90s Album Thread: Soul Coughing, “Ruby Vroom” (1994)
Nothing hurts more than when I mention this band, and the response is, “Who’s Soul Coughing?”
I know that when it comes to music, there is no right or wrong, but not knowing this band seems pretty wrong.
I came into these guys after a few singles from their second album, “Irresistible Bliss” (1996), popped up on the radio. And if you are getting to know this group, that 2nd album might be an excellent place to start — it’s more pop-oriented and polished than the debut album that preceded it. But with “Ruby Vroom” (1994) came the second time in my life I backtracked to a band’s earlier album to love it even more than the one I started with.
On paper, this band is a bit strange. You’ll find a drummer, an upright bassist, a guy whose job it is to trigger samples, and a gravely voiced poet reciting verses on top of the musical bed created by the other three. If you were going to configure a potential train wreck of a band, it might look like this. But man, that’s not what it sounds like at all. The music is different, cool, and endlessly fascinating.
The first of ten times I went to see this band live, the “sampling” guy Mark Antoni was on stage at a table next to the drummer. He sat behind a desktop computer the whole concert, looking like he was intently working on a graphic design project while the band rocked around him.
That image of a man in front of a computer on stage might not be unusual nowadays, but I’d never seen anything like it back then. You could clearly hear what Mark was triggering in combination with the rest of the band, and it was glorious.
Maybe this band has gotten their due. Perhaps the band wasn’t meant to be as big a deal as they were to me. But I always love when I run into another super fan like myself. We kind of look at each other in knowing love and appreciation for what Soul Coughing and their records meant to us.
Then we shake our heads in dismay at what the rest of the world missed out on. And finally, we make plans to meet up at the next Soul Coughing cult gathering and try and figure out who will bring the drinks and who will get the snacks.