The Coathangers’ Stephanie Luke and PLS PLS’ frontman Dan Dixon raise the bar in new project NRCSSST
This is officially up for your radar: Atlanta band NRCSSST—a new experiment featuring members of PLS PLS, the Coathangers, and Snowden—played its first show in Hell at the Masquerade on Wed., Oct. 16, as openers for formidable shoegazers, Swervedriver.
First off, NRCSSST (read as: “narcissist”) is likely to garner a lot of weighted expecations considering it is fronted by Stephanie Luke of Atlanta’s femme punk staples the Coathangers, which have been an extremely formative band in Atlanta music since, fuck, 2007. In NRCSSST, Luke steps out from the drum set’s bounds and in front of the microphone, fully exposed and armed with nothing but her distintinctly grating voice. If you’ve heard the Coathangers, you know this is grating in a good way. Some of the Coathangers’ most notable tracks are ones featuring Luke’s vocals in the forefront, giving listeners the same satisfaction one finds when they can finally scratch that itch that’s been driving them mad for hours.
Secondly, expectations are likely to increase when you bring in Dan Dixon—well-known independent Atlanta producer and frontman of indie rock outfit PLS PLS—who also takes front stage as lead guitarist and vocalist. The rest of the lineup is complete with Chandler Rentz (ex-Snowden, another important Atlanta band circa 2006 for those who were around) on drums, Andre Griffin (PLS PLS) on keys and guitar, and Danny Silvestri on bass.
With Dixon and Luke at the helm of the stage, it’s hard to not automatically attempt to decipher which parts come from the Coathangers and which parts come from PLS PLS. The real answer is, it’s not much of either. Aside from the obvious band name spelling (dropping the vowels is clearly a PLS PLS thing; Dixon’s recording studio is called “RCRD Studio”) and Luke’s signature voice, stylistically there aren’t too many dots to connect. Which is a good thing, because that’s ultimately what spinoffs should be: something new. One might argue it’s about damn time for everyone involved. The Coathangers have been active since 2007, PLS PLS since 2012, and Snowden had a solid run roughly from 2005-2013.
Not a single song could fall into a bucket labeled “punk” or should be pigeonholed into “alt-rock/indie,” even if that might be the easiest go-to. Instead, it seems what NRCSSST leans into is some solid songwriting shaped by good ol’ fashioned hook-driven pop sensibilities embellished with Dixon’s flushed guitar solos and Griffin’s occasional hammering keyboard interludes. Some songs had their sing-along moments while others had definite moments of darkness and grit, such as “Don’t Know Me” and “Sunday.” Factor in Rentz’s punchy drums and Silvestri’s uninhibited bass and you’ve got a more than solid foundation.
While this outfit is likely still refining its sound and gathering its footing on the stage (I wondered if Stephanie maybe misses being behind the drumkit due to her intermittent stage wandering and when she told Rentz, “Yes, girl, work it”), there’s no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before it clicks and this shit goes from 75 to 100. Because it’s already clicking. As narcissists tend to do, this band left an imprint. And, also like narcissists, it seems that it fully intends to keep going.
As far as expectations go, consider them met and raised with even more potential. Keep an eye out for a future EP and more shows from these guys. And sidenote, in case anyone was worrying: the Coathangers are still in major business and are kicking off another tour next month. Godspeed, sisters.
Catch NRCSSST at their next show at Buteco on Wed., Oct. 23 at 8pm. Set recording from the Masquerade below.