ciaomyshiningstarcover

Even if Ciao My Shining Star was not a tribute to former Miracle Legion front man Mark Mulcahy in memory of the sudden passing of his wife, the roster alone, and the stand-out tracks within, are something to behold as the most potent “indie” compilation album of 2009. It’s hard to go wrong with exclusive submissions from Thom Yorke, The National, Michael Stipe, Vic Chesnutt, Josh Rouse and Elvis Perkins. Admittedly, I teared up upon my first listen to The National’s take on Polaris’ “Ashamed of the Story I Told,” and Yorke’s “All For the Best” has grabbed plenty of attention for good reason – it’s a stunner. Ditto for David Berkeley’s tear-stained cover of Mulcahy’s “Love’s the Only Thing That Shuts Me Up.” Under the cloak of a loved one’s passing, Ciao is a heartbreaker, but Mulcahy’s underappreciated knack for ace songwriting is the star here. Perhaps five songs too long and populated with too many quiet, gentle Miracle Legion and Polaris covers (save for Dinosaur Jr.’s grungy take on “The Backyard” and Frank Black’s raucous “Bill Jocko”) that blend in to each other towards the album’s close, the impetus for the loving tribute is the most important reason to pick up a copy, with the stellar collection of beloved artists selflessly giving their time running a close second. (Shout Factory) –Carrie Alison