Los Angeles shoegaze/folk-rock act Coma Girls, aka songwriter Chris Spino, has officially released his new LP, ‘No Umbrella For Star Flower,’ out everywhere now via Baby Robot Records. Since announcing the record in July, Coma Girls have garnered praise from numerous media outlets including Under the Radar Mag, Riff Magazine, Chorus.FM, Tuned Up, Glide Magazine, Buzzbands LA, If It’s Too Loud, and more. Listen to ‘No Umbrella For Star Flower’ via YouTube below.
Spino has been going through some changes. In fact, Coma Girls’ entire history has been marked by metamorphosis. From Spino’s turn away from his roots to the lo-fi/neo-garage style of 2015’s self-titled debut, to the jangly alt-country of Smoking Gun, the 7-inch that chronicled his move to LA, and the psych-folk of 2021’s ‘Skyboxer’ that mined the trenches of addiction, Coma Girls’ releases have consistently been characterized by Spino’s own personal and musical reinvention. Now, Spino is preparing to release Coma Girls’ latest, the maximalist, shoegazey folk-rock album ‘No Umbrella For Star Flower,’ and finds himself in the throes of another transitional stage, emerging from the isolation of the pandemic newly sober and with fewer demons to slay.
“This record was my one escape, the one thing that kept me from going off the rails,” says Spino. “It’s a pandemic record, a relapse record, a break-up record, and a recovery record. This was the thing that was keeping me sane.”
Since Spino formed Coma Girls more than a decade ago as an outlet for his solo singer/songwriter material, the project has taken on numerous different iterations as a solo project, a band, a rotating cast of studio musicians, and now, on ‘No Umbrella For Star Flower,’ a two-man collaboration between Spino and producer Christian Paul Philippe.
“I played about 95% of the record and Christian produced the whole thing,” says Spino. “We were talking a lot about Sparklehorse and the dynamic between Mark Linkous and Dangermouse, or Christopher Owens and Chet White from Girls, just that two-handed approach. I did all the songwriting, soundscapes, string arrangements, etc. myself, and then Christian helped me figure out the sound styles and we had a couple people pinch hit for specific parts.”
Those pinch hitters include Dan Gee (Tropa Magica), who contributed piano to three tracks on the record, and pedal steel extraordinaire Connor “Catfish” Gallaher (Black Lips, Tim Heidecker & Weyes Blood), as well as backing vocalists Rosselinni Rogel and Paige Vreede. Apart from their specialized contributions, however, ‘No Umbrella For Star Flower’ stands as a testament to Spino’s growth and talents as a standalone songwriter and studio performer.
“I’ve finally come to a place where I feel like I can play all these parts and don’t need someone better than me to come in and play them.”
‘No Umbrella For Star Flower’ kicks off with Knife, an electrifying folk-rock song that showcases Spino’s lyrical intimacy atop massive blown-out production that calls to mind the best of Bright Eyes without ever sounding derivative. Later on the album, Jaded takes up a similar cadence, blending the confessional nature of indie-folk with full-on shoegaze as bone-rattling distorted guitars soundtrack Spino’s attempts to gain control in a cycle of relapse and recovery.
Throughout ‘No Umbrella For Star Flower,’ Spino lays bare his struggles with addiction, love, depression and more without ever coming across as alienating or self-centered. There’s a nuanced conversational tone to his lyricism that is simultaneously uniquely descriptive and universally relatable, a balancing act that can be credited to the dedication to pop music that has stayed steadfast at the core of Coma Girls’ music.
“I started this project with the idea of playing pop music the way a punk band would,” says Spino. “But now, I’m more focused on just writing songs without any preconceived notion of genre. I’m just doing things exactly how I think they should be done without anything else in mind. I like to think that if I stay true to that and make things I really believe in, then other people will feel that too.”