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The Coathangers – live review

The Coathangers live at ‘The Latest Bar’, Brighton 24 April 2019. Review by Tony Rounce

It’s been a long time since the Coathangers came together in Atlanta, Georgia – 12 years, to be exact. In that time they have maintained unchanging membership – discounting the loss of keyboard player Candice Jones in 2013, at which point they became a trio.  And it’s as a trio that they have returned to wreak powerful musical havoc on the UK, for an overdue and very welcome series of shows all over the country.

If you don’t know the Coathangers’ music, it’s certainly time you got to know.  Should you be looking for comparisons (loath as I am to make them) I would say maybe the Runaways meet Kate Nash meets the Plasmatics, or thereabouts. The band is very much in its prime, and a tour-opening show at Brighton’s ‘The Latest Music Bar’ on a chilly late April evening demonstrated that, as loud women go, they are profoundly as loud as LOUD gets!

For an hour and a quarter, the Coathangers played not so much to an appreciative audience, as at it.  Song after song came in waves, a relentless attack unencumbered by superfluous sonic effects and unnecessarily lengthy solos.

This is your archetypal power trio, with the emphasis entirely on ‘power’.  Very tall drummer Stephanie Luke/Rusty Coathanger doesn’t so much play as punish her kit, almost stabbing its skins with her sticks at times. Luke’s snarling ‘Lemmy-with-laryngitis’ vocal style and her perpetually whirling and twirling blonde hair as she knocks seven shades of you-know-what out of her kit makes her presence at the back of the stage impossible to ignore. This visually compelling woman could play with her back to you, and you would still find it hard to focus your attention away from her. She’s flanked on either side by equally tall guitarist-singer Julia Kugel-Montoya/Crook Kid Coathanger, possessor of a choppy, compelling playing style and a voice that alternates between winsome teen queen and howling banshee, and quietly confident pocket rocket Meredith Franco/Minnie Coathanger on bass, who offsets the larger-than-life stage presence of her two pals.

Unfortunately someone else got to the set list before I did, so I can’t present you with detailed analysis of what was played and in what order – but, from memory and a quick skim through the CD prior to writing this, the 20-plus song set (with encores!) included just about and probably all of their recently released seventh album The Devil You Know plus a generous helping of their extensive back catalogue – all performed at beyond-maximum volume, and with unrelenting cheerful aggression. Between-song chatter was kept to a minimum in order to cram as much music in as possible.  Given that we don’t get to see the Coathangers every week, it was a social nicety worth sacrificing.

There was a point, roughly halfway through the set, when the trio played a blistering ‘F*** The NRA’ off the new album to a tumultuous response – and suddenly everything seemed to shift up a gear or two, and become even more exciting than it already was. As the set moved towards its conclusion the three women began a round of musical chairs with first Luke strapping on Kugel-Montoya’s guitar and taking over Blanco’s mic while K-M manned the drumkit and sang. She reclaimed her guitar and Bianco moved behind the drums for yet more outrageously loud fun and frolic.   The evening ended with a well-lubricated K-M (who had been keeping her voice oiled with a by-then-fairly empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s) audaciously asking if anyone had any marijuana they would like to share with her (I would like to think she found a volunteer…) and a rapid disappearance into the dressing room that nobody really was ready to see. They had worked hard for their money.  I doubt if anyone present felt short changed, especially when the undercard also included never less than brilliant local heroes, ARXX.

The Coathangers are touring the EU this month. By the time you read it they will likely as not be on the continent, which means you may well have missed them.  If you can’t catch this phenomenal band this time, do yourself a favour – go and buy/stream the new album and as much of their catalogue as you can find, and learn all the songs in readiness for their next tour.

You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

Find The Coathangers on Facebook | web

review: The Coathangers – Parasite

a2728717029_16review by Kate Whaite
Reviewing this EP is my very first experience with The Coathangers. I don’t know how that’s possible, but I am very much in love at first listen and so excited to dip into to their back-catalogue.
Apparently while I was oblivious, The Coathangers (Julia Kugel on guitar, Meredith Franco on bass, Stephanie Luke on drums, and everybody on vocals) have been in Atlanta making cracking rock tunes for over a decade. Title track ‘Parasite’ sounds like the soundtrack of the cool kids’ Halloween party I never got invited to. I can’t think of a better way to explain it.
‘Wipe Out’ introduces a more melodic note, showing an appealing lyrical weary contempt for the vicious circle of drinking, embarrassing yourself, being hungover, getting sober, and doing it all again. Only they say it more concisely — “Wipeout, dry up, can’t stop” goes the chorus. It is probably physically impossible not to bop along to this song, and with the catchy, sing-song, call and reply of “Say you’re sorry” you’ll be singing along, too. And I haven’t even mentioned the handclaps! I love handclaps.
‘Captain’s Dead’ stands out as a tasty piece of summer garage. It’s exactly the kind of thing you want to be blasting as you pull a beer out of the cooler at a barbeque where you and all your friends are having a sundrenched endless afternoon. You should definitely wear sunglasses while you listen to this.
“Captain of a Dixie Cup/ You thought you had it all but you made it up” sounds like such an innocent insult, but cuts so deeply. They’ve made a pleasingly weird video for this tune as well.
‘Down Down’ is haunting and seductive and its energy reminds me of The Kills’ early records. Lyrics like “Don’t worry about me/ I don’t need you at all” reinforce that The Coathangers are just doing whatever they want and not really caring if you like it or not, which everyone knows is the best way to do anything. The vocals in this are particularly enchanting — raw and scratchy in such an unpretentious way as to actually let you believe in the honesty of the expression.
The closer, ‘Drifter’, is slower and a touch wistful, reminiscent of early rock and roll love songs. A little vulnerability peeks out here, with the vocalist sweetly asking “I heard you saying something/Was it all about me?” I, for one will definitely be talking to everyone I know about The Coathangers. The Parasite EP is great from start to finish. It’s got a comfy DIY feel, simple arrangements that mean nothing comes between you and the tunes, and a good sense of fun.
Go check them out at their bandcamp.
Don’t mind me, I’ll just be obsessing over this band all summer.

music reviews: the coathangers | nosebleed weekend

by kris smith

A fifth album from The Coathangers and I’m not bored yet. I won’t do that journo thing of pretending I know everything about the band, or remember exactly what all their previous albums sounded like, but I’ve bought the last three, I saw them when they last came over and played, they’re basically a Good Thing and probably the best US band making this kind of noise right now. About five/six years ago there was a whole swathe of west-coast noise-pop groups who were, y’know, *ok*, but whose every song sounded more-or-less the same, so you risked burnout over the course of one album, let alone five.

As with Screaming Females (but without the gratuitous guitar shredding), that’s not a problem for The Coathangers. They share vocals, for a start, and they play a variety of moods. “Perfume” is perfect garage-pop sounding like a poppier Kleenex, while “Squeeki Tiki” is a bouncy DFA1979ish number and “Burn Me” could be a sped-up Delta 5. “Hiya” seems vaguely reminiscent of Ramones/Donnas without really sounding like either, “Make It Right” does the same for L7, and “Excuse Me?” is vaguely Cure-esque.

So we’re not reinventing the wheel here but, with tunes this agreeable, who cares? There’s not a bad track on “Nosebleed Weekend”, albeit the title song is slightly underwhelming and, as with Kitten Forever, these songs retain that riot grrrl simplicity and DIY edge without losing the plot or resorting to rocking out. Final track “Copycat” exemplifies the band’s endearing and enduring appeal; another change of pace with breathy Lana Del Rey vocals and intriguing lyrics: “Please don’t look at me, it makes my stomach ache”.

If none of the above appeals to you, well you could be reading the wrong zine! 5/5 and just get the album.

The Coathangers: Nosebleed Weekend
(Suicide Squeeze Records, Apr 2016)