, bonding over a love of the Beatles and their shared musical ambitions. "Here was somebody who was going to take playing music seriously," Edwards says of Fry. "Andy was one of the first people I met who felt the same about it that I did."
The two decided they were going to "do it or die," as Fry puts its. "Then we ran out of money so we had to move in together." One by one, musicians they had begun to play with also moved in, figuring housing was part of the deal if they joined the band. "Most of them were borderline homeless," Edwards recalls, "so it was mostly out of necessity. We didn't plan to make it some sort of commune." Nevertheless, a communal vibe emerged, one that exists to this day as this rag-tag band of eight continue to make music together. In July 2008, they became the first artists to formally release the songs from a session recorded for online music site Daytrotter. The Daytrotter Sessions EP includes four songs from Animal!/Not Animal and the Dust of Retreat favorite "Bookworm." In August, they performed a well-received set at legendary rock festival Lollapalooza.
All of Margot's shared adventures have led to a self-assurance as a band that informs the songs on both Animal! and Not Animal. "The music is definitely more assertive," Fry says of the 19 collected tracks. "We've become a lot more confident from playing together, getting in fights, resolving them, and learning about each other."
Says Edwards: "The music just sounds more like us."
Deleted Scenes burst onto the now legendary Olney, Maryland hyphy-pop scene in 1998, after songwriters Dan Scheuerman and Matt Dowling met at a juvenile detention center urinal while visiting incarcerated relatives. Citing Cabaret Voltaire, Sparks, and Misissippi John Hurt among the artists in which they were in no way influenced, the two immediately began sculpting the Deleted Scenes signature sound using mostly shoe horns and limp pillows. Guitarist Chris Scheffey and drummer Brian Hospital soon joined the compulsively apologetic duo to take their nefarious bedroom scuzz into a live setting. .... In 2005, Deleted Scenes entered a commodious hellhole in East Baltimore to record the four songs that would make up the "Deleted Scenes" EP. Following the album's release, the band hit the road in Scheffey's father's airbrushed, self-portrait-slathered bread van, playing scores of dates across the US in an attempt to get people to like them. .... After having their van covered with faded denim in Gary, Indiana, Deleted Scenes relocated to Washington, D.C where they subsisted exclusively on Ethiopian fir-fir and recorded only raindrops for three months. .... It was around this time in 2007 that Deleted Scenes stumbled upon a surrealistic plop of a record called "Sookie Jump" by one "L. Skell" (of The Rude Staircase), and immediately went on a crusade to hunt down the now bald and olfactorily unpleasant recluse. Wearing sneakers, the band drove up to Skell's West Philadelphia dungeon, only to find him in a salvia, nutmeg and EPMD-induced stupor. After haranguing him for 10 straight hours, Skell finally agreed to help in the creation of what would become "Birdseed Shirt". .... Following tender sessions with heroic soundsmith J. Robbins, the band holed up in Skell's dark, dank hermitage for 17 months collecting like stamps every last perfumed essence of sound until what resulted was not only a mellifluous, anthemic collage of existential joy and despair, but the best pop record of 2009. Dig! .... "Birdseed Shirt", Deleted Scenes first full length record, unclenches your chest and pours sonic Elysian Fields inside, waterboarding your viscera with unspeakably catchy hooks and unbridled, youthful senescence. .. --What Delicate Recordings .. ..------------------- ..Birdseed Shirt comes out Jan 6 on What Delicate Recordings. .... "brave and ferocious... 8.0" --Pitchfork .... "Deleted Scenes' recent album, Birdseed Shirt, often sounds as if it's been gently glazed with cold medication, but that doesn't mean it's creatively sluggish. All that fine-tuned, morose reverb and space opens up on a band that has enough subtle craft to explore everything from its mopey side ("Get Your Shit Together For The Holidays") to psych-rock aggression ("Mortal Sin")." ..--The Onion .... "So go see the Deleted Scenes in a small club while you can." ..--Madison Isthmus .... "Cheer factor: -4 out of 10, though it's a good kind of hurt. "Keep your shit together for a couple days," Scheuerman sings, reminding himself and the listeners that the holidays aren't the only thing that can't last forever." ..--Black Plastic Bag .... "The first full length album from the Deleted Scenes' Birdseed Shirt will take you back to a time when indie rock was not just the sophisticated soft rock that it has morphed into in recent years. Each and every song on this album is not only a musical example of song writing at its best, but a lyrically as well. The strongest songs on the album are many layered walls of sound. The more subdued songs create a cyclical rhythm with catchy hooks that will have you bobbing your head or hosting your own personal dance party." ..--Sen Baltimore .... "The range of emotions - the strength of anger, the saturation of joy - pour out of this new bundle of songs. "Take My Life" is a grand example of this - starting off soft and sweet even though the lyrics talk of suicide (the sound almost beckons comparisons to Ra Ra Riot or Band Of Horses), but as it progresses the track cranks to a new height with a chorus I simply love to sing along with. Another highlight for me is "City That Never Wakes Up". Here's a song built on a complex rhythm and a chanting chorus that ebbs and flows then sparkles at the end. It's like a walk through a midnight drenched city." ..--Pasta Primavera .... On "Mortal Sin," the band takes an acid-rock trip that's absolutely habit-forming, while "Ithaca" features a beat that's weirdly reminiscent of the old Filter tune "Take a Picture." Even "Turn to Sand," which begins like a pretty straight-ahead pop song, surprises after a few bars thanks to a sneak attack of blues licks. ..--Madison Isthmus .... "'Birdseed Shirt' is one of the D.C. area's finest indie-rock CDs ever released, sounding a bit like the reverbed Americana of My Morning Jacket if that band wasn't always lost in the Grand Canyon, or a more vibrant version of Galaxie 500's gentle psychedelia. ..--Washington Post Express .... "It's an understatement to call the album an ambitious debut. Deleted Scenes mixes up genres and styles on practically every song, from the bluesy swagger of opener "Turn to Sand" to the playful "Ithaca" which answers the question "If Peter Gabriel jammed with Sunny Day Real Estate, what would it sound like?" (Answer: Awesome.)" ..--DCist .... "Birdseed Shirt is a fantastic debut and it reinforces what we've been saying all along. It's shocking that this band isn't huge." ..--DCist .... "Deleted Scenes is one of those bands that I kept hearing about rather than actually hearing. So I was wonderfully surprised when they turned out to be way better than I was expecting. Deleted Scenes (DC/Brooklyn) plays propulsive, rhythmic indie rock with wonderful psychedelic arrangements, a great sense of humour and best of all they don't disappoint. I kept hitting the repeat button on the MP3 player every time "Mortal Sin" came on." ..--Duggup (UK) .... "The songs Deleted Scenes recently posted to their MySpace page are surprisingly ambitious--delicately psychedelic Americana that makes judicious use of musical gizmos and gadgets to instill an autumnal stoner vibe. Songs like "Fake ID" are steeped in blurry digital haze, as if somebody tried to play the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory song "Pure Imagination" through a modem circa 1997." ..--Aaron Leitko, Washington Post Express .... "Where are the labels that should be chomping at the bit to release a band like this?" ..--J Robbins on jrobbins.net .... "Harmonies supplement smooth lead vocals; Beatles-y hooks populate head-bobbing numbers like the lead track, "Turn to Sand"; Fugazoid angular repetition rears its head here and there. On the standout track "Ithaca," the band shows that pleasant polyrhythms can set up a song without veering too far into Graceland territory." ..--Pittsburgh City Paper .... "[In "Ithaca"] a constant tonal ringing is a frame for the band's somewhat afro-cussion, bright, accommodating guitar melodies and Menomena-esque double-vocal lines." ..--Peer Validated .... "Brooklyn's Deleted Scenes are an ambitious indie quartet with a fine line in delicate psych stained Americana. As moody as a chameleon sitting on a De Kooning painting with confessional lyrics that are more Priory therapy session than depressives diary the band could be the alter ego of the Summer of Love." ..--The Devil Has the Best Tuna .... "Deleted Scenes is a great band. Not a great local band, but a great band in general." -- DCist.com .... ..RIYL: Dismemberment Plan, Danielson Familie, Modest Mouse, Talking Heads, & Elliott Smith .... ..Key Tracks: "Fake IDs," "Ithaca," "Mortal Sin," "Turn to Sand" ....
Land Of Vandals
Jentri's voice is a Madison treasure and we are glad to have her back out with her latest band incarnation named Land of Vandals. The band lists their music as minimalist, indie/rock. Imagine a cross between Neil Young and Cat Power, but with a distinct sultry, almost melancholic voice and sound.
Band members are
Jentri Colello: Guitar/Vocals/Snow angels
Phil Feutz: Guitar/Organ/Skateskiing
Tony Messinger: Organ/Guitar/Pink pants
Casey Foubert: Drums/Adjunct faculty
High Noon Saloon
701 E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 18|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|