At some point, in the decade that The Coathangers have been playing musical chairs with their instruments and writing songs about boobs, methamphetamine, and disgraced ice skaters, the trio managed to tighten up their talents and become the kind of band that gets to record their new album in a famed Laurel Canyon studio and gets rave reviews from SPIN. Each album they’ve released has not only exhibited growth and experimentation, but has surpassed the previous in both songwriting craft and vocal delivery. Nosebleed Weekend, their 5th release (and 2nd without a keyboardist) , introduces the Atlanta-bred trio as a respectable band that can turn a dance party in a dank basement into the place to be.
“Perfume” opens the record with a laid-back groove that either shows the group’s range, or tricks the new listener into thinking they’re in for a sweet and sunny mellow time, depending on how familiar you are with the band’s previous playful, and frenetic releases. It’s a bold departure, and a song to get completely lost inside of, but it’s the next track, “Dumb Baby,” that best highlights the dirty, sweaty, fun that the trio are capable of inciting. On this one drummer Stephanie Luke, codename: Rusty Coathanger, takes the lead and her warrior queen raspy vocals reveal to fresh listeners that The Coathangers are no one trick pony. Each of ’em have a very distinct voice and they toss the lead to one another from song to song, switching up their instruments at the same time.
“Make It Right” is a solid hit with all the makings of being a perfect crowd pleaser, complete with handclaps (I’m a sucker for handclaps), and “I Don’t Think So” has the feel of a classic girl group tune only with more bite, but it’s the slow and sultry “Down Down” that finds The Coathangers really stretching their legs. It creeps and crawls until it explodes, only to recede into the darkness once again. Only a couple of lines of lyrics rinse and repeat so this song is all about structure and mood. Once again, Luke takes the lead.
The only stumble on this release is also the band’s most daring risk. On “Squeeki Tiki” a pet’s squeaky toy takes center stage as the chorus. Combined with squealing vocals, the song deserves a handshake for effort — and is comically enjoyable upon first listen, but grates on the nerves very quickly. Still, a squeaky toy as an instrument?! Kudos for creativity!
The Coathangers may have matured as songwriters and musicians, but they obviously haven’t grown up so much that they’ve forgotten how to have a stupid, good time! By the way, to properly “get” this band, you need to see them live. The recordings will paint a picture, but their live performance will nail you to the canvas.