Soul Coughing
Ruby Vroom


4.5
superb

Review

by Smevin Bravis USER (10 Reviews)
June 4th, 2010 | 13 replies | 5,985 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A criminally underrated album, one of the most unique and intelligent debuts of the 90's.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

The 90's were certainly at no shortage of quirky rock bands (Faith No More, Brainiac, Ween, etc.) but Soul Coughing unquestionably had a place of their own. While dabbling in jazz and hip-hop was hardly unheard of, very few bands were willing to so fearlessly immerse themselves in each genre, while still remaining identifiable as a rock group.

Head soul cougher Mike Doughty led the group through their remarkably tasteful mix of blues, electronica, and the aforementioned genres with rock (and even later, combining alternative with elements of drum and bass), but what he most importantly brought to the proverbial table was his experience as a performing poet. Doughty's surreal, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and offbeat delivery proved to be a defining aspect of Soul Coughing's sound; he knew just how to simultaneously express his point, baffle listeners with seemingly non-sequitor references, and combine his voice with the song's beat and mood.

Screenwriter's Blues is a testament to this, as he builds up praise of moving out west for the menial aims of becoming a... well, screenwriter, as he refers to the greatness of ***ing models only to near-laughingly point out near the end that "The radio man laughs, because the radio man ***s a model too." While he may have come across as overly smarmy, Doughty proved quite willing to show his more sensitive side as well, namely on songs like the closing Janine, or the penultimate track Mr. Bitterness, on which he sounded so resigned that he was actually able to express genuine pain. The mere fact that he was so willing to drop the smart-ass facade which most alternative acts are (and have been) so unwilling to rid themselves of is incredibly refreshing, and the emotion shown pays off wonderfully. On True Dreams of Wichita, Drought muses over a messy breakup as a very busy, lively beat goes on cheerily behind him, which hints at both blues and jazz. While his talent does take the band quite far, there is even more to the group than one might expect.

This leads me to the other true standout of the band, which was keyboardist and sampler Mark de Gli Antoni. As far as sheer creativity with application of obscure samples in beats is concerned, he has truly gone unrivaled since this album came out - two particular examples are Bus to Beelzebub and Down to This. His brilliantly inspired manipulation of Raymond Scott's Powerhouse (if you're not familiar with the title, chances are excellent that should you hear the song, you'd recognize it instantly) constitutes the beat for Beelzebub, while Howlin' Wolf and the Andrew Sisters are paired to inconceivable perfection for the latter. The song manages to sound alternative and hip-hop simultaneously while being bizarrely accessible, driven by a sharp funk while retaining a dark, almost disturbing quality in the background samples and Doughty's unsettling agreement that we take the ankles while he takes the wrists.

Ruby Vroom's fearless venturing has no doubt influenced a great many bands to run with their own ideas, as they had so admirably done. Soul Coughing's debut was an intensely original, highly unique, and incredibly influential piece of work, and while it was certainly well written and catchy, it deserved high marks for its sheer adventurous nature alone. One of the best albums of the 90's that simply doesn't get the respect it deserves.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
PoodleRapist
June 5th 2010



252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wow.... i have to admit that i was quite drunk while writing this, though inspired all the same. any and all criticisms are welcome, seriously. SERIOUSLY, YO

PoodleRapist
June 5th 2010



252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

also, approved prematurely. have mercy! i will edit later hahaha

Disconnected
June 5th 2010



485 Comments


I think the review's actually good. It has me quite interested. I think I'll check out this band.

DoubtGin
June 5th 2010



6749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album is soo groovy, lovin the bass

people on here arent interested in this type of music though

audiosmurf
February 5th 2011



56 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

massively awesome lyrics and a groove that is not from this earth.

Yotimi
April 8th 2011



6473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy Poo this is good

Digging: Millie and Andrea - Drop The Vowels

KILL
July 19th 2012



71482 Comments


gd

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

KILL
July 19th 2012



71482 Comments


dude it groovz

ExcentrifugalForz
February 21st 2013



1707 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

City of Motors, too bad their other albums couldn't keep pace.

Digging: Renaissance - Grandine il Vento

PoodleRapist
March 5th 2013



252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i thought el oso came close

ExcentrifugalForz
March 5th 2013



1707 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol that one is my least favorite but at least it has St. Louise and Circles

PoodleRapist
March 8th 2013



252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

joo crazy mang

JokineAugustus
October 27th 2013



5896 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good stuff. Those bass lines.



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