Posts Tagged ‘Suicide Squeeze’

The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel on Howlin’ Wolf – The Howlin’ Wolf Album

This year has been stuffed with great Hidden Gems and the latest continues the trend. After the release of one of their best album’s to date, The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel has passed along some wisdom from her own record shelves. If you’re unfamiliar with the band (which, frankly seems unlikely) their latest is a great place to start, boiling down their punk, post-punk, and garage impulses to a sound that’s serrated and sawing yet damnably hooky. The band is blessed with three strong songwriters, each bringing their own particular burn to the band and its great to get a look at what’s behind that burn, even just a bit. Julia chooses a conflicted blues classic for her entry. Check out her take on Howlin’ Wolf’s psychedelic period below.

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The Coathangers

On their sixth album The Coathangers are focusing their fury to a fine point, channeling their irritation with the world into targeted tension that’s more mulled than their early works. They’re no strangers to the scratch n’ slash punk pound but they’d been swinging more wild on their early records. While tracks like “Shut Up” are excellent reasons to shout down the shitstorm, on Devil You Know the band has zeroed in on what’s burrowed under their skin, whether its the NRA or unwanted advances. The album’s packed with pop hooks but those hooks’ll snag ya every time, and that’s what makes Coathangers great.

As they’ve acknowledged themselves, this record does congeal more than they’ve attempted to in the past. The band had been blessed and cursed with three songwriters and they’d typically split the album into the respective writers’ songs. Each was effective but the effect was often disjointed. Now, instead of sounding like power pop, punk and post-punk thrown in a jar and shaken to order, the tracks shift under your feet from tense rhythm chokers to candy choruses in the span of three-minute marvels. They even yank the plug and take the temperature down to a chill with the pillow-soft strains of “Lithium.”

And with that ‘90s-nodded title the band gives away what works best about The Devil You Know. Their tattered and taped vision of alt rock brings echoes that golden era for guitars without pulling it on like a punchline. Where Pixies, Veruca Salt, and Elastica bounced pop’s gloss and punk’s power back and forth, The Coathangers are true heirs apparent. The whip tension like pros, nail their targets to the wall and come off with the songs that peel paint while getting stuck solid in your head for days. The band has long proven that they can hang with the heavies in a genre of two, but it seems that by letting go of purity they found themselves at their best. If you’d ever written the band off, or pigeon holed them in any regard, its time for another listen.



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The Coathangers – “F The NRA”

The new Coathangers is shaping up to be one of their best and most biting. With the latest single from the album, the band touches on the current national epidemic of gun violence in the most direct way possible – with a middle finger to the very lobby that props the system despite an avalanche of evidence that our cultural hangup on weaponry is a tipping point in need of legislation. The band knocks this out with an ’80s punk spirit, looking every bit the resurrection of Bad Brains/D.O.A./Circle Jerks inflammatory imagery scrawled over a cut n’ paste collection of cartoonish gunslinger tropes. In the wake of the SOTU, if you’re in the need for another wave to fan the flame of action, let this one waft over you today.



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The Coathangers – “Bimbo”

The Coathangers have weathered the garage bubble to become one of indie pop’s endearing forces. Album after album they’ve evolved from ragged hooks to the whipped butter heart-flutter of their latest for Suicide Squeeze. “Bimbo” eases in cool and collected, with a pop coo that belies the heel turn the band takes as they hit their stride a minute or so later. With a whip crack of fuzz the band fries the chorus in a hundred degree hook. They’re still making the blood boil but doing it with a subtle style that would make more than a few contemporaries jealous. Check out the vid for “Bimbo” above.



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Guantanamo Baywatch

Guantanamo Baywatch charmed with with their 2015 album, Darling… It’s Too Late, and they continue on a similar stint with their latest. The new album is still pairing a ’50’s/’60’s rock ‘n roll hop scotch approach with surf interludes learned right out of The Astronauts / Challengers playbook. Desert Center tends to dial back the John Waters Twister party taste that was slicked all over their last, though. Instead they’ve toughened up their twang a bit, and rightly so, Suicide Squeeze is dropping allusions to Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. The Canadians best known for for their association with The Kids In The Hall share the same – surf rock as channeled by Morricone – feeling that winds up inhabiting much of DC’s riffs, or at least the majority of its instrumental passages.

The vocal numbers kick the dust off slightly, going for more of a lonely hearts prom set in a wayback desert diner feeling. The band’s nothing if not lodged in the pomade dreams of a more innocent time, but they manage to carry it well without sounding too much like a college cast of Grease looking to keep the gang together with a new endeavor. They channel some universal pain and heartbreak into their choked-up ballads like, “Blame Myself” and “Neglect.” The rest winds up skittering through sidewinder spy riffs and spaghetti western rip tides. It’s another fun romp, even if much of the water’s already been tread.

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