A few years back, my daughters Juliet and Kirsty bought me this box set and one of the albums in it is "Ruby Vroom" by Soul Coughing.
I had first heard Soul Coughing on the "X-Files" with a track called "Unmarked Helicopters" and they just sounded slightly off-kilter and threatening. Their music also screams to me "conspiracy theory" but that may be just me, and it's not the words it is the sound and the odd dissonances that drop in.
This song is not on this album but I will share it with you to sort of ease you in.
I've just finished series five of "Supernatural" and would not be surprised to hear them included in one of the next two hundred or so episodes.
The band was vocalist/guitarist, Mike Doughty, keyboardist/sampler Mark Degli Antoni, bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and drummer Yuval Gabay. They developed a devout fanbase and garnered largely positive responses from critics. Steve Huey of AllMusic described the band as "one of the most unusual cult bands of the 1990s... driven by frontman Mike 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". Doughty himself described the band's sound as "deep slacker jazz". The group broke up in 2000.
That information is taken from the Wikipedia page:
So shall we drop into "Ruby Vroom" and enjoy a few songs from this remarkable collection?
Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago
"A Man, Drives A Plane, Into The, Chrysler Building"
That is the opening line of the opening song from "Ruby Vroom". An almost jazz bassline with lots of dissonances thrown in. This really sets the scene for the album, and while it is not easy listening, it is easy, for me to listen to.
I don't know if it's the sound of the instruments, Mike Doughty's voice and/or phrasing, or the overall production, but it is claustrophobically enthralling for me. It sounds like a precursor to something not good that is going to happen.
This starts with a light guitar sequence, with the only reference to anything untoward being the line "Put A Fake Goatee On", then a monstrous out-of-tune mellotron hits along with seagulls and animal noises that sound like gunfire. You might think that you are in for an easier ride with "Sugar-Free Jazz", but You're not.
This is a list song but still sounds disconcerting as Mike Doughty reads off the various items in a beat poet style as the sound curtain behind him sounds like it is falling apart, although it does keep together, the glue being Mike's voice.
Bus To Beelzebub
The music that brings this in is almost like Bertolt Brecht on Speed. Mike Doughty's almost spoken words are dark poetry without actually being dark but still sounding very frightening. This is a prime example why this album has got me completely hooked.
Down To This
This is almost upbeat, but undoubtedly Soul Coughing. The line:
"You Get The Ankles And I'll Get The Wrists"
implies that this is not an entirely feel-good song, but again is why this album has got my attention.
The album closes with this generally gentle acoustic song, but the intro of a girl recording a song that keeps playing as Doughty plays his song is really disconcerting. On the one hand, you are listening to the Soul Coughing song but you are constantly being pulled to what is happening in the background with the scary girl's song.
Doughty finishes but you are left with the scary girl until the record ends, a sort of perfect finale for this album.
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