Various Graciously: A Gulf Relief Compilation

If you like your compilations eclectic, go no further than this worthy collection released to raise funds for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity’s Musician’s Village Project — a response to help the area still devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Note that you won’t find retread releases here but bona fide unreleased efforts by the likes of Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, Robyn Hitchcock, Howe Gelb & Scott Niblett and Calexico — all recorded at Tucson’s Wavelab studios. Originally drawn by the magic combination of owner/producer Craig Shumacher and Musician/Engineer Nick Luca for their "old school, vintage, hand-crafted” two-track analogue results, this prolific collection of musical ground-breakers were only too happy to contribute to the cause. Luca’s own "Shadow Painting” is a stand-out track here while John Doe’s "Baby’s In Black” cover (with Jon Rauhouse on Hawaiian Steel) and Tony Furtado’s "Waste Away the Night With You” are particularly pleasing. Robyn Hitchcock’s "I Wish I Was Doing This” is the icing on the cake, while nice surprises come in the form of Richard Lafontaine’s "The Gits” and Nik Freitas’s offbeat "Picture Song.” The Friends of Dean Martinez contribute the distinctively odd Mancini cover "Moon River,” while Devotchka turns in the completely strange, tuba-fired "Twenty-Six Temptations.” Something for everybody and — even better — something additional for those who may need our help most. (Funzalo)