December 1998
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Soul Coughing El Oso

By Ed Parker

Another excellent album from the jazz-core* quartet led by vocalist/guitarist/slacker poet M. Doughty. The album is a bit more stripped-down than the group's last album, 1996's Irresistable Bliss. Just like many other rock and roll albums to come out this year, it is loaded with computerized blips, beeps and samples; however, Soul Coughing have been doing this since their awesome 1994 debut, Ruby Vroom. Unlike many of the myriad of rock groups who have recently gone "techno," Soul Coughing use interesting samples and the blips are for good, rather than evil. The only problem I have with this aspect of their music is that the stand-up bass, as it was utilized on the first album, is noticeably absent. Oh well, technology rolls on I guess.

The album starts out with "Rolling," a groovy tune which may be my favorite of the album. Like a lot of songs on the record, it builds from M. Doughty singing over a simple drum beat into a glorious cacophony of sound including keyboards, a xylophone and creative samples then devolves into computerized blips at the end. This is one of many great songs on the album which are similarly structured, but with different elements. "Circles," the album's first single, is a great song to show off the band to new listeners and the lyrics are even a little less gloomy than some other tracks. Also, it puts good use to the stand-up bass of which I am so fond. Other favorites include "$300," "Monster Man," "The Incubant" and "Fully Retractable."

Soul Coughing are definately one of the most creative and original bands today. The music on this album is fueled with hip-hop and funk beats, jazzy arrangements, and M. Doughty's lyrical genius. The groove on this one is so thick, it stained my pants . El Oso is definately an album worth picking up for any Soul Coughing afficianado.


*I just made that up...but I like it!

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