Sound — 9
San Antonio's Girl In A Coma still remains relatively under the radar, but the female trio has an ace in the hole which will surely pay off: With frontwoman Nina Diaz's unique delivery, you won't likely mix their sound up with any of their peers' recordings. Some have taken notice, with Joan Jett signing the band to her Blackheart Records label and their single Clumsy Sky taking home the Independent Music Award for Best Punk Song. It's up for debate whether that song (off Girl In A Coma's last album Before I'm Gone) fits with the punk genre, but the track did show that the band knew how to lay down a memorable, infectious track. Their latest release Trio B.C. (named after singer/guitarist Nina Diaz and drummer Phanie Diaz's grandfather's Tejano band back from the 1950's) once again is full of enjoyable, instantly-hummable melodies, and this time it's even more apparent that the girls are keeping the 1990's and sometimes the 1950's vibe alive. The 13-track CD takes several different turns, but at all times vocalist/guitarist Nina Diaz is confidently steering the way. Not to say that her fellow bandmates couldn't come out with an amazing record on their own, but Nina has one of the most unique vocal styles out today. Combine that with the fact that her guitar playing bounces between straightforward punk to a dreamy, Cure-like style, and you are guaranteed that there will be a unique mood to each track. Plenty of comparisons have been made to Morrissey and The Smiths in the past, particularly because Girl In A Com took their name from The Smiths' Girlfriend In A Coma. The two bands do have a similar smooth, effects-laden approach, but Girl In A Coma's influences seem to come from every which direction and decade. Whether it be the Sonic Youth-like, experimental Baby Boy or the darker rockabilly delivery in Slaughter Lane, the band knows how to keep things fresh. There are a few songs that do take a more traditional, pop-punk approach (Joannie In The City), but Girl In A Coma excels when they dabble in sounds that are a little more out of the ordinary. Ven Cerca is the first song that the band has recorded in Spanish, and considering the album title's inspiration, it's the perfect closer to Trio B.C. The song title might hint that the musical portion will also give a nod to the girls' heritage, but it's quite the contrary. Ven Cerca is an alternative rock song through and through, from the oddly intriguing pulled guitar notes in the first seconds to fairly straightforward power chords that carry much of the song.
Lyrics — 9
The Morrissey comparison certainly pops up time and again with the lyrical content as well. There might not be quite the constant, wry humor that we hear in The Smiths, but Nina still has her moments with songs like Trail (I'm all right for now; I'll just never sleep again). Joannie In The City is a highlight in terms of the storytelling approach that it takes, while a good number of the other tracks dabble the topic of love. In the end it's all about the delivery, and Nina Diaz makes every little line believable.
Overall Impression — 9
Girl In A Coma made quite an impression the first time around, partly due to the fact that the members are still fairly young. Nina Diaz was still in her teens when the band's debut record hit shelves, and even at that time she had somewhat of an old-soul vibe to her. Putting aside the charismatic vocals, the instrumentation also has a vintage feel that doesn't sound like most of what we're hearing on the rock charts these days. Trio B.C. has only a few lulls along the way, but there's enough engaging material that it should thrust Girl In A Coma further into the spotlight.