Various Frank Slide: 100 Years From Them

Among Alberta’s peak perks are its perfectly circular skies and exceptional artistic resistance to a governmental and general messianism to the bane of the world: oil. But let us hone our focus to a tiny reminder of proto-corporate hubris, namely Frank Slide, the Indian-foreseen Pompeii of the Prairies. This disc is a radically-toned tribute to a 1901 avalanche that swatted out an entire mining town, believe it or not, though the story is one all Western highway dwellers know well. Thematically linked, accidentally and intentionally, with a few non-fished original numbers, it is also, in effect, a very complete and entertaining snapshot of Alberta’s finest country acts. Included are solid and savvy numbers by the pop-sensible Corb Lund Band with a string-enhanced "There Are No Roads Here,” a warbling classic by the timeless Swiftys, a freak-out number from Calgary’s Agriculture Club, one of Old Reliable’s haunting best in "Darkness” and so on. But leave it to a foreign girl from B.C., Carolyn Mark, to pin down what could be dubbed the focus track, which explains the whole damn deal in the wittily-named "A Flat Miner.” Seriously though, this compilation is fantastic, diverse and as educational as those mid-’90s Bloodshot grab bags that got this ball really rolling in the first place. I think you need to find yourself a copy, especially if you’re still burning a candle for someone, buried underneath a million tons of limestone. (Hijinx & Capers)