With the summer about to explode into a series of probably pretty fun but ultimately pretty safe (tired?) musical experiences, accept a recommendation to the non-old-folks-set and and those interested in something that hits a little harder: Albuqeruque post-hardcore act Coma Recovery at the Railyard this Saturday. It's a bit of a surprise that a heavier project would take that particular stage, but here we are and here is good—do not gather your family and leave before the show's over, or we'll never get kickass shows like this on a regular basis.
So lemme help, because there's a long history behind the Coma Recovery starting way back in ye olden days circa early 2000-and-something when principal songwriter and guitarist Tommy Morris unleashed the three-piece act Pixel Vision on an unsuspecting Warehouse 21 crowd. Before that, Morris says he'd played in high-school cover bands that payed homage to legendary post-punk heavy-hitters like Hot Water Music, but by the time he evolved Pixel Vision into Coma Recovery around 2003, he was far more interested in a hands-on approach and originality. To this day, he writes the bulk of the material.
Cue a number of years wherein everyone who saw or heard the band fell in love with their heavy-yet-pretty soundscapes and post-hardcore style. Coma Recovery has always deftly incorporated numerous influences into a cohesive vision. At times, it's easy to draw comparisons to records like Snapcase's 2000 stunner Designs for Automotion; other moments sound like tragically under-appreciated bands such as Blueprint Car Crash (look 'em up, seriously) but slightly less mathy and worlds more rocking despite the oftentimes odd time signatures and cacophonous movements. Even aspects akin to the darker and more layered work of Radiohead find a home within Coma Recovery's work, while bassist Dustin Casteel lays it down hard and singer Travis Wozniak's unearthly vocals set a fucking mood. "It's always evolving on its own," Morris explains of the sound. "I honestly don't think I could articulate to you a clear mission, sound-wise."
But the band began scaling back following the release of what is arguably its best work, Godverb, in 2011. Shows were pared down to roughly three a year and momentum started to slow. Then, in 2013, keyboardist Jimmy Frick died in a ziplining accident outside Santa Fe. Morris says Frick's death was obviously difficult, but that it worked its way into his songwriting. "Jimmy was involved during a developmental time, and I think about him often, especially while playing music," Morris says. "But we didn't have a solid band for quite awhile."
Just a couple weeks ago, Morris turned 36 and started reflecting on what has been and what's to come. He says the milestone has revitalized him to an extent, but that in the last year Coma Recovery had already started stepping up again. Former Future Scars drummer Ben Durfee has been added to the permanent roster, and together they're slowly but surely putting together new material. Last April, the band released the Apotheosis EP on Deep Elm Records, a satisfying selection of three songs that Morris says "just made sense together."
But the release was also a reminder of sorts that Coma Recovery is still out there. The addition of Durfee has opened up new songwriting possibilities according to Morris, and the ultimate goal is to get to work on a full-length album within the next few months. "I think it's going to change how we work," Morris says of having Durfee on board. "It's been years since we've had a broader spectrum like that, but the only thing I really care about is writing music and letting that music exist in the world and in people's heads."
They probably won't tour, though. Maybe regionally. Morris says he just doesn't know for the moment, and points out that recording new songs is at the top of the priority list. Similarly, this Saturday show should have a place on your own list. Coma Recovery does not disappoint.
Coma Recovery with The Bright Light Social Hour:
7 pm Saturday June 23. Free.
Santa Fe Railyard,
Market and Alcaldesa Streets,