Ignore this Album
The words “Paris is Mine, by the Oxford Coma” may conjure images of intellectually-charged, metallically-inclined punks high on Baudelaire and Voltaire, Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, wild-eyed, pomaded, and elbowing their way through the academy doors, thick glasses askew, skinny ties flapping, arms cocked back to vehemently hurl a Chimerical Bombination, or ya know, a Dissertation, Honey.
What listeners will find – if they are somehow flim-flammed into listening to Paris is Mine – is nothing more than uninteresting, jammy desert rock, a recording whose only salient characteristic is its complete and utter vagueness. This is not to be confused with the good varieties of vagueness – the ephemeral, the suggestive, the surreal, the fleeting. What we have here is just the plain old forgettable, often frustrating kind – the slightly out of focus photo, the humming noise you can’t identify, the guy who mumbles when he talks to you, the painting that just doesn’t look enough like the thing it’s supposed to be.
From the get-go – “Canadian Question Mark” – the music on Paris is Mine has a tangible improvised quality. This would be good if things went anywhere unique, but instead the impression is of a choose-your-own-adventure book in musical form; melodic paths not taken cry out for another run-through. The lack of compositional ambition leads to a pronounced lack of risk and stakes. What there is plenty of is repetition, which is supposed to be psychedelic or something, but just ends up feeling… vague.
The instruments sound very raw and in-the-room, and there are some yelled vocals. Unfortunately, the vocals and lyrics are as indistinct as the music. There are a few redeeming moments here and there. The end of “Daisies” has a very short but kinda cool Tom Morello-esque discordant guitar solo at the end. “The Pulls” has a bit of mathiness to it, and “Ados Watts Jam” sounds neat because there is a historical-sounding sample playing in the background.
To be fair, this is the kind of music you might be mildly pleased to find being performed at a local venue or bar. But that is as far as it should go. There’s nothing patently unpleasant about the music on Paris is Mine, but there is also nothing here that warrants dissemination on any wider platform.
Not content to simply bore us with their mediocre jam-songs, the Oxford Coma end Paris is Mine by desecrating a classic – Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” With no harmonica, a wan imitation of Bonham’s echoey drum sound, and a very loose adaptation of the original’s lyrics and structure, the Oxford Coma remind us why we love Led Zeppelin, and make us wonder why we didn’t listen to a real album like Zoso instead. Vampire Weekend once sang “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?” As painful as it is to agree with goddamn Vampire Weekend, well, *sigh.*