Coming out of Arizona, grunge rockers The Oxford Coma have released their fourth album Everything Out of Tune, which they describe as “progressive psychedelic grunge,” on Friday the 13th via Siggy Records. The album was produced by Steve Albini (if you don’t know who Steve Albini is, Google him – the man’s a genius) and it definitely shows. Come, dear reader, and let’s take a journey through these nine tracks.
“The tracks are my frustrations, addictions, neuroses, and grief,” says band frontman Billy Tegethoff. “They’re my analysis of the times. The culture of social media wars, 24-hour streams of videos of cops committing atrocities, fucking Donald goddamn Trump, all the hate living on the fringes of the advances in LGBT rights and visibility (a community I’m a part of), rampant sexism, nationalism, racism, misogyny, and other forms of violence has had me alternately furious and depressed for the last several years.” Grunge-heavy guitar riffs, a fat bass, and powerful drums meet with a progressive vocal exploration, all intertwined with psychedelic interludes that are probably about as close to auditory hallucinations as you’re going to get without doing actual drugs (don’t do drugs, kids. Drugs are bad, mkay?)
The album opens with the track “Trauma (Maybe I’m Forgetting Something)” and right off the bat, it sounds like Alice in Chains and Tool came together to have a glorious love child. The verse is in your face, while the chorus slows it down just a little, but then raises itself back up to punch you in the head again. That sound continues on through the next track “Inflatable Patriots (Touching People in their Sleep)” with an added Nine Inch Nails influence becoming very apparent. Next up is “Patterns of Thought,” the instrumentals of which were all written by bassist Doug Staples. The track features haunting vocals and heavy guitars wrapped up in a jam band shell. “Cartoons” is mellow yet groovy, implementing great use of palm muting and dark vocals. The next track, “Junkies & God,” takes on the state of addiction in America (seriously, drugs are bad, mkay?) with a mellow, almost trance-inducing, tempo that occasionally rises up just barely enough to be catchy. Thankfully, the Primus-like bass lines which open the (sort of) title track”Everything Out of Tune (My Victories Are Others’ Failures)” precede a song which, in its entirety, is great to jam out to in your car driving down the road. It’s my favorite song on this album. An odd psychedelic auditory wave hits you in the face (it actually gave me a slight headache) as soon as “Reciprocal Damage” opens up, followed by some pounding drums and bass, which lead into heavy grunge guitar riffs. Don’t let that fool you, however, because what follows in the rest of the song is dangerously close to ballad territory. Closing up the album are “Smack & Temporary Enlightenment” and “Good Job Boys.” “Smack” is a 7 minute track opening with a nice and steady drum beat and trippy guitars, and quite possibly the longest intro ever. I almost thought it was an instrumental track. If you ever for a second doubted that The Oxford Coma had a “psychedelic” sound to them, this track will change your mind. “Good Job Boys” closes out the album well for them, encapsulating every element of the band’s “progressive psychedelic grunge” sound in one track. It’s a bit slower and not as heavy as I’d like it to be, but if I had to choose one track to describe The Oxford Coma, this would be it.
When you see the “grunge” genre attached to a band, you tend to expect a certain sound. While elements of that sound certainly exist throughout this album, it’s definitely not quite what I was expecting. That said, I’m honestly surprised The Oxford Coma aren’t a national touring band, given the scope and quality of this album. Everything Out of Tune certainly has its high points, but it has its low points as well. Few albums are perfect, and while this album certainly is not, it is definitely worth a listen. These guys are very talented, even if those talents might not match everyone’s tastes.
1. Trauma (Maybe I’m Forgetting Something)
2. Inflatable Patriots (Touching People In Their Sleep)
3. Patterns of Thought
5. Junkies & God
6. Everything Out of Tune (My Victories Are Others’ Failures)
7. Reciprocal Damage
8. Smack & Temporary Enlightenment
9. Good Job Boys
Billy Tegethoff – guitar/vocals
Mert Salahi – guitar
Casey Dillon – drums
Doug Staples – bass
Written by Mitch Ellerbrock for Bloodrock Media on October 17, 2017