Mike Doughty describes his new album Rockitty Roll, which with six new songs clocks in at a hair under 20 minutes, as an “appetizer” for his forthcoming EP. Well, consider my appetite whetted. This is far and away Doughty’s most produced solo release, and while I love the stripped-down voice-and-a-guitar sound of his previous two efforts, it makes for a nice change of pace. I’m eager to see what Doughty will do once he’s got a full band behind him once again, as he says he will on the forthcoming EP.
The opening track, “Ways + Means” is good in a sort of unmemorable way. That is to say, you’ll bop your head along, but if you’re a Doughty fan, there’s nothing particularly new or remarkable here, and your first thought may well be “man, how many songs can he start with that same chord?” “27 Jennifers” is a rearranged and slightly rewritten version of “Lisa Ling and Lucy Liu” and also, happily, a significantly better song than its prototype. This one is highly infectious, and gets my vote for “most likely to have everyone singing along at the shows.”
You get the first real hint that Doughty may be preparing to go in a new direction (or, dare I say it, back towards the sound we know and love from the Soul Coughing days) with the third track, “Down on the River by the Sugar Plant.” I’m not sure how to describe this one beyond “Doughty does Depeche Mode.” Enjoy this one with a martini and a fancy cigarette, preferably in a loungey hotel bar. “40 Grand in the Hole” comes back to familiar territory one last time—this one sounds a little like “All the Dirt” off Skittish, but tweaked… it’s slightly out of tune or in a minor key or something. “Ossining” is big fun: roll down the windows, take off the top, slam the accelerator and bop your head along technopop. Not quite as technoed out as the track he did with BT for the Gone in 60 Seconds soundtrack, but close. Closing track is “Cash Cow,” where he seems to be channeling equal parts Postal Service and Ani DiFranco, if you can imagine that. In short, all good stuff; I can’t wait for the main course.