WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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Sophomore slump? Not for alt-rockers Girl in a Coma
By: Nancy Dunham
Special to The Examiner
06/11/09 1:47 PM EDT


You always hear about bands that have promising debuts, then stumble into the sophomore slump and never quite regain their footing.

Well don't lump San Antonio natives Girl in a Coma -- which just released its second disc "Trio B.C." -- in any such category. The band's new album is full of sophisticated rock guitar work, smooth yet dynamic vocals (with a guest vocal spot by Joan Jett, who owns the label to which the band is signed) and a mix of sometimes poppy, sometimes heart-rending lyrics.

"A lot of the lyrics and stuff were kind of random things that went through my brain when we were traveling," said Nina Diaz, the lead vocalist/guitar player. "When we're on the road I am always in a certain seat in the back of the van, looking out the window and reading or writing."

We should all use downtime so constructively. Although the band's debut, "Both Before I'm Gone," was an excellent effort, "Trio B.C." underscores the band's maturity and depth with sure-to-be-hits that romp freely from rock to punk to dance to indie with some dashes from the members' Latina roots all while keeping the band's signature sound in tact.

Sisters Nina and Phanie and bass player Jenn Alva even sing "Empty Promise" in Spanish, likely doing their heritage proud. The grandfather of the Diaz sisters had a Tejano band in the 1950s from which the name of the album, and undoubtedly some of the sounds, came from.

But don't think this disc is some stroll down memory lane. Nina Diaz immersed herself in a host of music -- notably 1990s alternative including The Toadies and Nirvana -- during the 1 1/2 year writing process (although a few of the disc's tracks were "classics" written years ago which the band mates wanted on an album). The influences show and make the band's signature sound pleasingly edgier.

Perhaps one of the more surprising parts of this tour, one week in, is that Diaz has seen plenty of fans singing lyrics to the new array of songs while other cheer in a way akin to a scene from the movie "Bye Bye Birdy."

"It was sort of awesome," she said, laughing. "Even though some of the yelling was a little cheesy."