Girl in a Coma
1am, Easy Tiger Patio
San Antonio dynamo Nina Diaz has been working on this new trick lately, one where she'll sing a line that conventional wisdom would have put on a guitar. It's most obvious on her band's cover of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but she uses the device often on last November's Exits & All the Rest, Girl In A Coma's fourth, for example toward the end of opening track "Adjust."
"It's badass," says the trio's bassist, Jenn Alva. "She's been doing it for a while, but we went on tour with the Black Box Revalation, and [singer Jan Paternoster] does a lot of that; he'll sing along to his solos, and she's since taken off with it."
A lifelong friend of Diaz's older sister Phanie, the band's drummer, Alva's used to seeing the magnetic singer develop by studying her idols. Shades of Morrissey creep into her lyrics; she owes her theatrical style to Björk.
On Exits, Diaz's progression lies in her decision to summon the influences of the band's rawkier rhythm section, a difference typified on songs like "Cemetery Baby" and "Adjust," which start quieter but move in places where they might have shown up hollow on earlier albums.
"Nina is so drawn to Jeff Buckley," says Alva. "She wants to be that kind of singer, one who can sing over everything. Phanie and I have always been such fans of punk and riot grrrl music, and I think she's battled that. She's had to work with us to blend things together."
It's a work in progress, but if these Girls can build on Exits' highlights, they may just fulfill a prophesy laid out five years ago by its Kenny Laguna, co-founder of Joan Jett's Blackheart Records for which Girl in a Comas has now cut three LPs.
"We were in the studio mastering Both Before I'm Gone and Kenny kept saying to us, 'All you got to do is stay together. You'll make your mark in music if you stay together.'"