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Published: 2011/08/31
by Brian Robbins

Mike Doughty
Yes And Also Yes

Snack Bar/Megaforce

Mike Doughty is cool.

The last time I was reminded of that was just about two years ago, when I reviewed 2009’s Sad Man Happy Man. The whole album was good – infectious grooves powered by Doughty’s rhythm guitar work and lyrics that grab you right in the brainpan like a Johnson Rose stainless meat hook – but the moment that made me just stop and shake my head was the first time I heard the thump/shrug/sway/fingerpop of “(You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified)”.

I mean, Jeeesus … the only person I can think of that I’ve ever met in my lifetime that might even say the phrase “doubly gratified” in conversation with a straight face would have been my old English teacher, Margaret Vaughan (God rest her soul), okay?

But to half-sing/rap it over top of an ass-wagging, head-bopping riff and lodge it firmly enough in your head so that you’re singing the damn thing the next day without even believing that those are really the lyrics? That’s cool. That’s, clever, funky, smart, and cool.

And that’s Mike Doughty.

Doughty’s newly-released Yes And Also Yes is more of the same without being the same old same. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of the guitar-as-drum work that we’ve come to know, love, and expect from Doughty (a wicked right hand on that man): dig the lurching spiral of “Day By Day By”; throw on your double-nought spy shades and listen to the Peter Gunn tension of “Makelloser Mann”; and chair dance yourself right onto the floor to “Vegetable”. And Doughty’s longtime accomplice, bassist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston is on hand, adding everything from Space Oddity ozone to the stark grimness of “The Huffer and the Cutter” to spine shivers on “Russell”. (Which, by the way, features another lyrical coup on Doughty’s part: when’s the last time you heard a song where “aspartame” was the just-exactly right word to end a verse?) Livingston’s bass dances so damn beautifully with Doughty’s Chinese lute (honest) on “Telegenic Exes #1” that you’ll be ticked off that it’s only 1:47 long.

But looky here: “Holiday” also finds our hero cheek-to-cheek with Rosanne Cash at the mic, laying down an honest-to-goodness Christmas tune that works any day of the year. Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett’s wiggle-waggle keys add two shades of slighty-weirded-out grey to the so-damn-near to-rockabilly-you-can-feel-the-grease romp of “Have At It”. And “Strike the Motion” slams its way out of the speakers with a full-frontal that you haven’t heard the likes of since Sniff ‘n’ the Tears (and I mean that in a good way).

Doughty shucked the security of Dave Matthews’ ATO and went with his own Snack Bar label for Yes And Also Yes – a move that came with both risks and freedoms.

Freedom wins.

Yes And Also Yes is as cool as … well … Mike Doughty.

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