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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Mike Doughty
Haughy Melodic
ATO Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

May 3, 2005
Mike Doughty, a.k.a. M. Doughty, is best known as the singer for Soul Coughing, but during his tenure with the electro-funk rock outfit, he composed a collection of songs without a home. Different in sound than his mainstay work, the dark, personal, acoustic material was recorded as Skittish in 1996, but didn't officially release it until 2000. In the interim four years, fans traded a leaked copy on the Internet, heightening expectations, and when Doughty managed to self release the album, 10,000 copies sold within the first six months.

Doughty returns five years later with his second full length, Haughty Melodic. This time Doughty utilizes a full band (his first since Soul Coughing) and lands on a new label (not only a new label, but a label): Dave Matthew's ATO Records (which also re-released Skittish and the Rockity Roll EP as one disc).

Skittish, while minimal in sound, was an addicting album, bleak and affecting; what it lacked in production, it made up with Doughty's smooth, husky vocals and intimate picking. Haughty Melodic, in contrast, is fuller in sound and composition, with Doughty's guitar play still the focus. Even with percussion and piano, a Dave Matthews guest appearance ("Tremendous Brunettes") and producer Dan Wilson's backing vocals, though an impressive work, the album seems less of a whole than his previous effort.

Haughty Melodic functions as a bridge from Doughty's work with Soul Coughing to his work on Skittish, an oddity considering it follows both in continuity. Where Soul Coughing was defying specific genres and pushing norms, Skittish was scaled back, raw; Haughty Melodic is plugged in, not quite as downtrodden and surprisingly accessible. Less the meandering troubadour now, Doughty fills the role of folk-tinged rock personality, managing both characters with ease.

Words still roll off Doughty's tongue with more flow than a running faucet as he adds his familiar scat/beat vocal repetition to the mix. Doughty also continues his pursuit of personal, reflective lyrics, again creating memorable moments of humor ("Busting Up a Starbucks") and of sardonic bliss ("Madeline and Nine").

Haughty Melodic is a progression for Mike Doughty - a good album with enough appeal to draw in new fans and retain old ones. How ATO Records will affect its success remains to be seen, but considering Dave Matthews' commercial appeal, the best is likely to come for Doughty and company.

Reviewed by David Spain
Based in Chicago, Illinois, David Spain is a contributing writer for LAS magazine.

See other reviews by David Spain



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