If there’s a sound of the moment in music, particularly from this small Okanagan nook of the world, rock just isn’t it.
Then again, as popular as the term “genre defying” is among artists, totally different generally doesn’t strike much of a chord either.
Today’s popular anthem is from a quirky acoustic folk ensemble, written by angst-riddled singer/songwriters, with the odd electronic act-in-a-box in the mix.
And everyone is shunning makeup for oxfords, sporting high waistlines and braids, not complex stage production.
In My Coma is, thus, a step outside the formula.
A Toronto rock group whose written room to manoeuvre right into their name, these three musicians have the sound of a borderline hair-rock power trio and they are all about experimenting.
Lead singer Jasper James doesn’t mind advertising his disdain for anything that pigeonholes this vision, either. Even his interview style is less talented-kid-next-door, more a slightly arrogant our-sound-rules refrain.
“I think the band name lends itself to being able to put out any type of music and for it to make sense to people,” says James in a telephone interview from Route 11 somewhere outside Saskatoon.
James is the lead songwriter and visionary for the group and he and bandmate LauraDoll, a five-foot-five-inch rock princess who never has to carry her Gibson Thunderbird (bass), have played together since they were teenagers.
Their first band was another rock trio formed with James’s brother, which occasionally suffered from a little Noel and Liam Gallagher syndrome before one brother left for school in England.
Drummer Mike Paterson joined the remaining pair after continually bumping into them in the music scene and answering a classified advertisement.
The result is In My Coma, a group James describes as the soundscape of a dream state. Sometimes it’s a good dream, he explained, sometimes it’s got a darker edge to it; but it’s constantly evolving and changing and doesn’t need to be pinned to one format.
“Do I miss them, do I hate them, will I ever make them mine,” on the song Homesick, thus has an almost Nickelback feel while the title track Magnets & Miracles is a 12-second trip back to the beginnings of electronic music when synthesizers and robots met Star Wars visionaries.
James sets challenges for himself, like writing one song electronic-guitar free, while maintain a rock feel.
And while there’s no denying one can hear The Smiths and Depeche Mode in their sound, they also have their own edge, even in the bizarre mix of influences they seem to have merged.
As The Pit Music’s reviewer points out, “the intense lyrical themes and the downbeat mood of the songs are in gloomy Nick Cave territory.”
Maybe it’s this mix of influence, maybe it’s the return to the confident/cocky rocker James seems to herald, but the trio are definitely catching attention.
In My Coma was featured in Alternative Press last summer, with James telling the magazine he sees the band more often than his family, and they were nominated in the Best Alternative Rock band category at the Toronto Independent Music Awards.
How all of this translates to a roadshow in the west will be interesting to see. The band didn’t let plans for a stage show curb its creativity in the recording studio and aiming for the biggest sound possible does not make for an easy translation to live play.
“It’s like a wall of sound and there’s only three of us,” said James. “So we worked really hard in our rehearsals to recreate that feel.”
In My Coma cannot boast a lot of commercial radio play as yet and, in Western Canada, they’re a virtual unknown, but if touring has taught them anything, it’s that making a personal connection has a way of elevating their presence.
In My Coma will be in Kelowna Saturday night, CDs in hand, Sharpies cocked, ready to sign autographs after the show which is at Doc Willoughby’s Pub, April 13 at 8 p.m.