The Coathangers Make Listeners Remember Real Punk Rock
In classic punk fashion, Atlanta-based trio The Coathangers released Parasite, a 15 minute, five song EP featuring headbangers and tasteful post-punk jams that ram girl-power down your throat.
It’s difficult to pick out a favorite track on this one. The self-titled first song, “Parasite,” serves as a catalyst for the rest of the EP. It’s swift, gritty and in-your-face — something that is a defining characteristic of most punk music. If it’s noisy, it’s just right. Essentially, it’s the perfect song to represent the EP as a whole. “Parasite” fits the band’s aesthetic like a glove, right down to the subjectively provocative track name itself. Sure, the band have been around for ten years, having started as a joke. But for a “joke” band, the women of The Coathangers really know how to put together a solid headbanger of a song.
“Wipe Out” is another powerful, upbeat track, but it starts off with a slight moment of anticipation. The track is a little bit longer than the first song but still barely reaches two minutes. The little pause in the beginning helps distinguish it stylistically, giving it a quirky and ostentatious vibe. The lyrics are simple and to-the-point with the bridge and chorus defining the song. “Wipe Out” seems to be an allusion to someone who blacks out while drinking.
“Captain’s Dead” takes a turn from punk to garage rock, with a tantalizing buildup that’s essential for a transition to a blaringly loud chorus. The bass really sets it apart, serving as the setting tone for the song. The lyrics are catchy; guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel expertly croons about a relationship that had a good ride. “Easy come, easy go,” a phrase often used, finds a radiant new life in this track. There are actually quite a few common sayings peppered throughout the whole EP, but this particular track features two prominent ones. If a favorite track had to be chosen, the post-punk vibe would make “Captain’s Dead” a top contender — not to mention that it also smartly incorporates a fantastic offensive word that is often used as a vulgar insult towards women. This song is a powerhouse anthem for women going through a break up with a scummy guy.
The last two songs, “Down Down” and “Drifter,” boast drastically disparate sounds to that of the first three tracks, but they tie in flawlessly as enders for the EP. The songs aren’t exactly hard-hitting or instrumentally rapid, but the punk atmosphere is still very much there. The two songs encompass the band’s wide musical range in distinct ways. “Down Down” has a little bit of an indie sound, sticking to the formula of a slow, verse buildup and a staticky, raunchy chorus. The bass and guitar really play their parts by being more distinct in certain areas. There is one guitar solo in particular that makes this track gold because the sound is such a stark contrast, yet it still manages to make an effortless transition. Lyrically, this is another number that shows the resilience of a woman after the end of a relationship.
“Drifter” is the slowest track, but it is also a superlative closer for Parasite. The guitar in the beginning is reminiscent of ’90s alternative garage rock. The effortless use of a bridge after the verses makes the listener eagerly wait for a blast of a chorus, but instead listeners are left with a eerily dystopian, lonely feeling. The three vocalists capture a somber energy that is not present on the rest of the album, which mostly takes on an independent woman vibe. Instead, “Drifter” seems to be talking about drifting away with someone, someone who is a drifter like themselves.
The Coathangers’ Parasite is certainly a musical quickie, but it is definitely a goody. What’s nice about this work is that it takes an old genre and revitalizes it without trashing it to bits. Simple lyrics work well behind strong, stringent instrumentals — and the vocals in tow are complementary in style. Many current female groups end up sounding vocally monotone, making it hard to tell them apart. Sometimes, too much distortion and noise serve as a detriment for the album. Parasite doesn’t really have that problem. This band stick to what they know without becoming any bit of boring.