Holy shit, you guys, Mike Doughty’s back. Like, for real back. His sophomore album, Sad Man Happy Man is much more Skittish/Rockity Roll than Golden Delicious (thank god!). Down to the DIY style with Doughty on the guitars, vocals, keyboards, and what he refers to as the “weird noise stuff.” There is no more “Bacon”. Look, I know, he was playing with his new toy, but that song became unbearable after hearing it live. He should save that stuff for Dubious Luxury, his upcoming electronic album (that I can’t wait for!).
This song is complete with Doughty styled witticism, his white boy rap (!!!), and basic acoustic jams to let those lyrics really take center stage. With just him and staple bassist, Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, this album is all bare bones and heart.
As per Doughty, “I really went for the ‘na-na-na’s’ and the simple choruses and stuff on Golden,” he says. “The songs on Sad Man are more arcane and convoluted songwriting-wise, though they’re sparer in terms of instrumentation. Although my choruses are still simple — I love taking phrases and repeating them ad infinitum.”
I think it’s kind of odd for Doughty to be so concerned about fan reaction, but apparently he is. Regarding this uneasiness, he says, “Every time I put out a record, the audience seems to like what I did two years ago better. You’d think I could shrug it off because that’s what always happens, but it always gets to me.” That makes me so sad! Don’t let it get to you, Mike! Golden wasn’t a masterpiece, but it wasn’t bad. It was Mike Doughty, genius lyricist and former Soul Coughing front man. This album is so much better than Golden, or even Haughty Melodic (that one win’s best title though – it’s an anagram for Michael Doughty, in case you didn’t catch that).
I’m just so glad to hear Mike Doughty sound like Mike Doughty again, and not just some other radio hit.
Besides releasing this album, working on Dubious Luxury, maintaining his widely-read blog, and touring, Doughty is also writing a memoir, working on a photo compilation of Eritrea’s Capital, Asmara, and has recently published a play, Ray Slape Is Dead. When the fuck does this guy sleep?!
Anyway, enough about Mike Doughty…
This album really is reminiscent of Skittish/Rockity Roll. There’s definitely a few recycled melodies in there, but after the last couple of albums, it’s refreshing. I hear some “F Train” in there, and possibly some “Real Love”. He also reverts to those delightfully nonsensical, yet oh so relevant lyrics. You would swear that he’s back on heroin, but apparently inspiration just keeps rolling for Doughty.
This album has everything from broken hearts to sly drug references to the American economy and politics (which he touched on in “Fort Hood” on Golden). Mike’s been talking about this album non-stop, which is awesome. It’s always nice to see an artist excited for an album, even if he did suffer through it to make the fans happy. “Basically I’m trying to make stuff I want to listen to, and I mean that in a literal sense, not like, ‘Were I a listener, I would like this,’ but rather something I can listen to on the subway on headphones and really dig. This is my life, this is what I do. That sounds matter-of-fact, but I really do look at it as a sort of calling — and being an artist at its best is selfless. I’m working for the language, I’m working for the music, I’m working for the songs. I’m a happier guy when I’m conscious of that,” says Doughty.
This album kicks ass, and I have to admit that I was a little concerned as to where he would go musically after Golden. Keep your fingers crossed that I get to see him in Pittsburgh this Thursday. If I do, you get another live show review and pics! A!
Mike Doughty’s Site