MASSACHUSETTS DAILY COLLEGIAN

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Girl in a Coma proves talent to fans with new album
By: Steven Stafford, Collegian Staff
Posted: 10/23/07

Attention all hipsters! This is the band that you've been waiting for - Girl in a Coma. First of all, they are named after the Smiths' classic, "Girlfriend in a Coma," which should give them automatic street credentials. Second of all, they're from San Antonio, Texas. That's right, the South. Who would've thought? Considering how many indie kids have George W. Bush on their T-shirts, this irony can only add to their awesomeness.

In short, Girl in a Coma is everything that the Donnas should have been. Lead singer Nina Diaz has a perfect howl, the kind Karen O only wished she had. The songs are not melodic, but they don't have to be. Somehow, the band makes it work, with the energy of the Rondelles and the production style of the Pixies.

So why haven't you heard of them? Well, it's probably because none of them look like Beyonce or J-Lo; this is an act that needs to be taken on the actual merit of their work. They don't have an army of songwriters, producers and makeup artists behind them; they get by on their passion and energy. It's too bad for them and all music listeners that this is a time when singers are mostly just models with bands. In this climate, Girl in a Coma is a kick in the backside. They are too cool for the charts and way too cool to be labeled a "chick band."

The opening song from their album "Both Before I'm Gone," entitled "Clumsy Sky," starts off pretty and ends up Mersey-beat rocking under great harmonies. It already begs to be a girl-punk classic and is sure to make you dance around in your room in your underwear, air-guitaring.

Just when you need a breather, they kick into "Say," a dance-beat punk track with outstanding guitar tone which turns into a weird, scary rip-off of "El Scorcho."

As if that wasn't enough, "Road to Home" follows up, bringing to mind the Cranberries at their finest, leading into "Sybil Vain Was Ill," a Franz Ferdinand-like dance romp, charged by a passionate, desperate Diaz vocal. But they haven't shown all of their cards yet.

"I'll Ask Him" breaks into a 1960s-ish tune, powered by another phenomenal vocal performance. "Their Cell" rocks out big time, but goes on too long and the effect becomes diluted. The band returns to its Mersey-beat awesomeness on "In the Background" and "Mr. Chivalry" with another dynamic performance from Diaz. Perhaps with another tip of the hat to the good-old days, she drenches her voice in some healthy slap-back echo.

"Race Car Driver" sounds like the Pixies if Joey Santiago could actually play the guitar; the listener should crank the bass on this one.

"Celibate Now" brings us yet another side to the band, in 3/4 waltz-time. One might say that waltzes are out of fashion, but the band's unusual passion makes it rock. And just when you're reeling from that, "The Photographer" comes on, a totally rocking piece featuring octave chords of the pop-punk style, but with Girl in a Coma's unique emotion and snarl.

Finally, you can cool off and have a cigarette - the band closes with "Simple Man," with backward vocals at the beginning and end. The song is a mellow but very appropriate ending to a fast-paced disc.

They might just be better than Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre; the Smiths' influence is not as obvious as one would assume from their name. Instead of Marr's jangle and Morrissey's whine, they have all the raw energy and guitar tone of The Like, Neil Young or Nirvana. Kurt Cobain would probably listen to this CD while mowing his lawn. Yes, that is a compliment - this CD is so cool that not even hipsters or pretentious music listeners know that it exists. So now is your chance to be ahead of the curve for five minutes. If this band keeps it up, they might just be the chosen darlings of the sunglasses-wearing, Central-living, indie scenesters. At least, they should be.