"El Oso" by Soul Coughing on iTunes

14 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Just as parts of Irresistible Bliss showed Soul Coughing’s too-cool-for-school facade melting away in favor of a more streamlined approach, its third album—El Oso ("The Bear")—found the band exploring new ways to bring stronger melodies into the mix when necessary. Against the advice of producer Tchad Blake, the band included the track “Circles,” a simple but effective pop song with a genuine hook. It turned out to be the band’s biggest hit. “Blame” includes more hooks and harmonies. “$300” contains a sample of a Chris Rock joke that had been backmasked on his Roll with the New album. Most of the album, however, remains centered on M. Doughty’s smart lyrics and snarling delivery, which adds a sense of menace to the noir of “Houston,” the slinky “St. Louise Is Listening,” the atonal hip-hop of “Monster Man,” and the deliberately monotonous and manic “I Miss the Girl.” (M. Doughty has since returned to action as Mike Doughty, rejecting much of Soul Coughing’s work and focusing on a more melodic singer/songwriting career.) 

Explicit

EDITORS’ NOTES

Just as parts of Irresistible Bliss showed Soul Coughing’s too-cool-for-school facade melting away in favor of a more streamlined approach, its third album—El Oso ("The Bear")—found the band exploring new ways to bring stronger melodies into the mix when necessary. Against the advice of producer Tchad Blake, the band included the track “Circles,” a simple but effective pop song with a genuine hook. It turned out to be the band’s biggest hit. “Blame” includes more hooks and harmonies. “$300” contains a sample of a Chris Rock joke that had been backmasked on his Roll with the New album. Most of the album, however, remains centered on M. Doughty’s smart lyrics and snarling delivery, which adds a sense of menace to the noir of “Houston,” the slinky “St. Louise Is Listening,” the atonal hip-hop of “Monster Man,” and the deliberately monotonous and manic “I Miss the Girl.” (M. Doughty has since returned to action as Mike Doughty, rejecting much of Soul Coughing’s work and focusing on a more melodic singer/songwriting career.) 

Explicit
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5

33 Ratings

If Soul Coughing is your thing...

Noobzilla1965,

Actually, I know that everyone loves Ruby Vroom and how avant-garde it was back in 94. It is very true that "Ruby" was very much a new sound at the time and I thought it was interesting but I got bored with it quickly. On the other hand El Oso (The Bear) was a completely different thing all together. Mike Doughy is still as funky on vocal but the band seems to have progressed. The album has some great stand alone songs like Fully Retractable, Rolling and the often played Circles but my personal favorite is $300. The album on the whole is solid and is a good put it on and let it play album. Still after 12 years I listen to it often. So as the title implies it is great if SC is your thing. If you are looking for Ruby Vroom 2 or non-stop Super Bon Bon then you will be disappointed but personally I think that this was their best album.

Circles

Coolguy2860,

Who remembers the flintstones short with this song playing?? Love the cartoons frm 2004-1990

About Soul Coughing

One of the most unique cult bands of the '90s, Soul Coughing anchored a new crop of quirky, unclassifiable bands that emerged in the post-grunge era, including Morphine, the Eels, and Cake. Driven by frontman M. 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 (described by Doughty as "deep slacker jazz"). Even at the height of the alternative rock era, it was too avant-garde to cross over into the mainstream, keeping one foot planted in the downtown New York scene from whence the band sprang. Yet their ironic sense of humor and stylized bohemian-hipster image made them accessible enough to earn a widespread, enthusiastic following on college campuses. Moreover, they built a reputation as an excellent live act, thanks to a jazz aesthetic that kept their concert performances fresh and spontaneous (not to mention a liberal policy on fans trading tapes). After three generally acclaimed albums, the group split up, and Doughty mounted a solo career.

Soul Coughing was formed in New York City in 1992 by lead vocalist Mike Doughty (who usually preferred the stage name M. Doughty). A military brat born at Fort Knox, Doughty had previously worked as a music critic, and wrote abstract, Beat-influenced poetry of the sort that went over well at live poetry slams. He also held a job as the doorman for the famed cutting-edge venue the Knitting Factory, which afforded him the opportunity to meet an eclectic array of musicians on the downtown avant-garde scene. He eventually recruited keyboardist/sampler Mark de Gli Antoni, bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and Israeli-born drummer Yuval Gabay (bassist Wilbo Wright and cellist Catherine Bent were very briefly in the group before the quartet solidified). Taking their name from the title of a poem Doughty had written about Neil Young vomiting, Soul Coughing made their live debut in June 1992 at the Knitting Factory (naturally enough).

They built enough local buzz to land a deal with Warner Brothers subsidiary Slash in 1993. Soul Coughing's debut album Ruby Vroom -- named after producer Mitchell Froom's daughter -- was released in 1994 to mostly complimentary reviews. The late-night barroom atmospherics of "Screenwriter's Blues" helped the band start to catch on at college radio, as did the accompanying singles "Down to This" and "Sugar Free Jazz." Their second album, 1996's Irresistible Bliss, only amplified the buzz around the band, thanks to the alternative-radio hits "Soundtrack to Mary" and "Super Bon Bon." They went on to contribute material to several soundtrack albums, including Songs in the Key of X: Music From and Inspired By the X-Files ("Unmarked Helicopters"), Batman & Robin ("The Bug"), and the X-Files movie ("16 Horses"). Soul Coughing issued their third album, El Oso ("the bear") in 1998, and received their greatest mainstream exposure with the leadoff single "Circles," a good-sized hit on alternative radio.

However, it proved to be the band's last effort, as they announced their breakup in March 2000. de Gli Antoni had already released a solo album, Horse Tricks, that returned him to his roots in experimental electronic composition; it featured contributions from the other members of Soul Coughing and was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label. de Gli Antoni moved on to a career scoring short and independent films, including 2002's quirky romantic comedy Cherish. Steinberg and Gabay, meanwhile, continued to work together as UV Ray. Doughty, meanwhile, cleaned up from an addiction to heroin, and appeared as a guest vocalist on trance producer BT's club hit "Never Gonna Come Back Down" that summer. He also played a series of shows behind his solo acoustic album, Skittish, which had been completed in 1995 but never officially released until Doughty decided to circumvent Napster and sell the album from his own website. His official solo debut was reportedly in the works, but wound up postponed; however, he did issue another solo acoustic album, Smofe + Smang: Live in Minneapolis, in 2002, and continued his periodic work as a columnist for the New York Press. Meanwhile, the performance-oriented Kufala label attempted to arrange the release of several archival Soul Coughing live albums, although intra-band disputes put off the project indefinitely. ~ Steve Huey

  • ORIGIN
    New York City, NY
  • FORMED
    1992

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