Release Date: Jun 7, 2011
Record label: Suicide Squeeze
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
While the concept of a gang of girls playing music together like it's 1992 is hardly a new phenomenon, there's something decidedly exciting about Atlanta four-piece The Coathangers that sets them apart from most of their peers in what is becoming a saturated marketplace. Having formed in 2006 more as an excuse to hang out with the (so-called) cool people in their hometown, the four Coathangers - Julia Kugel (aka Crook Kid Coathanger), Meredith Franco (Minnie Coathanger), Stephanie Luke (Rusty Coathanger) and Candice Jones (BeBe Coathanger)- may not have been the most proficient at tuning their instruments, but such minor inadequacies never stopped people like Kathleen Hanna from becoming the figurehead of a scene. If their embryonic years were seen as something of an Atlanta in-joke - and to be fair, both Larceny & Old Lace's predecessors have their moments of inspired greatness, particularly 2009's Scramble, which at least altered many perceptions of those who had the band down as little more than an elaborately shambolic pisstake.
When the Coathangers formed five years ago, as something of a party joke, the band's four members had little musical education to speak of. But they're no joke now, having since released a pair of riotous albums, plus about a half-dozen trashy, cheeky, shrieking 7" singles. They're also grizzled road warriors, headlining bars from Fargo, N.D., to Allston, Mass., in between supporting gigs with the likes of the Thermals, Mika Miko, and These Arms Are Snakes.
With the noticeable polish of a professional recording studio and improved songwriting, the band’s third album, Larceny & Old Lace, finds The Coathangers at their most mature and varied. We’re hearing a band that’s come a long way from the group of girls who first picked up instruments as an excuse to play parties – we’re hearing musicians whose chops have finally developed enough to live up to all of their promise. At the best points on their previous albums, The Coathangers sounded like vintage riot grrl rock at its most infectious.
Pretty much everything you need to know about the Coathangers is contained in “Hurricane”, the opening track to their third album, Larceny and Old Lace. Since the release of their self-titled debut in 2007, the band has developeed something of a cult following—inexplicably, to me—with its brand of shrill punk-thrash-twee. It’s as enjoyable as an ice pick to the ears, and obviously it’s meant to be.
The Coathangers get critiqued in terms of gender because, as an all-girl band, they write songs about having a good time instead of toppling the patriarchy or being heartbroken. For its third album, Larceny & Old Lace (also the name of a Golden Girls episode), the Atlanta quartet doesn't downplay anything in this evolution from the shaky barroom scream of 2009's Scramble. "Johnny" and "Chicken: 30" both have the same dissonant abandon as Scramble's "Gettin' Mad and Pumpin' Iron," but from righteous opener "Hurricane" through sentimental closer "Tabbacco Rd.," the nasal vocal trade-offs have softened a bit, the subject matter and hooks grown more nuanced.