The Coathangers have been around for ten years now. I discovered them a couple of years back when their fourth album Suck My Shirt was out. I really like that record still, prefering it to last year’s Nosebleed Weekend which has some better songs on it but is less consistent overall. They hail from Atlanta, Georgia and are generally a pretty straight up punk band. There are no real frills, just short punchy songs, spiky guitar riffs, a dash of angst and profanity. What I do particularly like about them is that all of the band take turns on lead vocals. And they can all sing, though my favourite is when drummer Stephanie Luke takes a turn. She sounds to me at times like a female version of Glenn Danzig back in his Misfits days. (I’ve put an older video down the bottom here to back this up).
Anyway, they have a new EP out. I was reading somewhere it’s a response to last year’s US election and the, er, irritation they’ve found their new president to be. And in parts, yes, it sounds like quite an angry record. Not all the way through though, there’s actually quite a bit of variety here, more so than on their full blown album releases in fact.
‘Parasite’, for instance, is a proper old school punk track. Three chords for the verses, two chords for the chorus, minimal melody, a little bit shrill. Really good if you’re into that sort of thing; probably less so if you’re not. ‘Wipe Out’ is slightly more evolved and has a false start, which is not something I hear that often and am usually quite pleased about when I do.
‘Captain’s Dead’ is the song I expected to be the title one on this release – it was out as a solo track a few week’s back. I really like this one, in some ways it’s the standout on the EP. It’s also, however, the one that slaps a great big parental warning sticker on the thing because of its lyrics. It’s not gratuitous, but there’s one line in particular that means I won’t be playing it to my gran.
The aforementioned Stephanie Luke takes the vocal on both of the last two songs – a more lush reworking of ‘Down Down’ which was originally on Nosebleed Weekend, and ‘Drifter’, a surprisingly relaxed and atmospheric bluesy ballad. Maybe ‘Captain’s Dead’ isn’t the stand out track, because these two are really great. Maybe they’re not really a straight up punk band after all. Maybe everything I’ve just said about them is complete nonsense…
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