Various Showdown: 22 Golden Nuggets From Vancouver/Victoria R.A.N.C.H. Community

The West Coast roots rock community ups the ante for every other scene across the country with this glorious compilation that features a wide range of established artists, as well as a few new voices. Guitar monster Graham Brown gets things off to an explosive start with "Shotguns, Cacti & Vengeance,” before things settle into more mellow territory with JT King’s gorgeous "Northern Towns,” and the Buttless Chaps’ "Tracks Tonight.” Of course, no comp of this sort would be complete without Carolyn Mark, and her "Unlisted” is a fine choice. Also welcome is Geoff Berner’s "Light Enough To Travel” (famously covered by the Be Good Tanyas on Blue Horse), and "Off On A Cloud,” by the underrated Radiogram. Speaking of underrated, Herald Nix has been doing the roots rock thing for two decades in Vancouver, and this album would also have been incomplete without a track from him. "Hurry On,” is a fine introduction to his extensive repertoire. The second half of the album sees the quality control slip a little bit, as a general ’50s feel dominates with tracks by the Ploughboys and Big John Bates, although the Rockin’ Daddys’ "Tear It Up” is a worthy homage to the era. By the time things wrap up with Linda McRae’s "Strength, Hope & Love,” it’s clear that the Vancouver rock scene remains as exciting and diverse as it was in the late ’70s. (Black Hen)