Review : The Coathangers - Larceny & Old Lace
PitchforkWhen 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.
Somewhere in all that, the Coathangers must've learned how to play. Larceny & Old Lace, the quartet's third album and second for Seattle-based Suicide Squeeze, carries over the chaotically hooky vitality of their previous records. But here, they've added more varied songwriting, (relatively) tighter instrumentation, and-- for the first time-- a real studio, the Living Room in Atlanta, where the band reunited with producer Ed Rawls (Deerhunter, Black Lips, Zoroaster). Named after a Mickey Rooney-guesting "Golden Girls" episode that was itself named after playwright Joseph Kesselring's screwball comedy Arsenic and Old Lace, the Coathangers' latest finds a notorious must-see live band finally capturing some of the energy of its shows on record.
Just because the Coathangers are taking their game more seriously doesn't mean it isn't still a game. With all four members trading off idiosyncratic vocals-- ranging from guitarist Julia Kugel's Victoria Jackson chirp to drummer Stephanie Luke's full-throated roar-- there's still plenty of jagged, playful aggression, whether that involves damning the titular jerk of "Johnny" over gloomy post-punk or tearing off faces between stabbing guitar and whirligig keyboard on "Chicken: 30". But the Coathangers now pay more attention to detail, starting with first single "Hurricane", which veers from raspy shouts and brittle guitar riffs to zombie-apocalypse cheerleader chants and ominous whispers shaded by clacking drumsticks. They also try on more styles: Where "Call to Nothing" pledges ill-fated devotion through scratchy guitar and heavy bass recalling the Slits, "Well Alright" rides a demented roadhouse blues and "My Baby" slows down to a loping love groove-- for stalkers. These might not be the furthest-out ideas, but they're new for the Coathangers, and they're executed with badass charisma....full text
PopmattersPretty 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. Then again, maybe it’s just an acquired taste, and I haven’t yet acquired it. If you find yourself nodding enthusiastically to this track, then you might want to settle in, because you’ll find plenty more to love.
But back to “Hurricane”. The tune opens with stomping, not-very-interesting percussion and a scratchy guitar line, soon backed by vocal “whoo-whoo"s and some solid bass. The verses, such as they are, are shrieked and incomprehensible—don’t worry, there’s a lyric sheet included with the record if you care to pore over bits of wisdom like “You’re like thunder, you’re like rain / You’re my little hurricane”. The chorus was apparently chanted by a nestful of harpies. It’s all about as pleasant as a trip to the dentist.
The rest of the album varies the sonic assault in various ways, while striving to ensure that there are only occasional moments of listenability. I like harsh music as much as the next guy and more than most, but the Coathangers manage to combine musical disharmony with a shrieky vocal delivery in a way that opens up whole new vistas of unpleasantness....full text
PrefixmagMixing riot-grrl passion and post-punk irony, The Coathangers have shown over the course of two albums that they have riffs and jokes in spades. 2009’s Scramble showed a slight sophistication in the group’s sound if not in its sense of humor: songs like “Getting’ Mad and Pumpin’ Iron” and “Arthritis Sux” were as silly as they were squalling. As its title indicates, new album Larceny and Old Lace looks to continue The Coathangers tradition of thrashing, cheeky punk rock....full text
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