Release Date: Apr 7, 2009
Record label: Suicide Squeeze
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Whippersnappers sound whippedOn their self-titled 2007 debut, The Coathangers established themselves as quartet of tough-talking, grunge-smudged Atlanta pop sweethearts with simple demands: “Shut The Fuck Up,” “Don’t Touch My Shit,” “Nestle in My Boobies. ” It proved oddly charming at the time, but already feels a bit tired on LP number two. Run through with kitschy soundbites from retro sci-fi flicks and news broadcasts, a few tracks expand the band’s musical palate (“Sonic You” is their first downright lovely tune) but the rest sink into a predictable groove of dumpy bass-lines and puckish drum fills, and mining far less satisfyingly sassy lyrical territory than the band’s debut.
If the only good reason to overturn apple carts is for the fun of it, how 'bout them apples? Like Athens' Pylon before them, all-grrl Atlanta quartet the Coathangers are making sure the revolution will not be such a drag. On a rough 'n' rowdy self-titled 2007 debut via local label Rob's House Records, they swapped "Suck My Left One" for "Nestle in My Boobies", "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!" for "Shut the Fuck Up", hating Margaret Thatcher for sympathizing with "Tonya Harding". Word is their ramshackle live shows-- alongside the likes of Deerhunter, Black Lips, Jay Reatard, and, next month, Calvin Johnson-- have included loogies and My Little Pony.
The deliberately skuzzy post-punk grime that is meant to cover the Coathangers’ second full-length like a dark film is really only the second most accomplished thing about the album. A freakishly jumbled tour through the riot grrrl rot of my older sister’s prime, Scramble stumbles along with a clubfoot until it finds its placing as a refreshing bit of noise in a tragically derivative setting. The kind of album with its tongue firmly placed in its cheek and its middle finger raised high in the air, Scramble is nothing if not self-aware.
Fidelity might be holding the Coathangers back on their new album, Scramble. But the stripped-down sound gives them an infusion of bratty energy. Songs like “143”, “Arthritis Sux”, and “Bury Me” are clever, tense and as fun as they are bracing. On these songs, their boundless energy can range from doe-eyed zeal to bone-deep scorn, and the band is at top form, since some of the other songs—like “Gettin’ Mad and Pumpin’ Iron—rely far too much on ironic anger.
Since the bubbly hiss of their eponymous 2007 debut, Atlanta punk foursome the Coathangers have found confidence in dissonance. On sophomore LP Scramble, they do just that, guitarist Julia Kugel's yelp, bassist Meredith Franco's screech, and drummer Stephanie Luke's growl meshing like a drunken 2am bar conversation from song to song. The group screams of "Arthritis Sux" and "Gettin' Mad and Pumpin' Iron" show their feral chemistry, but there's diversity beyond three chords.