Alternative blues meets hip-hop
Mike Doughty and Andrew “Scrap” Livingston have released their first full-length album under Ghost of Vroom, both artists’ newest project. In Ghost of Vroom 1, the pair has amalgamated the blues, alt-rock and a poetic hip-hop lyrical style. Simply put, the album is a beautiful blend of country backroads, summer heat and the concrete jungle.
Born in Kentucky, Mike Doughty moved early and was raised in upstate New York. When he turned 18, he found himself in New York City, where he first began his hip-hop career with a previous band, Soul Coughing. Fast forward to today—now running solo, he has settled in Memphis, Tennessee, and has built quite the presence around town. Doughty enlisted the help of his old friend and bassist/cellist Scrap, and together they are Ghost of Vroom.
The first single is “More Bacon than the Pan Can Handle,” a perfect single choice for this record. It highlights all of the qualities of Ghost of Vroom that people can’t really find anywhere else. It is a rich blend of city-bound alt-rock, poetic hip-hop and the grittiness of country blues. A mysterious female voice peeks out during the song, singing the title in the hook. She ultimately becomes a disembodied voice, infusing an eerie vibe into the track as her “oohs” flow seamlessly throughout the song.
“Miss You Like Crazy” is far from the average blues song one would normally expect at the country dive bar down the road. Dropping the hip-hop tone, Doughty brings in his John Lee Hooker style singing and playfully dances with the gliding fretless bass line, along with haphazard drums and guitar work that darts in every direction. Scrap’s fancy bass-playing fingers entice, with a jazz/blues bass line that bops until the very end of the track.
A thick and gritty bassline envelopes the ears on “Memphis Woofer Rock.” While the song does carry some of the Doughty’s blues influences, his hip-hop and alt-rock energies are leading the pack on this one. The banging cowbell and other percussive instruments invoke the feeling of walking down a New York City block. The combination of Doughty’s vocals flowing from ear to ear with the female voice at the end make this song feel like a hot summer fever dream.
“50,000 Bonus Miles” is the musical equivalent of pulling a heist in a perfectly broken-in leather moto jacket. The chugging electric guitar creates a thickness that the blues scale solos seem to pierce through effortlessly. Doughty and Scrap have once again engineered a flawless blend of alternative and the blues. The ending takes a turn for the better, once again highlighting Scrap’s talents through some classical additions and a playful 8-bit synth that brings the track to a close.
With many different influences and tones, Ghost of Vroom’s self-titled album Ghost of Vroom 1 is the perfect cross-genre adventure that anyone can enjoy. Exploring elements of alternative, blues and hip-hop, the record almost feels like an entirely new genre in and of itself. Ghost of Vroom 1 is unapologetically gritty yet poetically beautifully all at the same time.