Various A House Full of Friends

Back in 1997, Mark Rothkopf and Curt Kentner set up shop in a house in Portland, which over the course of seven years would become a temporary home and gig venue for musicians and the inspiration for this two-CD compilation. Released by their Magic Marker Records imprint, A House Full of Friends is a collection of songs by 34 different bands who played the Magic Marker House. A strong roster of well-known and unknown indie rock artists, the tracklisting contains mostly exclusive and unreleased tracks. And while indie rock compilations on small labels are really a dime a dozen, Magic Marker have enough star power required to push interest beyond the neat little story that goes with it. Superstars on the comp include the Decemberists, who unfortunately only donated an album track, and the Shins, who dug much deeper and bequeathed their rare alternate version of T-Rex’s "Baby Boomerang.” Other gems worth the price of admission include the Aislers Set’s unreleased "Untitled,” way back from 1995, the Sporting Life’s lovely lo-fi "Queen of Sandcastles,” and the delightful jangle pop of the Lucksmiths’ "Once Again.” Complete with alluring packaging and some great photography from the shows, A House Full of Friends is an attractive set of tunes with a fabulous history to boot. (Magic Marker)