Los Angeles folk-rock/psych project Coma Girls are preparing to release their new EP, ‘Skyboxer’. The band have released a new single & video, Wedding Roses. ‘Skyboxer’ is out January 29 via Baby Robot Records. Watch the video for Wedding Roses via YouTube below.
Moments into Coma Girls’ self-titled debut album, on the jangly opening anthem Car Alarms, ringleader Chris Spino announces, as if through a megaphone: “And the world… The world is a giant casino.” 5 years later, the L.A. rockers are still making ambitious and colorful music, but reality has settled in. They’re offering ‘Skyboxer’, an extravagant yet complex EP that’s given up gambling and instead chooses to face life head-on.
Coma Girls formed in 2014 in Atlanta, and they’ve since come a long way and travelled through a myriad of sonic (and geographical) territories to get to where they are now. After Spino sold his belongings and moved to L.A. with a backpack full of clothes and a guitar, he was committing himself to music wholly as if in marriage. “Music is always the best therapy for me,” he says, though that’s fairly clear in his songs—the urgency and the vitality are palpable.
Their debut received praise from Immersive for “show[ing] a surprising unity and identity,” and ‘Skyboxer’ takes that to the next level. Featuring an all-star cast of Spino’s friends, the EP watches his ideas manifest through the talent of seven other musicians as well as his own: Spino himself on vocals, guitar & piano; Travis Popichak on drums; Marvin Figueroa on bass; Dan Gee on keys; Adam Laidlaw on guitar; Michika Skyy on backing vocals; and Connor “Catfish” Gallaher, whose talents can be heard on records from The Black Lips, Tim Heidecker & Weyes Blood, and more on pedal steel. Producing, engineering, and mixing is Tomas Dolas (Oh Sees, SASAMI, Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel).
“It really turns into a sonic circus,” Spino says of the EP. Though Coma Girls have never subscribed to a specific genre, its heart has always belonged to pop—Spino’s guilty pleasure. It explains the catchy, indulgent atmosphere of their self-titled LP; on ‘Skyboxer’, however, it’s not as evident. “I think this is an effort to bend that a little bit and push it into territory that gets stranger and feels bigger and explores different sounds,” Spino says, and then adds: “but it also retains what Coma Girls has always been about—pop songs.”
The country twang comes through in songs like Pasadena and Wedding Roses. Spino’s love for folk spans all the way from Bob Dylan to Conor Oberst, and these wistful ballads reflect the melancholic nature of the genre as the lyrics reckon with the complications of being human. “I had a lot of depression sink in,” Spino says about his time spent travelling back and forth between his new home in L.A. and his family in Georgia during the making of this EP. There were funerals, heart attacks, old lovers, unsettled issues—a whirlwind of serious shit that transformed Coma Girls from a carefree party into an introspective journey. The songs are still striking—and when Spino describes them, he can’t stop using the adjective “big”—because the emotions are colossal, and the energy intense.
With his orchestra of friends, Spino was not alone in his musical ruminations. “We were able to explore each song differently,” he says, “but give it a common thread as well.” This collective way of creating yields a diverse, powerful piece of art that anyone can listen to or relate to. “It’s supposed to take you places,” he says. “It’s more like a form of escapism.” ‘Skyboxer’ offers nearly 17 minutes of a safe hideaway from reality, where the listener can drift through a new, all-encompassing world. The upside to the national lockdown is that it’s forced everyone into a meditative state, which Spino appreciates greatly. With clean time and therapy, he became more articulate and ready to create than ever. “It’s not conducive to my creativity to be up until the sun comes up every day,” he explains. “I’ve done more in the past six months than I have in the past five years. I’ve been insanely productive.” After this EP, there’s a lot more to come from Coma Girls.