Various Artists Ciao My Shining Star
Miracle Legion/Polaris frontman Mark Mulcahy had some minor success in the ’80s and ’90s college-rock scene, and has become a respected if low-selling solo act over the past decade. Ciao My Shining Star is a tribute album designed to throw a little money Mulcahy’s way (to compensate for some recent personal troubles), but it’s also an effort to draw attention to a songwriter not enough people know. Given that, what’s odd about the record is how far the recordings deviate from the Mulcahy originals. Thom Yorke kicks off Ciao with a skittery glitch-pop version of Miracle Legion’s “All For The Best,” which is followed by The National’s glum, ominous take on Polaris’ “Ashamed Of The Story I Told,” then Michael Stipe’s abstracted, electronic “Everything’s Coming Undone.” The essence of the songs remain, but they don’t have a lot in common with the bright jangle and winsome vocals familiar to most of Mulcahy’s compositions. But that’s okay. Other acts—such as Josh Rouse, Autumn Defense, and Juliana Hatfield—hew closer to the source material. And as odd as it may be to hear Dinosaur Jr. (a Miracle Legion contemporary!) lumber through a loud country-rock version of the previously genteel “The Backyard,” it’s heartening that so many diverse musicians have found a connection to a colleague whose work has perpetually fallen through the cracks of the industry. Now how about a Miracle Legion reissue project?