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.

hat do you get when you meld "fast/loud rules" with the Tex-Mex accordion? Piñata Protest and their invigorating and pointed "punk rock-y-roll." The band "forcefully take the raw essence of conjunto into warp-speed tempos and punky aggression," raves the San Antonio Current, which rates them as "one of the most original forces on the local music scene." And now with their national debut album on Saustex Records, Plethora, Piñata Protest take their infectious and bracing South Texas slamdance to the rest of America and the planet at large.

The band bristles with a sound that has been dubbed "amphetamine norteño," "ranchero punk" and "puro pedo [no bullshit] punk rock" while also targeting the adversities and emptiness of modern life with dead-eyed aim. As the San Antonio Current observes, "Piñata Protest's Álvaro Del Norte is doing for the accordion what the Dropkick Murphys do for the bagpipes, playing what's often considered an embarrassing grandpa-music relic with youthful angst and energy, expanding the punk-rock template beyond London and NYC."

IRONTOM emerged at the beginning of the year with an intent on forging a presence for themselves on the Los Angeles music scene. With influences ranging from The Arctic Monkeys to Led Zeppelin, the music exhibits a variety of styles and sounds on top of a classic sensibility for song writing. The personalities of each of the five musicians combine to form an undeniably powerful and energetic sound.

$12 -$14

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GIRL IN A COMA with PINATA PROTEST, IRONTOM

Saturday, June 15 · 7:00 PM at Club Congress