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Music Review: The Coathangers The Coathangers

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Who would have thought that there would be so many damned images of coat hangers on the Internet? You have to wonder what kind of lives people have when they go to the effort of putting up images of coat hangers for people to look at. I'm not even talking about somebody making some sort of political statement about abortion; just pictures of various shapes, sizes, and make of the damned things.

Plastic, wood, and good old wire of course, but then there are all the specialty types that you never even dreamed existed that don't look like they do anything more elaborate than any of the traditional shaped things do, in spite of the effort to create a different look. Then there are the "alternative" uses that coat hangers have. I didn't really have the interest to check them out in detail, but some were for gardening and others seemed to have something to do with engineering of some sort.

Now I know all this because I was looking for images to use in this review of the band from Atlanta, Georgia called The Coathangers. Their first CD is coming out on Rob's House Records in the early weeks of September and their press people sent me the self-titled disc, which means it's just called The Coathangers, to give a listen too. The release was full of band name that they compared favourably too, which might have been of some help if I had known who the fuck any of them were.
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The one name I did recognize didn't leave me too hopeful about liking this all women band. Thankfully, they don't sound anything like any Beastie Boys music that I ever suffered through in the '80s. In fact they don't really sound like anything or anyone else I've ever listened too, although they are occasionally vocally reminiscent of Lena Lovich. Of course there are also those moments where they sound like a chainsaw that hasn't been oiled for a few years running a full speed, but that's your fairly typical abrasive edged punk sound that we've all come to know and love.

I don't know where people come up with terms like post-punk, but if The Coathangers are an example, I don't see the difference between it and punk–punk. They have all the characteristics of a punk band from the fuck you attitude, occasional primal scream vocals, the jaundiced view of society, to the emotionally truthful rawness of their overall sound.

Like a great many of the original punkers they can sound more then one note with their music, and don't always have to emulate a steel mill gone berserk. Punk is not just a style of music; it is the attitude behind the music. So even when played on acoustic guitar with a melodic sound, a song can still be punk. The Coathangers show a musical maturity on this album by knowing they don't have to be loud and fast all the time to be effective.

In fact, one of their funniest songs "Buckhead Betty" is along those lines as they make fun of pretty, young things aspiring to be vacuous and rich. In "Missing Letter" they take advantage of their mixed cultural heritage, one of the band members is Russian, to sing a song in that language. Drawing upon those Eastern European influences, they create a brooding, atmospheric song that borders on the psychedelic. I don't think you'll have heard an accordion played in quite this manner ever before.
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Of course, some of the best songs on the disc (it's also being released on vinyl as well for all of you who still own turntables that actually play records) are still the straight ahead punk screamers. What's not to like in their ode to the ultimate in white trash, "Tanya Harding"? Then there is the evocatively titled "Shut The Fuck Up" that is their response to all the pressure on woman to exercise their bodies into perfection until there's not an ounce of fat anywhere to be found on them. Anorexia is so attractive isn't it?

While titles like "Don't Touch My Shit" (featuring the great line about staying away from my boyfriend or I'll kick you in the twat), "Haterade," and "Where The Hell Were You?" emphasise their willingness to kick ass with the best of the original punk bands they also have a good ear for satire. "Nestle In My Boobies" makes fun of so many straight men's obsession with a particular portion of a woman's anatomy. The song also makes no secret of their opinion that all most men want in a woman is another "mommy" whose teat they can wrap their mouths around.

Back in the days of the Spice Girls there was this whole thing being made about "Girl Power," which was one of the biggest loads of shit I've ever seen. Woman power scares the crap out of marketing folk because it's not glamorous and doesn't look good in the pages of Playboy. On their forthcoming CD, The Coathangers, the women of The Coathangers show just what women power is, and that it doesn't have to be all serious and spelling women with a "y".

The Coathangers is intelligent, emotionally powerful, and a hell of a good time. You're not going to be hearing this CD on any radio station near you, which is a pity because it just might wake some people up. So you'll just have to fork out some money to buy one of the best punk albums I've heard in ages. Go on, you might even find yourself having fun.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.