Bliss in Blasts

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 18, 2007 7:00PM

2007_07_greatnorthern_comas.gifYou'd think after a certain busy weekend, we'd be all music-ed out by now, right? Wrong. Especially when tonight holds an astounding bill co-headlined by The Comas and Great Northern. In one sense the line-up couldn't be more polarized since one band comes from L.A. with a lushly grand sound and the other from New York — loud, and prone to spastic freakouts. But, in truth, both bands strive for a similar sense of beauty at the core of all their songs.

Great Northern is led by the boy/girl vocals of Solon Bixler and Rachel Stolte, telling tales reaching for change and reveling in the perfection of the day-to-day. The songs are gauzy in feel, but one can feel that covering a rock-solid base of powerful drive. Strings float in and out of the mix, guitars swell to the size of skyscrapers, and while the mood constantly feels as if sadness is tugging at the hems, optimistic buoyancy lifts each and every composition towards the rafters. "Just A Dream," off Trading Twilight For Daylight, is a perfect exhibit for this; it begins with a driving beat that gives way to a quiet reprieve before building up the tension broken by a chorus that bursts through the musical spikes, like so many shafts of light breaking through the storm.

We readily admit being really late to the party that The Comas are throwing, but their fourth album Spells has completely captivated us. Like Great Northern, the band relies on male/female interplay, from Andy Herod and Nicole Gehweiler's vocals, but The Comas are more interested in driving their point home while Great Northern seems content to let their message wash over the listener.

The Comas seem gripped by a nervous urgency, as if they only have a few precious seconds to get their message across. So the band utilizes each song to take a whirlwind tour of emotive changes, time shifts, and the good ol' tool of soft/loud/soft dynamics to get the job done. The result is a journey down a path musically familiar, but filled with excitement. From the first 30 seconds* of album opener "Red Microphones" the group's captivating M.O. is made apparent as a jaunty opening guitar makes way for crashing drums before breaking into a loping paranoid reflection broken by a disjointed orchestra phoning it in from Mars.

*Bonus points to whomever can tie these preceding two words into Great Northern as well.

The Comas and Great Northern play an 18+ show Subterranean tonight at 8:30 p.m.

Top photo of Great Northern by Jason Odell.
Bottom photo courtesy of The Comas.