Friday, November 16, 2007

Reviews:: Mike Doughty Golden Delicious

There are certain artists you just need to see live before you really "get it." Or at least that's what idiot hippies say all the time about bands like Phish and Moe. To be fair to those patchouli loving sons a bitches, I kind of feel the same way about Mike Doughty. When I first started going ot see him live, he was super entertaining, witty and often stood alone on stage with his acoustic. He'd sell cd-r's of Skittish in a cardboard cd holder with a track listing sticker. He was no frills, honest and fresh and I've been a huge fan ever since. I was quite excited to see Golden Delicious in my mailbox. Say what you will about his music, I've always found Doughty's poetry engaging and addictive and loved his stripped down approach to song writing.

Over the years, his records have become more produced and the sounds beefed up. He uses more instruments and layers and the his amazing use of word poetry is no longer the sole focus of his songs. Instead of catchy acoustic riffs, Doughty now prefers bigger, bolder tapestries and the goal of Golden Delicious was to represent the personalities of his band members in the studio. Not surprisingly, as the songs have become bigger and bolder, his appeal has grown too. He's no longer the former front man from a band college kids loved; nope, he's the artists who's songs are all over the radio and TV shows and the guy who played on Letterman.

Even knowing that, when Fort Hood started with what sounded like the same riff as For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder, I was caught off guard. Doughty and Motown era Stevie is not a comparison I'd ever thought I 'd make. And for the next 5 songs, I shocked by what I was hearing. I like the catchy bounce of I Just Want The Girl In The Blue Dress To Keep On Dancing, and Put it Down was enjoyable (but it still felt weird to hear the jazzy electric piano that seemed to come out of nowhere), but their were no ear grabbers like the first time I heard him play a simplified version of Unsingable Name. I was completely confused by More Bacon than the Pan Can Handle and the new arrangement of 27 Jennifers that features what can only be called a Wyld Stayllions guitar solo.

I wasn't expecting the record to think the record takes a long time to find a consistent path, but it does. Doughty returns to form on I Got the Drop on You and finishes the record strongly. Like a Luminous Girl and Nectarine (somehow Doughty can simply sing dang-digga-dang on a chorus and you not only don't dismiss it, you love to sing along) are terrific songs and the album closer - Navigating by the Stars at Night - is an interesting mix of sounds and deep echoed guitar sounds. As the drums and harmonies push the song, you sink into Doughty's story and you feel comfortable.


After a few more listens, the larger arrangements used on first half of this record don't seem as loud and I'm able to absorb the lyrics. Mike puts together words so well that hearing a white guy in his 30s yell out "you should blast young jeezy in the parking lot" doesn't seem strange. There are still some tracks that get skipped, but the record is more enjoyable than I gave it credit for. I'm really enjoying the last five songs and Like a Luminous Girl has moved up in my Ipod play counts. The sharp keyboard notes that dot the sound like stars in the sky really compliment the simple drums and trademark Doughty imagery of love.

But Doughty on record isn't Doughty live, and even with my slight waffle on this record I can't wait to hear how this songs play out live when he stops by The Redroom on Dec 1st.
MP3:: I Just Want The Girl In The Blue Dress To Keep On Dancing

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Posted at 1:02 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

You do know Mike Doughty previously fronted the band Soul Coughing? No mention of it and it seems you think his first album was Rockity Roll...


At 8:36 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

Actually anonymous, when we reviewed his live show back in 2005 - - we mentioned it.. or when we said - "Mike Doughty is going to be up here on May 10th (well here is the Rivoli). Mike is the former front man of Soul Coughing, but his solo work far exceeds the work they did as a band. He writes infectious pop hooks" ...

And not to be contrary, but even this review talks about him selling Skittish as CD-Rs, long before Rockity Roll.... or did you know that?

Truth be Told, talking about him fronting Soul Coughing is kind of like always bringing up Nirvana when you talk about Dave Grohl. After a while, why bother? He's released enough solo material and made it quite obvious he's not ever reforming SC and doesn't want to keep talking about it.

But hey.. thanks for reading!


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