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Soul Coughing

Slash/Warner Bros.

The latest band to emerge from the contemporary New York coffeehouse scene is Soul Coughing, whose debut Ruby Vroom combines stylistic components from two not-so-incompatible sources: ’50s beat poetry and ’90s hiphop. The quintet is led by ex-Knitting Factory bouncer M. Doughty, who wears his influences on his sleeve. On “Sugarfree Jazz,” for instance, he demands that today’s jazz-lite poseurs “put the fake goatee on” (a line Doughty somehow manages to rhyme with “Paleolithic eon”). The album’s best-known track, “Screenwriter’s Blues,” paints a disdainful picture of L.A.’s cheap sex, overcrowded freeways, and impossibly beautiful people—the song is an early pick to appear on the soundtrack to the next film adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. The foursome’s raison d’être is presumably similar to that of hiphop roots-rockers G. Love and Special Sauce, but Soul Coughing’s beat-hop is far more astute.