Various Graciously: A Gulf Relief Compilation

The dreaded compilation album, whether it’s a soundtrack, a tribute or a label showcase, rarely fulfils. This one, focused on artists who record at the Wavelab Studio in Tuscon, AZ, has no reason to rise above this curse. After all, unlike a label, a studio usually takes whoever comes through its doors. Wavelab, however, is not only the house that Calexico helped build, but it has hosted Devotchka, John Doe and Steve Wynn, all of whom dust off deserving and previously unreleased material for this comp — a benefit for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. Unknown artists like Richmond Fontaine and Amelia White also shine, while Howe Gelb teams up with Scout Niblett for a Bo Diddley romp through "I Want Candy/Who Do You Love/Not Fade Away.” The only sour note comes from Robyn Hitchcock, who phones one in on autopilot. Friends of Dean Martinez wrap it all up and tie a lovely bow on an ethereal "Moon River.” (Funzalo)