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Mews Too: An Asthmatic Kitty Compilation
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
Time: 24 tracks/72:42 min.

Lets’s face it – most compilation albums aren’t worth the cost of preparing artwork, duplicating discs, and distributing it nationwide.  Almost all of them range in actual quality from craptacular to vaguely annoying.  It is a rare thing indeed to find a compilation CD that holds up as an actual album, with quality throughout.  Mews Too is such a rarity.

The disc consists of 24 tracks from 24 different artists.  Unlike its predecessor, To Spirit Away the Mews, there is virtually no filler.  The only reason to skip a song is if the artist doesn’t suit your particular tastes.  If you know anything about Asthmatic Kitty Records, and their artists, you know that they have artists that you won’t hear on your local Top 40 station.  But you will hear exiting melodies, creative instrumentation, and interesting ideas fleshed out by talented musicians.
The album opens and closes with two beautiful tracks.

Label friend Denison Witmer leads off with a tender, beautiful track called “Little Flowers.”  It is everything you want in sparse, quiet, poetic music.  Elin Smith (wife of Danielson’s Daniel Smith) closes with a gentle, hymn-like track, “Naa Lukker Seg Mitt Oye.”

Asthmatic Kitty artists Sufjan Stevens, Liz Janes, Half-Handed Cloud, Bunky, and Castanets all turn in standout tracks.  Particularly enjoyable is Janes’ “Big Texas,” a slice of Western Americana which starts as a simple singer-songwriter ballad, but then builds and grows into something akin to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”  Stevens’ contribution, “Opie’s Funeral Song,” is a beautiful melody layered over some deft guitar work.

Honestly, there is not a bad track on this disc.  If you are a fan of any of the singers or bands involved, you will find three new artists that are just as exciting.  This compilation deserves its place alongside other great releases this year. 

By Jonathan Nelson



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