It's hard not to slide right into the impressive grooves this New York foursome constructs upon the funky, shuffling drums of Yuval Gabay and the fat double bass of Sebastian Steinberg--an excellent bassist who's worked previously with Joe Morris and Marc Ribot. While these two will occasionally bring hip-hop beats into their dense rhythmic stew, it's the creative sampling of Mark De Gli Antoni that gives Soul Coughing the hip-hop pedigree they don't actually deserve. Rather than using samples for structure, he exploits them for their texture and color. De Gli Antoni has the audacity to slap Howlin' Wolf, the Roches, and the Andrews Sisters together on "Down to This," from the combo's debut album, Ruby Vroom (Slash/Warner Brothers). Other clever appropriations include a chunk of Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso" masterfully subverted into the insistent bass line on "Casiotone Nation" and a madly careening loop from proto-cartoon music composer Raymond Scott's brilliant "Powerhouse" serving as the basis for "Bus to Beelzebub." Unfortunately, it's not all that good; the remaining element in Soul Coughing's music is the annoying performance poetry of guitarist M. Doughty, who comes off as a less pip-squeaky, more congested John S. Hall (of King Missile fame). In a recent interview he claims his words don't really mean anything, and it's a good thing, too. You try and figure out what "Your words burn the air like the names of candy bars" is supposed to mean. If you can overlook Doughty's flamboyantly delivered pseudobeatnik verbiage (a tough task, granted), you might notice that Soul Coughing are one of the most fascinating bands to come down the pike in quite a while. The Smoothies open and Girls Against Boys headline. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Annalisa.