Various Artists

Now Who's Crazy? A Drag City Sampler

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Now Who's Crazy is an above-average label sampler, not only achieving its principal goal of compiling representative excerpts from artists on their roster in 2003, but also hanging together as a decent anthology of 2003-era alternative rock. There wasn't much specific stylistic unity between the Drag City acts selected for this disc, other than a knack for above-average (if often low-key) indie rock that didn't draw principally from tired punk and new wave forms, as so many of Drag City's peers were still doing. Too, the artists took much influence from folk-rock and roots music, though steering clear of Americana, occasionally drawing from ambient and electronic sounds, too. Perhaps Smog and Bonnie "Prince" Billy were the only fairly well-known names in the rock media when this was issued, but the cuts are almost always respectable at the least. The pseudo-Led Zeppelin of Scene Creamers' "Elfin Orphan" is a letdown, but that's balanced by more surprising tracks like the dulcimer-like classical sounds of Imitation Electric Piano's "King's Evil." Most of this is taken from commercially available single-artist albums, but the presence of an alternate version of Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "Lessons From What's Poor" will help ensure not only that college-radio programmers and other media recipients don't sell it, but that it might show up on want lists eventually as a desirable collectible.