LIVE: The Coathangers @ Arts Club Loft, Liverpool, 30.04.19

Why aren’t The Coathangers better known? It’s a question that occurs whilst writing this review. Perhaps, with their self-titled debut coming along in 2006, they emerged at a time when bands were pretty uniformly all-male and ironically pro-choice band names were unheard of. Whatever the case, it’s led them here, to a smallish loft venue in Liverpool on a Tuesday, calling in support from two of the city’s emerging punk acts.

Piss Kitti take to the stage by degrees, with guitarist Dominic, bassist Quinn and drummer Daniel already onstage and set up before lead singer Esme followss. The group are joyously unrefined and uncoordinated, whilst the set is shallow fried DIY punk – all power chords and burps down the mic, shrieks and thuds. But there’s social commentary too: “We always get told off for doing this one because it’s about the lad bands round here that are absolute melts”, Esme announces before the band crash into ‘Bore’.  It’s ironic, and perhaps deliberate, that it has the best chorus of the set.

After Salt the Snail tell us “We’ve got absolutely nothing to say”, we wait for what seems an age for The Coathangers to appear. When they do, they creep on in darkness – so dark, in fact, that the gold lamé hooded dresses worn by all three of them are quite startling when the lights come up. It’s an eerie opening too, with jungle sounds and the bassless lilt of ‘Lithium’ and its tale of medication, sung sweetly by singer/guitarist Julia.

In some ways, it belies the rest of the show, most of which flits between Julia’s vocals and the gritty Wanda Jackson pipes belonging to drummer Stephanie. The set is largely taken from new album The Devil You Know, with several album track highlights that reflect the band’s duality: ‘5 Farms’, a straight up garage slammer that meanders into swing; ‘Stranger Danger’, equal parts creepy and bluesy; ‘Hey Buddy’, a maraca-backed cool AF 70s rocker.

But The Coathangers are more in-sync than in-opposition: bassist Meredith takes lead vocals on ‘Memories’, and towards the end of the set, the band have all swapped roles, with each taking a turn on lead vocals and drums. At one point, the band finish a song and collapse into laughter. It’s an insight into Coathanger World, and helps explain the trio’s willingness to go on making music, for over ten years and across six albums. “We’ve been on tour for five months!”, offers Stephanie, by way of explanation.

There’s a smattering of older tracks for the diehards in the room – the titular track from previous LP Nosebleed Weekend, its lead single and the band’s signature tune ‘Make It Right’, and ‘Shut Up’ from 2014’s Suck My Shirt – before the band close with fan favourite ‘Squeeki Tiki’, featuring Julia playing the song’s hook on a dog’s squeaky chew toy, before they strut off, those dresses flashing gold. There’s no encore, after a set with very little bantering with the crowd and no endless tune-ups. Just 45 minutes of pop-rock, garage and Runaways-style punk performed with a minimum of fuss. It’s worth its wait.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

Five Favourites: The Coathangers

We’ve been massive fans of Atlanta trio The Coathangers for a while now, finding comfort in their cathartic fusion of uplifting melodies and gritty, angst-driven energy. And, with the release of their latest album The Devil You Know, they stand out as one of the most relevant and powerful bands around.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new band/artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Stephanie from The Coathangers to ask about their ‘Five Favourites’ – five albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the band’s new video  for ‘Stranger Danger’ at the end of this post.

Refused – Shape of Punk to Come
When I first heard this album I immediately wanted to change the world whilst smashing everything in my way. Not only was it politically transformative, but it still had that punk ethos of community and respect for humanity in general. We had the amazing opportunity to be able to tour with Refused a few years back and it was probably the best time of my life. Their incredible energy and power live is the same as what you hear on the album… Something we’ve always tried to mimic.

Cyndi Lauper – True Colors
I know it might sound cheesy but this was one of my first tapes and I think every song on this album is just as stellar as when I first heard it a billion years ago. Cyndi’s voice is always something I’ve admired because it’s so “unusual”, and I think me and the girls have each found our unique voice as well throughout the years, which I believe is important for any performer.

White Stripes – White Blood Cells
This is just one of the albums that me and the girls adore by the dynamic duo. We always wished we could have toured with them because we loved what they did with just the two of themselves! Very inspiring lyrics as well as instrumentation again, with only two people. Just goes to show that you can do anything with not a shit ton of band members or instruments. Also, I always loved Meg’s drumming – although not that intricate, it always made sense for the songs. I’ve tried to use the same ethos with Coathangers songs, sometimes less is more.

Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady
So I know it’s a comp of singles but who cares?! This album is obviously awesome. I was listening to this record on repeat for two years straight when I lived in LA. At the time, our friends Derek and Jordee were getting me hooked on ’70s power-pop, and this was one of the records that made me want to be in a band.

Janis Joplin – Greatest Hits
Ok ok, I knooooow it’s a greatest hits comp, but again who cares…?! This was another one of my first records a million years ago, and obviously I fell in love with not just Janis’ voice, but with the power her sadness held in each one of these songs. Music itself is such a magnetic, crazy force of nature, and this album just amplified that in my life. I feel that with every album we do, we try to be as authentic and powerful with our songs as well.

Massive thanks to Stephanie for discussing her ‘Five Favourites’ with us! Watch The Coathangers’ new video for ‘Stranger Danger’ here:

The Devil You Know, the new album from The Coathangers, is out now via Suicide Squeeze. Catch The Coathangers live in the UK at the following dates:

24th April – The Latest Music Bar, Brighton (with support from GIHE faves ARXX!)
25th April –
Studio 9294, London
27th April –
The Cookie, Leicester
28th April –
SWG Poetry Club, Glasgow
29th April –
Soup Kitchen, Manchester
30th April –
Arts Club (Loft), Liverpool
1st May – The Key Club, Leeds

ALBUM: The Coathangers – ‘The Devil You Know’

Let’s face it, the human mind is a complex thing. It can be difficult to have more than one thing going on, and half of the time you don’t even know what’s happening up there… Some things just can’t co-exist. Expelling this rule in a fantastically riotous half-hour are The Coathangers with their seventh album, The Devil You Know.

Pre-released single, ’Bimbo’, is the infectiously upbeat opener. Completely innocently, the track opens with a straight bassline, with quintessentially on beat, twinkling top notes of a keyboard. This is later ripped apart and kicked into overdrive with raucous thrashes of fuzzy guitar and a semi-sung chorus. The rest of the album follows suit with an angst-infused collective of fiery ditties, ‘5 Farms’ and ‘Crimson Telephone’.

Then I have an epiphany. This ain’t no ordinary album. This lot have an agenda. Political and social commentary bursts through the foundations of the album like a balloon on a cactus. This is most evident in the fourth and seventh tracks, ‘Hey Buddy’ and ‘F the NRA’. In ‘Hey Buddy’ a guttural and hoarse voice croaks through the song laced with simple yet powerful twangs of guitar, proving less is more as they growl “Hey buddy are you looking at me? You call me a faggot and you call me a sleaze”. ‘F The NRA’ does just what it says on the tin; a poignant, impassioned plea against gun violence, propelled by a gritty, punk-driven energy. 

The album winds to a close with quieter and melancholy, but nonetheless badass, tracks ‘Last Call’ and ‘Lithium’. Both include a gentle and heavily reverberated vocal resonating the sound of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. The guitars sound like they’re crying. And now I’m crying.

The Devil You Know takes you from wanting to go out, make some noise and paint the town red, to staying in bed and never getting up again. And we love every second of its racing thirty minutes. 

The Devil You Know is out now via Suicide Squeeze. Catch The Coathangers live on their upcoming tour:

24th April – The Latest Music Bar, Brighton
25th April – Studio 9294, London
27th April – The Cookie, Leicester
28th April – SWG Poetry Club, Glasgow
29th April – Soup Kitchen, Manchester
30th April – Arts Club (Loft), Liverpool
1st May – The Key Club, Leeds

Megan Berridge
@noisygal_

 

WATCH: The Coathangers – ‘F The NRA’

We’ve been massive fans of Atlanta trio The Coathangers for a while now, finding comfort in their cathartic fusion of uplifting melodies and gritty, angst-driven energy. And today, with the release of their poignant new video for ‘F The NRA’, we see them speaking up for what they believe in, in an impassioned plea against gun violence. Referring to the US National Rifle Association which advocates for gun rights in the States, ‘F The NRA’ was written by guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel, who felt compelled to make a political statement in the face of potential backlash, in part because she is a refugee from Belarus, a country with limited freedom of speech and press.

Propelled by a gritty, punk-driven energy, ‘F The NRA’ is a painfully topical offering charged by the band’s seething passion, trademark raw growls and driving, frenzied hooks. Accompanied by a protest-fuelled video, featuring spine-tingling statistics, including the final heartbreaking fact that ‘Every Day 100 Americans Are Killed By Gun Violence’, The Coathangers deliver a furious and clear message with an anthemic, potent force.

Kugel has expanded on her motivations to speak out in an essay published today at The Talkhouse, with contributions and advice from Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill), Brendan Canty (Fugazi/The Messthetics) and Dennis Lyxzen (Refused, International Noise Conspiracy). From the essay:

 “I do not take the freedom of expression that all U.S. citizens are granted lightly. The band was confident that we wanted to put ‘F the NRA’ on the record. It provided a personal catharsis and a sense of empowerment in the wake of the immense feeling of helplessness that was weighing heavily on us as we coped with continuous reports of mass shootings. It was not until those around us started warning us of the repercussions we could face, did we realize the risk involved in yelling at the giant. My ingrained fear of speaking out came back to me. Yet the reason I am a musician is because of a need to express my truth, personal or political. I began to question everything: the rights of an artist, the responsibility of being political, the fear of backlash, and the desire to be heard.” (Read more here)

Watch the powerful new video for ‘F The NRA’ here:

The Devil You Know, the upcoming album from The Coathangers, is out 8th March via Suicide Squeeze.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Track Of The Day: The Coathangers – ‘Bimbo’

Atlanta trio The Coathangers have shared their new single ‘Bimbo’ taken from their upcoming album The Devil You Know, due for release on March 9th via Suicide Squeeze Records. The track is a cathartic burst of melodic guitars and riot grrrl vocals that acknowledges the need to let go and move on.

Switching between gentle verses and a thumping chorus, ‘Bimbo’ is an ideal blend of The Coathanger’s garage-rock and punk sensibilities. Guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel explains the track’s premise further: “‘Bimbo’ is a bittersweet note on love, self preservation, and letting go. It came together naturally and was one of the easiest songs to be written for the new record. It tells two sides of the story but still feels uplifting and positive. An acceptance of things the way they are.”

The single is accompanied by a cool new video, shot during The band’s last European tour by Mackenzie Sutch. The footage was shot mostly in Spain and Portugal and was edited by the trio’s good friend Nacho Montero.

Listen to ‘Bimbo’ below and follow The Coathanger’s on Facebook for more updates

The Devil You Know will be released on March 9th via Suicide Squeeze and is available to pre-order here.

Photo Credit: Matt Odom

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut