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The Comas - Spells (Cover Artwork)

The Comas

The Comas: SpellsSpells (2007)
Vagrant Records

Reviewer Rating: 2


Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There was a time when Vagrant was one of my favorite labels. Alkaline Trio had just dropped the best album of their career in From Here to Infirmary, Hey Mercedes' Everynight Fire Works was spinning constantly, and Rocket from the Crypt's Group Sounds was their best since 1995's Scream, Dracula, Scr.
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There was a time when Vagrant was one of my favorite labels. Alkaline Trio had just dropped the best album of their career in From Here to Infirmary, Hey Mercedes' Everynight Fire Works was spinning constantly, and Rocket from the Crypt's Group Sounds was their best since 1995's Scream, Dracula, Scream. The label was constantly putting out great records by the likes of the Get Up Kids, Face to Face, Koufax, No Motiv, Hot Rod Circuit, and Reggie and the Full Effect among others. Over the years, a changing of the guard of sorts took over, and Vagrant entered a dark era, inking deals with bands like Senses Fail, From Autumn to Ashes, Emanuel, and the Bled. Teenage scenesters benefited, while the rest of us scratched our heads. Fast forward to 2006, and Vagrant was again putting out some of the best records of the year, as Saves the Day made their triumphant return, the Lemonheads put forth an incredible late-career effort, and the Hold Steady took the U.S. by storm with Boys and Girls in America.

But what comes next for former pop-punk/post-punk/emo labels? Apparently the answer is second-rate indie rock. Drive-Thru grabbed the gravely underwhelming House of Fools, Fearless gave Anatomy of a Ghost's mediocre stepchild Portugal. The Man a contract, and Vagrant signed the Comas, a band whose two main claims to fame were having their lead singer dumped by "Dawson's Creek" (and "Brokeback Mountain") star Michelle Williams, and their Yep Roc release Conductor scoring an 8.0/10 from Pitchfork Media.

Successful and important music is, without a doubt, the artistic amalgamation of two elements: style and substance. Some bands can get away with playing unoriginal music because they more than make up for it with their lyric writing abilities, like the Weakerthans or the aforementioned Hold Steady for instance. Other artists can rely on a mastery of style and innovation in lieu of their words -- think Turbonegro or HORSE the Band of today or the great composers of the 18th and 19th centuries on up to the Dixieland jazz ensembles of the 20th century. When a band fails to achieve a remote level of style or substance, its music falls flat. And that's exactly what happens on the Comas' Spells.

The first taste of Spells, "Red Microphones" could be mistaken for a Weezer B-side with obtuse medieval lyrics: "Red microphones / They're everywhere, they're everywhere / We grind the bones of liar giants / And drink the blood of maidens swooning / The moat around you chokes with stars / As we thrust our swords to Heaven." The root cause of the band's sloppy incoherent lyrics may be found in the telling and toddler-titled "Stoneded": "Why am I stoned, you ask me / And I don't know what you want to hear this time / And I don't want to be bad no more." The fuzzy indie rock lacks the hooks of contemporaries like Of Montreal and Rogue Wave, often relying on jacked classic melodies like the "Strawberry Fields"-influenced "Thistledown." About the only really strong song is the upbeat "New Wolf," which manages some marginally amusing lyrics within the pop-rock melody: "The new wolf sisters don't cry, they make up / They put on their makeup / Lovers must grieve and bury when necessary / I found you in the bedroom naked, needle in hand." The irony with "New Wolf" is that although it's one of the better songs on the album, its energetic presentation abruptly interrupts the flow of the otherwise dull current of mid-tempos and ambient grooves.

It's been a while since I really laid into a record with such contempt. Perhaps both Vagrant and the Comas lose when expectations run high. However, the undeniable disappointment of Spells is insurmountable, and the Comas' first shot at widespread exposure seems to be wasted.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
GlassPipeMurder (August 15, 2007)

nice comeback.

GlassPipeMurder (May 14, 2007)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ununderstood

hey look! you are an idiot!
who would've thought?

vandroid (May 14, 2007)

...ununderstood?

To bad there is nothing that qualifies someone to write music reviews on line.
Even just a basic understanding of the English language would be nice; or perhaps a broader than average music knowledge to give them a frame of reference for the records that they feel the need to post knee-jerk reviews of.

Do you need a hug or something?

V

GlassPipeMurder (May 14, 2007)

It's clear that the reviewer doesn't understand this record. Look at the bands name checked here. There is no connection or relevance.

Does "vandroid" stand for Vagrant Android?

There's noconnection except all being on Vagrant, which was the point of the reference. In fact,your entire post made no sense. There's nothing that goes ununderstood on this record. The music is bland, there aren't many good hooks, and the lyrics are weak. If you have to smoke pot or get "Stoneded" before listening to a record to "understand" it, it's nothing that deserves praise.

vandroid (May 14, 2007)

It's clear that the reviewer doesn't understand this record. Look at the bands name checked here. There is no connection or relevance.
If only all bands could be like sublime...
Yeesh.

"There was a time..." indeed.

Punknews?

v

vandroid (May 14, 2007)

....

frostbrewliner (May 14, 2007)

Score is for Dawsons Creek.

Scruffy (May 14, 2007)

Dan, go watch some football.

GPM, I didn't take anything out of context. I comp-letely agree with you that The Weakerthans are far more appreciated due to their lyrics, but, whether you meant it or not, the syntax and context of your sentence implied that their music is unoriginal, which it is not. Sure, it isn't nearly as mindblowing as the lyrics (though it does amplify the sheer genius of the lyrics), but it is by no means, in any way, shape or form, unoriginal. That is what I took exception to.

Anonymous (May 13, 2007)

Some of your comments against Vagrant might be true, but what label can say that EVERY album they put out is "good" or well received? Every label has shitty bands.

I also think you're forgetting some other good Vagrant bands...Eels? Moneen? Paul Westerberg? New Amsterdams?They may have some crap, but if you look at the label over the long haul, they've put out a lot of quality albums...even recently.

RoyStorey (May 13, 2007)

When I first read the band name I thought it said 'The Comes' and I was like "omg"

what a dissapointment

almosttragichero (May 13, 2007)

can't wait to read another gripping review of big d and the kids table, brah

Haha the insinuation that this boring crap is better than Big D and the Kids Table is laughable.

danperrone (May 12, 2007)

sublime is NOT unoriginal

GlassPipeMurder (May 12, 2007)

wow, Scruffy i think you missed the point entirely. yes the Weakerthans are talented and one of my favorite bands but they've found most of their acclaim for J.K. Samson's lyrics, not musical innovation. yes Reconstruction Site is awesome and the (past due) suite is cool, but you're taking my point of context, especially since the Weakerthans were good before Reconstruction Site.

Scruffy (May 12, 2007)

What the horse crap? The Weakerthans play unoriginal music? You love SUBLIME, and you think the Weakerthans make unoriginal music? Go give Reconstruction Site another listen, buddy. Last time I checked, a song like (Hospital Vespers) wasn't all that common.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

I think this was a well written review, you didn't think the album was all that good and gave your reasons. People seem to take any negative reviews like attacks. Atleast you didn't go "this shit blows and leave it.

- JD

minus_20_scene_points (May 11, 2007)

score is for house of fools and portugal. the man.

Anonymous (May 11, 2007)

can't wait to read another gripping review of big d and the kids table, brah

brown (May 11, 2007)

However all the other bands you listed in that catagory do suck all kinds of the hairy and not quite as, however still fairly hairy ass.

brown (May 11, 2007)

I don't agree with your comment about the bled. For what they do, they're pretty good. I think I'm the only person who perfers found in the flood over pass the flask

Holy_Balls (May 11, 2007)

Score is for Koufax

danperrone (May 11, 2007)

it's all right...cool fuzzed out indie sound but some of the songs are just bleh

trakcs 3 and 4 are really solid though

inagreendase (May 11, 2007)

Hey now, with Gatsbys on an unofficial hiatus and Bigwig barely doing anything Portugal. The Man is the only fully active band I think I like on Fearless Records.

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