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Various Artists

Badman

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A deep melancholy runs through Badman’s second charity compilation—and it’s not just because of the raison d’être of the CD’s beneficiary, San Francisco’s Shanti Project, which provides assistance to those with HIV and AIDS. Shanti Project Collection 2 brings together some of indiedom’s most disconsolate-sounding female singer-songwriters, and each contributes two or three despairing tunes. Low’s Mimi Parker sets the dark tone with two hushed lullabies, and Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh turns in a new version of “Hate My Way,” one of the most stinging tales of self-loathing ever put to music. It was a striking song on the Muses’ 1986 debut, and this stark acoustic take is almost as devastating. It even makes Hersh’s other song, the affecting “Garoux des Larmes,” seem inconsequential in comparison. Paula Frazer, former vocalist with alt-country outfit Tarnation, teams up with Mark Eitzel for a duet version of Scott Walker’s baroque and desperate folk-pop ballad “Rhymes of Goodbye.” And former Spinanes singer-songwriter Rebecca Gates debuts two tunes that will probably be on her upcoming album, but “Move” and “The Colonel’s Circle” are so good they should be heard now: Slow, sexy, and sonorous, the songs ooze late-night ambiance thanks to Gates’ breathy voice and John McEntire’s airy production. And so Shanti Project Collection 2 goes, with Edith Frost and Julie Doiron contributing even more slowcore compositions. But what the album lacks in pick-me-up it makes up for in consistently high quality, a rarity among compilations. The disc’s only misstep is the inclusion of Melissa Auf der Maur, erstwhile bassist-for-hire with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins. Her two tracks—one original, one a cover of Roxy Music’s “Love Is the Drug”—are half-baked four-track folk-pop that are buried at the CD’s hind end for a damn good reason. —Christopher Porter