I always come back to 1990s alt-rock. Listening to songs from the likes of Letters to Cleo, vintage Pearl Jam, and/or old-school Green Day gives me instant nostalgia to my college years, but it also provides me with many self-high five moments today. In no way am I pining for music to be “as good as it was.” I’m just saying good music is good music, and this music has held up better than Sophia Loren’s breasts.
To get to the purpose of today’s post, Soul Coughing used to be on heavy rotation on my Sony Discman back in the day, and I still find myself playing their El Oso album on my iPod if only to hear the infectious “Circles” come on. Last week, former Soul Coughing’s front-man Mike Doughty filmed an A-Sides session at the Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, NY, and performed three songs from his old band followed by an informal Q&A. While the prolific singer/songwriter has established himself as a solo artist since SC broke up (marvel at his seven solo albums), his new LP (old school lingo for a format that sadly died for everyone but Jack White) finds him returning to those alt-days I spoke so highly of a paragraph above.
As explained in his 2012 memoir, Doughty had refused to play Soul Coughing songs live… that is until he got the idea to rearrange the songs that originally put him on the map. Through a Pledge Music campaign, he raised funds for studio time and recorded “Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless How Many Cans? True Dreams of Wichita Monster Man Mr. Bitterness Maybe I’ll Come Down St. Louise Is Listening I Miss the Girl Unmarked Helicopters The Idiot Kings So Far I Have Not Found the Science.” Fittingly, the title, which Fiona Apple would no doubt approve of, is all of the Soul Coughing tracks he rearranged with hip-hop/dance producer Good Goose and upright bass player Catherine Popper. The album dropped last month, and Doughty’s going on a five-week, 32-city tour to support it. I
At the aforementioned A-Sides session, Doughty explained why he felt the time was right to return to his Coughing roots (the answer is, well, complicated), and performed three tracks off the new album. Watch “Circles” below, and visit the A-Sides YouTube channel for takes on breakout hit “Super Bon Bon” and underrated gem “True Dreams of Wichita.” You can also view part 2 of the interview I conducted with him. In the mean time, listen and watch – whatever comes first.
We go from one talented singer/songwriter to another lyrical and vocal “warrior.” Whereas Doughty is throwing it back to a mid-90s feel, Brooklyn’s Stevie Weinstein-Foner, or as he’s commonly known: SWF, is bringing out a 1970s vibe on a 1990s tip with his debut album Let It Be Told. Packed with one meaningful, uplifting, and impassioned track after the other, the Boston Arts Academy-educated musician is clearly an artist to watch. At the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains last week, SWF performed a pair of tracks from his aforementioned debut, which drops today by the way, and took part in a brief chat. Watch “Warrior” and the interview below, and visit the A-Sides YouTube channel for his rendition of “Automobile Blues.”
A-Sides “Delve Into Twelve” Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its Top 12 tracks of the week AKA the “Delve Into Twelve”based on the following contributing factors: songs I’m playing out that particular week NO MATTER WHEN THEY WERE RELEASED (think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks, and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and listened to and liked (phew), posts and trends I’ve noticed on my friends’ Facebook walls, and – most importantly – the songs my 1 1/2+ year-old son gravitates toward. Yeah, you read that right. This weeks follows below (LW= last week’s rank):
12. “My Gun” – The Rubens (Watch them on A-Sides soon!)
11. “Grip Like a Vice” – The Go! Team
10. “Thunder Clatter” (LW-12) – Wild Cub
9. “Don’t Save Me” – Haim
8. “Running with the Night” – Lionel Richie
7. “Methuselah” (LW-11)- San Fermin (Watch them perform it here on A-Sides!)
6. “Sirens” (LW-8) – Pearl Jam
5. “Comrade” (LW-5)- Volcano Choir
4. “Reflektor”(LW-2) – Arcade Fire
3. “Bad Blood” (LW-4) – Bastille
2. “Chain My Name” (LW-1) – Polica
1. “Bitter Rivals” (LW-3) – Sleigh Bells
About A-Sides Music
Jon Chattman’s “A-Sides Music” series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.