Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Record label: Suicide Squeeze
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock, Garage Rock Revival
You know when you spill tequila on your shirt, leaving you option to but to promptly suck the fabric in order to maximise alcohol yield? No? Well, The Coathangers do, according to their PR blurb, and they’ve made an album that is as resourceful their drinking habits: Suck My Shirt makes as serious an impact with a minimal set up as you are likely to find; stripped back, taut and menacing, it truly is a ‘punk’ record in the traditional sense. And I mean fast, thin and snotty punk, before it had offshoots and sub-sections. 100 Club punk.
The Coathangers' debut album had a song called "Shut the Fuck Up", and the elements were few: a tom-heavy thwack, brief guitar stabs, and a basic keyboard melody. The lyrics, like so many others by the Atlanta punks, are aggressive: "You said I broke your heart and you’ll never love again/ Let’s tell the truth you only like the way I give head." Then, the full band screams along the chorus: "Well grow up, and then shut the fuck up!" Seven years later, on Suck My Shirt, they've got a song on the album called, simply, "Shut Up". The message here is more grown up—the narrator is fed up after years of being lied to, whined at, and blamed.
By their own admission, the Coathangers got their start when they literally couldn't play their instruments, so for bands like them, who start out sounding inept but great, the challenge that comes with time is, how do you get better without losing what made you memorable? The Coathangers' fourth full-length album, 2014's Suck My Shirt, still sounds as gloriously primitive as ever, but it's clear that seven years into their career, their approach to songcraft has matured and tightened up quite a bit, and the departure of keyboard player Candice Jones has turned this group into a leaner and meaner three piece. With a title like Suck My Shirt, it's clear that no one in the band is asking us to start taking them seriously, but there sure is less goofiness here and a keener sense of purpose. Gal-centric pop both vintage and current was one of the biggest influences on their early recordings, but much of this album recalls the tough but wiry sound of '80s funk punks like Gang of Four and the Au Pairs, especially on "Dead Battery" and "Shut Up," where bassist Meredith Franco and drummer Stephanie Luke lay down taut, elemental grooves and guitarist Julia Kugel slashes expressively over the top.
The Coathangers kick off their fourth album with “Follow Me,” a burst of slashing guitar and brutal, stomping drums. It’s perhaps the best song in the band’s seven-year run, managing to convey both the relentless energy of primitive punk rock and an endlessly listenable charm. The difference between the song on record and the subversive, audacious fun of its video constitutes a sort of statement of purpose for The Coathangers.
Since their self-titled 2007 debut, The Coathangers have been spitting out playfully venomous guitar rock that sneers with “anything you can do, I can do better” attitude. Not half as serious as the progenitive riot grrl of Bikini Kill but not nearly as polished as the Donnas, the Coathangers write surly, puerile songs that are high on youthful boisterousness. With song titles like “Shut the Fuck Up”, “Don’t Touch My Shit”, and “Trailer Park Boneyard”, the band clearly revel in their adolescent ways.
On the fourth album by Hotlanta-natives the Coathangers, the band is out to prove they have nothing to prove. When the band formed in 2006 on some jokey whim, they had little to no musical ability. Since then, this all-girl outfit has been honing their skills and joking their way to becoming a powerful voice in punk, headlining tours and supporting gigs with big ticket names like the Thermals and Black Lips.Suck My Shirt sounds as grown-up an album as one could expect from the Coathangers.
Atlanta punk outfit The Coathangers would be the first to admit that they’ve done alright for themselves as a band who started out as a joke back in 2006. Four albums in and the group have shaken of all the flippant facetiousness which typified their fledgling releases, creating an authentic and admirable collection of well put-together post-punk songs on their new album, Suck My Shirt. They’ve also got a lot better at making music, which is a bonus in the music making business.