It tells us something about the mid-'90s alt-rock boom that a left-field band like Soul Coughing landed a major-label deal. The New York quartet blended bizarro samples, avant-rock licks and jazz grooves, all under the sway of M. Doughty's half-spoke/half-sung spurts of street poetry. These days M. Doughty performs as Mike Doughty, having embraced the singer-songwriter tag that he willfully eluded with his old band. Dan Wilson (of Semisonic) produced the just-released Golden Delicious, cloaking the songs in the warm glow of American rock & roll without diluting Doughty's stream-of-consciousness lyrics. He still throws some expert curve balls: "Fort Hood" ruminates on the loss of life and the loss of innocence that U.S. soldiers have experienced in Iraq while lifting the Fifth Dimension's "Let the Sunshine In" for the chorus. The seeming non sequitur embodies the singer's musical vision, where all styles and thoughts synthesize into something meaningful and danceable at the same time.