Saturday, September 8, 2007

Band's from the 90's with the word soul in there name that aren't Collective Soul or Soul Asylum.

"Cool" can mean a lot of different things. In the current day and age it is thrown around pretty lightly, essentially having become synonymous with "good", "swell", "just fine." How was the movie? Pretty cool, whatever. There was a time, though, when being cool was a veritable badge of honor, reserved for only the most bad ass jazz-club-lounging trumpet-playing motherfuckers. There is not much to argue that Miles Davis was the original cool jazz guy (his first CD was called The Birth of Cool, after all, and that came out literally half a century ago in 1957.) Despite the fact that "Cool Jazz" as a genre started in New York City as early as the 40s, Miles Davis is where the idea of the cool jazz dude was literally defined.

From there, the word began seeping deeper into our collective vocabulary, spinning off into a description of most jazz guys. Although I would imagine that most purists were probably arguing the validity of one anothers "coolness", to the rest of the world most jazz clubs in NYC were probably just really fucking cool.

Eventually, though, the word became so widespread that the NYC meaning kind of just, disappeared.

Which brings me to my band of the day. Soul Coughing released only three albums in their short lifetime during the 90s, and despite what anyone may have told you otherwise, they are COOL as shit. The band was born in NYC, from the same (but now hyper evolved) scene that we spoke of earlier, this time in 1992. Made up of essentially what was a bunch of music school grads looking to experiment with a really funky, left field line up, they created a genre that to this day has not been recreated.

(Soul Coughing, in some super-fresh bear hunting gear)

Soul Coughing's rhythm section is firmly rooted in deep funky jazz and hip hop, eventually drawing from electronica and drum n bass as well. The bass used is an upright bass, always. To accompany them is a sampler player, who uses ironic and iconic soundtrack samples, mostly from old Warner cartoons, in very avant garde ways. Over all of this flows singer/talker/rapper Mike Doughty, whose voice is almost as original as his beat poetry, stream of conscious lyrics.

I am posting two songs today, because I think that Soul Coughing deserve it.

Super Bon Bon by Soul Coughing

Buy Irresistible Bliss by Soul Coughing

"Super Bon Bon" is off of their second album, titled Irresistible Bliss, and is a perfect example of Soul Coughing's earlier, more hip hop and jazz influenced sound. This song is also a great showcase of their creative use of samples, which are placed in seemingly random spots throughout the verse in dissonant bursts, and then used as a single distorted note to elevate the song at 40 seconds in, without changing any other elements. This concept is used again in the chorus.

$300 by Soul Coughing

Buy El Oso by Soul Coughing

The song "$300" off of their last album, 1998's El Oso (or, the bear, for those of you who aren't Spanish inclined) showcases the bands later, more drum n bass leaning, sound. Again, this song shows of unique sampling, by creating the vocal hook in the chorus out of a looped sample of some random dude.

Unfortunately Soul Coughing broke up in 2000. Bummer. Here's hoping they decide to set aside their differences and continue to bring deep slacker jazz back to the masses (or just to indie radio.)

1 comment:

Seanicus said...

I know this is an old blog, but the 90's band Unwound is amazing. Also, they're from Washington. Great stuff. You can get a copy of New Plastic Ideas on vinyl from amazon. It's a little indie rock, a little post-hardcore, and a little shoegaze. Also, check out Gods and Queens. New band, but amazing.