Feature image by Sarah Q
On November 19th Chicagoans will have the chance to see Girl in a Coma, an all-girl rock band from San Antonio known for its piercing songs and powerful live performances. GIAC is composed of Mexican-American sisters Nina (vocals/guitar) and Phanie Diaz (drums) and long-time friend Jenn Alva (bass). Together, they comprise a very special combination: they are all Latina women – two-thirds Lesbian – who sing in English and Spanish without being fluent in the latter.This group grew up listening to the sounds of Selena and idolizing Morrissey and The Smiths and their songs reflect a blend of rock, punk and other genres. The girls have grabbed enough attention to be signed by rocker Joan Jett’s label Blackheart records. They have also been asked to tour with Morrissey, Sia, Tegan and Sara, The Pogues and Amanda Palmer while one of their songs (“Yo Oigo”) is part of the soundtrack for Robert Rodriguez’s movie Machete.
The band has performed in Chicago previously and is coming this time to promote their fourth album entitled Exits & All The Rest. According to the their website, this latest album is the product of a very intense period for the band, one that has been marked by both their experiences sharing stages with their music idols and with Arizona’s recent legal controversy over immigration. This intensity is reflected in an album that has a strong reminiscence of 80’s rock. Be warned, you may see images of punk kids with spiky hair and girls wearing tight leather pants with a feisty attitude going through your mind while listening to the tracks. Be ready to experience a roller coaster of sounds that goes from melodic pop to hard core punk.
The opening song “Adjust”, for instance, starts with a slow and uneventful tune that lets Nina’s magnetic voice catch all your attention. She starts singing as if lamenting to her lover about his ambivalence about their relationship. Suddenly, the song gets loud and the lament turns into a powerful demand. This ambivalence is reflected in the sudden changes of mood repeated throughout the song. It is this element of surprise and the mood changes that place Nina’s voice as the protagonist in this song.
In fact, it is Nina’s seductive yet invigorating voice that captivates throughout the album. Her capacity to seduce is reflected in songs such as “One Eyed Fool”. She whispers and caresses you with her voice only to rapidly transform into a growl or scream. But her appeal remains intact. She has the ability to be soft and strong at the same time. In other songs – like in “Smart” – her voice has a youthful, almost innocent-like quality. “Smart” has a melodic pop sound that reminds me of The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love”. It is a love song that leaves you with a happy, good feeling. In contrast to the love songs, the album also contains such politically-charged songs as “Hope”, a pogo-ready punk song that speaks to the Arizona immigration dispute and pumps your adrenaline high.
The overall feeling of this album is raw and authentic with accessible songs that mix punk and classic rock with ballads and a little bit of pop. My favorite tracks are “Adjust”, “Smart”, and “Hope”. If you are curious about Girl in a Coma, don’t miss the chance to see them perform live this Saturday at Double Door. Here is more information about the show: