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Oct. 23, 2010

MUSIC CD REVIEW: Tragedy Links Many Songs on Girl in a Coma's New CD 'Adventures in Coverland'

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen

Most of the songs on the latest CD "Adventures in Coverland" (Blackheart Records 4833753812) from San Antonio-based Girl in a Coma are covers -- as the title indicates -- and the songs are carefully chosen to reflect a wide variety of music styles. Many of the songs are steeped in tragedy.

With "Adventures In Coverland", Girl In A Coma also explores some of the songs that influenced them during their formative years, which weren't too long ago, given their youth -- including iconic songs by Ritchie Valens, Selena, The Beatles, Joy Division, Patsy Cline, David Bowie, Velvet Underground and Buffalo Springfield along with two bonus Girl In A Coma originals.

The 10-track album opens with Selena's "Si Una Vez". Selena -- Selena Quintanilla-Pérez from Corpus Christi, TX --- was murdered by a fan in 1995. She was an obvious influence on the three Latinas from San Antonio that make up Girl in a Coma: Jenn Alva, Phanie Diaz and Nina Diaz, Phanie's younger sister.

Whether headlining their own club dates or touring in support of one of their idols, former Smiths' frontman, Morrissey, Jenn, Phanie and Nina are perpetually on the move in the U.S. and have built a following in both North and South America, and Europe.'

The second track, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Beatle George Harrison could be interpreted as a tribute to John Lennon, murdered 40 years ago this December. The same could be said of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" originally recorded by Buffalo Springfield with its iconic line: "there's a man with a gun over there."

Ritchie Valens, born Richard Valenzuela in Pacoima, Calif., is represented by the lively "Come On, Let's Go." Valens died in the Feb. 3, 1959 Iowa plane crash ("The Day the Music Died") that also took the life of Lubbock, Texas native Buddy Holly and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson ("Chantilly Lace") from Sabine Pass, TX.

The girls give a wonderful rendition of Patsy Cline's big hit "Walkin' After Midnight". Cline, of course, was yet another artist who died in a plane crash, in 1963, at the age of 30. There's probably a compilation somewhere of songs of musical artists who've died in small plane crashes. If not, there should be!

Track No. 3 was "Transmission," a hit song of the English rock group Joy Division. I had to look up this punk rock group, whose lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide in May 1980, on the eve of their U.S. tour.

Enough with tragedy already...the songs are performed with a joi de vivre that will make a first-time listener a fan of Girl in a Coma and long for another CD from the group. My native Texan cat Greta seemed to be mesmerized by the group as I played the album several times while writing this review. She obviously bonds with her fellow female Texans.

Girl in a Coma Tour Dates

10/23: Helotes (San Antonio), TX @ Josabi's
10/30: Houston, TX @ Tom Bass Park Amphitheatre
11/05: Asbury Park, NJ @ The Wonder Bar
11/19: Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater (w/ The Dresden Dolls)
11/20: Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald's (w/ The Dresden Dolls)
11/21: Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa (w/ The Dresden Dolls)

Track List

“Si Una Vez” (orig. by Selena)
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (orig. by The Beatles)
“Transmission” (orig. by Joy Division)
“As The World Falls Down” (orig. by David Bowie)
“Come On, Let's Go” (orig. by Ritchie Valens)
“Walkin’ After Midnight” (orig. by Patsy Cline)
“Femme Fatale” (orig. by The Velvet Underground)
PLUS THREE BRAND NEW TRACKS
“For What It’s Worth” (orig. by Buffalo Springfield)
“Yo Oigo”
“BB” (acoustic version)

About the group:

Girl in a Coma formed when best friends Jenn Alva and Phanie Diaz met in Jr-high school art class over a mutual love of the Smiths, Nirvana, and skipping school. All they needed was a singer. Enter Nina Diaz, Phanie’s then 12-year old little sister. Nina blew them away with her mesmerizing vocals, a powerful voice some critics have compared to Bjork, Patsy Cline, and the band’s hero, Morrissey himself. The trio practiced for three years, gigged at local punk rock clubs, played a high school talent show, one kid’s birthday party, and then hit the road, building up a solid and loyal fan base across the country.

In 2006, the Girls played for Joan Jett and long-time songwriting partner and producer, Kenny Laguna, at New York’s Knitting Factory as part of a cable TV show featuring unknown bands. Jett and Laguna were so impressed with the band that they signed GIAC to their label, Blackheart Records, on the spot. The band’s 2007 debut album, Both Before I’m Gone, was a critical hit with raves from Alternative Press Magazine, the LA Weekly, Bust magazine, among many others, with the album reaching No. 23 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and No. 21 on iTunes. “Clumsy Sky,” the band’s first single, won a 2007 Independent Music Award in the Best Song-Punk category. The last of the four singles released, “Their Cell,” was recently voted by TV viewers into the Top 10 on Logo’s The Click List show. (from their website: www.girlinacoma.com).