VARIOUS ARTISTS

Wanna Buy a Craprak?

(Carpark Records)

This discount sampler of the electronic artists on Carpark Records is worth buying for the design. Thank

Heads Inc. (a design company run by ambience maestro So Takahashi) for that part. You can thank Greg Davis for Craprak's swimmy, light-fractured glitch; Kit Clayton vs. Safety Scissors for its nervous techy clicks; Dinky for the glam electro trax; Takagi Masakatsu for the emotional, light-of-day robot love songs, and Hrvatski for just always kicking the asses of beats. For fun, innovative electronic music, Carpark releases some of the best; Wanna Buy a Craprak is a good introduction, boasting beats solid enough for minimal dance parties and melodies pretty enough for silky cornfields in summer. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

CASS MCCOMBS

Not the Way

(Monitor)

Cass McCombs is a bit of a legend around here. He lived in Portland for a time last summer, fell in love, romantically whisked his beauty away to NYC, and started playing with Will Oldham in Palace. Now, his debut for Baltimore's Monitor Records (Oxes) shows exactly what a whirlwind, vagabond lifestyle can do for a songwriter. Sounding like it was recorded in a hallway, a bathroom, or 1968, Cass' cloudy, dreamy psych-folk gets vaguely Lou/Nick/Syd on our ass, but mostly in sentiment rather than practice. Surely he sings of bleary-eyed tragedies in his trembling, somewhat gritty vibrato, over a loudass tambourine, acoustic guitar, and swank player-piano. There's also a fair amount of drugginess; but, in welcome contrast with the endless rails and rails of coke that fuel today's "nü-garage" movement (yeah right), Cass's music is heavy-lidded with the perfume of opium flowers about which he sings. Not the Way is totally stunning--and yet again, a dude who once played a show at Reed College becomes famous. JS

SONG OF ZARATHUSTRA

A View from High Tides

(Troubleman)

Since 1997, Minneapolis-via-Iowa quartet Song of Zarathustra has been one of the definitive groups making smart, emotional hardcore, with its ear-shattering vocals steeped in Ian MacKaye and slightly testosterone-tempered guitars. Radly, they've also been one of the best--cause there's nothing worse than bad screamo posturing; i.e. some of Blood Brothers' more polished, nü-metal offerings. If that's not your reference point and you need a visual, think the forceful guitar melodies shoved up against the blood-curdling screams in Pixies' "Tame." Oh, look! SOZ have covered that song on their latest, A View from High Tides. Though Tides will be SOZ's last (they announced their breakup a mere two weeks ago), it's filled to the gills with passionate screaming, pissy guitars and keybs, and enough melody to make it emotional. R.I.P. SOZ. Your legacy will definitely live on through a million overly intelligent, disaffected teens. JS