So & so what?

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Usually when a label meddles with a band's album, what the suits say goes. Not so with Margot & the Nuclear So and So's - at least, not exactly.

The Indianapolis folk-rock group, which features Columbus' Erik Kang on pedal steel, violin and guitar, struck a strange bargain with their label, Epic. After the band turned in its opus, Animal!, Epic suggested a different tracklist including songs the label thought were more accessible than some of those the band had chosen.

Rather than stalemate or submission, the band and the label compromised: They released both records. Margot's preferred version came out as Animal!, while Epic's tracklist emerged as Not Animal! It's an unusual and imperfect solution, but few up-and-coming bands could coax as much from a major label.

You'd do better, of course, to stick with the band's original vision, but both records offer a rewarding listen. Fans of Arcade Fire and Wilco will find a pleasant middle ground between the former's bigger-the-better orchestral indie rock and the latter's sighing postmodern folk-rock.

Thanks to a large cast of performers, Margot has no problem pulling this off on stage. And whether you want to congratulate local dude Kang for a job well done or revel in the glory of a great band on the rise, Sunday's show at Skully's - the band's first Columbus stop since Kang joined the band two years ago - merits your attention.