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Get weird with Ghost of Vroom on new single, ‘Pay the Man’

Every Monday, Add of the Week unveils all the new songs going into the 88Nine on-air playlist, with one hand-picked selection put in the spotlight by a member of our music team.

Mike Doughty is a shaman of alternative music. A road warrior. Your favorite artist’s favorite artist. Since 1992, he’s released 20+ albums — first as a member of Soul Coughing, then solo and most recently under his Ghost of Vroom project, which has delivered a bizarrely delightful track we picked as our Add of the Week (honorable mention to Ratboys’ “It’s Alive,” which I wrote about last week).

Doughty first captured attention as a doorman at The Knitting Factory in New York by combining a unique sense of humor with an equally unique stream-of-consciousness style of rap. More than three decades later, we get a heavy dose of both on “Pay the Man” from Doughty and his fellow Ghost of Vroom’ers: bassist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston and drummer Madden Klass. It’s part hip-hop, part jazz and all really listenable — and re-listenable.

Right away, you get plenty of low end, crisp percussion and Doughty’s hypnotic lyrical delivery to go with lyrics that probably(?) make sense in his own mind but read like someone put a dictionary in a blender:

I been to Mars like Cantiflas
Stupendous; overextend us
Headlock, rock the cakewalk
Can’t tell the silk from the corn stalk
Repairman, spin in mid-air, man
Truth, no dare, man; truth wins out
Ides waters, direct from the spout
Stem-time Lemmy and you’re losing your clout

Upon listening (and re-listening — again, this is a fascinating 3+ minutes), I went straight to Beck’s Odelay as a lyrical cousin. That was no coincidence, as producer Mario Caldato Jr. filled the same role on that seminal 1996 album. And, like that album, the definitions and meanings of words are secondary on “Pay the Man.” It’s just plain cool to listen to, whether you choose to pay attention and pick apart the elements or zone out and let it all wash over you.

You can check out the video for Ghost of Vroom’s “Pay the Man” at the top of the page and hear the track in the 88Nine playlist on-air, as well as streaming on the site and our app. It’s also part of the band’s upcoming album, Ghost of Vroom 3, coming Sept. 1 and available for pre-order now.

This week’s other adds

  • Arlo Parks, "Devotion"
  • Margaret Glaspy, "Act Natural"
  • Ratboys, "It's Alive!"
  • Hiss Golden Messenger, "Nu-Grape"
  • Eyedress, "Escape From the Killer 2008"
  • Obongjayar, "Just Cool"
  • Grian Chatten, "Fairlies"
  • TEKE::TEKE, "Doppelganger"
  • Mitú, "Nene"
  • Melenas, "Bang"
  • Bloc Party, "Keep It Rolling (feat. KennyHoopla)"