Girl In A Coma
GIRL IN A COMA
Girl in a Coma, hailing from the Lone Star State, 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.
Since the CD's release GIAC has been headlining shows in venues coast-to-coast, playing on Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" tour, as well as opening for the Pogues, Social Distortion, Tegan and Sara in a cross-country national tour, and with Morrissey in both Europe and the U.S.
In between the constant touring, the band was busy writing songs for their new CD, the upcoming Blackheart Record's release Trio B.C. The creative process was a new and liberating experience for the Girls.
"The challenge for this record was having to come up with songs in a matter of a year," Jenn explains, "with Both Before I'm Gone we had 7 years with that material. For this new CD, a little over 18 months."
As with their first album, the end result is a unique amalgamation of eclectic influences: oldies, rockabilly, 90s alternative, and contemporary bands both indie and mainstream. And in a nod to their San Antonio, Texas background, the Girls place their cutting-edge rock sound in a familiar context.
"We chose Trio B.C. as the album title because it was the name of our grandfather's Tejano band way back in the 50s," Phanie Diaz explains. "He was our first musical influence. He would play us guitar and sing and we would love to watch him in the garage with a cold beer in his hand playing his records and singing along like he meant it. His passion is our inspiration. We hope to make people feel that way about our music."
Trio B.C. includes tracks produced by Grammy-award winning producer Greg Collins (U2 and Gwen Stefani) and Gabriel Gonzalez (formerly of Sparta and one of the producers of the band's debut Both Before I'm Gone). Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna produced two special tracks on the CD, "Vino," and "Joannie in the City," a snarling, post-punk rock cut featuring Joan Jett on guitar along with Jett's distinct vocals on background.
"The song is about females in the music business," Girl in a Coma's writer/singer Nina Diaz explains about her song, "having that tough attitude and doing what you want. Joan was the door opener for us all."
The rest of the album's cuts explore different styles and tempos with tracks ranging from the eerie and poetic love song "El Monte" to the fast and hard rocking "Static Mind." Other tracks include the delicate ballad "Pink Lemonade" and the more sonically experimental "Ven Cerca," Girl in a Coma's first Spanish language song, a cover of a bright 1960s Mexican pop song, but made modern and dissonant with feedback and fuzzy guitars reminiscent of Sonic Youth at their grungiest best.
When not on the road Phanie likes to Ghost Hunt. Jenn paints pictures. And Nina has a stuffed bear named Güenther. They all love tattoos.
The Coathangers were a band before they were musicians. The Atlanta quartet started out as an excuse to hang out and play parties. Their jokey attitude ran deep, right down to their name--a self-admittedly crude abortion reference for an all-girl group. The whole knowing-how-to-play-an-instrument thing was just a minor hurdle in their musical mission. And to their credit, The Coathangers stormed onto the scene, regardless of the handicap, as a completely unaffected, unpretentious, deliciously sloppy, and totally infectious rock band. What they lacked in formal training they made up for in an innate understanding of how to craft a hook and propel a song forward on sheer charisma. It was impossible not to like them...
Despite the casualness of The Coathangers approach to making music, that devil-may-care attitude and rowdy house-show vibe resonated with folks across the globe. The band released two albums and toured the states with bands like The Thermals, Mika Miko, These Arms Are Snakes, and Young Widows. Five years later, that reckless energy from their half-serious roots is every bit as vibrant and rambunctious on their latest album, Larceny & Old Lace. But this time around we're hearing a band that's honed their trade and incorporated more stylistic variations. It's also the band's first experience in a proper studio; the album was recorded with Ed Rawls at The Living Room in Atlanta, Georgia. The result is a record that feels like The Coathangers we've always known and loved, but sounds like a band taking their trade more seriously. Where their past recordings were a mash-up of garage rock's rough and loose instrumentation and no-wave's abrasive tonalities, Larceny & Old Lace showcases a broader song-writing range. "Go Away" taps into a '60s girl-group sound. "Call to Nothing" employs the paint-peeling guitars, dance beats, and slightly ominous melodies of the early post-punk pioneers. "Well Alright" is reminiscent of Rolling Stones' bawdy R&B strut. "Tabbacco Road" is perhaps the biggest leap for the band, completely eschewing their rabble-rousing strategy in favor of penning a pensive and somber ballad. Are we seeing a kinder, gentler Coathangers?
"Never!" is the response from drummer Rusty Coathanger. "We're definitely in a different place creatively and personally. This album has songs that go deeper than on [sophmore album] Scramble, much more serious for us... say whaaaaa?!" Old fans needn't worry thoughlead single "Hurricane" is still a glorious, gritty garage rocker and "Johnny" is still a brilliantly noisy no-wave tune. The Coathangers are merely stretching their boundaries, as you'd expect any other act on their third album to do. "We wanted to try and write different styles of songs and push ourselves to really create something familiar but still unique," says Rusty. "Because everyone is into so many different types of music, you get a hodgepodge kind of sound. However different the songs we feel its still a cohesive album, as far as every song sounding distinctly like a Coathanger's song."
With this broadened artistic horizon, refinement of technique, and Ed Rawls' production allowing every instrument to shine without detracting from the band's natural grit, The Coathangers' latest offering is easily their best record to date. Larceny & Old Lace was be released June 7, 2011 on Suicide Squeeze Records. Join the party.
BLACK BOX REVELATION
The Black Box Revelation .. .. If the magic of rock'n'roll as in life is the journey rather than the destination, then watching Brussels, Belgium duo The Black Box Revelation's headlong ascent further into a garage rock wonderland could be one of the most exciting journeys of all. You may well have heard of two-piece Jan Paternoster (guitar and vocals) and Dries Van Dijck from their debut collection 'Set Your Head On Fire'. Yet with no need for a bassist and no time for a compromise, the duo is only just gearing up for the kind of fantasy adventures they're heading towards. .. .. In the two years since the release of that incendiary debut, the duo have enjoyed a sustained campaign of hardcore touring across the Europe and the UK, earning new fans along with their stripes, expanding their sound and making some new friends along the way. .. .. Trekking across Europe with Eagles Of Death Metal toughened up both their sound and their physical constitutions, playing to venues north of 2000 capacity. And on their own shows, across Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, Jan explains, "we managed to reach a lot of different audiences and new people who didn't know us before; now they do and they know our songs. We're ready for them to hear our second album." .. .. UK fans will be thrilled with the speed of turnaround between albums. In fact, followers on the band's hometurf have been enjoying the delights of 'Set Your Head On Fire' for two years now. But the immense 'Silver Threats' still stays true to the duo's tradition of doing things as fast and loose as the rock'n'roll demons that inhabit their leather-clad souls. It also imbues the music with a dark ferocity that cuts deeper, in all ways, than the first time round. Again, this was largely down to their two years on the road, when to alleviate any boredom that came from playing the songs repeatedly, they would try playing them differently, adding pedals, distortion, pushing harder on certain dimensions in the songs, pulling back in others. It was both an education and an evolution, by the end of which they were not so much a different band, rather one significantly further on in their journey. .. .. "I didn't necessarily intend to do that before I wrote the songs," admits Jan, "but while I was writing, it went darker deeper or more pure. But in my head, I had a vision of an album that was more raw and more bluesy but not really in the obvious bluesy way." .. .. 'Silver Threats' was recorded over two week-long blocks in mid-2009, at London's legendary Konk Studios. The studios' founding father, Ray Davies of The Kinks, would even stop by from time to time, listening to tracks and registering his approval. Meanwhile, the ghosts of Konk's rock heroes' past also served to further re-animate the song blueprints that Jan had brought to the table. "You know that so many other great bands already recorded in the same room, so maybe it's just a mental thing, but I think it helps." .. .. The end result is something of a revelation, mining dark psychedelia and dynamic blues to come up with a sound that remains thrillingly fresh. .. .. On the more direct end is 'Do I Know You?' freewheeling slice of buzzing garage that continues the first album's thread of extracting the psychodrama of the most everyday situations. On the surface, it's about the everyday socially awkward situation of meeting somebody who greets you enthusiastically as an old friend, without you having a clue who they are. Perhaps it's the enhanced lifestyle of being in a touring band, but as the song expands into crunching Led Zeppery, the situation sounds something akin to an existential question of life and death. .. .. Of course, with a darker musical temperament also comes some mythic themes. The epic 9-minute finale 'Here Comes The Kick' was inspired by the XXXXNEED REFxxxxx known as The Stormhunter, a cultish figure who chases meteorological extremities with scant regard for his own safety. Jan explains: "Like the Stormhunter, the song follows the storm and wants to catch it and watch it from the nearest it can. The guitar and the delay is big and psychedelic in a dangerous, threatening way. And then the choruses that's where that the storm is happening. .. .. Elsewhere, they show they can strip back to expose a beating heart on 'Our Town Has Changed For Years Now', written and recorded under the influence of Beck's recently-rediscovered classic 'One Foot In The Grave'. It's not a treatise on Belgian town planning, more an abstract meditation on the uncertainties of finding your place in the world as a young man. .. .. Yet the centrepiece might just be the lurching 'Where Has All This Mess Begun' certainly to Jan it's the track that bests encapsulates what they were striving for. "That song shows what The Black Box Revelation is all about. It's the song that really represents this album. It came about by itself, much darker, but still with the really catchy, hooky guitars. I wanted to combine the lead and the rhythm guitar more than on the first album. On that song, it's a lead guitar but it's played in a rhythm guitar way. Also the structure of the song for me is so original and if you compare it to the first album which was more just garage rock." .. .. The title, by the way, riffs of a line in the track 'You Better Get In Touch With The Devil'. Jan turned cunning linguist, twisting the 'silver threads' line into a motif that crops up over and again throughout the eleven songs. From the lightning in the sky on the stormhunter song through the silver screens that inhabit youth anthem 'Run Wild', and the switchblade knife that features in '5 O'Clock Turn Back The Time'; a song that according to Jan is "a tongue-in-cheek song about a serial killer." .. .. Crafted together amid a classic rock'n'roll firestorm, the songs represent a band at a crucial, explosive stage of their evolution, constantly moving and evolving at such a rate that you can feel the static coming off them. .. .. The answer, to Jan, is as simple as the question; why do people need The Black Box Revelation in their lives? "There should be more bluesy rock'n'roll bands," he explains. "People need this kind of music, simple and honest! Some weeks ago, somebody came up to thank us. He went through a tough period in his life and he said our music had helped him through; it made him happy and gave him a lot of energy. ENERGY, that's our keyword. Come and see us live and you will feel what energy is all about. No energy bars needed anymore we're here for you!"
High Noon Saloon (View)
701 E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 18|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|