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Margot and the Nuclear So and So's

Happy Hour at Sprigg's Vol. 1: Live & Acoustic

(Mariel Recording Company; US: 11 Jan 2011; UK: import)

The acoustic performance is trickier than it seems. The fundamental approach can sometimes yield performances that are intimate and, at their best, offer a new context for the way we hear songs we thought we already knew. However, all too often acoustic performances can slip into something overly simple and drowsy. Unfortunately, Happy Hour at Sprigg’s falls into that drowsy camp. As a companion piece to the band’s latest album, Buzzard, it is at first an interesting counterpoint to the moody power-pop of that record. After the first few hushed strums, though, none of these songs offers much in the way of surprises. The songs taken from that record, particularly opener “Will You Love Me Forever?”, feel thin without the album’s buzzing layers, and laid bare the melodies don’t quite hold up. New songs like “There’s a Freakshow Downtown” feel like they didn’t make the record for a reason, since it’s hard to tell where they’re going without other instruments to help fill them out. This isn’t to say that this isn’t a heartfelt performance—the feeling in Richard Edwards’s voice nearly keeps the set afloat—it’s just that it doesn’t add anything to the songs on the album and mostly leaves you missing what’s not there rather than investing in what is.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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As the leader of Indianapolis’s Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Richard Edwards is a songwriter who knows what he wants. The result has been one of the more varied and interesting discographies to be found among modern indies.
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