why do you need your science?

 

Mike Doughty

 

After getting some NyQuil, Mike Doughty quit Soul Coughing. This is his solo career.

review index: Skittish / Smofe and Smang: Live in Mpls.

missing albums: Rockity Roll ep


Skittish - 2000

Rating: ****1/2
Best songs: The Only Answer, The Pink Life, Rising Sign, No Peace Los Angeles
Worst songs: none

 

You may have heard Soul Coughing before. If so, forget about them. Mike's gone in a completely different direction (as well he should), making a near-perfect collection of folky acoustic songs that barely squeak past a half-hour. Despite the short running time and minimal production (acoustic guitar vocals, occasional organ or string accompaniment), it doesn't sound at all slight or throwaway. When the songs are this high quality, you don't need a bunch of ear candy, or even a singer with a more pleasant voice. (Let's face it, Mike's singing talents are...limited.)

Highlights? Pretty much everything. It's probably not the most efficient use of time to go through the individuals when they're all kinda similar, but "No Peace Los Angeles" probably has the most elaborate arrangement of all the songs, with strings, organ, and a little bass in the back. And the rest of them are good as well. Take my word for it -- you trust me, right? Of course you do! I told to get Agaetis Byrjun and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, after all.


Smofe and Smang: Live in Mpls. - 2002

Rating: ****
Best songs: don't make me choose
Worst songs: Train to Chicago

 

Insert obligatory live album rant here.

Now that that's out of the way, I'm here to tell you about the totally not-bad live album that Mike Doughty released in the year of 2002. You might have figured that out by the title of this page and the heading "Smofe and Smang: Live in Mpls. - 2002", but

This live album is surprisingly good. As the songs on Skittish didn't consist of much more than acoustic guitar + voice, there's not much pressure to recreate the arrangements. And he performs...er...three of these songs. But they're still awesome! There are also a bunch of other solo songs, which are all pretty much the same vein as Skittish. That is to say, simple but good. And finally, he gets in the obligatory Soul Coughing tracks. And "Train to Chicago", a cover of some song that's not very interesting.

Anyway, the interesting part is Mike's showmanship. He interjects plenty of humorous comments and monologues (on the subject of Real World/Road Rules, MTV Cribs, robots, and so on), and includes some silly bits in a few tracks: "Sunkeneyed Girl" is missing a bridge, so he plays a .38 Special riff instead, "Circles" includes bits of "Closing Time" and "You Can Call Me Al", and "Janine" ends with an obnoxious audience singalong. So basically he keeps things interesting without resorting to shallow crowd-pleasing. In the age of stadium concerts with laser shows and giant video screens, it's a welcome change.


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