Various Mews Too: An Asthmatic Kitty Compilation

The extended musical family of Asthmatic Kitty is growing every day but this collection compiles songs by as many friends as possible for a fascinating look at contemporary folk music. There’s the off-kilter joy in Bogs Visionary Orchestra’s "Everybody’s Broken,” which owes something to both Lennon and Dylan. The strange poppy brew of Half-Handed Cloud’s "Bees are Trying to Build their Nest in You” is offset by relatively subdued appearances by the likes of Danielson’s new "My Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which is harrowing to say the least. There is something lovable about the groove of Bunky’s "Monkey” and the Dave Brubeck-inspired bounce of "Riding Horses” by My Brightest Diamond. Cancon comes via Three Gut artists, as Jim Guthrie and Royal City contribute album tracks and Constantine Steven Lambke hatches his Baby Eagle, whisper-singing his ode to "Sophia.” Shannon Stephen’s rich, lush voice on "If You Want Me,” comes at the perfect time, lifting the comp up after Sufjan Stevens’ appropriately mournful "Opie’s Funeral Song.” It’s another gorgeous song by Stevens, which asserts his post as Asthmatic Kitty’s flagship artist. Not that Mews Too is some kind of leadership campaign. On the contrary; its communal outreach coupled with some amazing music makes this an excellent and important musical exchange. (Asthmatic Kitty)