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Mike Doughty
Skittish / Rockity Roll
Snack Bar / ATO Records

I am very happy with this release. You see, I was one of those unfortunate many that had no idea that Soul Coughing had been disbanded and that [frontman] Mike Doughty had recorded an acoustic record that never actually got released, but somehow tons of people knew about. So this, the re-release of Skittish, along with a re-issue of his 2003 EP Rockity Roll, is a very welcome sight to my ears.

Skittish: This is an acoustic Doughty-only record filled with his odd sense of humor and possibly stranger vocal style. You know right away who you are listening to, but not exactly what's going on. Acoustic Soul Coughing? That just makes no sense. That band was based almost entirely on the wealth of sounds afforded by synthesizer technology. There were really songs underneath all that awesome SOUND? Yes. The answer is most surely: Yes. Doughty strips it all down so that his ability as a songwriter first is readily apparent. Yes, he was the master of blending tasteful jazz rhy7thms and trip-hop style beats to make some of the most memorable music of the 1990's. But he is so much more.

From the downbeat melancholy of "No Peace Los Angeles" to the upbeat cover of Mary J. Blige's "Real Love", Skittish is chock full of deep songs from the heart of a truly great songwriter. No longer hidden behind the brilliant electronic mayhem of Soul Coughing, these songs are brash and raw. "Thank You Lord, For Sending Me The F Train" is haunting in its stark presentation. "Looks" is a close look at relationships and their unique pitfalls and pains. "The Only Answer" is pure pop goodness, surrounded by a simple and universal truth. "Shunned + Falsified" uses its guitar as percussion, underscoring the self-deprecation of its message. In the simple arrangements and structures of these songs, Doughty showcases his dynamic misuse of guitar for greater ends, as well as his true penchant for crafting universally important songs that everyone needs to hear.

Rockity Roll: Add some cool old drum machines to the acoustic guitars and you have six fine tracks of Doughty style love. If these are the remnants of the songs that are supposed to be included on the forthcoming full-length Doughty record, then we are assured a simply amazing record when it finally materializes (hopefully sometime this year). These songs are full of depth and life. Joy and pain intermingle in a very self-assured way, proving Doughty has come into his own as a solo artist. His heart is on the sleeve, but an amazingly melody is never far behind. These songs are catchy and danceable… and just vibrant. Funny, sad, perplexing, and soulful, Rockity Roll is a short work of pure musical genius.

Also included on this re-release are a couple of live tracks from the 2004 Bonnaroo festival, as well as unreleased tracks from the Skittish sessions, and "Get Along", which is from the Evenhand soundtrack. Lots of new stuff to go with this new stuff. That's just the way we like it. More, please.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:

1. The Only Answer
2. The Pink Life
3. Real Love/ It's Only Life
4. No Peace, Los Angeles
5. Where Have You Gone?
6. Thank You, Lord, For Sending Me The F Train
7. Looks
8. Shunned + Falsified
9. All The Dirt
10. Sweet Lord In Heaven
11. Language Barrier
12. Rising Sign

Rockity Roll
1. Ways + Means
2. 27 Jennifers
3. Down On The River By The Sugar Plant
4. 40 Grand In The Hole
5. Ossining
6. Cash Cow
Bonus Tracks
7. The Only answer
8. Move On (bloom like the sunlight in my song)
9. I Failed To Use It
10. Laundrytown
Get Along

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