Mike Doughty: Golden Delicious

Sophomore solo album for former Soul Coughing frontman goes heavy on the groove and the hook, but may go a little too soft on the edges.

Mike Doughty

Golden Delicious

Label: ATO
US Release Date: 2008-02-19
UK Release Date: 2008-03-03

Since disbanding his unclassifiable postbeat group Soul Coughing in 2000, Mike Doughty has calibrated his once-abstract ideal to accommodate a broader audience. He's moved away from stream-of-consciousness emceeing to embrace the more conventional expectations of a singer-songwriter. That means Doughty's songs are now frequently about concrete things, where in the past they've been hung around nothing more than rhythmic cadence or a conceptual absurdity. Doughty's 2005 full-length debut, Haughty Melodic, proved that he hadn't necessarily remade himself so much as he had softened the edges of his esoteric tack.

Doughty's sophomore LP, Golden Delicious, goes heavy on the groove and the hook, but it may go a little too soft on the edges. Here, the most conspicuous side effect of Doughty's solo compromise is the simplification of his refrains. His compulsion for repeated phrases, once the absurdist crux of Soul Coughing's raison d'etre, has relapsed into a lazier indulgence in wordless scat: random abstracts like "You get the ankles and I'll get the wrists" or "Move aside and let the man go through" have been replaced by "barumpa-tum-bum"s and "ding-da-da-ding"s, and no less than four songs use "nah-nah-nah"s in the service of their choruses. The extremely funky vamp "I Wrote a Song About Your Car" does boast a great lyrical compulsion ("Givin' it up / Don't mind givin' it up / Don't mind every last drop little bit"), but even that ultimately descends into another just another nonsensical chant for easy audience participation. Every time Golden Delicious goes mumbly, it risks pigeonholing itself as a gaggle of sounds with nothing particularly interesting to say.

Even that may be something of an unfair criticism, given that Golden Delicious is largely defined by its fun, celebratory vibe and not by its deft lyrical acrobatics. Doughty recorded the album with his touring band, which lends the songs a more organic and spontaneous feel than those on Haughty Melodic. Most welcome is keyboardist John Kirby, who doles out sweeping piano chords in "Fort Hood" and juicy electric punctuation in "27 Jennifers", a blood-rushed re-recording of a song that originally appeared on Doughty's 2003 EP, Rockity Roll. The upbeat atmosphere applies even to "Fort Hood", the album's most politically charged piece, as it pushes forward with festive redemption and a refrain swiped from Hair's "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)". "You should be gettin' stoned with a prom dress girl / You should still believe in an endless world / You should blast Young Jeezy with your friends in a parking lot", Doughty sings in the song's bridge, presumably to a US soldier fresh out of high school, yielding catharsis from the frustrated sentiment.

The second half of the record gets a little more introspective, especially on songs like the anguished "I Got the Drop on You" and "Wednesday (Contra La Puerta)", a pretty one-chord boiler with softly tumbling drums. "Your sorrow is beautiful to me tonight / So cold and bright", Doughty sings, in that unaffected diced-gravel voice of his, finding sharp expression in the darkness -- something deserving of words and thoughts, and not mere fodder for nodding heads.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.