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CD review: "Exits & All The Rest" by Girl in a Coma

By Gary Zeidner

If you gave Girl in a Coma’s new CD, Exits & All The Rest to 10 different people, you’d likely receive in return 10 different opinions about which established female vocalist lead singer Nina Diaz most sounds like. Though by no means an exhaustive list, I could see votes coming in for The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano, The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan and The Breeders’/The Pixies’ Kim Deal.

If you ask me, though, the most obvious aural callback sounding forth from Exits & All The Rest is Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees. Diaz not only sounds a great deal like Siouxsie on many tracks, but the orchestration and instrumentation of those tracks are exceedingly reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees, especially that band’s earlier work. I don’t know if Girl in a Coma counts Siouxsie and the Banshees among their major influences (the timing would make sense given the band’s self-professed love of the Smiths front man and Siouxsie contemporary, Morrissey), but if they don’t it’s a welcome coincidence, and the comparison between the two bands is certainly favorable.

The beautiful thing about Diaz’ vocal chameleonism is that it never feels like she’s consciously aping her predecessors. Instead, Diaz’ voice seems to expand and contract, to tighten and relax into semblances of these, and other, great female lead singers naturally and of its own accord. This results in Exits & All The Rest playing well as both a young band’s attempt to define itself in an industry frustratingly unwilling to break long-established molds and as a love letter of sorts to the women who paved the way for Diaz, her sister, Phanie, and Jenn Alva.

Girl in a Coma will be playing the Marquis Theatre in Denver on Nov. 23rd. If you’re any sort of fan of girl groups, alt. rock, indie vibes or somewhat moderated grrl power, then you’re going to want to check them out live that night or at least pick up a copy of Exits & All The Rest.