Dope or Dog Food



Like West Coast brethren Murs and Humpty Hump, Z gets absurdist on the downstroke, sneering, "I spit in your little boy's food/and left a hickey on your momma neck/it's picture day, too," and the laugh-out-loud, grotesque dis, "I ATE OUT YOUR GIRL WHILE SHE WAS PREGNANT." Z gets "The Gingerbread Man" to guest; his helium-swigged raps make Magoo sound like Luther Vandross. But while Z-Man likes to clown, he still writes rhymes that cut to the liver, speaking out against everything from "beefin' over weak shit" to racism to irresponsible dads to cancer-causing foods to the inaccessibility of AIDS drugs. And Bill O'Reilly. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


Different Cars and Trains EP


Different Cars gives songs from Notwist's pervasive sixth album a paint job, with remixes from Four Tet, Manitoba, Loopspool, and Console (aka Martin Gretschmann, from the Notwist himself). While it doesn't evoke the painful isolation that made the stunning poptronica hybrid Neon Golden crossover to indierock holy graildom, from a house music perspective, Gretschmann's mixes straddle warm minimalism and dancefloor shivers, polishing bass with fingersnap pulsing and choppy keyboards. Loopspool takes it even smaller, with a taut, dubby bassline commanding an army of micro clicks and ticks. A new track, "Red Room," resurrects the chilly, lonely beauty consummated by computers and recorders, swaying together like reeds in a glitchy wind. Then, Four Tet and Manitoba chop it up, loop it, and rub it down, morphing "This Room" into a life-affirming, shockingly funky minute of exuberance. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


Legendary: The Best of ZAO 1997-2003

(Solid State)

When I first heard Zao's previous album, I was involved in an animalistic, premarital sexual encounter that I remember in disturbing detail every time I hear their music. This makes me pretty goddamn happy, considering they're a bunch of pro-life Christians who play clenched, growling hardcore that, unfortunately for my politics, I can't help but love. I like making their music dirty just like they like making their music clean with incomprehensible lyrics about salvation. Zao Legendary includes songs from the band's previous albums, like the particularly cathartic and metal-heavy "Suspend Suspension," and the cheesy but righteous "Free the Three"--a song complete with Metallica-sharp guitar solos and dramatic voice-overs detailing the plight of the West Memphis Three. If you were ever going to spend money on a Christian hardcore album, this would be the one, because it's got all of Zao's greatest music on one disc, and they are the shit--not just as far as Christian hardcore goes, but as far as hardcore goes, period. KATIE SHIMER

**** i-Pod

*** Pea Pod

** Escape Pod

* Pod People