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Old 06-14-2008, 05:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Soul Coughing - Ruby Vroom



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Originally Posted by wiki
They found only modest mainstream success, but had a devoted following and largely positive responses from critics; Steve Huey describes them as "one of the most unique cult bands of the '90s ... driven by frontman M. Doughty's stream-of-consciousness poetry, Soul Coughing's sound was a willfully idiosyncratic mix of improvisational jazz grooves, oddball samples, hip-hop, electronics, and noisy experimentalism (described by Doughty as 'deep slacker jazz').



Ruby Vroom is Soul Coughing's debut album and consists of beat poetry over fake jazz and sample based tunes with a driving stand up bass and a killer funk sounding drummer. This is a hard album to review even though I've heard it so many times and definitely not the easiest first review, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Review:
Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago - Starts out with a slightly funky guitar riff and then goes into a nasty walking bass line and rhythm section groove sprinkled with sampled pieces from other songs.
Sugar Free Jazz - One of the slower tunes on the album, starts with a simple guitar line and just evolves into a simple chorus with a repeated skat line by Doughty with samples thrown all over the place. The song stays mostly the same, but it's a piece of work.
Casiotone Nation - One of the jazzier tunes on the album. A chorus counting in 5's (5,10,15,20.....) A driving bass line with samples providing as the melody during the verses as Doughty ad-libs through the song.
Blueeyed Devil - Definitely one of the catchier songs on the album. A nice and simpe guitar line with a good backing from the rhythm section. Awesome sampling of tenor sax pieces sprinkled in. Always makes me think of Hey Arnold for some reason.
Bus To Beelzebub - Frantic sampling starts the song out till the drums come on and then the bass and the rest of the band come in. A very simple song, but the sampling hear is top notch, as is the rhythm section.
True Dreams Of Wichita - The song has the repeating bass line with guitar parts sprinkled in. For a long time the song seems to ramble on and is very repetitious, but near the end the drums come in and go into a funk jazz adventure with a driving bass line to give the song a wakeup.
Screenwriter's Blues - Almost completely samples the whole way through and the rhythm section is very repetitious, but it's composed beautifully.
Moon Sammy - Another one of the catchy tunes on the album. Great rhythm groove and awesome sampling.
Supra Genius - A simple groove that seems to repeat itself the whole song, but the sampling seems to provide dynamic changes throughout the whole song.
City Of Motors - A haunting bass line and rambling about car parts. Brilliantly used samples give the song another feeling that fits perfectly with the bass.
Uh, Zoom Zip - The bass line repeats itself over and over again, but the drums give the song a slightly jazz/funk feel as the singing is muffled by sound effects.
Down To This - The chorus may the wierdest part. And maybe the bridge. Both contain female backing vocals sampled from other groups give the song a different feel from previous ones on the album.
Mr. Bitterness - The song really shows off the drumming skills of Yuval Gabay. The song starts with a superfunk beat, and stays the same, but the sampling and the bass give the song an edge. The same could be said for every song, but it's really true.
Janine - The story is, Mike Doughty had his wife call on the phone and improv a song. They sample that throughout the whole song as Doughty strums over his wife's singing and gives her an ode.

Overall:
10/10. I could listen to this album every day of my life. Even though the way I review the song's sound the same, they're incredibly hard to describe until you listen to them because each one, though on paper seems the same, is a completely different journey.

Top Songs:
Screenwriter's Blues
Bus To Beelezebub
Blue Eyed Devil
True Dreams Of Wichita
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Indeed, a great album. Some of the deepest, most fun pop of the 90's.
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would not consider Soul Coughing "pop". I think they fit a completely different category. Maybe jazz/alt?
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I didn't label them pop (music with melodic emphasis) with negative connotations. It's definitely grouped with 'alternative rock', but the sound, to me, is funky soul-pop.
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Old 07-13-2008, 02:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Man I hate 90's music but this stuff is good. Really chilled out album. 'True Dreams of Wichita' is my fav
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