Mike Doughty
Haughty Melodic ATO http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton5330_0.jpg

[ATO; 2005]

Rating: 2.5/5 2.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: singer-songwriter, pop-rock, coffeeshop night
Others: Soul Coughing, Cake, Dave Matthews


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


Mike Doughty, otherwise known as M. Doughty or just plan Doughty, late of the white jazz/stream-of-consciousness alternative favorites Soul Coughing, has had a strange journey these last few years. First there were the acoustic sets fans had seen coming since the last days of Soul Coughing. Then an acoustic CD, Skittish, only available through Doughty's web site (and at a pretty steep price, if I remember correctly), recently repackaged with an EP, Rockity Roll, which didn't fare as well critically. Dave Matthews released the aforementioned package earlier this year on his ATO imprint, which is also releasing Doughty's new full-band album, Haughty Melodic. So that's what this review is about.

The first thing that struck me about Haughty Melodic is the production. Since My Morning Jacket managed to release It Still Moves on Matthews' label without seeming to sacrifice the key parts of their sound, I didn't expect such a slick record from Doughty. I think it's the drums that bother me the most; Soul Coughing was a "produced" band too, but the rhythm section always sounded great. Here, the drumming is thin and rarely interesting. And it doesn't stop with the drumming: the songwriting here, music and words, is simply more conventional than we've heard from Doughty before. On "Madeline and Nine," he sings "slain by the words I lack / the world is bursting sappy music and with your face so sad i long to make you mine." Something of a far cry from older lyrics like "casing the clientele / like a relentless cameraman / She is / Elsewhere." The album's funkiest beat, meanwhile, comes on a song called "Busting Up a Starbucks." Oh Doughty, what happened?

It's not all bad news, though. "White Lexus" is prime Skittish material, a pretty little acoustic song. And you've always got Doughty's perfect gritty know-it-all voice for comfort, even on the least inspired songs. Hey, maybe if you're both a Soul Coughing and a DMB fan, you should be thrilled -- Dave even does a duet with Mike on "Tremendous Brunettes."

So maybe Doughty spoiled us too early with the inventive Ruby Vroom and its lesser but still solid follow-ups. The world really is bursting with sappy music, and it's just a little sad to hear Mike giving in to conventionality, even if he does do it better than most.

1. Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well
2. Unsingable Name
3. Madeline and Nine
4. Busting Up a Starbucks
5. White Lexus
6. American Car
7. Tremendous Brunettes
8. I Hear the Bells
9. Sunken-Eyed Girl
10. Grey Ghost
11. His Truth Is Marching On
12. Your Misfortune

1. Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well
2. Unsingable Name
3. Madeline and Nine
4. Busting Up a Starbucks
5. White Lexus
6. American Car
7. Tremendous Brunettes
8. I Hear the Bells
9. Sunken-Eyed Girl
10. Grey Ghost
11. His Truth Is Marching On