One-Sided Colored 12" with B-Side Etching
When The Coathangers first stormed on the scene over a decade ago, their power resided in their ability to craft a crooked hook out of a grimy guitar line, a delightfully crass chorus, or an enticingly ham-fisted drum-and-bass groove. With each successive album, the Atlanta garage punk ensemble has increasingly tempered their brash charm with sharp-witted pop. Not that the band ever fully excised the primal howl of The Gories or the sparse strut of ESG, but with the trio's latest EP, Parasite, The Coathangers explore the space between their initial unbridled expressionism and their recent nuanced song craft.
"I'd like to think the EP takes you on a journey through the band's existence," says guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel of the sequencing of the five songs on their latest offering. Parasite kicks off with the title track, a rowdy throwback to a younger, angrier incarnation of the band. Crafted in the wake of the election and during a tumultuous period in the band members' private lives, "Parasite" is pure catharsis. "During the making of our last album, I didn't want to scream anymore, I just wanted to sing and focus on melody. When we came to this recording, I just wanted to scream and curse," says Kugel. If the EP is meant as a journey through the various stages of the band's career, it certainly storms out of the gate with the same kind of piss-and-vinegar of their eponymous debut.
And while "Wipe Out" is another rowdy venture, with bassist Meredith Franco taking over the lead vocal duties over a steady barrage of pointed power-chords, it also showcases the rousing choruses that elevated the trio from underground heroines to an internationally renowned garage act. Despite the adverse times, The Coathangers' mastery of pop cannot be contained forever, as is evident in the EP's single "Captain's Dead," with its sultry verses, triumphant chorus, and a bombastic freak-out of noisy guitar. The journey through The Coathangers' musical evolution leads to a revamped version of "Down Down" off 2016's Nosebleed Weekend LP and the smoky twang of "Drifter," in which drummer/vocalist Stephanie Luke demonstrates her knack for solid Dusty Springfield-style ballads.