Fronting the now-defunct Ultra Boyz, Milton Melvin Croissant III was a frenetically intense, commanding performer. He brought a dark and mysterious charisma to an outfit that was so often like an amped-up hardcore band from some distant future. With his solo project, he comes off more like Cat Stevens ó if Cat had hung out with Syd Barrett and Alexander Spence and absorbed some of their psychedelic weirdness instead of converting to Islam. At times, Croissant's songs, which were seemingly written with the moonlit prairie in mind, evoke the feeling of relaxing in front of an open fire with a few good friends, while others conjure a lonely night spent pondering existential questions. On tracks like the epic "High Plains Gothic," Buddy (as he's more commonly known) channels the same inspirational yet tortured spirit that howled through the soul of Jeff Buckley on Mystery White Boy. Milton Melvin Croissant III (due this Friday, September 21, at Rhinoceropolis, where he'll celebrate the release of his new disc) may have the name of a pampered nerdling, but he sings with a rare fire and conviction.