So and so good 

Credit: Stephanie Bassos

When Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s emerged in the mid-2000s with the brilliant chamber-pop record The Dust of Retreat, major labels saw the band as the next Arcade Fire, The Shins or The Decemberists.

Too bad chief songwriter and lead singer Richard Edwards never planned on sticking to one sound, turning his relationship with Epic Records sour when it came time to release a follow-up.

“It was a rough situation, but when you are fighting for your record the way you want it to be, it’s going to be a worthwhile fight,” he said. “I’d do the same thing all over again.”

Margot ended up releasing two versions of the result: Not Animal and Animal!, respectively the label’s cut and Edwards’ cut. The deal evaporated soon after, and the group has been independent ever since.

“Obviously, you don’t have to deal with bullshit from people. That’s nice,” he said. “You can do what you want. We always did that, anyways, but there’s roadblocks whenever you are working with other people’s money. The downside is not having the budget to do some things.”

Edwards has used his freedom to strip down the orchestral-pop sound to something more in line with ’90s altrock legends Pavement and Dinosaur Jr., as heard in 2010’s Buzzard.

“Nothing prompted it. It
just felt like the natural thing to do,” he said. “That tendency had
always been there. It was just overshadowed by all the instrumentation.”

The group’s brand-new record, Rot Gut, Domestic, follows suit, if even more bristling and unpredictable than the last.

think it’s a punchy pop record, the kind of record I’ve wanted to make
since I was a teenager,” Edwards said. “In that regard, I’m very happy
with it.”

He has already written the next one, possibly more aligned with Margot’s earlier material, describing it as “not quite as distorted and
not quite as punchy … a little more mellow and breezy, but that can

With few obstacles in the way, Edwards said he hopes to have the record out in 2013, but “real life gets in the way sometimes.”

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