Girl in a Coma
Review by Phil Freeman
This Mexican-American all-girl trio mixes rockabilly, country, Texas
blues, and a dash of the Smiths (mostly in Nina Diaz's Morrissey-influenced
vocals) into a sound that's melancholy and rockin' at once. Their
debut, Both Before I'm Gone, offered outbursts of punk rock energy
alongside a romanticism that called to mind Mexican ranchero ballads.
On this follow-up, they're a little twangier but just as tough, with
songs like "Slaughter Lane" and "Static Mind"
falling somewhere between Morrissey's Your Arsenal and Social Distortion.
Their softer side comes out on the waltz-time "Trail" and
the drifting "Pink Lemonade," while on the raucous "Joannie
in the City," the band's labelhead and semi-mentor, Joan Jett,
makes a backing vocal cameo. She doesn't need to teach frontwoman
Nina Diaz anything about rocking, though; the "Coma" girls
— including Nina's older sister Phanie on drums and bassist
Jenn Alva — come across self-assured and in total possession
of their sound throughout Trio B.C. The album closes with two surprises
in a row: the punk-metal raveup of "Empty Promise," and
"Ven Cerca," a noisy, dissonant cover of a hit by early-'60s
Mexican pop group Los Spitfires and the first Girl in a Coma song
to be sung in Spanish. In this way, and with the album's title (named
after the Diaz sisters' grandfather's Tejano band), they're asserting
their Latin identity while staking their claim as an utterly American
rock act, much the way the Plugz did at the tail-end of the '70s when
they repurposed "La Bamba" as a hardcore anthem.